Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When the day is through.

"When I opened my eyes and saw reality, I started to laugh and I haven't stopped since.
I saw that the meaning of life was getting a livelihood; its goal acquiring a titular office. That "loves rich desire" was getting hold of a well-to-do girl, that the blessedness of friendship was to help one another in financial embarrasment. I saw that wisdom was what the majority assumed it to be, that enthusiasm was to make a speech. That courage was to risk losing ten dollars, that cordiality consisted in saying 'your're welcome' after a dinner. I saw that the fear of God was to go to communion once a year.
That's what I saw, and I laughed."
Soren Kierkegaard

"things never happen the same way twice, dear one" - Aslan

The study of fallacy's of argument focus in on how people use misinformation, generalizations, and other tactics to win a discussion, and or prove a point. There is a generally agreed upon list, which you can access easily by googling it. Knowing this list does much to help when trying to discern how people are winning/loosing an argument - as typically they will resort to fallacies when hope in the rational has gone.

Kiergaard devoted his life to what he saw as the empty formalities of the Danish church - themes such as faith in God, rituals, emotion and theology and...argument. Since him (and arguably much before him) many have devoted time and energy to understanding how it is we understand God. How we have missed the boat, how formalities have lead us astray and other areas surrounding the emptiness of Religion.

After a 5 hour meeting, in which David, Gideon, Aslan, Israel, and Moses (yes, that's right, they went there) were tossed around like best buddies of the group I am convinced of a few things.
Fallacies in argument, or rather fallacies in theology plague our faith. We are plagued by misconceptions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations of our experiences. But that in of itself is not the problem. It is once we employ our misunderstanding to "convince" or "win" the situation becomes lost. The base for thought and spirit is stripped and we are left with little more than words, anecdotes and "reflections." And because the general christian populous is ignorant to these fallacies, we engage in it routinely. I engage in it routinely.

And here's the point of my poorly made attempt at being intellectual: Where there is no peace, is where the fallacies will present themselves. Where there is no peace, we will resort to "winning" an argument. Where there is no peace we will talk for 5 hours thinking that resolve looks like a common sense of confusion, where the elderly are up past their bed time, the irish are dumbfounded and the others are well...just done.

And so what? So the answer is clear...sort of. We must work for peace, not a solution to the need, but peace. Does everybody need to get along? no. But peace must be employed. That is the battle. And once you put that lense on the situation, really, how can fallacies stand? I'm not sure exactly what working for peace looks like, but I want it. And I think I know something about how to start it:


"Waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning, O Israel, wait and watch for God - with God's arrival comes love, with God's arrival comes generous redemption. No doubt about it - he'll redeem Israel, buy back Israel from captivity to sin." - David

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Life After S.Bucks - v.2

Growing up in Tsawwassen, the opening of S.bucks was truly a day of celebration. The Golden Calf, after years of waiting at the fence post, was being allowed in to graze on the fertile fields of the third wealthiest subdivision, in the second wealthiest city, in the seventh wealthiest country in the world. It was heralded as a coming of age story for our town - gaining front page recognition in the Delta Optimist - the newspaper that I, until the age of 13 helped spread around our fine suburb.

Having the convenience of big city coffee in our small town was akin to Pemberton all of a sudden receiving Jay Z to their sleepy town. For up until that point - in the minds of my friends - Tsawwassen was nothing more than Merit without a music festival; Britania without the mine tour. A Vancouver twist on a modern day Miami. Retired, rich and royally cranky.

Three years later, that very Starbucks served me up a new drink; a hot cup of inappropriate student - teacher relationships. I'll spare the details that would turn this blog post into a novel; and rather attempt a fly-over of what was my Grade 12 year.

Her name was Mrs._. She tended to wear outfits that while were no Janet Jackson nip hugger; they were definitely not what one thought of as business casual. A sports bra and short shorts for the summer, and a poly pro top for the colder months - Mrs _ had a style unique for a sub urban teaching professional.

But I digress. I'm not sure where the relationship began, but I suspect it was grade 10, in Hawaii on a band trip, that I was never quite sure how or why my parents funded. It was a dinner out with her and another teacher, a walk on a boardwalk and a few laughs exchanged at the expense of the tourist attractions that littered the street - the tacky t-shirt stands with inappropriate writing, and the leis provided the bulk of the conversation that evening.

It progressed to a one off interruption from History 12 to grab her coffee. "But Mrs_ , I don't know how to drive standard" ; that's alright, she said, you'll learn. And so began the routine. Every History class, an quiet knock on the door and Mrs. _ would be standing at the door wanting her Venti, No Fat, Vanilla Latte - extra hot.* I would soon be buying, no rather picking up, coffees for her and four other teachers. I say picking up, because when I walked into that Starbucks I was treated as the dutiful messenger of one much higher. Coffees for Mrs _ and her croonies were always on the house.

Driving standard was a task I quickly learnt, and quickly "forgot" when my father was teaching me later that year on our car. Once or twice I had to duck from the Vice Principle who was exiting the school as I was entering it, with a tray of drinks in the middle of a class.

This "relationship" of sorts continued; but it started to take a more "unfortunate" turn. Mrs _ became single, a lot of weight was lost, and rumours started to fly about everything from her teaching habits to ... other habits. The world of celebrity has created it's own destructing cycle. In this world, teenagers truly begin to believe their lives are as dramatic as the ones they read about, and create a reality that tries to mirror it. Unfortunately, what they don't realize is that that the world of celebrity is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Life imitating art imitating art. And no - one is really sure what the first image was.

Four or five nights prior to graduation I received a note from her daughter stating, in the form of "20 facts you didn't know" fact #18 that "she liked me since the day she met me."

The daughter, the mother, the whole thing was too much. Graduation, hands shake, hug, hug - goodbye.

I suspect after me there were a few other men or women, boys or girls who delivered the bean. Starbucks can be "just a coffee shop", but for many, it's just another expression if a need. The needs change, the expressions change, but this common denominator, this common need is pathetically universal.

Fast Forward five years - third year UBC. Sitting on Kits beach feeling the need for a frap of some sort, I walk into the Starbucks on Yew and Cornwall to see none other than Mrs. _ and her daughter, now a barista. Smile, exchange pleasantries, make plans for a future, much more distant date.

And that is that.







*ok, that's a stretch, she didn't get it extra hot

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Life After S.Bucks - v.1

I remember it pretty well I guess - as well as one can remember complete chaos. I remember it because I was wearing my lululemon yoga pants and they had this weird streak on the left shin and although I had tried washing the pants like 3 times, the streak wouldn't come out. If I scratched my thumb nail against it, I would have success, but I couldn't be bothered to do that all day.

I knew something was ary when the dark rimmed, shaved about three days ago, popped collared barista told me they had run out of soy. S.bucks out of soy? I guess, with Soy being the most advanced of the beans, if any were to jump ship - it would. And yet the whole beauty of modern management for a chain like S.bucks is that it has removed from it all possibility of human error. We laughed at Office Space's depiction of "pieces of flare", silently sinking into the realization that a lot of us, are a lot closer to the reality of channeled expression than we'd like. Customize your drink, so long as it fits in the customize your drink boxes we've made.

But I digress. S.Bucks, running out of soy is like McDonalds running out of McNuggets; it just shouldn't happen. The variables that make up management have been reduced controlled or eliminated - all so I can have my Soy based beverage every damn day.

But it did. I changed my drink order and was waiting by the lid counter, reading a pamphlet on the duetto card, humming whatever was on the S.Bucks XM Radio and before I turned around to pick up my boring, soyless drink I knew it was over.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Distance

Our conversations are never easy, but as I - we - get older, we are all finding that our conversations must be spoken. A need burns inside us to share with others what we are feeling. Beyond a certain age, sincerity ceases to feel pornographic. It is though the coolness that marked our youth is itself a type of retrovirus that can only leave you feeling empty. Full of holes.
---
The glamour of corruption disappears; the learning is no fun anymore. You don't want to waste the energy, so instead you learn tolerance, and compassion and love - and distance - and these are hard words for me to say. All of this is hard for me to say.
---

-Douglas Copeland "Life after God"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This End of the Telescope

Alone you ramble the whole of the world, through the black water jungles for bliss. It's feast or famine, you eat what you kill, there's no need to bring God in to this.

Inevitably when there is a need to understand something from a perspective that exists with us not being at the centre of the picture a conflict will occur. Inevitably.

We have to be the centre - and if we are not, the perspective must shift to make us so.

At our best, your joy becomes my joy, your pain becomes my sorrow. At worst, pain dictates my pleasure and your pleasure manipulates my pain.

This tension, albiet poorly described above, is a distorted, or muted image of that which I believe exists between our Creator and us.

Pain, conflict, sorrow and all that stuff which is, to us: "not good" is so quickly viewed through the wrong end of the telescope that we loose perspective. So our sorrow becomes about us, our pain is about us, and our confusion is about us not understanding. Through the wrong end of the telescope the Creator becomes a passive third party or at very best a smaller image that what he really is in this tension. It is from this end of the telescope that faith gets turned quickly into religion.

It's as if our understanding when it comes to God is that a) there is some stuff that God just "allows" to happen b) there is some stuff God wants to happen and c) there is some stuff where God just kind of goes..."oh shit..shoot didn't see that coming...hey Moses, you totally pulled the wrong lever on that one...this'll be interesting"

It becomes about us and only us - and then maybe a God character who is interacting from a far.I'm feeling like I'm only starting to wrap my head around this idea, that I think has many further implications - but in terms of the one I'm confronted with right now, the truth is this:

That if understanding our pain, pleasure and any other "thing" that goes on really gets reduced to the sum of our actions + the sum of other peoples actions and maybe the sum of a sometimes acting Diety we will forever come up short to the question of why does shit happen in our lives. Or more classically "why does God let bad things happen"

Always short.
And there are those (many, oh so many) Christians who actually believe (say on the topic of pain) that a lot of suffering is because God is just plain 'ol unhappy with them. They preach a sort of "God is getting you back" or actually disguise it as a "God is teaching you about ___" - while YES God does discipline those he loves, he is NOT "getting you back" and really I believe is not going "hmm how can I teach __ about humility...I know I'll give them nasty flesh eating disease...". Many christians would not actually articulate that, but I think a lot of us believe it. I'm going to go out on a limb here:
Jesus, when he died 2000 years ago, that was it. All the punishment, all the "revenge" that you could have had - done. Job's suffering wasn't about Job at all.

I think why we do this cause and effect system that reduces God is because we still want to be the centre of our faith and belief system. We have a great propencity for religion. This idea that whatever I do, it comes back. It puts us at the centre and removes Jesus. If I "get right" with God, he'll speak to me is such an intuitively "nice" idea but I would say totally biblically incorrect. Maybe it's unfair to draw a connection between us and Jakob - but, let's face it: where was he and what was he doing when God radically changed his (and our) life? Moses? the Disciples?

I do believe God's plan / will has suffering in it. Totally. But I think western Christianity has made up this cause and effect because it's easier than believing a faith that is mysterious, tension filled (ala first paragraph), not totally a sum of our actions etc. etc.

So ___ definitely, scour the bible for the why why why does this happen, but be prepared for the answer. I don't claim to know it, but I think it really has something to do with questions of who is this all about? Who is the person most glorified here? Cause, I think it's not really about us.

I think this Blog post is about a whole set of things just kind of perculating in a brain that I am finding to be ever more emotional, active and other than I would sometimes like. But I guess it's kind of an idea that our prayer life is so very much a reactionary thing - and while thats ok, it starts to breed a faith that it's about us. This starts to breed a set of beliefs that while based on the Bible, kind of take their own "twist."They are not "wrong" but I think a lot of the time they are really just not biblical (so yes they are wrong, I was just being kind). As a result of this "wrong" theology, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, we go running to a bible, from the totally wrong angle, and surprise, find that it just kind of leaves us unsatisfied.
But from a different end of the telescope I think, the galaxy is a lot bigger.

---
Word's out the doctor is not coming in
This genie's too angry to go back
Into the bottle again

Years of progress digging the sand
Companions we made didn't last
Lousy lovers do well with their hands
But I'll reach you like nobody can
Slow and easy you let your paddle go
Down a the bottom there is more hell to row
I see clear at last I love I loathe
On this end of the telescope

-Jakob Dylan

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Snapshots of a Friday

'The guards are asleep", "the guards are asleep"

Kits beach, friday evening, eight o'clock. With a finished glass of spiced rum, a book and a bible in hand I find myself sitting against a log looking out over the ocean to a setting sun. A few logs over there is a group of about 20, 20 somethings, talking, making light conversation. Immediately I say to myself "must be a young adults group" - pretty soon a guitar gets pulled out, and before I know it they're signing starfield. Gosh.

Rewind by about 5 or 6 hours, driving up oak street. No music, no cell phone, no texting, no emails. Excited because I am close to finishing work and it's only 2pm. All of a sudden I blank out, and bam smash into the car in front of me. Shit.

The day is done.

Young adult singing wraps up, and a girl stands up to deliver, her expose on "salt and light." Knowing that the verse "should" mean something about something, she pulls meaning from it - the usual "stand up for Jesus" dialogue that was oh too familiar. Ironically, this process is almost more like squeezing salt from the rock, leaving a tasteless stone of a religion - void of this notion that SPIRITuality is more than "sticking up for Jesus." Let me tell you, he doesn't need sticking up for - history has done a good of enough job of that.

Have we become reduced to framing the gospels into an experience that we can "understand" and apply in a 30 minute study? Is that a bad thing?

Sitting in a room staring at a twenty something, dozing off in front of me. A few others to the right give me blank looks. Repeating words that both hold so much meaning and so much frustration - let the oil pour. Feeling, in some sense: ruined. Ruined because maybe I long for something that is not meant to happen. Ruined because maybe I think I could be a part of that - a catalyst. Ruined because, I think Jesus said it first, "We are prisoners of hope."

Salt and Light, Salt and Light. Saltiness, is not about "sticking up" for Christ. It's not about "walking the good walk" or even living by the moral handbook. Salt, and Light is spirit. Loosing one's flavour is not about denying Christ, but rather about denying spirit. Tasteless salt has all the qualities of Christianity, it has all the qualities of religion and following Christ. It just lacks its soul. You search the scriptures because you think in them there is life. You sit on a couch, making trite commentary about this person's thought on so and so, the historical analysis of Jerusalem, the pity prayer for those who don't know Christ - because you think in that you will have life.

My sheep know my voice.

He stood in the field, all of a sudden looked up quickly to the left and said - "sound the trumpet"; but the guards were asleep. The guards were asleep.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Aware.

Where have you been, my son? Where have you tarried so long? Where have you traveled? what have you been seeking in the world? Happiness? And where should you have sought it but in God? And where should you have sought God but in his temple? And what is the temple of the living God but the living temple that he has prepared for himself, your own heart? I have watched, my son, while you wandered, but I did not want to see you stray any longer. I have led you to myself by leading you into yourself, for here I have chosen a palace for my dwelling"
-John Amos Comenius

It's far too late right now to add to this, and really, how can I? How can I express what is deeper than to know that the living God has prepared a living temple for himself in you? How can we express anger towards christian circles who teach to fear thyself, to fear emotion to downplay imagination, creativity, expression? How can we cry for a renewal of thought, a reformation of an understanding of 'self' that is simply not valued in our culture? How do we build a damn against the flood of indifference, the currents of escapism the rushing of sound that violates our collective ear? How do we retort against the rhetoric of the "emergent few", ooh to be an emergent. From what are we emerging? and to what are we emerging into?

I have led you to myself by leading you into yourself, for here I have chosen a place for my dwelling. God help me.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Life After S.bucks - v.1

I remember it pretty well I guess - as well as one can remember complete chaos. I remember it because I was wearing my lululemon yoga pants and they had this weird streak on the left shin and although I had tried washing the pants like 3 times, the streak wouldn't come out. If I scratched my thumb nail against it, I would have success, but I couldn't be bothered to do that all day.

I knew something was ary when the dark rimmed, shaved about three days ago, popped collared barista told me they had run out of soy. S.bucks out of soy? I guess, with Soy being the most advanced of the beans, if any were to jump ship - it would. And yet the whole beauty of modern management for a chain like S.bucks is that it has removed from it all possibility of human error. We laughed at Office Space's depiction of "pieces of flare", silently sinking into the realization that a lot of us, are a lot closer to the reality of channeled expression than we'd like. Customize your drink, so long as it fits in the customize your drink boxes we've made.

But I digress. S.Bucks, running out of soy is like McDonalds running out of McNuggets; it just shouldn't happen. The variables that make up management have been reduced controlled or eliminated - all so I can have my Soy based beverage every damn day.

But it did. I changed my drink order and was waiting by the lid counter, reading a pamphlet on the duetto card, humming whatever was on the S.Bucks XM Radio and before I turned around to pick up my boring, soyless drink I knew it was over.

Friday, June 20, 2008

tremor

Time ticks by; we grow older. Before we know it, too much time has passed and we've missed the chance to have had other people hurt us. To a younger me this sounded like luck; to an older me this sounds like a quiet tragedy.

It’s coming you know, the big royal screw up. That thing that will shatter relationships, break your faith in others, break their faith in you. There will be an event, perhaps many, which will cause you to be shunned from your community; it will break you, and build for others paradigms for others to classify you for the rest of your life. The rock tumbler of life practically dictates it.

Some dodge it better; while others pretend it doesn’t exist. To them, the world is cause and effect; a chain reaction tipped off by from a sequence of events we build because of suspect character. It’s not fate, it’s not inevitable, but it is much more than an occurrence confined to the select few of lesser moral character. And this belief is a tragedy.

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh Lord please don’t let me be misunderstood…

Character is like concrete. For every day living, for walking on, making roads and sidewalks work, it is sufficient. But put it next to something ‘natural’ like a river or a tree and pretty soon it’ll be sunk in, cracked and in need of repair. They built the worlds largest bridge out of it, and failed to acknowledge the major fault line below. Three years later, and the “character” of the concrete is being questioned. Concrete, like character will fail us.

And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can't ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it's already happened.” - God

I have lived barely a quarter of my life (I think otherwise…) but it seems like every human being I see in the course of a day has a problem, some thing some wound that is sucking up at least 70 percent of his or her radar. And the more perverse side is how much energy some spend rationalizing their own problems to convince themselves that the rest of the world is more amoral than we are.

If I die, and my soul be lost, nobodies fault but mine…

If I had to paint the colour of those who are the most ‘able’ advocates of the amorality of others, and the prolific proponents of their righteousness – it would be, sad to say: white. If I had to give them it a gender, it would be male; a religion: Christianity; a generation: X.

Human kindness is overflowing, and I think, I hope it’s going to rain today.

Perhaps the glaring contrast between my experience last week and this one is what forms this picture. Spending a week with a group of native people, ranging in age from 27 to 47, sounded like a track off a Nina Simone album. The song has soul, not so much in that the voice is powerful – but rather it is broken, pathetically optimistic and shatteringly real. A 26 year old, with a wife and three kids, lifts up his shirt to show me where his cousin cut him from the navel to the nipple for some feud, a 47 year old who doesn’t need to tell me their life story but in a laugh can say that she has seen much, experienced much and yet has still something to offer.

Oh sinner man, where you gonna run to?

The group that I am most familiar with till now, tends to sound more like a Gaither brothers rendition of “Mansion over the hilltop”, just keep smiling and singing and maybe they wont notice…Character commentary has become the strongest armor and the heaviest sword at the same time – we haven’t noticed that the slow dance is going on, while the room is burning – and we’re wondering why it’s so damn hot. Because many fear that if we lower our guard, if we extend the sympathetic, but genuine “I understand” for even one second, the whole world will disintegrate into chaos. We’re taught that to admit reality, to live outside a lifeboat theology (just keep paddling..), to fear, is not to fully trust God. Whoever started this, must have had a whole lota things going on.

How often is it we are rescued by a stranger, if ever at all? And how is it that our lives can become drained of the possibility of forgiveness and kindness – so drained that even one small act of mercy becomes a potent lifelong memory? How do our lives reach these points?

Here comes the sun little darlin, it’ll be alright..

I stood in the credit union watching a grown man in a wrinkled, dirty dress shirt, hold a syrofoam coffee cup, eyes baggy from days without sleep and retinas red from more than a few tears, and listened to him explain how the long march of Perdoe, leading to his expulsion will go I could think of nothing but of where his resting place will be.

Q: What animal would you be if you could be an animal?
A: You already are an animal

So why do I write this? Four or five disjointed paragraphs on the faults and faith of others. In part because I feel the tremor already of a (one of many) big screw-up. I can’t tell where it’s going to come, but I feel it. Is that totally self-deprecating of me? Perhaps. But I want to articulate now for myself that it will come. I want to recognize that no matter how big the bastard, we all came kicking and screaming from somebody’s womb, and we all will end up on lifesupport in some underfunded hospital, being looked after by a (dis)orderly. I think more than that I want to convey that pathetic hope that I saw last week in my newfound native friends to the crucified man I conversed with today.

I’m drunk right now baby, but I’ve got to say – I never could tell you what you mean to me.
What’s love, but a second hand emotion?


For whatever reason, I have a deep respect for singers who are able to convey their pathetic hope through song. They say that to suffer is universal. Yet to identify with suffering, to provide hope in suffering, or just simply to acknowledge suffering as being legitimate is all to rare, especially in my context. Moreover, to recognize suffering that is brought on from your own royal screw ups, and to be offered a hand of grace to be pulled out seems to be a wisdom that is, in my surrounding, sadly not universal.

All of our questioning, every broken dream, all of the anguish that the soul has ever seen, finally finds a resting place in you…

Maybe the natives I met are pathetically realistic. I think if ever there was a group to understand what screwed over, shunned and drop kicked out of life looks like – they would. We will all break and be broken in ways that can never be fixed; and if no one has ever told you – consider yourself told.

You know sometimes baby I’m so carefree; with a joy that’s hard to hide. And then sometimes it seems that all I have is worry – and then you’re bound to see the otherside.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

letters from the trench

As for the ___ situation. I (obviously?) haven't been in touch with ____ about it - as when we (you and I) ended our discussion I mentioned that I wasn't sure how to see if it affected them in any impactful way.

My only thought is this: that Christianity/ Christians need to be a people willing to engage in dialogue without pre-condemming the situation before it happens. In the world, Christians become so quick to offer their advice, suggest a "solution" or give their well intended two bits, in an off putting manner. It suggest a superiority, and ironically an ignorance - that the solution has been thought through and there is no room for change, dialogue and ultimately growth.

So often swing to either extreme- condemn them in our minds and don't confront them, or confront them in a condemning manner. Either way, we loose. Sorry if this is a tangent, but I think it applies to the current situation. The accused (just like all of us), for all of the good that is in him, has many areas to improve on; but I don't know if he is given the opportunity to see them and/or to improve on them. My suspicion is that more often than not "we" pre-condemn him, or just think the best thing is to not give him an avenue for change.

So, my thought is really only that we have to offer the accused an opportunity for change. Change could come in the form of 'live and let live' although I doubt it. Change probably would come from being able to ask the accused what the intent was behind those words, describe what the result was (incase it is different from the intent), suggest that the situation be reconciled between the accused and the accuser (ie. suggest that accused offer what he wants to the accuser), and then leave it as is. You are not pre-condemning the accused by assuming ill intent, and you are not pretending like you know the steps the accused needs to take to 'make it right.' Further, I think you are not making the issue bigger than it is.
By doing this, you are loving the accuser (in that you are protecting/preserving), and I think loving the accused in that you are giving him an opportunity for growth.

This said, I really hold no judgement on what way you choose to go with. My colleague reminds me to choose the hills on which I want to die - and while I think that lead to a selfish approach to management, it certainly is a strategy that I use often, and know it sometimes to be the wisest approach. For example, the reaction to my email last week. You may have way bigger fish to fry and Satan loves to get us mixed up in skirmishes on the periphery

Anyways, sorry, those are my somewhat scattered thoughts.

and hollywood burnt

THEIR NAMES


Their names linger on the tongue:
Fallujah, Ramallah, Samarra, Ryad --
Like water, whispers, illicit love.

But in the rubbled streets
Fear, hunger and flames
Embrace flesh, whole families

Burning homes to ground
Memories to ashes
All that was precious to the dead

But is of no value on this earth
To the living who ignite the fires
The ones who erase their names.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Word

I am your friend, I am not your psychic hotline. I am your friend. I'm not interested in impressing you or making you seem impressive to others. I want your intimacy. So before you rush ahead and ask me to lay out the future of the world for you, would you be willing to be my friend for a while? Would you like to hear my feelings and sorrows, joys and hopes?

The body was in the fetal position, it was black but not like the colour black, more like a shadow black - unable to see due to a lack of light. The tree above it was light, it was either gold or just really bright and its roots went down under the ground and enveloped the person who was in the fetal position just below the ground. Kind of like a tulip from a bulb. The tree was one of those big bushy, kind of "perfect" trees but from the top of it grew another tree - exactly the same - bright, and perfect. Not perfect in a "holy" sort of way (lets not get carried away), but perfect in just that good solid tree with a nice bulbus top sort of way.
Then the whole thing enveloped/imploded and it was gone.

No idea what that was all about.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Smoke and Mirrors

I must admit, that my writing is not only moody, inarticulate but it's just kind of poor. And I am sorry. Much was learnt this past weekend, The Word, was (finally), THE word. Real, unchanging, articulate, and far from poor. As a "being" trying to mimic the word, my failings have been made clearer to me, than probably ever before. But what has made all the difference, and I kid you not (really), is that having THE word being revealed to me has somehow made my failings, not be fixed like a poorly raised barn, but rather they have made my words, my failings, be...eraseable? I have found freedom in being able to toss the imitations aside (not that it as easy) and begin to believe again in The Word.
When I realized that my sentences were written, not in ink but in pencil - and that I was able to re-write, have other people edit my work, and just generally examine the story I was choosing to write - wow, it made all the difference.

I understand this too is not the best explanation of what has happened. I'll try again when I have more than 3 minutes. But I wanted...to put in a word.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

not yer morning reading material

Hey Jesus, are you still feeling sad? or will you come down from the cross to play?

Jeff's theology (right now)
Faith is a bitch. We must start here. If we start here, then perhaps everything else will make sense. If we start from a perspective that faith is easy, faith is glorious, faith is amazing - ultimately we will fall hard on our face (or we should, because dammit everybody else did). When I say faith is a bitch, what do I mean? perhaps more appropriately, it's that hope is a bitch. Faith, hope - hmm what else can I throw in there?
Today, in a response to a caring individual who was wondering why I hadn't brought 'my condition' before the congregation, for prayer etc. I had a moment of clarity.
Why hadn't I stuck it on the mass prayer chain? This week was the first that I had really requested prayer to anyone in a while - so why not a whole body surely more people = more power. At least that's what the prophets of Baal thought. And that's where it is at. Standing on the mountain, dancing, repeating a line over and over, crying, prostrating, getting whole teams to do it with me - will that convince the maker of heaven and earth to set fire to the calf?
Will 400 voices twist the mighty arm? Is it possible that God just doesn't want/need to do anything here? That this is just business as usual - people get sick, people die all the time - how much time is wasted in prayer meetings that could be lived. Why am I a special case? Do I believe God can heal me? Absolutely. Do I believe that 400 people praying is going to make that a reality? Not really. Do I realize what I'm saying? Maybe.
After her husband disappears, she is left, a complete wreck, alone, isolated and afraid of everything. Shocked and confused she doesn't touch the items in the house, hoping that when he returns it will all be as it once was. A month or so passes the wallet that sits in the entrance is gathering dust, the food in the fridge has all gone moldy, the half a can of beer, totally flat. She goes into panic, carefully sealing each item in ziplock bags, trying to preserve forever the memory of what once was. A year passes, she's moved on. Sort of. The "stuff" is all put away, the walls have a fresh coat of paint, new flooring and new sofa's. She has rediscovered her old friends. But the nights are still empty - and here her mind wanders. Faith picks up, but not faith in God - he ran off with her husband. She knows it's stupid, but goes to visit the psychic her friend recommended. Shelling out the $150, the psychic tells her just enough information to inspire hope that she could hear from her lover. That her lover would communicate like this. A week passes, she goes and visits again. This time it's $250 - it's a high demand industry. Again, the psychic stumbles around and then happens to say something that the widow can latch on to. While she's confused at why her husband would want to communicate through this woman, in this place, she continues to go back and back, each time a bit more hope, each time leaving a bit more empty - knowing she is getting ripped off.
And so I go for my umpteenth doctors visit - maybe this time I will hear the voice of my lover through a Doctor. At least it's not costing me anything but time.


don't quote me on this one.

Monday, April 21, 2008

hmm

slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled (habakkuk 2:3)
"Many people wear themselves out trying to fill a vision God didn't give them. So where did their visions come from? a) the most dominant influences in their lives b) their need to "prove" something to someone c) their unresolved issues
Abraham leaned his lesson the hard way. God promised him a son. But he got impatient worried about getting old, took bad advice and ended up fathering Ishmael.
Be careful; all your praying, planning and pushing wont turn the wrong road into the right road. Furethermore, God won't empower you to do what he put into somebody else's heart to do. That is why it's foolish to compare yourself to others. God didn't promise you what he gave them. You're unique. So is his plan. People who make this mistake end up with a sense of failure and frustration because they're constantly measuring themselves up by someone else's assignment. If you're not 'graced' to do it, you'll wear yourself and everybody else out."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

'Where does loneliness come from?
I mean, what's your own nature/nurture crapshoot? You're here. You're reading these words. Is this a coincidence? Maybe you think fate is only for others. Maybe you're ashamed to be reading about loneliness - maybe someone will catch you and then they'll know your secret stain. And then maybe you're not even very sure what loneliness is - that's common. We cripple our children for life by not telling them what loneliness is, all of its shades and tones and implications. When it clubs us on the head, usually just after we leave home, we're blindsided. We have no idea what hit us. We think we're diseased, schizoid, bipolar, monstrous and lacking in dietary chromium.It takes us until thirty to figure out what it was that sucked the joy from our youth, that made our brains shriek and burn on the inside, even while our exteriors made us seem as confident and bronzed as Quantas pilots.

-Douglas Copeland

Thursday, April 10, 2008

jail.

I dreamt I was in a jail cell, the bars, the cement floor, puddle of water in the corner, gross mattress in the back.
And it was the day I was to be executed. And I could remember thinking "I'm not ready", three months ago, when I came into this place, I was ready to die. But the past three months have been one big blurr and all of a sudden, I'm not ready.

I couldn't remember what got me into this jail in the first place, but I had a distinct memory of being let in, and going with a somewhat willful obedience. Not so much that I wanted the sentence that was served; but rather that I was prepared to accept it. It was the just sentence for the crime committed.

But now, three months later on the morning before my noon execution all I could feel was ripped off. A sense of disbelief almost that it had boiled down to this. I take that back, not a sense of disbelief, because that implies that I imagined something better, or different. I didn't imagine anything, I guess I just felt ripped off- that really, after everything was said and done, this was how it was going to end. The good I did in my life, serving in this, helping that, really was all washed out by this one massive crime, that three months later, on the morning of my noon execution, really didn't seem all that bad.

But in my dream I couldn't remember what the crime was. And that was what was so frustrating. Here I was going to die, and I didn't even know what I had done. This crime, was the big black ink that apparently stained so deep the only resolve was to throw the entire paper out.

And there I was, I saw it all vividly, three months later, and I was set to die. The jail warden was walking down the cell hall and I had no ability to escape. Done, I was finished - the transition that happened from being willing to die, to now was astonishing, hard to believe it.

Relief, I awoke. Drenched in sweat. Couldn't go back to bed, had a shower, ate and came to work.



-unedited.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

can't handle the truth

sorry for reposting someone elses blog. but i think others are able to articulate much better in this state of verbal constipation that i seem to be in.
So I ask you, is truth and fact the same thing? That ought to make one stop and think a bit. I do not think they necessarily are. There are two things that separate truth from fact or make fact truth, the first is context, and the second is motive.

CONTEXT
Contest is the tone, attitude and environment of the moment something was spoken or revealed. I have watched, and read articles that crucify some of my ministry friends These watchmen typically take facts out of context, then distort and twist the fact to make it seem like error and heresy and then label my friends as heretics. In this day of sound-bites and editing technology, one can make anyone say anything about any topic.

MOTIVE
The famous quote of former President Clinton, “it depends on what your definition of ‘is’ ‘is’,” actually becomes the quintessential example of motive’s involvement with truth and fact. What said was fact, but it was not truth, why? Because it was being spun or inappropriately used to make it seem as if he was innocent of the charges.

Truth takes into consideration the hidden reasons why we say what we say. Fact only addresses the words that were said.

Why is this important? Because the Holy Spirit is not the spirit of fact – He is the Spirit of Truth. He knows the thoughts and intents of our heart. He know where we come from to get to where we are. He knows our life in Jesus is a process. To know Him is to know truth and truth sets us free. Fact on the other hand imprisons us and leads us astray.

To live a true, pure spiritual life, one must be able to differentiate between truth and fact. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil contained the “fact” of good knowledge and evil knowledge. The Tree of Life was full of Truth

Friday, April 4, 2008

Perspective

My wife nursed this little goldfish who had leprosy, back to life!
I mean, I think it had leprosy, I guess I've never really seen a leopard, ya know the people, not the animal; although I've never seen one of them either..
Anyway, it was a miracle,
Not like, you know, a Jesus miracle - more like a 'whoa that's freaky' kind of miracle...
I mean that. I really do.
Because hey if Jesus has enough time to nurse a goldfish back to health while 10's of 1000's of people are being hacked to death in timbucknowhere, then...we're fucked.

Sorry, I didn't mean to swear. No no, I didn't. I know you've asked me not to, and I don't want to be disrespectful...

ok well how about another song?


-expanded dialogue from David Bazan

Saturday, March 29, 2008

re-wording

And Wisdom is fighting for her life as the sons and daughters of eternity take their opportunity to vomit up truth, to vomit up beauty, vomit up love, understanding, peace. So that when it comes time to give a parting hug goodbye the ripples of the spinal chord are felt more than the flesh of grace, of creation, of knowledge.
Silence knocks us down on our knees, so we take our opportunity to stand - proud that the body has enough flesh to look good in a bikini, happy to offer a resolve of words: intervention, of confrontation of solution. Action in a time when inaction is weak.
Remember what they said? We were the children of their dreams. Words spoken from above. Words drowning in the noise of foolishness.
Wisdom that is rich in variety gets confused with the noise of conversation. So much that she is holding on by a roll of a dice, and gets lost in the snake eyes of entertainment - to make merry before the final crucifixion. Seeking is easy, but finding requires more than most can afford.
We were born, words of wisdom, words of promise, words of spirit, water, blood; but these words are still, are small, are unrecognizable. When they have achieved what they set out to do, and are called back to The Word, all that will be left is the absence of words - which is not silence, but rather noise.
Noise which allows us to dance to the same thump thump thump - so order, peace, civility can be maintained - trampling out the tribal dance of wisdom. A dance that involves far more than awkwardly bending our knees; one that cannot be learned through reading a book - but is primal, evolutionary but not changing, one that is learnt from an unwavering stare at the chief dancer. Box Wine, Spiced Rum and Coors Lite aid the dance of the noise makers - Her dance can't be aided by externalities, only hindered.
Words of acceptance lit the sky, visions of heaven filled their eyes - teach us The Word, that we may not speak noise. Teach us the Word so that she may be more than a dice roll away from vanishing. Teach us silence, so we may hear the resounding gong for what it is.

Friday, March 7, 2008

a few good men.

Two great early morning distractions, with 10% less fear.

"The only thing you respect is stupidity, you willing to die to stupidity"
"Your whole way of life is bullshit"
I saw this when I was 16, haven't seen it since - what happens when teachers go bad.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-C6JAbQlj4

I really think the best part in this movie is where he cuts off the guys finger. but they didn't have that on YouTube...


"WIth the exception of Mrs Price, there is not a decent human being amongst you: not one. Do you know what makes a human being decent? Fear. And therein lies the problem. Not one of you has anything to fear."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-C6JAbQlj4

Thursday, March 6, 2008

for thought.

God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and jusdges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of Christian community, as if his dream binds men together.
When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure.
-dietrich bonhoeffer -

so...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

five.

Five Best...Chinatown Songs

#5. “Shoot Out in Chinatown” by the Band

Shoot out in Chinatown
They nailed up every door
They're gonna level it to the ground
And close it up for evermore

#4. “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War

I seen you walkin' down in Chinatown
I called you but you could not look around

#3. “Shore Leave” by Tom Waits

And I wondered how the same moon outside
Over this Chinatown fair
Could look down on Illinois
And find you there
And you know I love you baby.

#2. “Fat” by Weird Al

My zippers bust, my buckles break
I'm too much man for you to take
The pavement cracks when I fall down
I've got more chins than Chinatown

#1. “Chinatown Calculation” by Doug and the Slugs

Whoever the new mystery man is
I've got to admit, he knows his business
You're reading me now
From the right to the left
And it's coming out just the way you might expect
Chinatown Calculation.
That's cool with no regrets.
(Chop suey, chop chop suey)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Are we ready to believe again?

Show us the wisdom, show us truth. Cut the bullshit from our lives, and show us what it means to be Sons and Daughters of a living God.

Too often I think we dress ourselves up like our brother Jacob in a hope that we'll receive a blessing that will never really come. We've (I've) fallen prey to this idea that humility means to think less of ourselves than what God sees of us. No I'm not talking about an inflated sense of self. But nurturing this idea that we're 'worthless', 'powerless to affect change', that we can do nothing. Yes, Yes, we are all these things IF NOT FOR GOD.

Are we ready to believe again? Are we ready to believe that we are sons and daughters of a living God - to cut out the BS, or whatever it is you want to call it - of the world. Let's believe again - shall we? Let's trust again.

Are we satisfied with this blessing?

"Blessed are those who HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness, for THEY shall be satisfied. It's in the satisfaction (I think) of the sons and daughters that are the blessing. There are so many ways to misread this, I don't even wanna start.

It's not the world that justifies us - WISDOM is justified by her children. We are able to enter a whole NEW set of ideals, rules - the whole playbook has changed. We're being called to his heart - to be satisfied by HIM... Anything less than that..hmm..how do I articulate it - Anything less than that is ____.

Show us wisdom. Show us truth. Show us what it means to be satisfied by the "draw of God"


... a lot of these ideas are inspired by Mr.Upton, So blame him.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

building a mystery..

To be a witness
 does not consist 
in engaging in propaganda,
 nor even in stirring people up,
 but in being a living mystery.
It means to live 
in such a way 
that one’s life 
would not make sense if God did not exist.

Emmanuel CĂ©lestin Cardinal Suhard

The need for peace

Begging, pleading and the like are more closely related to the false prophets who did such at Elijah’s challenge to them on Mount Carmel. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Peace. His presence in you will always produce peace – yes, in the midst of down town traffic. Even Elijah found that the small voice is where God spends most of His time.

This is why so many hear from God when they relax, or they are driving, working, or doing anything but pleading. If God answers us by our pleading, then he has just said we can earn His love. Peace before Him says we “trust” or have “faith” in Him.

John Paul Jackson

Sunday, February 24, 2008

but a second hand emotion...

Love stings: it's messy and complicated. God's love seems to be a bit different. I really can't talk on this topic. It's late, my stomach hurts - and there are other things I want to do before the "day is done." Nothing really in my world seems to be black and white- I don't know how God's love works - I can't tell you its nuances - I can't tell you in situation A it will feel like Y. However, it's the one thing that I think oddly is the most clean, cutting, pure, element of life I can think of. It is very much an emotion, and yet, unlike our emotions, God's love seems to atleast be more consistent, solid, determined in it's motive, and direction. It hurts, it slaps people in the face - and then offers the hug. I'm not trying to be poetic, and not trying to conceptualize what people have done far more eloquently in times before. I'm trying to understand the situations around me. I'm trying to figure out why a CD has affected me so much. Why I've responded the way I have tonight to certain people and why I believe more than right and wrong, more than good or bad, more than anything else - we just need God's love.


"right now I'm so afraid and I don't think I've ever heard you, say my name. and I need to hear your voice, I need to hear you say my name. because these people want to kill my wife, my kids, and all for what? for a God who can't even mouth my name."
And he just began to cry.
And out of the silence he heard the voice of his father for the first time: "Never alone Martin, Never alone Martin. I never leave you" over and over - the song built and built - just that phrase. The first time Martin Luther King heard the voice of God.

The song now runs for 11:47 seconds. It's nothin more than this phrase over and over - some variation, some piano fills. And yet I've found it to be one of the most challenging songs I've heard.
I don't think you would like it. Baby grand, funky drum kit that's kinda poorly (read: cheaply) miked, a bass player and an odd flute. Songs are either 2 minutes long or 10. There's the canned prayer/talking - not stuff that makes for a good listen. But it's real, it's basic and it's true. It conveys something of God's Love.
And I know I'm bitting more off than I can write about - when I say that we don't know what God's love is like - we don't know how true a phrase like 'never leave you' can mean - because it's been splayed out like bullets of a .22 in the shotgun hollywood movies that surround us. 'Do you know your a child of God' to me - to take a rubbing alchohal analogy - stings, is clean and ultimately what we need to know more and more. But itseems like moreover we're content with hearing the opposite. Of having our wounds - our very real wounds - no matter how 'important' or 'minute' - but our wounds covered by a bandaid of sorrow.
There's that scene in Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams says to Matt Damon : "It's not your fault" and Matt responds with a laugh and a "I know", Robin repeats "it's not your faut" and Matt laughs "I know" , again "its not your fault" Matt, getting angry responds "don't fuck with me" and Robin grabs on, holds while Matt cries - "it's not your fault, it's not your fault, it's not your fault" - and I again as I'm listening to Upton repeat "do you know your a child of God, in the midst of anger, your the child of God, sons and daughters of a living God" over and over and over - and it's not an easy song to hear.
This is the kind of Love that I am in awe of - this repeating, free form, improvisitory - Love that is ultimately unachievable by me. And I mean that. Not "It's only achievable with God's grace, kind of Love" - Flat out - it's just not in me. At best I want to convey it. It's not mine, but maybe I can show people whose it is.
It's what more than I know, we need to hear over and over and over. Something about this Love doesn't allow me to stay where I am in my sorrow. Something about this Love can't allow me to listen for too long to lies. It's an uncomfortable love.
it's more than I should be writing here, now, on this topic that so many have written so much about.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

mr.walking man if you can

Earl Partridge: I loved her so. And she knew what I did. She knew all the fucking stupid things I'd done. But the love... was stronger than anything you can think of. The goddamn regret. The goddamn regret! Oh, and I'll die. Now I'll die, and I'll tell you what... the biggest regret of my life... I let my love go. What did I do? I'm sixty-five years old. And I'm ashamed. A million years ago... the fucking regret and guilt, these things, don't ever let anyone ever say to you you shouldn't regret anything. Don't do that. Don't! You regret what you fucking want! Use that. Use that. Use that regret for anything, any way you want. You can use it, OK? Oh, God. This is a long way to go with no punch. A little moral story, I say... Love. Love. Love. This fucking life... oh, it's so fucking hard. So long. Life ain't short, it's long. It's long, goddamn it. Goddamn. What did I do? What did I do? What did I do? What did I do? Phil. Phil, help me. What did I do?

God: You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers' sins they will waste away. But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me"

Jim Kurring: Let me tell you something, this is not an easy job. I get a call on the radio, dispatch, it's bad news. And it stinks. But this is my job and I love it. Because I want to do well - in this life and in this world, I want to do well. And I want to help people. And I might get twenty bad calls a day. But one time I can help someone and make a save - correct a wrong or right a situation - then I'm a happy cop. And as we move through this life we should try and do good. Do good... And if we can do that, and not hurt anyone else, well... then...

The Lord: "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sins."

Moses (and The Lord) Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. 3 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs.

Linda Partridge: Fuck you, too. Don't call me "lady". I come in here, I give these things to you, you check, you make your phone calls, look suspicious, ask questions. I'm sick. I have sickness all around me and you fucking ask me about my life? "What's wrong?" Have you seen death in your bed? In your house? Where's your fucking decency? And then I'm asked fucking questions. What's... wrong? You suck my dick. That's what's wrong. And you, you fucking call me "lady"? Shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on both of you.

Dave: How about you take a ride with me, we could kill some time, shoot the breeze; He said "every whispering wind and second counts" Oh, maybe if you walk, but you should drive around.

Danny The Whiz Kid: As the book goes, you may be through with the past, but the past is never through with you.

Dave: I don't need you to stall for some time, no I don't need you to turn water into wine, no I don't need you to, to fly I'm just asking you to save me

Another Dave: As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Equalizer

Limit your potential.

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me."

Many sound systems of all types, from pro to garage sale, have a graphic equalizer. I'm sure it's not called that, but it's a graphic representation of the various frequencies comming from the music. When you look at an equalizer you see the different lines all at different levels - this is what makes music sound good (yes,I'm a hack, it's besides the point right now). Certain frequencies are meant to only be at a minimal level and others stronger, so it creates a nice, balanced tone.

Paul talks about Christ's power made perfect in our weakness. The contemporary church it seems has translated that into something more like Christ making up for our weaknesses, rather than (how I now read it) him revealing his power in OUR weakness - ie. in the present state, as the present state. An example that comes to min is worship. When we talk about 'developing' worship, 'creating a climate for...' we put almost this mythical "if only we had X then God would reveal himself" ie. we feel we need to be at a certain level for Christ's power to be revealed. I can't help but think that maybe we're just not going to get at level X, and that we need to expect Christ's power to be revealed right in this very present state.

I use a culturally christian/church example here, because I think unfortunately the Christian message has been presented too often in a perverse twist on Darwinism's Survival of the Fittest. I think we've almost come to believe in this theory, but feel smug that it's more a "survival of the fittest and most Godly." Ie. we're given a one up on those heathens. Or in whom "God is most powerful as displayed by his/her ability to do X."

This christianized Darwinism continually pushes the starting line back, continually limits God's potential and in general creates a climate of Christian "shouting" (to take back the metaphor). In that we all want and think God should allow us to do everything. We sit in Church all wanting to give the best 'advice' the best comment, or the most appropriate scripture - and I have to think that our equalization is just way off.

Or maybe I'm way off here (as I right this I'm wondering...where am I going with this). To read into this that I'm calling us to expect less of God is wrong. In fact I think I'm calling us to expect more. Expect that in our limitations, we can still glorify, honour and reveal Christ. Yes, maybe Christ will make us an amazing guitar player even tho we 'naturally' suck; but maybe efforts would be better spent elsewhere (like on our knees).

The church certainly isn't the only one guilty of promoting this, business, school, life - all teach the same mantra of compensating for your weaknesses, and being all you can be. But the church is called to be radically different. So, maybe celebrate and expect God to work with the equalizer, rather than push to make all frequencies maxed.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Give Up pt. 3 - the final or first installment?

"I know many Christians who are living a less than vibrant spiritual life on the wrong mountain. They work hard, doing all the right things, but nothing seems to go right. The wrong mountain will not provide deep, true spirituality - because it does not have the deep soil to produce true spiritual fruit."

"We are being Transformed into His likeness. His likeness contains nine proof points of Spirituality that are costly to obtain. Re-procreation is free, but true, deep spirituality is costly. I do not mean costly in the sense of justification by works. This cost is far more expensive than that, and far more difficult to recognize. The cost is - you must “give up your right to be right.” "

John Paul Jackson @ blog.streamsministries.com


This year for lent, I'm giving up.

Give up pt. 2

I knelt and put my head on the bed and wished I could believe. I can't believe. Make me. I said,
I'm a bitch and a fake and I hate myself. I can't do anything of myself. Make me believe. I shut
my eyes tight, and I pressed my nails into the palms of my hand until I could feel nothing but the
pain, and I said, I will believe. Let him be alive, and I will believe. Give him a chance. Let him
have his happiness. Do this, and I'll believe. But that wasn't enough. It doesn't hurt to believe. So
I said, I love him and I'll do anything if You'll make him alive. I said very slowly, I'll give him up
forever, only let him be alive with a chance, and I pressed and pressed and I could feel the skin
break, and I said, people can love without seeing each other, can't they, they love You all their lives
without seeing You, and then he came in at the door, and he was alive, and I thought now the agony
of being without him starts, and I wished he was safely back dead again under the door.

This year for lent, I'm giving up

Lent

This year for lent, I'm giving up.
I'm giving up the arguing, I'm giving up the dancing
I'm giving up trying, I'm giving up with being right
I'm giving up lying, and I'm giving up on the fronts

You give up chocolate, give up coffee, give up church, give up God
You give up laughter, give up life, give up trying to make a difference.
Bite your nose to spite the face, but it will always disappoint in the end

This year for lent I'm going to give up black and white
This year for lent I'm going to give up right and wrong, moral, immoral.

This year for lent, I'm giving up.

--
It's not
What you thought
When you first began it
You got
What you want
Now you can hardly stand it though,
By now you know
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up

You're sure
There's a cure
And you have finally found it
You think
One drink
Will shrink you 'til you're underground
And living down
But it's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up

Prepare a list of what you need
Before you sign away the deed
'Cause it's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up
No, it's not going to stop
'Til you wise up
No, it's not going to stop
So just...give up

Monday, January 28, 2008

G: And so what happens Jeff is that the box, or the framework in which your allowed to operate in becomes increasingly smaller... at an exponential rate. It happened long ago in the work force, and we all recognized it then. We created managers who could problem solve for people under them, staggered pay, and staggered lines of authority. No one thought much of it then. You have people right now who are 3 times older than you, and you're solving their issues - no?
J: Yeah for sure
G: And these people don't necessarily have any less of an education, are not necessarily dumber - they just have been robbed of the authority to think.
G: Christian theology has done a good job of shrinking the box in which you operate. Your theology dictates your operational playing field, and pretty soon options that are fully possibilities from a different vantage point, are out of your view because you've shrunk the box. Static theology traps us into believing what God did rather than what God is doing. We build rules and those rules determine how we think, talk and problem solve.
J: Ya I'm gonna need an example....
G: Let's take a really practical one. Your worship budget. You say people won't take care of the equipment you buy, so why bother spending the money to get it.
J: Yup
G: So you've just shrunk the box one small step - you're now in a smaller playing field because you don't think the money you've been entrusted with should be spent
G: And the list goes on. We can't afford position X so we assume we shouldn't hire the person; rather than thinking creatively on how we can compensate for their time
G: Static theology is safe - a Jesus who desecrates sacred bowls by filling them with wine, who says that (insert your least favourite person here) is your neighbour and you are to love them, who says that God's kingdom is not of this world; is not. You know I could go on.
If we place our trust in the metaphoric "peg of theology" we become like a dog tied to the leash. Running around and around the same spot, doing nothing but wearing down the grass of our lives.
And most of us don't ever see the box getting smaller, we never see our own creative capabilities getting smaller and smaller.
G: I encourage you to blow that box of theology right out. Get down to love. Love, hope and faith, but the greatest of all these is love. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

Monday, January 21, 2008

100% Guilt Free Church

Closed eyes, big lines, I get so tempted just to let it ride sometimes. Looks good, tastes bad. Makes me wonder where I buried all the dreams I had.

I have a dream. It's simple really, a Guilt Free Church - could you imagine? I can. Guilt seems to be a product of fear, which seems to be the antithesis of Love. Because fear is such a broad term, let's break it down. Expectation - think hard enough about it, and I think in a lot of manner expectation can be caused by fear. Fear of failing produces unreal expectations, fear of failing God, fear of salvation, fear fear fear, guilt guilt guilt. And it's not of Love.

The overwhelming majority of evangelical Christians can have lives characterized more by guilt, than by grace. The hammer of obligation beats down in churches more than the bells of freedom. So what would it look like if we ran under the guise of a guilt free community? If we looked more at what God is providing for us in the immediate, than what he is not. If we stopped wanting to be at a 100% and rather said that hey, maybe God can use us at 50%.

And all I see is a less-good version, of a man I don't want to be. All I feel is you tying me down to something that just isn't real
And all I need is some truth, God help me, before the devil buries me.


A fear perspective would say that this would turn into a church of the lazy. Maybe. But I think the first reason people walk away from Christianity is they realize that the guilt of believing in a man in the sky is just not worth it. So they walk. And so should they.

can't do nothing if I can't do something my way, well I must be crazy if I follow every word you say. When the shit comes down you'll be the first to walk away. Call the police, coz I've lost control and I really want to see you bleed

I look to a new year, a new set of possibilities, a new move of God (maybe?), before getting away with 'ideals' which can so often be driven from a 'fear context', I have hope that I can 'keep the palm open' so-to-speak. I think everytime we act out of guilt, we close the palm of possibility (pop?) just a bit- to move from an open plane to a bit more of a cup, and eventually a fist, in which we punch people not driven by guilt (sorry I had to finish the sentence).

I do pray that this year could be a guilt free year. I think we only have one example of someone who has done it (hint: he wore sandals and liked wine), and if you looked at how he lived, the words he spoke, the actions he did tried to speak to the world that guilt is gone, nada, not needed. Was he effective in it? you tell me. I pray that this year, I could be a part of a new guilt free movement - I know I'll fail horribly, at times, but nonetheless - that's one of the flags I want to fly.

cheers.

Friday, January 18, 2008

discontent

My friend Bob Jones says 2007 was the year of discontent. I say that is too light of a term - it was the “Trial of Discontent.” It was a year of trial or test and God was using discontent as the line of demarcation to see who would act, speak, prophesy, or move before He did. Discontent causes us to look elsewhere for fulfillment and it seemingly seizes control of our soul (mind, will, emotions). When discontent hits us, we cannot think, or perceive the way we used to. You see discontent can be a driving force and only those who have God’s agenda can overcome their own – it is one of the great prophetic tests. Discontent is a trial and many have been found, to use an Old Testament term, “wanting.” They spoke too soon, acted too soon, and/or prophesied too soon. Those choices always lead to pain.

-John Paul Jackson

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

murmurings...

"I don't reject your Christ, I love your Christ. It's just that so many of your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
-Gandhi

"Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion he started. So don't ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear his name. If he was willing to turn Judaism upside down, don't think for a moment our institutions are safe from a divine revolt. I am convinced that even now there are multitudes of followers of Jesus Christ who are sick and tired of the church playing games and playing down the call of God. My travels confirm that the murmurings of revolution are everywhere. I am convinced that there is an uprising in the works and that no one less than God is behind this."
-Erwin McManus

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dance.Dance.

We played the flute but you did not dance

Our faith has somewhat of a persistent, graceful, defiant middle finger element about it
This week, that middle finger was able to be raised in dance.
I'm exhausted, I'm tired, I'm not in the mood.
I have problems, my stomach hurts, I'm confused.

Praise me, says God, and I will know that you love me.
Curse me, says God, and I will know that you love me.
Praise me or curse me
And I will know that you love me.


We have to hold to that truth that if God exists, if his word is actually true, then regardless of whether we believe it or not we can start by reading it, we can begin to sing it and hopefully we can then move to dance it. And for me, in my life, then I can start to believe it. In response to much of what I know to not be true, and know to be true -the best thing I can do is to start to dance, sometimes all I can do is raise my middle finger, but at least that's a start. It's an act, and one act can lead down any number of avenues.

To dance on troubles is not to ignore them, treat them lightly, but rather to put them in their place, under our feet. It's a proclamation, an active response.

This morning, driving to church with less than 3 hours sleep, an emotional rollercoaster of a 9 hour meeting the day prior, and no idea how Sunday morning was going to turn out; one of the last things I wanted to do was dance. But this infectious beat came on my ipod, and I realized, with tears on my cheek, that, that is what I must do.

"But we tend to forget the music of your spirit, and we turn our life into a gymnastic exercise;
We forget that in your arms, life is something to be danced, That your Holy Will is inconceivably creative and that all monotony and boredom is left to the old souls who play the wallflower in the joyfull ball of your love."

Make us live our life, not like a game of chess, where everymove is calculated, Not like a contest, where everything is difficult, Not like a math problem, which makes our head hurt; But like an endless celebration, where our meeting with you is contstantly new, Like a ball, like a dance, in the arms of your grace, in the unversal music of love.

Lord, ask us to dance."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

go fly a kite

As he stands on a rock, surrounded by a dusty plane, kite, like a wilted daisy flopped to his side, he sticks his finger out to the sky and hopes for the wind.
To the west he sees kids and adults running. Running is a generous verb - for by this point they're more limping. Confusing their own motion with a sign that the wind is behind them. Hopelessly throwing their kites to the sky, only to watch them come fluttering down when they run out of breath.
To the east he sees evidence of the wind. Like a mirage the grass bends slightly, giving way to small gusts. But he was told to stand there -for on that rock the kite would fly.
Some people, seeing the wind to the east try to chase it - but being so tired out from creating wind, their pace isn't fast enough and they make it to the east only to feel nothing but the dry, hot, static air.
He stands on that rock, feeling slightly less confident that anything will happen. But with the insight of other's follies, the case to move on is not too compelling.
He stands on the rock, surrounded by a dusty plane, kite like a wilted daisy flopped to his side - confused, anxious, patience forced only by knowledge.