2011 Year in Review
Blue Whales
Christmas Carol
Duty to Object
Evenhanded Pursuit of Truth
Flood and Bush
Never There or Here
Review: Sufjan Stevens' Age of Adz
Space Flight
Success With Values
Terrible Kids Music
The Nineties
Year in Review

That’s a Reach

When I first read Wheat’s post on evangelism, the first thought that popped into my mind was about the current state of the Christian music genre, which my father-in-law Mr. Salty calls, “Jesus is my girlfriend” music. I read on thinking how I miss singing good ole Hymns during church services, but how those songs are also harder to clap to and don’t sound very much like Coldplay, so they might not affect the youth today. You have to admit that this Chris Martin guy knows something about reaching people with music. Other religious people have noticed it too. I’ve visited numerous churches around town and plenty are reaching out rock band style.

Yep. Look again. It’s Chris Martin.

However, no sooner than three days after reading Wheat’s post, I was the recipient of evangelism myself. I drive up to the home front and there is Mrs. Leaven on the porch with a pair of fine, upstanding looking young men. To my surprise they were both elders, just the youngest ones I had even seen. They had walked right up to the door and began sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, making references to scripture without directly quoting from The Good Book. This was my first experience like this.

Elder One was born and raised in this particular version of Christianity they were spreading and Elder Two was raised in a much, much, much older Christian faith, but was converted after hearing the Truth and being touched by it. I learned so many things in that hour about how differently people can read and interpret a religious text. Both of them study the Bible daily for hours as part of their mission and they are trying to reach people by going out, sharing their faith trying to make connections. You could feel the sincerity shine through their faces.

We talked a good bit about doctrine and whether or not someone could be saved with Jesus and the Bible alone, or if people needed supplemental reading and a supplemental prophet. What surprised me was the repeated phase that came up in our discourse. “The Truth has touched our heart, we’ve shared the Truth with you, and now it is for you to decide.” After hearing that phrase a couple of times the talk concluded with a brief conversation I raised about how God reveals himself and the idea of balancing the responsibilities of seeking the Truth and sharing the Truth. I was truly impressed by the honest effort they put forth and said that I hope to be as genuine in sharing what I know to be true, even if I know that this is not the general practice of my own body of faith. I encouraged them to keep reading the Bible – all of the Bible – to increase their knowledge of God and what he reveals about Himself.

Wheat mentioned one of the most memorable sermons he heard on evangelism, so I’ll offer up one of the most memorable movies I’ve seen on the revelation of God, conversion, and yes evangelism. We’re talking Pulp Fiction here. I realize this is also an incredibly vulgar, base movie, so please forgive me that. In the beginning of the movie Jules shows up at the door with his partner, both in shirt and tie because their on a mission, and he’s okay with quoting a little scripture as he proceeds.

“Hey Jules, do you think showing up at the door would go better if we took off the jackets and used name badges?”

At the end of the movie Tarantino (by way of an enlightened henchman) reveals a great insight, when Jules says (and I paraphrase), “It doesn’t matter if He turned Pepsi to Coke what matters is that I felt God’s touch. God got involved.” The thought that struck me is that his confession is not enough. He says he will go walk the earth like Kane in Kung Fu, but what he has to do next is to evangelize, to share his hope and belief, which he does with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. He tries to save them. …and he reinterprets the same scripture from the earlier scene!

As the two young elders are leaving the porch and I am going inside I’m thinking on both their heartfelt effort and some of their strange doctrine and I think, “Now that is really reaching.” As I close the door I am feeling secure in a faith that I shared with no one that day. They move on to the next house.

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Hooked On A Feeling

…And now for the charismatic Mr. Gordon Gecko. Water asked what makes him so magnetic. Personally, I think his charm comes from how he proudly promotes his own self interest, and what appears to be appealing to basic (or maybe base) emotions.

In his post ruminating on evil Water said, “After all, evil has no essence of its own; evil is merely a perversion of something good. Love becomes lust; justice becomes wrath; rest becomes sloth. And ambition, the desire to be truly great and to accomplish worthy deeds, becomes pride.”

In his post ruminating on evil Water said, “After all, evil has no essence of its own; evil is merely a perversion of something good. Love becomes lust; justice becomes wrath; rest becomes sloth. And ambition, the desire to be truly great and to accomplish worthy deeds, becomes pride.”

Which Came First?

Looking at Water’s quote again, what struck me was that the evil presentation of any of the pairs was an emotion and the good presentation was an action or a thoughtful choice. A person feels pride, but does not feel ambition, a person chooses ambition. A person feels wrath, but does not feel justice, a person chooses to act justly. Persons definitely feel lust, but do not feel love? Hmmmmm, I sense the naysayers approaching. Yes, we call love an emotion, but I’ll come back to what currently appears to be an exception to my paradigm.

Steven Pinker is a brilliant Ivy League professor, who has written many wonderful books including, How the Mind Works. Pinker say’s that humans don’t have thinking brains that happen to feel, we have feeling brains that just so happen to think. While this might feel like an affront to how reasonable we all are, think about the implications of this concept (see, you just now felt first and then thought). Think about an infant that you know. Which best describes the child, the former or the latter?

Steven Pinker: With hair like that, he’s the anti-Gekko.

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The Stories We Tell About Ourselves

In Ursula Leguin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, A major plot device of the book is knowing the secret name of a person or object. Everyone, and thing for that matter, in the fictional world she created has a secret name, and if you learn that name you have power over the person. I’m pretty sure this idea, as cool as it was, was gleaned from other cultures in the world like the Native Americans, and Egyptians. Wheat, and in turn Water, most recently shared insights not into the world but into themselves, and I will try to be brave and follow suit, even though someone might know my true self and have some power over me.

"Behold it is I, Bubba"

“Behold it is I, Bubba!”

Still Not Competitive

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’m not really a sports person – at all. I think this adds to my uncompetitive nature. This is a distinctly un-American trait, I know. By definition sports has winners and losers. This can take the negative formulation that “If I make other people lose, then I win”, which to me doesn’t seem like that much of a success. While I don’t hold to this particular winners/losers model of defining success it far from lets me off the hook. It is not that I am left without powerful critics. I am left with the relentless, ever present critic …myself.

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