Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sound bites

So, according to my running tally, I have finally reached the elusive 300 posts on this site. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but this past year has really been a grind trying to post with any regularity. This morning, I went for the blueberry muffin instead of the donut...terrible choice. I have no idea what I was thinking. No matter though, a hardened pastry isn't going to dampen my time. I'm just grateful for the quite and separation from the intolerable political noise. I'm thinking, as I'm sitting here with Pandora in my headphones, I am so happy that, within the occasional "commercial" that you have to suffer through with the free version, they have not become a venue for political ads. Even with Bruce in my ears, I can still hear some of the obnoxious sound bites rattling around my head. I'm sure that this is exactly what the brains behind these campaigns are hoping for, but I've got news for them. In my opinion, when this happens for a particular candidate, it's like having "it's a small world" stuck in my head. I'm just going to be annoyed and there is no way in their version of hell that I'm going to vote for an obnoxious sound bite. Their wisdom is not mine. Speaking of this, did you know that Jesus might have been married? In case you haven't heard, that's one of the latest and greatest in sound bite news this week. I've got news for you. Jesus was (and is for that matter) married. It's not really a mystery to those of us who really have paid attention in church. All throughout the newest half of the book of books, we have read for the past 2000 years that the Church is the bride of Christ. In fact, Jesus himself compares his coming return to a groom returning for his bride. So this latest sound bite from biblical scholarship is not really, or shouldn't be, a big revelation to those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus, nor should the idea that the bride(wife) would be a disciple, since we as the church are called to that very thing. Now... let me tell you that I'm not sitting here writing this smugly, thinking that I have the absolute answer to what this scrap of ancient manuscript really reveals. It is actually quite remarkable to have found it. I also appreciate that the one who translated it has stated that this really doesn't prove anything. I admire her honesty. There are in fact a good deal of scraps of ancient manuscripts that claim all sorts of weirdness about Jesus and most have been relegated, by scholars, to the realm of fairy tales and legends. This one may or may not, but is really only dependent on whether or not more of the manuscript is discovered. Otherwise, a few sentences out of an entire document would have to be the epitome of taking something out of context. True or false, fact or fiction, here's my point.... Yes there is a point. We, as a culture, have been conditioned and wired to engage, interact, learn, as well as teach, by sound bite. Don't believe me? How do you account for the explosion of twitter as one of the most powerful and influential social mediums we have. If you don't already know, twitter is based on communications of 144 characters or less. I deal with this as a pastoral artist struggling to communicate weekly in a teaching environment to people who are increasingly wired for sound bites. Those of us who do this week to week can tell you that, for the most part, we can communicate 30 minutes or more and it's remembered mostly as sound bites...and you never really can be sure which ones are going to be caught. This isn't new, and I am secure knowing that God is big enough to do His work within that context. Here is the problem though, we have evolved ... Yes I used the "e" word ...into a people who have a real hard time thinking real deep thoughts. The "Jesus could have been married" issue is a perfect example of this. Instantly, without further thought, investigation or action, people jumped on duelling band wagons. One side says, " I knew it all along, this proves that Jesus, religion, Christians, yada yada yada, are all full of crap.". Why?...because the sound bite affirmed my belief system. The other side jumped onto defense because the very fabric and foundation of their belief system is being attacked...by a sound bite. No one wants to think anymore...to step back, to pause, to question. Yes, sound bites are likely to determine our politics, our world view, our religion, the very fabric of our culture, so allow me to add mine to the mix... In case there was any doubt... Yes Jesus has a bride, and he's coming back to claim her.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hopeful

Wednesday morning in "Red Cup" and enjoying a red cup filled with a caramel latte alongside a "mighty o" donut, with some Pandora induced Springsteen in my headphones. It's two weeks and a day since my gall bladder was invited to exit my body and, even though I just celebrated turning a year older a few days ago, I actually feel a year or two younger...so no complaints here. While I am nearly within site of my real home sweet home and my office across the street, I am far enough away that, with headphones on, I can ignore some of the pressing demands that scream for my attention day after day and dream of things more suitable for dreaming on. I'm not so sure that this is always a good thing, but today it certainly is. This morning I woke up to a mixture of news reminding us that all is still not right with the world alongside commercials from politicians trying to convince us that if we would just elect them, this would all change. One in particular, running for governor in the great state of Washington, tells us,in each and every commercial, that he wrote a book a bunch of years back in which all of the answers can be found. I'm pretty sure if that were true, he wouldn't be needing to sell it as part of his election bid. I think it's a bit more likely that he just wants it taken off the dollar shelves in the local used bookstores. I say this with all love and respect as someone who aspires to write a book someday. In fact, my main hesitation in ever trying to get a book published one day is the bargain shelf at Powells. I don't know that I would ever be able to bear the inevitable site of my life's work selling 2 for a dollar. Let's be honest...the point for me would not be to write a book, or even publish a book...it's going to be to sell a book, many books in fact, well beyond the scope of my family and friends. It is the selling of a book that validates that you have something worth saying. Anything else is just delusion. So, here I am, trying to dream without being delusional. On September 12, 2012, through a latte induced haze I have a dream: ... That politicians everywhere would realize that spending limits on their campaigns alone could go to provide clean water to a significant amount of the world without it Or eliminate the national debt Or balance the budgets of each and every public school district in the US so we could once again teach our children that 2 plus 2 does in fact equal 4 ...that Christians everywhere would once again actually follow Jesus in loving and serving rather than judging and accumulating ...that politicians who are Christians would drop their delusion that Jesus was a member of their party, thereby validating their platforms ...that politicians who are not Christians would understand that not all who claim the name of Christ actually follow him, so we shouldn't all be feared...some of us actually want to love and serve, no agenda required ...that people who are neither politician nor Christian could see Jesus through the clouded lens of the Church and that the Church could commit to cleaning that lens often so that people could clearly see the real Jesus ... That someday I'd wake up to find out that both left and right had disappeared, leaving only those who long to live together in the middle ... Delusional? Perhaps, but I'd prefer to think its hopeful.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Lighter

Much has changed these past several weeks. This morning I am in a new place and from early experience, this may become a weekly thing for me. "Red Cup" is literally less than a block out my back door. I am enjoying the coffee and the vibe a great deal. It will never replace my first love, Hotwire, but they have the space for me to relax and reflect that is lacking with my first love. So I begin another season of life and pastoral artistry in new surroundings. Along with the new surroundings, I am now missing one of my internal organs...not a significant one, but part of me for 48 years all the same. A week ago my gall bladder was skillfully removed by a robot ... Yes it was intentional. I knew before the surgery that it wasn't functioning as designed, the gall bladder I mean, and afterwards I was informed that it wasn't looking very good, even for a gall bladder. So I'm glad that it's gone. Truthfully, it has caused me to lose a good share of this past year to feeling like crap. It has also caused a number of people to have lost some good quaility time with me because I felt like crap...without really knowing why. Its been a week since saying good riddance to bad organs and this morning is the first one in recent memory that I've felt whole and ready for the day. So here I sit, with a yummy caramel latte in a big red cup, what else, Jason Mraz in my headphones, for optimism, watching all of the parents wander through misty eyed after just dropping their precious cargo at school for the first time in 3 months. We are on our 45th consecutive day of blue skies and no rain here in the greatest city to spend a summer in, what could be better? And if that weren't enough for me to be grateful for, two weeks ago we were sweating in a jungle community in El Salvador, drilling a well to bring clean water and enjoying getting to know some fabulous people, constantly reminded of the incredible creativity of the Creator, and our own place in the world, with or without gall bladders. There isn't much of a point to this post this morning except to celebrate new beginnings, old memories, modern medicine, and my prayer that any who read this will enter this season as I am, lighter.