newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: February, 2014

Lent starts next week, and I am starting something…not giving something up.

I attended an evening event with Peter Rollins this past Sunday.  I’ve read his books, watched a couple of videos of him online; I suppose one could (understatedly) call me a fan.  Those who are familiar with Pete and his work know that one decentering practice that he is to thank/blame for is the idea of “Atheism for Lent.”  As presented by Pete, the idea is that it is an opportunity to let the writings of the great atheistic thinkers critique the Church.  Through this, the participant is looking for an answer to the question of “What do I look like through your eyes?” in order to better the participant and identify the authenticities (or lack thereof) in his or her faith and beliefs.

Lent is a time for giving something up, so in a sense to participate in an activity like this is to (temporarily) suspend the notion that my belief is right.  In a way though, it is taking something up, and by that I mean it is the chance to adopt another viewpoint.  Lent begins next week and with it I will be posting daily reflections.  If anyone starts to notice me getting too morbid or relativistic, please let me know.  I want to be better about that.

Advertisements

The best way to know someone.

There is a cliche as worn as the footwear it references which states: “Before you criticize someone, first you must walk a mile in his or her shoes.”  The original speaker might have been encouraging empathy in living life alongside a person before critiquing them; or, perhaps the intent was that we should the shoes of the person we want to critique so that we will be a mile away and it would be uncomfortable for them to come get us, a la Jack Handy.

What is the best way to get to know someone?

In listening to some of my students, it would seem that hero worship is the solution.  “Kellin Quinn loves (insert object here).”  “Don’t watch that show; Daniel Tosh ridiculed that person.”  Overdosing on media consumption connected with the individuals that people find as role models (hero worship) makes a convincing solution.

Until…

Four years ago I met an author/speaker who I really admired.  His books made him come across as insightful and articulate.  Listening to him speak made him seem polished and brilliant.  Then I came face-to-face with him and it suddenly all seemed…awkward.  Until that point, all I knew about this person was the books of his I had read, the talks he’d given which I’d listened to on Podcast, and the YouTube videos people had posted.  When removing the veil of media where there is no second- or third-person encounter, suddenly things became much less exciting and suddenly became…over-hyped.

And…

The thing we as humans fail to appreciate is that like the Garden of Eden, once we put we into the equation, the outcome changes.  Fans are stalkers with scruples.  I am completely aware of the fact that I may have been the one to make things awkward.   If I had been around this person more, maybe I would have better understood what makes him tick and focused on his interests.  Maybe he would have known and been able to interpret my quirky sense of humor.  Maybe…

In the end, the best way to know someone is not through second- or third-person encounters.  When all that remains between us and the person we desire is nothing, that is where it all gets real.  This long-winded rambling has nothing to do with anything, and something to do with everything.  Faith is like this.  How traumatizing for a person who hears stories about how great God is and what God is like, only to encounter what he or she thinks is god and watch all expectations fall flat and lifeless.  Awkward.  It wasn’t until I put to the side what I had been taught that others had experienced and started wrestling with things on my own, did I finally start to encounter God who (thankfully) was nothing like what I had taught about.

Life.  Relationships.  Knowing.  The only way to truly experience them is through living them out in the midst of all their messiness.  If you connected with something in this post, or if you felt after reading it that am full of it, please feel free to comment and share this post.  Perhaps you and I can get a conversation going.

“I see pride. I see power. I see a bad@$$ mother who don’t take no crap from nobody!”

As the coach of a high school forensic speech team, I get the distinct pleasure of working critical thinking, debate, and interpretation skills.  To assist in building character development skills for interp. pieces, my team and I instituted “Movie Mondays”.  The two criteria for bringing a movie are: 1) It must be a movie that I will not be in danger of losing my job over showing it to the team; and 2) It has to have distinct characters.  In honor of the 2014 Winter Olympics, we watched Cool Runnings (hence the quote).

While I have serious doubts about the movie Cool Runnings having the unique ability to be considered a timeless classic, nonetheless I believe it has staying power.  In working with teenagers as a teacher, mentor, and youth pastor, I have been given new perspective on what words like: “awesome,” “classic,” and “timeless” mean.  The perspective I have gained is that these words do not carry the same level of gravitas for them as me (actually, they do, just not when applied to the same objects).  “Staying power” is the term I have come to apply to anything, music, book, movie, etc., that I enjoy and the teenagers who surround me also enjoy.

What are the things which you consider to have staying power?

Cool runnings, mon!

Yes. But.

In the wake of the anticlimactically-hyped Nye/Ham debate, the critiques have been steady.  So steady in fact, that were one to read every single one, it would take (in my estimation) twelve times as long to read through them all as it did to watch the 2.75 hour debate.  

One comment which at first bugged me came from Christian Piatt.  In his blog post “Ham on Nye”, Piatt responds about more important, larger issue, including “how not all Christians believe there’s some invisible Sky Wizard sitting up in the clouds who got lonely and creates us as His playthings.”  The line of thought about Christians believing in a “bearded man in the sky who grants wishes” (thanks Daniel Tosh for the wording) is something which some atheists tend to bring up when referring to the dynamic of folklore in Christianity.  Piatt’s comment got me thinking about the point he was trying to make…

As Christians, there is an existent/insistent God dynamic which we witness and testify to in everyday life.  It any moment it could break out (tip of the hat to John D. Caputo for the phrasing), and it is in that tension which we walk.  Since it could (perhaps) break out, the only chance that we as Christians can definitely have here on Earth of seeing God, is to be God in the world.

1 John says that God is love; we need to be love to the World.  It doesn’t matter whether the Earth is 6 thousand or 6 million or 6 billion or 60 billion years old.  What matters is the time we have and what we do with it.

If this wasn’t the thing to which he was trying to allude, I am sure he will forgive me.  If it is, I’m glad I could expound (only slightly) on what he was trying to get others to see.

Dinner With A Mixed Crew

There is a book sitting on my shelf which I read a couple times when I was in high school.  The premise of this book is simple: C.S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley meet in the afterlife and converse over metaphysical topics.  I was looking for another book in my personal library and saw it.  Later, it got me thinking about a different book about a man who receives an invitation to dinner with someone he doesn’t know.  These two plots merged and got me thinking about an age-old icebreaker: “If you could have dinner with three people, past or present, who would your dinner guests be?”  After consideration, here is how I would answer the question:

Guest 1:  Sir Sean Connery– James Bond. Professor Henry Jones. William Forrester.  The man is an on-screen legend and with the various individuals with whom he has rubbed shoulders, he is bound to have plenty of good stories.

Guest 2:  Soren Kierkegaard– Kierkegaard’s philosophical musings were forward thinking for his day; his parables are some of the most widely repeated when it comes to teachings about life.

Guest 3: Paul of Tarsus– Perhaps even more than Jesus, Paul impacted the Jewish community of his day and really had a major impact in the formation of Christianity.  With debate about the authenticity of authorship of The Bible’s pastoral epistles, how he came to certain conclusions about the ramifications of the Crucifixion/Resurrection, and how he was one of the first published authors of any sort of systematic theology, Paul would certainly be able to provide plenty of stimulating discussion.

Who would your three dinner guests be?  Would they have anything in common?  Would they have nothing in common and thereby make the party more interesting?

We Never Grow Up.

When I was a young boy, I used to let my mischievous side come out during the winter.  While I never earned for myself a criminal record, I used to trespass on peoples’ property continually during the snowy months.  When I was little, I had a fascination with the icicles that would hang from peoples’ gutters.  I was so fascinated in fact, that I would sneak across their snow-covered lawns to try and knock the icicles down.  Winter was always a time of fascination and excitement.

Today marks the eighth snow day that the school corporation where I teach has called this winter.  As I walk my dog and see icicles, a part of me is tempted to high step across snow to knock down icicles and get my dog to play fetch with them.  However, my wife and I have been residents at our current house for less than a year now and are trying to convince the neighbors we are normal.

At the beginning of 2014, my wife and I applied for life insurance and cut up our first credit card.  I wanted called my dad to share with him the news that his (almost) 30-year-old son was now officially a grown up.

In a sense, we never grow up.  Whether it is a fascination from childhood from which we never outgrow, or a favorite song that we never un-like, or looking for approval of a parent, there is something about humanity that is birthed in the period of childhood which will never change.

Regretfully, it isn’t only the positive aspects which stick with us.  I have this unhealthy tendency to fixate on things which I can’t change: health, exam results, etc.  I desire to have my own way (drives my wife nuts when I do that).  The good things outweigh the bad things, but the truth is that they do come together.

As I/we get older, things change.  Other things still stay the same.  I will never be able to fully realize my adult identity because there is a part of me forever connected to my childhood.  Unless childhood is a part of adulthood.  What part of your childhood survived to adulthood?