Wednesday, July 28, 2010
How many times is our spiritual growth stunted by not alienating ourselves from community. . . but by expecting too much of it, and then becoming disappointed?
What Community Doesn’t Do
I’m a huge fan of community. I write and preach about how important and essential I believe it is quite often. But today I want to remind you of what community doesn’t do.
In Clowning in Rome (which I highly recommend) Henri Nouwen wrote:
We constantly feel tempted to want more from those around us than they can give. We relate to our neighbors with the hope and the supposition that they are able to fulfill most of our deepest needs, and then we find ourselves disillusioned, angry, and frustrated when they do not.
We know when we expect someone else to…
take our pain away
understand us completely
that we are expecting something which cannot be given by another human being. But while we know this is illogical our loneliness and brokenness still pushes us to expect it anyway leaving us disillusioned and angry.
There are some things community just can’t do.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I've been pretty hard on the "empty love tank" philosophy in the past. Here is my much needed :) confirmation/affirmation from an authority on the matter. In this short excerpt, David answers the question; Can you change what you want (desire)?"
Can you change what you want? Yes. Does the answer to this question surprise you? It counters influential contemporary views of human motivation. Most Christian counseling books follow on the heels of secular psychologists and take your desires, your “felt needs,” as givens. Many leading Christian psychologists make the unchangeability of what we long for the foundation of their systems. For example, many teach that we have an “empty love tank” inside, and our craving for love must be met, or we are doomed to a life of sin and misery. Desires to feel good about ourselves (“self-esteem”) or to accomplish something meaningful are similarly baptized. This creates the psychological equivalent of the “Health and Wealth” theology, which similarly selects certain common desires and accepts them as givens that God is obligated to fulfill. The psychological versions of health and wealth miss that God is about the business of changing what people really long for. If felt needs are unchangeable, then it is impossible for us to learn to pray the way Solomon did. This reinforces our tendency to pray for our cravings. It reinforces a sense of victimization in those who were mistreated. It reinforces the tendency to press God into the service of our lusts.
The deepest longings of the human heart can and must be changed if mankind is to become all that God designed us to be. Our deviant longings are illegitimate masters; even where the object of desire is a good thing, the status of the desire usurps God. Our cravings should be recognized in order that we may more richly know God as the Savior, Lover, and Converter of the human soul. God would have us long for him more than we long for his gifts. To make us truly human, God must change what we want; we must learn to want the things Jesus wanted. It is no surprise that the psychologists can’t find any biblical proof texts for their view of human motivation. The Bible teaches a different view.
The Christian life is a great paradox. Those who die to self, find self. Those who die to their cravings will receive many times as much in this age, and, in the age to come, eternal life (Luke 18:29). They will find new passions worth living for and dying for. If I crave happiness, I will receive misery. If I crave to be loved, I will receive rejection. If I crave significance, I will receive futility. If I crave control, I will receive chaos. If I crave reputation, I will receive humiliation. But if I long for God and his wisdom and mercy, I will receive God and wisdom and mercy. Along the way, sooner or later, I will also receive happiness, love, meaning, order, and glory.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavs owner, sets the new low bar for bitterness. This is unbelievable. Reports are also out today that he claimed LeBron "quit" during the Boston series last year. This is ridiculous, and the most public display of sour apples I've seen in a while.
Did LeBron not fulfill the terms of his contract?
Did he put the Cavs on the map as a franchise?
Did he bring you, Mr. Gilbert, untold levels of revenue the last 6 years?
No need to answer those questions. . . . .
And, by the way, I disagree with his "guarantee". The Cavs won't make the playoffs next year, and I don't know how quick they can rebound from this.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I'm a huge Dwade fan, and I'm a huge all-star team fan. . . as my pathologic following of the '04 Lakers reminds me. That was a great team that came one Karl Malone knee injury away from the title. To those who say it can't work. . .watch some '08 Olympic highlights, or '04 Lakers. It always works, it's just that most of the time we don't think there's three great players on a team until after the title is won. But, they've been there the whole time. The '04 Lakers are the exception here, we knew all along, but that was a great team. . . .some incredible games that year.
I emplore to read this piece from the Sports Guy about the whole thing. I agree with his assessement about LeBron. . I see alot of Dr. J in King James.
It's amazing all of the hand wringing, high horse-ing, and pontificating about Lebron's decision over the last few days. All of these people that act morally bankrupt the rest of the year (not the least of which is the Sports Guy) are suddenly the arbiters of right and wrong.
I think it's because something didn't feel right about LeBron doing an hour T.V. special to basically rub it in his hometown fans' face. It was a bit insensitive and over the top, to be sure. But, it's ironic how these sportswriters are suddenly taking the high ground and channeling their inner Care Bear. Why?
Romans tells us that the truth is written on our hearts, and from time to time, it seeps out of some suprising people. We know that there are some baseline laws, decencies, and ways the world "should" work. When those things don't happen, we notice. But, needless to say, we don't notice our own hypocricy and irony in the judgements of these events! :) Where were these guys three weeks ago, pontification about morality? It's written on our hearts.
14Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.
ps. I think it actually shows a bit of humility for LeBron to go to DWade's team and play facilitator there. (there's some fear there too. . . .he knows he's not Jordan, or even Kobe, perhaps. . .he needs more help). But, before we all make our judgements,. . let's remember who won game 7 for the Lakers. . . .needless to say, Kobe had ALOT of help from Pau Gasol and Ron Artest. It's always a crew that wins titles, as LeBron said tonight. There's always 2 or 3 great players (perhaps not noticed by the media) that lead a team to the title. Larry Bird had 3 hall-of-famers with him, Magic had at least 3. The only exception here. . not to beat a dead horse. . .is Jordan. He had Pippen, yes, and Rodman for the later years. But, Kobe wasn't trotting out Bill Wennington, Jud Buechler, and John Paxson. "Nuff said.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
It hurts a little bit. . . ., but on a day for celebrating Freedom it seems to me that many of us desire greater freedom in our marriage; Not a freedom from our spouse of course; but a freedom in our relationship, communication, intimacy, etc. . . A freedom from our own kingdom and into God's, . . . and a freedom from soul-killing silence and neglectful tyranny.
It seems alot of folks are settling for a quiet peace that is no peace.
Ironically, being "bound" to some of the things Jared hits on, actually bring "freedom" into our marriages. Making "war" with our selfishness so that some of these things happen, brings "peace" into our most important earthly relationship.
Enjoy your barbeque. . . .
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I'm sure he's not alone, . . .I also partook in some vampire romantic-suspenseful-ness with my beloved last night. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I saw the movie, just me and my wife. My man card is intact. I've also seen the first Twilight (rented it) and have had many conversations with Jody about it, so I thought it's probably time to share my opinions on the whole thing. . .
Before I jump in, I should probably say that Douglas Wilson over at Mablog has an entire series about Twilight. He's a genius, but is also pretty far to the right theologically, and culturally. So, although I glean alot from Rev. Wilson theologically, . . .I usually pass on his cultural (music/movies) stuff, because, frankly, we live in different worlds in those areas. To put it simply, Doug Wilson thinks that Twilight is dangerous for young girls. I was pretty dismissive of that philosophy at first, but after seeing one of the movies, live in the theater, I'm inclined to agree somewhat. .here's why. . . .
DISCLAIMER #1. I'm going to take the viewpoint of a parent here. . .not a husband/boyfriend. There's alot to glean about romantic love from how Edward treats Bella (outside of trying to suck all of her blood. . . sorry. . I'll stop). My wife has written some very insightful blogs about how Bella's feelings are the kind of thing that every woman/wife wants to feel about her husband. And, there's alot there, we've had some great conversations about it. However, in this post, I'm thinking like a parent, and taking that viewpoint. Some of my friends/commentors are going to have some fun at my expense for this one. . . that's ok, I can take it. I feel like I need to say some of these things as a dad and pastor. So, I'll step out over the plate and take one for the dads.
DISCLAIMER #2. I'm going to skip the entire story, skip the vampire rules, and skip an evaluation of the writing/movie making, . . .(you're either a fan, or you're not), and go straight to the takeaways.
The climax of the story in Twilight, . . . . is that Bella (the female lead) is going to follow her heart, go for the love of her life, become a vampire (and marry a vampire) against all good counsel, against her families wishes, against some of the other vampires (who think it's a mistake) and against good sense.
(I know, I know Twilight fans,. . . I'm skipping alot. . . stick with me)
Far from the traditional "Titanic" romantic narrative of "go for the bad boy", "don't marry for money", "follow your heart"(It's similar to the typical "Leader of the Pack", "Titanic", "Grease", "90210" narrative; only on steroids.) Twilight (if you're on Team Edward) is actually pushing you to root for Bella to abandon all hopes for a family, for a legacy, for her soul, and for her health in order to have the "love" of her life.
(when I say "soul" here, don't think Christian narrative. I'm letting the book have it's own theology, and even within that, Bella would be giving up her "soul" to become a vampire,. . .some kind of "losing your eternal soul," etc. . . Even within the Twilight new age/eternal undead creature theology. . . . it's a bad move on her part)
To become a vampire, she has to give up family (she eventually has a child, right before she becomes a vampire), her soul, and the ability to have relationships with any of her current family or friends at school; except for the one relationship with her eternal, undead, lover, and go for the "dangerous" move against all counsel to do so.
Now, if I'm a 15 year old girl with a guy who maybe doesn't share my faith, or share my values, but he's dangerous, dashing, and I (as all 15 year old girls and boys do) feel out of place and "different", what is "Twilight" encouraging me to do?
I know I'm stretching a bit here: What if I "gain my boyfriend" but "lose my soul"? (precisely what happens in Twilight)
I found the conversation where Jake-abs, I mean Jacob, tries to convince Bella of the benefits of staying human, to be really persuasive. Ah, the sage wisdom of the werewolves. She, of course, chooses the other path.
See, I'm all for following your heart, and living passionately. But, I'm not for living passionately if you're doing it, as a teenager, because you "feel different" or simply because you're in "love". What 15 year old isn't?? What 15 year old doesn't feel out of place?? Jody and I disagree about the level of emphasis placed on Bella's "different-ness". Perhaps the books are different, but the movies play up Bella's awkwardness and "every woman-ness". The movies are drawing ladies into her persona and story and using that as one of the reasons for her to choose a different path for her life. I think that's dangerous.
I'm also not for abandoning all good counsel. See, once upon a time there was a thing called "courting" (ask Edward) where the parents and community were involved with matching folks up. We've moved (unfortunately) a long way from those days, but suffice it to say, when the other vampires are telling you to not become a vampire, in addition to the human folks that you love. . . . .perhaps "walking with the wise" might be a good rule of thumb??
Now, if you're a 35 year old wife and mother and can filter through all of this to take away the good/fun romantic stuff and good storytelling from the books. . . . . go for it.
However, if you're the parents of a young girl, . . please help your kids stay away. This story, if taken to heart, gives young girls the wrong idea about what to look for in a guy, how to go about it, and what things to think about when she's making decisions about those things.
Love is dangerous at times, and passionate. But, you're not ready to make solo decisions about who's dangerous and passionate enough, and all the meaningful consequences when you're in high school. Hey, I broke up with my future wife twice in high school. . .what did I know? And, you're certainly not ready to make decisions about it if you "feel different, out of place, like I don't belong". You need some input. . you need some wisdom. . .
Twilight is idealistic in those ways as well. The Cullen vampire clan presents a "perfect" vision of community and Edward, the idealistic, bad boy, boyfriend. What 15 year old hasn't felt like her friends have it together more than her family??
I'm all for High School love. . . I lived it. . . But, I think Twilight can lead to some bad decisions for young girls. I'm not letting my girls get into the series until they're much older.(hopefully it will be gone by then, or hopelessly uncool)
Dudes are still going to have to come through me to get to my girls. . .even if they have long teeth and chiseled abs.
young moms. . . read this:
It's a helpful article about the concept of "seasons of life" and how that relates to the one you're in.
Okay now read it again.
Now think about it and process your feelings about your mothering/life in light of it.
ps. sorry to be so curt and to the point. . . I've just seen the same thing over and over with moms of young kids, and I think this article is a huge help in proccessing that season. In fact, there are entire ministries geared toward navigating this season, which is summed up pretty well in one article :) .