To Dream is to Hope for a Brighter Future

I wrote this comment to a friend’s posting. This opinion so clearly reflects a deeply held worldview and offers up insight into my character that I want to be a part of this blog also. Apologizes to Stephen for the trackback and comment of duplicate information.

The comment:

At their best, movies remind us how to dream and tell us of the possibility of life. At their worst, they fill our heads with impossible drivel that keep the dreamer from living life.

To dream of something more then this “quiet desperation” can give one hope. I think it is because we are creatures that require hope to survive that we must dream, we must hope for something more.

I do not fear the problems and error that can come from allowing oneself to dream as much as I do the slow death of a hopeless surrender.

It is in daring to dream that we contend on the battlefield of the mind against our fear of failure and rejection. Without these fears we can all dare great things, live more honestly before our fellows and give out some of that agape love that God has poured into us.

Perhaps I am being a romantic in this approach but I find it less of a denial of the reality that I find myself in and more of a railing against the definition of that reality that I am boxed into. Whether by my own biase and fears or that of other’s, i find that my definition of reality always has room for growth.

For some reason 1 Corinthians 13 is in my mind, specificly verses 4 through 7, and I am reminded that love “hopes” all things. Also Romans 5, were we are told that “…tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…”

Perhaps I bind hope and dreaming too closely together.

Polarization rant aside…

The Jollyblogger, David Wayne, has self-admittedly had “a bit of a hostile tone toward” Emergent in some of his blog posts. I followed a trackback to his comments on a conversation that has been going on between Mike Horton and Andrew Jones, and it is all so dang encouraging.

People can disagree and still be civil, even develop healthy, growing relationships! I do not know if we are ready for a big’ol love-in just yet but, man, I think it is great that people who embrace more traditional and modern forms or understandings of our common faith are starting to realize that they can have a voice in this emergent conversation and they will be listened to and not attacked.

The more perspectives the better, I say. It goes right with another thing that I have been finding myself saying a lot lately, been quoting it actually, “There is wisdom in the multitude of counsel”.

Oh, I also like, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself”, and, “We find these truths to be self-edivent, that all men are created equal”, oh yeah, and, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” :)

Polarization.

I shouldn’t do it and I know I shouldn’t, but much like the allure of the possibility of seeing a wreck at a NASCAR event, I read emergent blog comments well after the posting turns into an us-vs.-them argument.

For example, in a resent posting by Emergent, called “Our Response to Critics of Emergent” someone said in regards to the tone of the message that the response was “…PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE. This statement is no different than everything heard before. The underlying sentiment is that the critics are narrow-minded, selective legalists and misguided dinosaurs. Nice try, Slippery, Slimey Emergent! You fool only those entranced by your poetically smiley luster. Soothsayers!”

Now, can someone tell me how this is suppose to convince me of Herold’s point of view. It seems that he has nothing but contempt for those in the emergent “camp”(divisive terminology), to the point that one feels like Herold is communicating that we who identify ourselves as emergent are all just lost, minions of the dark one, and deserve nothing from true Christians but contempt. Perhaps I am reading too much into his retort, but terms like “legalist”, “misguided” “slimey” and “soothsayers” make me feel attacked and that he sees me as his enemy, as if I am someone to be fought and destroyed rather then someone created in the image of God who God loves dearly.

Of course biases is cemented when another responses, “Very, very well said and stated, Emergent fellows…very, very, very sad words from the “other” side professing Jesus as Lord…when will so-called followers of Jesus ever learn that their vitriolic responses, their “name withheld” e-mail boxes, and their weak theological stances simply do nothing more than betray their supposed allegiances to Jesus, the Risen One?”

In my mind this is an attacking statement also. The “other side” and “supposed allegiances to Jesus”? How do divisive statements like that do anything but widen riffs between people? Hiding venom in an academic sounding response does nothing to but threaten people and send them seeking for protection in numbers. We end up huddling amidst likeminded people that affirm our beliefs but do not call into account our understandings and convictions, creating this “other side” mentality.

Maybe I am being too harsh here but is there not room in the body of Christ for discussion of these differing points of view that could lead to better understanding of each other as well as of God, whom we both serve? Is there no room for civil behavior in an open conversation? Is there no room for choosing our words so as not to purposely wound? Is there no room to receive wisdom in the multitude on counsel or to speak the truth in love? Is there no room to assume the earnest conviction of another point of view rather then the assumption that these ideas are purposely misleading, steeped in deception and narrow-mindedness?

If “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things*”, then what right do we have not to be generous in our conversation?

If I say that I have come to believe that full-water emersion baptism of the adult professing believer is something that God calls all Christians to do, some would say that I think, in turn, that those who disagree with me are less biblically literate, not able to understand what is written in the bible as well as I, are not guided in interpretation by the Holy Spirit as closely as I am, and/or are perhaps even deceived or practicing deception. Why cannot I just have a conviction based on the evidence as I see it without having to make all these other base assumptions about people that hold a differing view? Even if I have considered other lines of thinking on the matter and have decided not embrace them, why must it mean that I have to reject individuals that do? If we truly have the same Spirit in us then, by faith in God, our doctrines should work themselves out. Mostly though, it seems in arguments like these we are more likely to assume the worst about someone who disagrees with us on a point rather then give them the benefit of a doubt.

Is it because our faith feels more grounded if we can convince others of the truth of it? If so, where is the root of our faith, in God or in the people that we can convince to believe the same?

Is it because we have come to love our doctrines and expressions of faith over God Himself? It is not unheard of for people to embrace this processes that God has given to bring us closer to Him as an idol.

Is it that we just find it easier to believe in what we are told by those we trust rather then learning the truth of it for ourselves? I have done this myself, looking to someone to teach me in the way of God and totally forgetting and disregarding that God can instruct me Himself by the Holy Spirit. Come to think of it, I have done the opposite also.

Perhaps we need to examine this compelling need to be right and what it is that is within us to attack those who disagree with those items that we have a compelling need to be right in. Do we fight so strongly for our convictions because we are champions of truth or is there something dark in us that cannot stand the thought of being perceived by others as being wrong?

What set this all off for me was that term passive-aggressive as it was used by Herold. As if trying to take into consideration another person’s feelings when forming and argument is simply just another way to attack that person without sounding like it is cynical beyond defense.

I think we need a lot more civility, honest reflection and, yes, even open-mindedness in the church if we ever truly going to live up the high calling that Jesus prayed for us, “The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind — Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are — I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, And give the godless world evidence That you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me.**”

* 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (NASB)
** John 17:21-23 (NASB)

Called. pt.2

My pastor, John has a good point in a commit that he made on my “Called.” post. The concept of a lack of trust in God being central to this problem and the fact the our calling is at the core of who we are was not well defined in the entry. It puts things in a slightly different light when you think that instead of focusing on becoming who I am supernaturally inclined to be, I need to focus on relationship with God.

It made me immediately imagine a flower that is planted in the shade that was meant for open spaces and full sunlight. After a number of weeks the plant still has not bloomed and the gardener is frustrated because he knows what the plant is suppose to be like from the picture that came with the plant when he bought it at the store. In the picture, the plant is robust, coloriful and fragrant, but the thing before him is a sickly, drab eyesore. Our life can be like that plant, we wonder why it is not thriving, why it is not what it should be. What it is for us to be is still there inside us, it does not have to be manifactured or strived for, it is simply what we are. Rather we need to get out of the shade and into the light of day. We need to set ourselves before God and bask in His love, majesty, power… all that He is and all that He offers if we are to bloom.

All you have to do is trust God and learn to be captivated by our first love once again. So simple, but such a tall order. In my mind’s eye that life can seem a world away sometimes. Still, if we focus only on the situation that we find ourselves in, we are focusing on the shade/sin around us and not on the only thing that can change that state we find ourselves in, the sun/God.

Good comment John, thanks.

Update: ‘How to’ Extinguish the Sun, pt.2

Knowledge on ‘How to’ Extinguish the Sun is apparently far too controversial for wikiHow to allow it to remain. Poor old James Quirk, creator of the article, was spanked by the powers that be at wikiHow and his article was removed. James explains this all to us in a new post at wikiHow, but we will just have to wait and see how long this article lasts.

Apparently this topic of extinguishing the Sun has been floating around for quite some time. When I google “Extinguish the Sun” I found quite a wealth of commentary and information on the subject.

Here are some of the more interesting links:

Anti-Nuclear Protesters Target The Sun by Missy Enformed


SAVE THE NIGHT!
the Game.

Dusk in the afternoon by Brian Fitzgerald of B.U. Bridge

Black Solstice from Hammer of Gods by Angelcorpse (an uplifting little diddy)

Here’s a funny:

An astronomer is on an expedition to Darkest Africa to observe a total eclipse of the Sun, which will only be observable there, when he’s captured by cannibals. The eclipse is due the next day around noon. To gain his freedom he plans to pose as a god and threaten to extinguish the Sun if he’s not released, but the timing has to be just right. So, in the few words of the cannibals’ primitive tongue that he knows, he asks his guard what time they plan to kill him. The guard’s answer is “Tradition has it that captives are to be killed when the Sun reaches the highest point in the sky on the day after their capture so that they may be cooked and ready to be served for the evening meal”. “Great”, the astronomer replies. The guard continues though, “But because everyone’s so excited about it, in your case we’re going to wait until after the eclipse.”

Called.

It is really hard not to use Christianese, terminology and phrasing specific to the Christian culture, when you have been running in Christian circles for so long. The only word I know for what I want to communicate is the concept of being “called�. Being called is what one is called to do and be by God, kind of your purpose and reason for being. Come to think of it, the term ‘calling’ is not unknown to the post-Christian culture. I have heard it used by people in non-profits and social work as a reason for doing what they do. Still, when I think of the term ‘calling’ I think of a concept that is very religious or spiritual in nature, if not specifically Christian, that many do not understand.

All that is not the reason for this post though, other then to say that I have been thinking about God’s ‘call’ on my life. What is the reason and purpose for me being here? This is a question that I feel I can answer with some level of confidence, yet I never do when posed the question. See, I think that I have a pretty good bead on the work that God has for me to do in His kingdom, it is just that I feel so far away from that person that I need to be to in order to do what I am ‘called’ to that I do not think I am that person yet.

This was pointed out to me in no uncertain terms yesterday, and it pissed me off. I am more mad at myself then anything else. What am I waiting for? I have known for some years the direction my life needs to go to fulfill this ‘call’ on my life, but yet I hesitate to commit myself to this path.

The answer is fear I am afraid :). I have a huge fear of failure and of not being accepted that in some ways it has kept me chained to a place in my life that I do not want to be. Maybe you do not know what is like to be scared into inaction. It does not feel so much like fear I think, rather you feel numb and tired. It is kind of like a bug bite, you do not feel the bite so much as the itch that is your body’s response to it.

When I think of the task before me, I would rather sleep or watch movie or something, anything other then what I must do. It is almost a paralyzing way of interacting with the world but I have been able to get by pretty well none-the-less. Did I mention hating just getting by. I am not without hope though, it is impossible for me to believe that God has put this ‘call’ in my life and not also started me down the road of change necessary to become a person that can fulfill that ‘call’.

In truth I do not really ever want to feel like I am qualified for my ‘calling’ because in that I can see a sense of security and superiority that leads to complacency and self-dependence. The tension between my inability and the service I am ‘called’ to is the, potentially, perfect recipe for dependence on God and His sufficiency… but that is another story for another day.

So, what am I ‘called’ to? You know that when you speak something forth, it takes a certain unexplainable hold on reality. It is the nature of being created in the image of God that our words have the power to created or destroy, and am just not ready to create or destroy this ‘calling’ yet. So I will do something uncharacteristic and hold my tongue on this question.

Two blogs that have got me thinking about preparedness vs. God sufficiency:

Judy by Gordon Atkinson at Real Live Preacher

“You know about that deacon thing, how I was nominated and all?�
“Yeah.�
“Well, I was gonna say ‘No.’ I thought about it a lot, and I decided that I just wasn’t worthy of something like that. I mean, I just finally stopped smoking, and I still cuss sometimes. I’m trying to do better with that.â€?
I opened my mouth to say something, but she continued before I could get a word out.
“But then I read your book.” She began to smile. “And I thought, dang, if this guy can be the PASTOR of the church, surely I could be a deacon or something.â€?

Legalism by any other name is… by Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed

Instead of using “legalism,” which has become a bogey word for bogey opponents for each of us, why not shift this term to “covenant path markers” so we can get a fresh start on a genuinely serious problem we all face?

Here’s what covenant path markers do (and now I begin to extrapolate from Holmen’s study): first, they quantify covenant faithfulness into behavior that can be measured and seen; second, they enable us to “judge ourselves” on whether or not we are faithful; and third, they enable us to judge others on whether or not the others are faithful.

Legalism, aka covenant path marking, is a vicious form of life: instead of living faithfully, we are judging faithfulness. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for covenant faithfulness.)

Parallels

Dude at Paradoxology is offering up some images of Protestant Evangelical worship and asking for reactions. The interesting thing about the picture in part 3 is that it looks a lot like a friend of mine, Rusty. Rusty is a surfer and a rebel from way back, sure he has found success in business but, man, I have never thought of him as a suit or a traditional evangelical conservative.

It just seems like we are so ready to categorize and criticize, and I would be right there judging if dude did not look so much like my friend and mentor. See I know my friend’s story, we have a relationship, we know each other’s deep stuff and that knowledge does not give me the freedom to judge him.

So what about the guy in the picture? My guess is that he is just someone who resembles my friend. Even so, it makes me think that this guy has a history that I have no idea about and this is just a snapshot of one moment in his life. I do not know his struggles or his joys. I have no idea what goes through his mind at night when he is staring at the ceiling before falling asleep. I do not know the situations that have drove him to his knees and has made him cry. I have no idea, if he is just a guy that resembles my friend Rusty. But if that is Rusty, I do know some of what he has been though and some of what makes him the man he is today.

Either way, I cannot bring myself to judge him or even quantify my opinion of what he is doing/experiencing in that picture simply because when I look at him I see my friend and I just cannot bring myself to presume his intentions or the veracity of his experience, much less ridicule or poke fun him.

That reminds me of another friend, one that promised us that He would stick closer to us then a brother. If I believe what I read in the bible is true then we are all bearers of His image. Do you see the parallel?

Things that chaff my hide.

Ok, maybe I should take a break from listening to the news, all it does is frustrate me anyways, but (the great verbal eraser) I just get so mad when I hear about stuff like this impending “nuclear option”.

I resent the republicians playing the God card on this and am saddened that leaders in the conservative Christian movement have fallen for it. I mean, come on! Liberal politians are “against people of faith”, can you be any more inflammatory?

Here are some quotes and article links that explain my position much better then I could:

“Despite the fact that Democrats oppose these judges for their views on a variety of subjects, conservative leaders have singled out abortion and gay marriage as their chief concerns and only want judges who support their agenda. Despite the fact that many Democrats who oppose some of President Bush’s nominees are themselves people of faith, Republicans and their religious supporters are questioning the faith and religious integrity of their opponents.”
Filibustering people of faith? by Jim Wallis of Sojourners

“But the biggest concern about removing the judicial filibuster is not about whether Democrats or Republicans score points. The current system is in place in part to make sure the judiciary never lurches too far in one political direction or another. Eliminating the judicial filibuster removes a set of brakes on partisan governance in the one branch of government that is the most removed from the political fray. It paves the way for more ideological judges on both the right and left.”
‘Nuclear option’ and bipartisan hypocrisy By Dante Chinni of Christian Science Monitor

“The filibuster is a tactic that delays votes with endless discussion. It is used to keep a slim majority from running roughshod over the minority.”
Religion, politics intersect in ‘Justice Sunday’ by Steve Lannen of The Lexington Herald-Leader

Syntax over Substance (cont.)

In my mind’s eye, correctly or not, Colson is the Mind and Wallis is the Heart in the argument of a Christian’s moral responsibility in society today. One espouses doctrinal accuracy and the other charitable compassion; one trusts the guiding of the heart and the other the guiding of the intellect. Compassion let’s the heart of God lead the way and intellect looks for safer ground in the immutable Word of God and, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “and never the twain shall meet�.

It isn’t that Chuck Colson is uncaring or that Jim Wallis is intellectually devoid but I will say that Colson is more of an ideologue while Wallis is more pragmatic… Funny, you would think the opposite would be true.

It is a question of doing good verses being good. Wallis wants to deal with the hurt that is right here, right now and Colson is digging for the spiritual roots of society’s woes and neither may be getting it “right”.

Here’s the latest from the boys:

An open letter to Chuck Colson by Jim Wallis

Moral Equivalency: The Religious Left Gets It Wrong, BreakPoint with Charles Colson