I don't wanna be

There are some times when I just look at the world around me, mostly just the alley off Vista Bonita in Glendora, and think that life is going well. I love the way the sunset feels, you know? The sun has just barely set and the air is cooling down and the only way to feel anything is just to take off your clothes and stand there, staring at the sky. I have to look through the power lines and phone lines and junk, but the air just feels like the Earth is happy to have us all here. When it's raining, the Earth seems like it's trying to wash us all down the drain or something.

Tuesday evening was one of those perfect evenings. My wife and I had just finished talking. I grabbed a water, and stepped out our front door and onto our tiny little lawn and just knew that life was worth living. It just was. Everything made sense and there was a tiny moment of lucidity when the human experience was beautiful, flaws and all.

Other days aren't like that. Today it was raining and just felt crappy. Rain just seems like such a waste to me. You can't see anything, you can't go out and love it, in fact when it's raining, everyone and everything tries to stay dry. Animals hide, humans try to cover their heads and run towards shelter, even the sun doesn't try to shine. What's the first thing you need if you are on a desert island? Water. Second thing? Shelter. There's a reason you need a shelter: to keep the water off you. You've never of people drowning during a drought, nope, only in flash floods and rivers and oceans and lakes. I'm just saying: water belongs inside the human body, not falling from the sky and trying to wash us away. The ocean is cool, but only when I know I can get out of it, not when I'm caught in an undertow or something.

There really isn't anything else in my life right now. I'm conflicted because life seems so sunny and stuff but I never know when the rain will come. And I guess someone could tell me that there are seasons for everything, but I still hate the rain.

And I hate when I try to sound philosophical. I don't have the brains to be a philosopher, and I don't have the skills to be an artist. So I'm caught in this netherworld where the mediocre reside. Which is fine, but I just think I'm better than mediocre. Not great or brilliant or anything, just upper-middle normal. We'll all float on all right.


Get up and die if you wanna

Today was a rough day at work. Not a lot of work was actually done, due mostly in part to my lack of concern for work getting done. I didn't get too excited about anything and, as a result, didn't do a whole lot of anything.

Apathy is dumb. But it works. At least when you don't want to get anything done.

In other news, we didn't go to church yesterday. Which isn't that much of a surprise to me, but maybe it's news for someone.

"I missed you the other day," God said.

"Really? I didn't think you noticed!" I said.

"Of course I did. I saved you a seat near the back so you couuld leave early and not talk to anyone," He said.

"I really appreciate that. You're okay, God." I said.

"Of course I am," He said.

"Can I ask you something? It might be a little elemental, but I'm confused about it, still," I said.

"Go ahead," He said.

"Why should I go to church? I know that it's where the Body of Christ lives and that we have to surround ourselves with 'believers' and that a coal away from a fire burns out, but it seems like those are weird reasons to go hear someone else's idea about You and sing songs. You know what I mean?" I asked.

"Yup. Sure do. I actually don't prefer those kind of churches Myself," He said.

"You don't?" I asked. (I didn't believe Him at this point, because I'm pretty sure that He's a lot more ironic than I give Him credit for.)

"Nope. I prefer churches that worship Me and remember Me and have fun together and live life together and share their thoughts together and grow closer to Me together. People have really tried to turn it into a formula, you know, one song intro, pastor greeting, three songs, pastor talk, one song close while offering is passed around, and blah, blah, blah. True spirituality is a lot more than a building and some songs. It can be found in those places but it doesn't end there. True spirituality and relationship is built through people. Real life people."

"So what you're saying is: I can go hang out with people instead of going to a building on Sunday mornings," I said.

"No, I'm saying that Christianity functions best through people. People who desire nothing more than to love each other and Me," He said. "And besides, it's not like you're doing that anyway. You sit on your butt on Sunday mornings and watch TV and do chores. All of which are fine. But where's your community?"

"Uhhh, Xbox Live? I mean, at any given moment there are thousands of people playing at any moment," I said.

"Riiight. The point of Xbox Live is not to glorify Christ, though. That should be the point of the church," God said.

"I knew it! But what about the churches who are caught up in other things, political agendas, money, programs, etc. How can I support those things?" I asked.

"You can't. You shouldn't have to. But you have to admit that any institution that humankind has gotten hands on has been screwed up somehow. Why should the church be any different?" He asked.


"I know. And believe Me, it's been like that for a while. The world is far from perfect and it's only by grace that The Church does anything good at all. Yeah, people screw up a lot. But that's not where my desire is. And someday things will be better," He said.

"And if things are going to be better later, why should I try now? Church will always be church and why should I commit my life to a fallen institution?" I asked.

"Because it's better than what you have now. I didn't design this place so you could be alone. Yes, you and I have good times alone, but you can't just expect to grow closer to me only through that. You are a complex being (kinda like Me) and you need to have people around you who both help you grow closer to me and that you can love. I am the Trinity and though we don't need each other like you need people (it's because I'm wholly perfect in Myself), we are an example of community. And most people believe that I created humanity with the hopes that I could have community for eternity. Yes, I gave you all free will and that meant I might get rejected sometimes (and I have, but don't worry about Me, I'm wholly perfect and can stand rejection) but I really like all of you and want you all to know Me really well and Me to know you really well. And for the most part, that knowing Me comes in community," He said.

"But I already have work mates and school friends and family that I can see You in . . ." I countered.

"Yup. And I didn't say church had to happen on Sundays with people you didn't know. But it needs to be a little more intentional than a chance passing on a Thursday morning. Don't get me wrong, I'm in those moments, too. But I still want to see you with other people who love me in an intentional setting that focuses on furthering My message of love," He said.

"All right. I still have more to ask you but I'm sure it can wait. Maybe I'll see you sometime soon. Time to go back to class," I said.

"See you there! Or you won't!" He said. Then He giggled and walked away. I swear, sometimes His irony is too rich for my blood. But He is still is the best thing that ever happened to humankind, so what can you do?


Phoenix and everything after

The show in PHX was great. It was my friends' band Dear and the Headlights and they played in a Borders book store in Tempe. They are so much better than their setting and I'm really glad they got some exposure. There were about 150-200 people there. Pretty impressive to me.

Time for Halo 2. My wife loves me right now. As she should.


So long suckers

I'm going to AZ to see a concert this weekend. It had better be good.

Michael out.


My Bible is full of mistakes

So I'm in class right now, learning about the difference between inerrancy and infallibility, specifically as it relates to the Bible. It's an interesting conversation, because the words are not synonymous, and Christians get pretty hung up on the importance of those two things. Here's my thoughts on it mixed with Dr. Kenneth Waters:

Inerrant - without material error (scientific, historical, geographical, grammatical, etc)

Infallible - without cognitive error (theological, moral, soteriological, etc.)

Now, there are those who are certain the Bible is without any kind of error at all, and I have problem with this and here's why: THERE ARE MISTAKES IN THE BIBLE, i.e., Gospel accounts don't quite match, some verses contradict others (David tempted by God in II Samuel or David tempted by Satan in Chronicles), and blah, blah, blah. And within the idea of inerrancy, one must fight to maintain the perfection. You have a huge burden of responsibility because if only one mistake exists, your faith is shattered. You must use logical reasons (and some of them are quite valid) to explain the "errors" away.

On the other hand, if you accept that the Bible has mistakes, at what point can you believe it? At what point can you say, "Well, this part's wrong, but this one's right. Why? Because it just is!" It seems like such a slippery slope if you admit that there is even one mistake because then there might be others.

But what if there was a way to believe what the Bible had to say without believing the way it was said is perfect? If we don't get hung up on the perfection of the Bible, we can get hung up on more important concepts, like Christ. For catssake, Jesus said that HE would be a stumbling block, not God's Word. The concepts contained within the Bible (love, justice, hope) are far more important than tracing back the root of a "mistake" (is it translation error, or something else?) so that we can espouse a viewpoint.

If I begin a discussion with someone about the perfection of Shakespeare's work, say Romeo and Juliet, and say that each word in it is perfectly contained in a textbook I have and that each one of the phrases in that play tells me how to live my life and that all this person needs to do is read the play and memorize it and their life will be changed, what have I done? I've given the person I'm talking to serveral different roadblocks to life change. And if fault can be found in anyone of those concepts (perfection of the document, phrases changing life, memorization of document's truth, etc), their "faith" in Romeo and Juliet will fall apart. And it's not because the document is faulted; it's because the method is faulted. If I instead read Romeo and Juliet, am so moved by the story (the love and sacrifice and tragedy) that I start digging deeper and deeper into the characters and setting and try to appreciate the beauty of Old English and the use of literary devices and transforming depth of the story itself. After that, I try to live my life like Romeo and give everything I have to love. Certainly, living a life like that would give people a good idea what Romeo and Juliet is about and how it could change their life, too.

I don't want to take the analogy too far because I'm afraid it won't hold up (and I don't know how evangelism fits into it, but for that matter I don't know how evangelism fits into life) but the point remains: the transforming power of God is not limited by a document, Holy Scriptures or otherwise. The issue at stake is not whether the Bible is flawless; the issue is whether or not I believe God can use anything to bring people to Himself. And that's where my faith lies. I believe the Bible contains truth (and ultimately, The Truth) but I don't believe that "truth" means to me what it meant to the writers of the Bible. The Bible is a book written thousands of years ago with tens of human authors that contains the story of God interacting with the world over the course of 4000 years. And it's beautiful. And it's full of love and ultimately Love.

God is bigger than any document and the Truth will set people free despite our 20th century, American concepts of truth (ie, truth must be historically accurate and scientifically proven). He brings hope to the hopeless and love to the unloved and faith to those who believe. He redeems that which has no worth. And He will continue to do so despite what anyone thinks of His book.


Stay away from Myspace.com

Just a thought kids. I added my profile to the site and there are so many people on there that I just imagine that I know one of them. So I start looking and then it wastes my time.

We are such a narcissistic society. "I'm on the web! I'm famous!"

But seriously, I'm on the web. I'm pretty much famous now. Please pay attention to me. Please.


So very special

I don't care if it hurts.
I want to have control.
I want a perfect body.
I want a perfect soul.
I want you to notice when I am not around.

I was walking back from getting the mail tonight and heard these lyrics from Radiohead's Creep album. It reminded me a lot of a book I'm reading called Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. His main theory is that since the fall, humans (as individuals) have looked for approval and confidence and worth from each other. This is what causes cliques and competition and sin in general. It seems true. We are all very very interested in our own preservation, even at the expense of everyone around us.

I like the lyrics because they contain what I am so often: only concerned with control and perfection at any cost, but also demanding that people miss me. It's so selfish and I can't believe that it took me this long to see just how selfish living can be. Miller posits that only life in a relationship with Christ can change that selfishness. If people look to God for their identity and worth, they will have no need to compete with each other, whether it's competeting with money or looks or job status or wit or anything. People could live in peace if it weren't for their ruinous nature.

If you ever get the chance to hear Honestly, by Zwan, do it. Billy Corgan's voice and lyrics are full of love and it is so powerful musically that it makes you think he's found hope. That's a powerful thing, hope.

Faith, hope, and love. Those three remain. Because what else would you need if you had those? Nothing. Faith, hope, and love. Those things cannot be taken away or wished into existence. Either they are real or they aren't. Either I have them or I don't. Faith that breeds hope which grows love. Love which hopes within faith. Hope that seeks love with faith.

I wonder if it's heretical to compare these to the Trinity. Could we say that the Father is faith, the Spirit is hope, and the Son is love? I guess they cannot be divided because they are one. But the point that all of them interact perfectly with one another is mind-boggling. And so it is with faith, hope, and love. How can you love perfectly without hope? How can you have faith without love? It seems lopsided if you only have one or two of the three.

Enough for now. More later if the pen is willing.


I got sunshine in a bag

Sitting before me right now is a medical book with the page opened to a section on colostomies. Very interesting. Apparently, a single-barrel colostomy is usually permanent, while double-barrel and loop colostomies are reversible. So if you are ever offered an option, take the loop. It will be well worth it.

I play a lot of Halo 2 online now. I think I'm developing a problem, though, so I'm only going to play it when I want to have fun, not just because I want to improve my online rating. Which isn't that good anyway, but I have a fairly competitive nature in video games and want to be the best. Which is why I cheat if I can. It doesn't violate morals if it's virtual.

If anyone asks, as of right now, our computer has no spyware on it. Tell the kids.

Danielle and I talked about abortion today. I still don't know how I feel about it. She asked me if I could work in an abortion clinic as a nurse. I said I didn't think so. It would be hard for me. Yes, I do object to it but at what level? Is it okay if the mother's life is at risk? If it is a rape victim? If it is before the first trimester is over? I object to humans being murdered; when is the fetus a human? At conception? It's just such a hot topic, which makes it harder to talk about rationally, and it was hard for us to find a relevant comparison so we just quit.

I'm getting better at listening. I'm getting better at letting questions be questions and discussion happening without giving my input. I think I'm the smartest person alive but that's not the way it is, and sometimes, people don't need an answer, they just need to ask the questions. It seems like I just assume that if I have all the answers to any imagined question then people will listen. And today's world just isn't like that. I have to be okay with the questions just existing and having opinions and views being dynamic. Even my own.

Lord help me see the truth as more than just an answer, but the question as well. May I value the pursuit of truth just as much as the answer, and trust in You to guide people where they belong. May I live and believe that all truth is God-breathed. Amen.


Guess who's back?

Well, I'm finally back from Mexico. For those who didn't know, I have spent the last few weeks in Mexico, doing what I do there. Which means I directed two different camps, one in Madero (about 450 people) and one in Cuernavaca (about 2000 people). Those numbers seem pretty impressive to me, but then I remember that this has been going on for a billion years and all I have to do is show up. And I guess there is some responsibility involved and I do take pride in that, but seriously, if it wasn't me, somebody could have done it.

The trip was a great chance for me to explore my leadership though, because I could explore different aspects without damaging too much. For example, I got some feedback first week that I was too passive, that I didn't make strong decisions and inform people about them. In my defense (which I am primarily interested in, it would seem), there were a lot of volunteers there who had been to the camp for so many years and I respected their opinion. Apparently, people are not always interested in being asked their opinion, sometimes they just want to be told what to do. And I think that there were people at the camp who were looking to me for a decision, not to get their input. So second week I made decisions a little more. And sometimes people agreed and sometimes they didn't. But I was the one making decisions and the repercussions always came back to me, which I think is what they were interested in.

And on the other hand, I always appreciate it when someone else makes a decision that might cost me political capital and they take the fall; why would I expect different from others I work with?

I might have mentioned that I didn't feel very spiritual in the weeks leading up to the trip. That was true. This trip definitely was a great few weeks of work and I did get filled emotionally and mentally, but spiritually, I think there was a gap for me. I confess, I didn't go to more than a couple chapels, I didn't worship with too much vigor, I didn't actively engage the Spirit of God in the traditional sense. I did get to develop community with some great people and that was rad, but most of that primarily fed my basic desire to be loved, I think.

Speaking of which, read "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller, the same guy who wrote "Blue Like Jazz." It's a little more intentional than "Jazz" and also relational, I think. On the other hand, it doesn't jump around as much and there was a certain attachment to that for a random thinker like me.

Also read Chuck Palahniuk books. He wrote "Fight Club" and there were some great ideas in there. He just has such a great sense of the culture around us as well as how we fit into the absurdity of it. And he's a quick read, which is nice.

I'm glad to be back. I missed my wife and Oregon Honey Beer. And my dog, too, I guess. The thing which is most disturbing about two weeks of absence is that somewhere in there normalcy gets replaced with the new habits and then has to be reset somewhere in the process. So I wake up at night with weird dreams about late chapels and poor decisions and the like. Weird. So if anyone asks about my subconcious, apparently I'm afraid of losing control, or poor leadership, or something like that.

Keep the faith. Remember that community is the most important thing we'll ever encounter as humans.