Wednesday, March 31, 2004

executors of God’s will: apprenticeship 1.1- nuance 5.0

“What would Jesus have done?” Just another morph that the phrase takes in my head as I see the way folks respond to it and the application that is made. At any rate, it seems to ask one to rely on what we have learned about Jesus (often from second or third hand information and faulty interpretation), rather on Him. What do I know about Jesus that would shed light on how He would like me to behave in this situation? This is a huge contrast to allowing Him to be my teacher, to lead me in decision making in my day-to-day and allowing the Spirit to grant understanding to what I study.

Sometimes I feel as if in trying to follow the will of God, what we are actually doing is just executing His will. What would God have wanted us to do? Maybe we should say things like, “I’m sure Dad would have been very proud of you”, or, “This is what Dad would have wanted.” Sometimes we even say it like that – “we need to find what God would want us to do”. But most of the time, its more subtle and that makes it hard to talk about because its mainly of feeling that deals in the difference between going through the motions and actually praying for guidance that one truly believes he can and will receive. Is there such a thing as certainty, confidence in your walk with God? Can we receive feedback day to day and feel God’s pleasure as we follow Him and grow closer to Him? Or are we relegated to study, and the attempt to carry out the wishes He has left with us, rather than obey Him as He continues to walk with us?
I know this whole subtle difference has to do with belief and confidence and hope. It is one of the big differences we see between ourselves and other religions that seem to focus on appeasing God and the only sure salvation is martyrdom. Are we a people who can only surmise what God is about, or are we a people to whom the living God has revealed Himself through scripture, and the Word made flesh, and continues to reveal Himself and be found by those who seek Him through the Spirit Who teaches, comforts, encourages and gives us peace?


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Deliriou5? Monkeys

Please visit this 4 year old website, then visit this recently (this week) updated website.
Just when you think you have no influence.
I am Furiou5? that Martin Smith never bought a Habby!

UPDATE: The Deliriou5? page has been changed and no longer resembles the monkey page. So, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
The world may never know.


w wouldn't jd (apprenticeship 4.0)

“How many times is he going to say this”, you ask? Doesn’t your mind sit and wonder what harmless, well-intentioned little things perpetuate our stunted growth?
WWJD? Lately, this phrase has been sounding increasingly absurd to me. As I filter it through my recent thoughts on discipleship and community, I begin to understand better why it bothers me. Why would a culture who believes that every decision I need to make can be found in the scripture make an industry out of a question that has surely been answered there? Once again, I realize that this is based on the negative implication of the phrase. The question is not “what would Jesus do?” – He spent three years telling us that. He stood before a crowd on a hillside and told us exactly what He would do. What the question is really asking is, “what WOULDN’T Jesus do?” Your friend offers you drugs or alcohol – your bracelet reminds you, “Uh uh uh… wwjd?” A cold, hungry man asks you for spare change at the corner of Taylor and Main – your bracelet reminds you, “wwjd.” What’s the difference in these two scenarios? With which one is it easier to comply?
In what other context would this be a valid question? If given the benefit of the doubt, this phrase serves an accountability function, it still is interpreted as help with avoidance. We measure our spirituality and Christ-likeness by what we avoid rather than what we do. For sure, one of the functions of community should be accountability, and one responsibility of the disciple is avoiding things that dishonor God. But to make this the PURPOSE of community and being a disciple certainly renders both stunted, for if the community grows by modeling and teaching growth toward Christ-likeness, then the one doesn’t have to concern himself with what Jesus wouldn’t do. Jesus is surely known for what He did, not what He didn’t. He was constantly being accused of doing what He didn’t. It would seem that He wasn’t really interested in being known for not doing. That is what the Pharisees were known for. If we want to be more like Jesus, we too, are going to have to be about doing.


Monday, March 29, 2004

a red word



Sunday, March 28, 2004

another community blog - apprenticeship 3.0

I’ve been thinking about our community discussions and began to worry about some of my past comments about community failures. I’m worried that in my reaction to community that somehow falls just short of the mark, I sound like I am emphasizing individualism. That is really not the case at all. I don’t wish for each of us to focus on himself more, I wish for the community to focus on individuals more, and in ways that promote growth.
So I’ve searched for a simple word or phrase that might summarize what I feel is a fault of community that bothers me. What could it be that causes a community to think it is mindful of individuals and yet neglect their pain and needs?
Maybe I’ve found one. I see too often community serving the purpose of policing the individual. Even some good words that I use often, become one-sided and perpetuate the problem. Accountability, for example, has begun to imply policing behavior. When our community function reaches this point, it implies an assumed hierarchy of spiritual maturity among those policing and those being policed. It also causes us to measure spiritual maturity based on behavior and often by the most absurd things. Submission to rules becomes the most important indicator of spiritual maturity rather than ownership of spiritual disciplines that may very well include the same rules. “Slip-ups” are interpreted as rebellion and treated as intentional wrong doing rather than a failure to do “right”. Many people will learn not to “mess up” but will be no more “right hearted” than someone who slips and breaks the rules.
Back when I responded to community talk with a strong burden for hurting individuals in our community who I felt were being neglected, it was not because I wanted us to focus on ourselves and take care of our own problems. I wanted us as a community to minister to rather than police individuals within our community.
This form of community makes impossible some of the problems that I outlined with community in that post. Namely, how can an immature member find his security in the community rather than Jesus when he is being ministered to and discipled by the community as an individual? The community will then see his individual needs and minister to him accordingly. He will not fall through the cracks. But when a community ministers to it’s self, becomes self-serving, individuals find identity in the community itself and security from being counted among them. Then the community doesn’t minister to individuals, but individuals minister to the community. It becomes an organization or corporation existing to perpetuate it’s self.
Ok, maybe I’ve just re-hashed my previous post here rather than shedding new light. But maybe if I keep re-hashing, I’ll get a little more each time and eventually come to something that is helpful.


Saturday, March 27, 2004

a purple word



Friday, March 26, 2004

thing 1 and thing 2

Tonight when I went over to pick up the kids from church, I heard an interesting statistic on the radio as a lead-in to Family Life Today. The announcer asked if we are doing a good job passing on our convictions to our children. The answer – no. Less than 17% of children who grow up in evangelical homes end up in evangelical churches as adults.
Well then. So that means we’re not passing on our convictions? Of course, I cannot pretend that children are not their own people, and therefore cannot make decisions that are different than their parents. But I do think that the majority of these parents ARE passing on their convictions to their children. I think there are two things at work here that make this statistic possible. I’ve been down this road before on several blogs, but here they are anyway.

Thing number 1 (negative): Is there a statistic that tells how many people in today’s evangelical churches actually have convictions? I’ve stated that I think many many of us don’t have crises of faith because we have few real beliefs to be challenged and our Christianity is more a lifestyle than a faith.

Thing number 2 (positive): Could it be that many parents who grew up in evangelical churches and DO have strong convictions have continued in their churches but have not really noticed that the churches to which they belong no longer share their convictions? Could it be that the very fact that their children are not in evangelical churches is evidence that they have passed their convictions on? The statistic doesn’t show whether the children’s absence is because they are in some other church. I think that at least some of these children have gone off to find churches that better reflect their parents’ convictions than the churches their parents currently attend. Didn’t this happen to a degree with Fundamentalists several decades ago?
The frog’s offspring are less likely to remain calm while the water slowly heats to a boil. The children came along after the water had begun to steam and more likely to notice that what the parents are teaching and how the church is behaving are not exactly the same things.
Ok, sorry for the frog metaphor. You can take me out of the country, but not the country out of me.

It seems that I always feel that we don’t look back far enough to truly understand what these statistics are telling us. You will recognize that this is an old rant, I’ve said this countless times. So forgive the redundancy, it just gets brought back to the top.


Thursday, March 25, 2004

goodnight moon

My bike is in the shop again. I had the forks rebuilt back in October, but the right seal is not sealing and the wind blows oil all over my pant leg and now the front end shimmies. So back it goes. And Honda is paying for it! Honda won’t even work on my bike because it is a 1985 model, but they’ll replace the seals for free when someone else works on it. Ramble ramble. I was really just trying to say that I had to drive my truck tonight for my night ride. That was ok, because the caged feeling was offset by the ability to listen to World Service all alone and very loud. At that volume, I can sing almost every note that Martin Smith offers on the record. Tonight I was drawn by Mountains High, a beautiful picture of trust when one might seem abandoned.

When I was a kid I used to watch the sun go down behind the mountain and fantasize that I could go over there and see it at rest. I remember wondering which hill it went behind. Between my house and Huntington, there were many hills. Some were only minutes away, but I doubted that those were the ones where the sun rested. Actually, I don’t remember not knowing that the sun really didn’t set behind a hill, so I don’t know if I was just playing with my imagination or what. But I remember these thoughts. You know how kids are. I remember gathering info at school that directly contradicted my information from the bible. But somehow in my kid brain, it all just seemed like two packets of info, and didn’t pose a problem for me. That’s probably how I felt about the sun. Sure, it’s not really over there behind that hill, but I’d still like to go find out for sure.

So tonight I looked up at Venus then the moon with Mars dangling from its chin like some Southtown jewelry, and watched it grow and turn yellow as it made its way toward the trees on the other side of the lake. It was disappearing too quickly, so I decided to chase it. I drove west, past the trees on the other side of the lake. To my delight, it didn’t sit down, just stayed up above the tree line. I drove, it floated. Yellow and large with a ruby stud in its chin. I followed it until it finally gave up and sat down somewhere across the Savanna river.

Your ways are high, too high for us; Your ways are high, too high for us.

Only God can understand the mind of God. He doesn’t have to justify anything to us. He doesn’t even have share anything about Himself with us. We can look around and look up and know that there is something greater, something bigger than us, something incomprehensible. It is only by His grace that he came down here to show Himself to us in a way that we could begin to understand.

I never really made it to the moon tonight. I guess it never really sat down so that I could find it. Once though, a star was created to lead some folks to a place where they could find its creator. They followed and found. It’s amazing the peace one can find when he keeps following and keeps looking up.


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

8:00 pm March 24, 2004

When I gaze into the night sky
And see the work of Your fingers
The moon and stars suspended in space.
What are we that You are mindful of us?
What am I that You care for me?


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

apprenticeship 2.0

A quick scan of church websites and newsletters shows myriad classes and programs dubbed, “discipleship”, or “discipleship training” or some other disciple type terminology. Why then have we become so entirely consumeristic? How can the church today have more “discipleship” programs than ever in history, and yet be so consumeristic. Tonight’s Dallas Willard installment has helped me to understand a bit more clearly where we have gone wrong. I suspected as much, but Willard seems to confirm my suspicions. We have simply arrived at the wrong definition of Christian discipleship. I’ve noticed our faulty definitions of other terminology on these pages before – integrity, purity, etc. This one also seems to be huge, with astounding implications. The contented nomad and I recently had a conversation in which he shared with me quickly from his developing theology of faith and works which is as astounding and eye opening as anything I’ve read in recent history. How could the basic gospel of salvation become so misconstrued by the modern church that a simple biblically based explanation sounds like a new religion? It seems to me that discipleship begins to emphasis that little portion of theology that has been so completely overlooked. How can we be disciples of Christ and not behave in the way He’s asked us to behave, not do what He told us to do?
So scan those discipleship offerings a little deeper and find blurbs that relate their content - Christianity 101, New Members classes, Doctrine, Church History, recovery programs. All these are important programs. They should, however, never replace discipleship, or worse, be called discipleship. If some program replaces discipleship, eventually discipleship may be missed and added back as a church program. But when we simply do things that aren’t discipleship, but call it that, we will never notice that we’re not doing it.
Once we’ve graduated from Christianity 101 and the like, we find that the offerings tend to be more self-help, application to our existing life, etc. Programs that offering what we know we need and unfortunately feed our consumerism bent.
It is ironic that in my denomination, conscious effort has been made to make Sunday School the primary outreach arm of the church. This intention puts an evangelistic purpose on a program that is often called discipleship.
The closest we seem to come is in teaching how Jesus wants us to feel about Him, believe about Him, etc. But seldom what He wants us to do about Him, and this is the heart of discipleship. We say, “we must make Him Lord of our lives.” But discipleship is training to learn what that means and set about making it reality.
Disciples of Christ must eventually begin acting like Christ, ministering, teaching disciples. But most of what we call discipleship perpetuates our consumerism, is geared toward our perceived needs and interests. It seems we never consume enough to produce because our consumption contains nothing that makes us aware that that is what Jesus expects commands us to do.


Monday, March 22, 2004

pull myself out of bed - put on my walking shoes

There is this place between sleep and awake, dream and reality, where the two mingle. The creative juices are more potent in this place because while one has one foot in reality, he has the other in the world of dreams where all natural laws are suspended.

It is a world of creative anarchy. One can fly simply by willing it, can cure diseases, compose music, create paintings and sculptures, break the surly bonds of earth.
The dream world and the waking world both seem so real that one wonders if they are in fact, two dimensions - two co-existing realities that share the same space. Perhaps while we dream we actually are awake in the other dimension. A dimension in which natural laws, our gifts and abilities, are much different and less fettered, but where we can’t really realize those possibilities. Our minds are working but confined to the bed.

I am fascinated by the moving between these two dimensions. At times, it seems, we simply wake from one and find ourselves in the other, often unaware that we were ever gone. Our eyes are simply opened to things that were hidden to us a fraction of a second before. Other times, we move slowly from one to the other, passing through a zone in which we are not entirely in either world, but partially in both. Here, we feel so awake that all the uninhibited imagination and creativity seem to be permanent. But five minutes later, we are fully in the waking world, and all is lost from the dream world. What was all there in the dream, and still so real in the portal, now gone and forgotten.

I had such an experience this morning, as I often do. I awoke with the greatest blog of the century. I thought to my perfectly awake self as I lay in bed and looked out the window at the sunrise, I’ll just rest a moment and get up and put pen to paper. Feet touch floor, poof.

I wonder if I’ll wake from this reality suddenly, unaware that there was ever anything else. I wonder if I’ll pass slowly through the door to glimpse the next room while still in this one, and continue through until all from this dream is gone. On to the waking world, in awe of the sunrise, oblivious that I’d spent the night in some vague form of fettered reality where my mind had wandered but my body was bound.


Saturday, March 20, 2004

being there

It has been a week of strokes for me. Tough, busy schedule, no time to think, but around every corner, an encouraging word. Some of them, just average words of appreciation or thanks; others were over-the-top, embarrassing, strength-providing, humility-challenging speeches. I’ve messed up a few times and still received strokes. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you about them. Well, just one. One of my students missed his lesson on Thursday. (that, by the way, was a stroke from God, because I wouldn’t have been able to prepare for another responsibility without that extra time.) So he asked if I could squeeze him in on Friday. I tried, but there was no time. I taught straight through the day. He wanted to wanted to make sure things were right so that he could practice during spring break, so I told him I’d come in this morning (Saturday, the first day of spring break) and give him a lesson. I OVER slept. Right through his lesson, right through the morning until the kids came and woke me at 1:15pm. When I rolled out, I found a voice mail from my student. I called him back and rode over to school and gave him a lesson. When we finished, I grabbed my helmet and followed him out of my office. He said, don’t you have to stay and do something? No, why? You came over here just for me? Well, yes? Man! That’s why all the students say this school has the best faculty on the planet! They really do care! Can you believe that? I overslept, missed his lesson, kept him waiting all day, and still get counted among the best faculty on the planet.
So I thought I could share that one because it sure had nothing to do with me, except my failures. It just happened today. Every day this week held something like that, some, much more extravagant. Each one had in common with the others, that they came as the result of nothing I could do, nothing I can really take credit for. Just being, being available, sharing, listening.
Its not always what you think that figures into the worth of what you do. You may be an accountant, garbage collector, machinist, nurse, landscaper, or a guitar and theory teacher, but the difference you make may have nothing to do with what you think it does. But just go on thinking its about what you think it is. If you really knew, you might screw it up.


Friday, March 19, 2004

if I'd known you were coming, I'd have baked a cake

I learned that birthday blogs for the children are quite easy compared to blogging for the wife. How can mere words spoken in public speak to 22 years of friendship? How can sentences capture what’s been said through years of intimacy? Can I write a poem that expresses what only a look, a touch, a kiss, could ever say? Would any prose gently written offer the feeling of security and solace of having you even in the next room existing in the same continuum as I? I can say, nor write nothing new that begins to capture the joy of an old and constant friend and lover who makes each day new by being there. May our life continue to be one of firsts. Today I woke beside a 40 year-old for the first time in my life. The excitement never ends.
Welcome to the back nine my love. I already drove off the 10th tee. Watch the dog leg left.


Thursday, March 18, 2004

revelation 14:13

Larry Elliot
Jean Elliot
Karen Watson
David McDonnall

pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem


Wednesday, March 17, 2004


In recent weeks, I've thought and written a lot about knowing and doing God's will, some I've posted and some not.
I hear students say, "I'm looking for God's will for my life." I hear the strong, confident, pious response, (booming) "God's will is not a mystery, we know God's will."
We preach it all so simply. We ask, "are you fulfilling God's purposes for your life? Here they are..."
Of course we know God's will, that is what Dr. Willard says is the topographical discourse from Matthew 5,6. Then why do we go about wondering what His will for us is?
It strikes me that what we mean is how, and in what venue am I personally to carry out God's will. Perhaps the "how" is most divisive. For it seems that this could be the reason we fight over procedures and methodology and in the name of sola scriptura, reject that many details of our walk must be given us in real time living with Jesus. I want to say that many of us aren't receiving all of Jesus' teaching because we’ve attended the purpose seminar (bible) but have bolted during the apprenticeship. Doesn't the Christian walk include prayer (asking), prayer (listening), obeying what we're told during prayer, in addition to reading and studying? Sure we need to check out what we feel we're hearing via the Spirit with the written Word, but the Word seems to have intentionally stopped short of some specific day to day guidance, comfort and information that God intended us to learn from walking with Him. We're given the opportunity to apprentice to the Author for even more explicit direction.


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

tell me a story daddy

A comment to Head-Dibs' tabula rasa

I receive much comfort thinking of God as an author. He allows me to live in His story. The comfort comes in knowing how as the author, He exists outside the chronology of the story. He could have written tomorrow ten or a thousand years ago. An author does not have to compose the story in the order that the reader experiences it. He does, however, find pleasure in walking through it with me, inserting Himself into its chronology so that I may experience Him. He enjoys my page turning and trusting that I'll find Him also on the next page, and the next...


Monday, March 15, 2004

victorious secret

Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ the royal Master leads against the foe; forward into battle, see His banners go!

What bothers me about those words is that we’ve completely forgotten who the foe is. I’ve got to be careful here or I’ll rant for pages. So I’ll make it short and jagged.
The apostle Paul said, “we do not fight flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paul used the athletic and military metaphor readily, but he was never talking about fighting people. In fact, he illustrates how we reach people by fighting the real enemy, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”
Our military metaphors have not only confused non-believers who believe that they are our enemy. But have also confused us in exactly the same way. We also act as if they are our enemy. Rock stars are our enemies, Hollywood is our enemy, tree huggers are our enemies, school teachers are our enemies, Democrats are our enemies.
We have assembled armies to go on the offensive against moral issues that affect us. We seek to change behavior instead of hearts. We’ve misrepresented Christ, and have sought to change him into exactly what Israel was expecting. Legislate morality. The government shall be upon His shoulders.
Jesus came loving people. His victory was not over people, but over sin. Hell is defeated. We have met the enemy and he is us. Our natural man is defeated. Jesus leads us in triumph because He has won the battle. He spreads the fragrance of His incense because He has made a way for those whom we think are our enemies.
Though the battle is won, there are little skirmishes arising that from our perspective seem to be the battle itself. They are only to distract us. And they have.
Jesus did not say, “lift up your eyes and look at the enemy, ready to be beaten.” He said, “lift up your eyes and look at the fields already ripe for harvest.”


Saturday, March 13, 2004


for some folks, it's obvious.
some folks, knowing that it's there, will dig until they find it. "ah," they say.
some folks will never have any idea that there's anything to find. the place where it can be found is no different to them than any other place so they happen upon it, brush against it, walk on by.


Thursday, March 11, 2004

crime and punishment

Here is a rant that I’ll have to edit and clarify as I read it over a few times. Sorry that it is so scattered, but I wanted to get my train of thought down while these thoughts are in my head. I’m not going to end up where I started, but hey, its my blog and I’m allowed to just think at the keyboard.

Don’t you hate it when you react strongly to a situation and then react equally strongly to the opposite situation at another time? Usually, this happens to me when the situations seem to be extremes of the spectrum. I have reacted strongly to “hate crime” legislation because usually when I hear the term being tossed about, I feel that either the motivation can’t be clear in this crime, and “hate crime” makes it sound more newsworthy, or the consequence to the victim is the same no matter the motivation.
Now I know that to a degree, discernment of motivation is required to rule in murder versus manslaughter cases, etc. But when there is no doubt the crime is murder, I’ve often questioned whether it is apt to determine the motivation to be hatred motivated by race or something else. So my problem is not discerning motivation, but with intention having been determined, discerning what was the motivation for the hate itself. That is what hate crime law must deal with. If someone is murdered because they are mean, is that less a crime than if someone is murdered because they are gay? The severity of the punishment is contingent upon the heart of the criminal

Tuesday, Todd Bertuzzi punched Steve Moore in the side of the head. Moore hit the ground, Bertuzzi came after and a dog pile ensued. Moore suffered a fractured neck, concussion and other injuries. Back on February 16, Moore hit the Canuck team captain Naslund and sidelined him for 3 days. Moore didn’t even receive a penalty in the game in February. So all that is to say this. What if Moore had not been seriously injured? At least no more seriously than Marcus Naslund was? Is the severity of the crime and the punishment judged by the severity of the damage to the victim? Does intent play any role? If Moore had received only a bloody nose, would Bertuzzi have been penalized 5 minutes and it would have blown over? Pre-meditated or not, it was a hockey game and Moore had delivered similar stuff to Naslund already.
So in the one case, I’m bothered that heart is being judged to determine the severity of the punishment. In the other case, I’m wanting heart to be examined rather than just the condition of the victim. Why can’t I be consistent in the way I’m reacting here?

I’ve been visiting these thoughts all day and have chased some pretty weird rabbits. Seems everything that comes across my mind these days has to be filtered through Willard’s discussion of the mountain talk. So heart. It really matters doesn’t it? As I’ve chased the rabbits, I’ve come to realize that my inconsistency in reacting to these two scenarios is at least partially due to the fact that they are related. We are more concerned with a crime that affects us directly. Therefore, punishment should be contingent upon the consequences of the crime rather than the guilt of the one committing the crime. Here is how they are connected.
In the hockey case, it is obvious. Bertuzzi caused greater damage to Moore than Moore did to Naslund. Bertuzzi’s punishment must be more severe. There are observable consequences. In the hate crimes scenarios, there are social implications that must be considered. Not unlike the hockey case, except in that scenario, the implications weren’t recognized until retaliation had taken place. If someone is injured or killed as a result of a robbery, we will be upset, but not concerned that we are in danger. If someone is killed because of racial, gender, or sexual orientation bias, then we will worry about segments of society clashing and widespread retaliation. That could more easily affect us personally.
In the Christian community, it seems that heart condition should be the concern of everyone involved on either side of wrong doing. But in fact, even here, the severity of the consequence is more important than the severity of the sin. What’s worse, our concern with morality is based on social acceptance rather than right and wrong. If you are sinning and it doesn’t affect me, I’m less apt to be concerned with your spiritual well being.
This explains why we as a community can sit back and ignore a lost world when they are behaving publicly according to social mores that are in line with our beliefs. But when it becomes acceptable to stop hiding immoral behavior, we begin to look for a way to legislate morality that doesn’t threaten us. We are still not concerned for those who are offending us, we’re just concerned that they are offending us. We try to legislate morality and good behavior.
Bring the scenario inside the church and you find sexually active teenagers who disappoint their parents until one becomes pregnant. Then they devastate their parents. This is why it is less wrong for boys to be sexually active than for girls. Because boys can’t get pregnant. We are more concerned with reputation and social standing than with spiritual condition and well being. In our moral climate it is perfectly ok to be sexually active outside of marriage, but not ok to have a baby outside of marriage. This is an embarrassment. Sex is not bad. Babies are bad.
Knowledge of this thought pattern must reek havoc on teenagers and young singles. We don’t need to hide the behavior, just the results. Our lack of concern with the heart condition leaves us open to continue to sin and desire to hide it with increasingly greater sin. We need to teach, care for and encourage before the result of sin becomes something that can’t be swept under the rug and ignored.


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

get your education sans degree

Having applied to graduate school, and sent in a cassette tape as a preliminary audition, I received a phone call from my future teacher to tell me that I had been recommended for acceptance. He also told me, “just because you are accepted into the masters program doesn’t mean you are good enough to graduate.” I remember thinking that was the strangest comment I’d ever heard. Why would I want to spend 3 years, and thousands of dollars if I were already good enough to graduate? Once my first semester was underway, it became clear from whence that statement had come. Grad school was full of people who had come with no intention on learning anything, or rather, thought they already knew everything and they were just going through the motions to get the diploma to prove it. Most, however, never made it to graduation.
When I was about to graduate from college, my most trusted mentor was talking with me about what I planned to do. I mentioned maybe working on a masters. When I told him what I eventually planned, he said, why go to grad school then? You can do that quite adequately without the time and expense. Maybe later you can do that. I heard that same advice given to a student just a few days ago. It was good advice. Not everyone needs a grad degree. Furthermore, not everyone needs a college degree.
I hope I can make a few comments here that will show the other side of the coin of yesterday’s blog. My feelings aren’t that formal higher ed is the cat’s meow. Some of us need that to fulfill what we’ve been called to do. Other’s of us don’t need that to fulfill what we’ve been called to do.
My rant is in completely changing what something is, but continuing to call it the same thing. I’ve blogged this many times from various perspectives, in various contexts and guises. This is as bad as changing the name of something and believing that we’ve actually created something new.
There’s also the point that formal education and diplomas don’t make one intelligent and lack of formal education and diplomas don’t indicate a lack of intelligence. Just before I graduated the last time, I was visiting with my old music theory teacher who was also just finishing his terminal degree. I made a comment about my feeble intelligence potential and he encouragingly remarked that my ability to have done this must have meant something. I responded by saying, “if there is one thing that I’ve learned in grad school, its that intelligence and advance degrees have very little to do with one another.” “Well, that is true,” he agreed.
I know folks with no diplomas at all who know more about most things than I will ever learn. Even about the very things that I studied for years. But I don’t know anyone who knows more than me that didn’t learn it from someone else. And anyone with the least bit of intelligence will recognize these people’s knowledge, experience, ability, efficiency and know-how, with out a piece of paper to tell them about it.

Anyone seeking only a degree but not education will not learn from any experience, even a classroom or apprenticeship format.
And I’ll let an excerpt from mitchizmo’s comment from yesterday sum it all up:

Anyone truly seeking education can learn from any experience including these online degree programs. These people learn daily, from all experiences. Anyone who tries to put his/her head knowledge to use, will have to have a community to refine that knowledge. You may play all of the notes in the chord, but how do you know others like the sound unless they tell you so?


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

get your degree sans education

When I started blogging, I had my own passionate goo, by which I was motivated to consistency. My goo is not necessarily your goo. So as I've continued, readers' feedback, &tc, have broadened my topics and refocused my efforts on things that are on the minds of those in my sphere, as is evidenced by feedback.
Many days I’ll want to write about something that’s on my mind and then I’ll think, no, no one else will care about that. As if someone else might care about ANYthing I had say. So be ready to see some more Rod's Rants dealing with observations, passions, & aggravation that may be unique to this angry young(?) man.
That said, I shall now embark on a rant du jour, complete with tangents and digressions.
Every day I get spam (lots of it) that seems to fall into only a few categories. Products that will enhance my love life, attempts to lure me to inappropriate entertainment, meet exciting singles in my area, and get rich quick schemes are by far the most common. But there is this other everyday stuff that amazes me. These are mailings telling me how to get my online degree without even leaving my chair. I’m amazed by this education perversion stuff. No, I’m not talking just about online scams and fake diplomas. It seems that the phrase “College Education” is no longer apt. Is college becoming a four-year post high school trade school? Is college attendance only meant to prepare one for specific career? If this is true, then why are we so hard on ball players who want to leave college early to go pro? Are they the only ones who need education that doesn’t directly relate to their career? Why should they have to sacrifice $700,000 potential in their senior year of college while they run the risk of injury and nothing afterward to finish a degree in rec. therapy or hotel management? Why can’t they come back after they’ve gone out there and done what it is that they already do at a professional level?
The degree has replaced education as the motivator for attending college.
“We’ll generously award credit for your previous life experience.” Colleges and Universities are becoming the Wizard who comes out from behind the curtain to award a medal for something that you already had.
In my own circles, I hear justification such as, “we’re providing an education for people who don’t have the time or can’t leave their jobs to attend college.” Education? No. We’re providing credit for people who don’t have the time or can’t leave their jobs to attend college. We stop educating and simply dispense information. It’s darn cheap too. Don’t have to hire faculty, don’t have to print materials. Just scan in handouts and exams from Spring, 1992 and upload.
Then we stop dispensing information and simply award credit for information you already have. Design your own degree based on your previous experiences.
Well then, why does all this bother me so badly? Community.
Every course I took during school (boy that was an old curmudgeon statement) was held in a classroom with a teacher and other students. We discussed, interacted, analyzed, and argued. We ate lunch together, went to concerts and lectures together, and studied together. We learned from one another and raised the standard for one another. Even now, I learn things from my students every day. I better understand my own material from their grappling with it. I see things from a fresh perspective. I have no problem with the occasional distance ed, or extension course, but to base one's college career apart from the college? What a long way we've come from the early higher education models.
I am afraid of a world that runs on theory. Where each fresh generation has been trained by someone’s bulleted outline of the 50 things he did to get where he is.
My philosophy of education is that it is supposed to make you feel stupid. The more educated you are the more you realize you don’t know. Awarding credit based on how smart you already are flies in the face of my philosophy. Where is the chance to realize your stupidity? Learning from a screen and researching from search engine flies in the face of community that allows iron to sharpen iron, and wisdom to rub off on humility.
But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.


Sunday, March 07, 2004

retained annals of history, july, 2001

Well then, do check out Gypsy Traveler’s Richardson Daily News series. It is wonderful and added insight into my North Carolina Tejas. So I thought I’d toss a mountain memory into hopper as well. Of course true to fashion, I’ve got several spiritual lessons that I believe are illustrated here, but I leave you to hear them yourself.
Usually when the kids and I take off with a tent and fishing poles and head to the mountains, it’s without Allison. Not because she doesn’t enjoy it – au contraire, she enjoys it very much. It’s just that our schedules rarely match so that we can all go. Allison and I spent a week in a tent when she was 6 months pregnant with Molly and again the following summer when Molly was 8 months old.
The kids and I have had some great trips, gorgeous weather and in all seasons. But on the rare occasion that Allison gets to go, it always rains. Not just a dampening of an otherwise sunny experience, but a gully washing, basin flooding, fish drowning constant downpour.
Such was the case last time we went. We arrived late on a beautiful Monday evening and decided to set up camp, build a fire, and have some supper. We had to hurry to set up before dark set in (early in the mountains you know). Just before we got the tent stakes all down, a dark cloud rolled over the mountain, set up camp and opened on us. We quickly set up the tent, drenched and climbed in. It rained until Thursday morning broke with the most beautiful washed blue sky God ever hung above the mountains.
Well, five people in a tent with everything we’d brought, gets old quickly. A hundred hands of Rummy only takes so long you know. So we ventured out in the rain the next day. Walked along the river in the rain. Checked out some trails in the rain. Fished unsuccessfully in the rain. Carefully, shed wet clothes and crawled back into the wet tent to scrounge for some wet food. We’d be in the tent for a little while and the kids would ask to go back out. By the end of the day, they’d worn and soaked and muddied every article of clothing they had. Allison was worried sick because everything was caked in mud. Socks, underwear, pajamas. Poor kids, how can they enjoy this trip if they’ve got mud in their underpants? Soon it became apparent though, that fun camping is not contingent upon having no mud in your underpants. After this realization, the rain became fun. You can’t escape it, might as well enjoy it. Makes great camping stories after the fact.
When Thursday morning broke beautiful, we ventured further from the tent. The river was magnificent with all the extra water. Waterfalls were exploding off the mountains. Every creature that had holed up all week was out playing in the sunshine.
That evening, Jack caught a rainbow trout, and next morning we were able to build a fire, cook the solitary fish and all three kids stood in front of me like little birds while I fed bites to each of them in turn. No one remembered the rain as they stood there in dry, stiff clothes with dried dirt in their underwear and breathed the baptized mountain air.

The kids and I have been back several times since, but Allison didn’t go, so of course, there was no rain.


Saturday, March 06, 2004

first colors of spring

It was a nasty, ugly morning. When I got up (late) I went out and sat on the front porch to put on my shoes. The clouds were ominous, wind was whipping the bare trees, the world was shades of gray. Will came riding down the street and into the driveway on his scooter and yelled to me, “hi dad, the weather is ghastly, huh?”
At noon I had to drive Molly downtown for “Sleeping Beauty” rehearsal. The sky was beginning to clear. On the way back home, it had become a beautiful late winter day. About a half-hour later I drove Will to a friend’s house and saw a tulip tree had exploded into full color against the shades of gray backdrop and the blue sky.
I came home, got my bike out and rode off to enjoy the sunshine. Farming Creek Road, I bank around a corner and there is a huge purple field littered with tiny black and white goats. By the time I got home, the Bradford Pear buds had exploded and my black helmet was covered with the green dust of pine pollen.
At 6:30 I drove back downtown to get Molly. The sky over the lake was a kaleidoscope and the full moon was rising on the other horizon as large as Lyle Lovett’s band, home state, hair and ex-wife’s smile. The space between, a gradient flecked with stars.
The night is cool, Spirit is in the air with a paint brush and there is a fire on the deck. Red, orange, yellow, blue, flickering flames. Can you imagine if I weren’t color blind? How can you guys contain yourselves?
Ten o’clock and all is well.


Friday, March 05, 2004

i'll take "community" for $500, alex

I’ve tossed out a few blogs dealing with different aspects of community. Each time, after the blog, I’ve wanted to get a discussion started, but for various reasons, that hasn’t really happened. A couple times, DP has expressed desire but lack of time, could we come back to it? So I’ve been wanting to toss out some bait, but haven’t had just the right way to get started. There are endless discussion threads in the community topic. Where does one start on an intentional discussion like this? Define Community? Well I can’t do it. But when the question gets tossed out as part of another discussion, somehow it seems to be natural and less affected. Easier for me to imagine a discussion starting because finally, the context is tossed out there in a specific scenario. “Community of worshippers.”

“community of worshippers”. Each time we try to define something, we find that we must define its parts. In the modern church manifestation, does this often mean simply, “community of church attenders” because we haven’t defined worship? This designation keeps us from having to think about why we attend church. And it causes people who do think about it, to question whether this is where they should attend. But when they look around, they find very little difference anywhere else.

My question then is this, have we veered off just a little bit from the purpose of the community of worshippers in the context of Church? If the ultimate is to worship God, then the body of believers come together to do this. (yes, it’s manifest in many ways) And then go out and gather more worshippers. In the Acts 2 church, it seems that the community of worshippers produced missionaries and evangelists, who produced more worshippers for the “community”. The modern church seems to strive more toward a community of evangelists, or at least a body of listeners who come to hear an evangelist. We are encouraged to do our part by bringing our unchurched friends to hear as well. Our services have become increasingly geared to luring the unchurched seeker and less toward believers’ worship. It seems that this is what the reaction is to. There is serious missing stuff in the modern church experience. Many are looking for the missing stuff.
On many blogs, I keep reading new feeling of guilt among emergers. “Are we simply running off because it doesn’t suit our style?” But I think there is something bigger here.
Have we lost sight of the bottom line purpose of the church? Can we get it back?
Was the church, the “community” gathering, instituted as a tool for evangelism or for worship, discipleship and the equipping of the saints for evangelism?
I’ve got about 25 more pages in my head, but I’ll stop and wait to see if this is bait enough. I’d really like to have this discussion. I’m sure my other 25 pages will crop up if the discussion gets started.


nocturnal nostalgia

Its 1:00am and I’m in the FROG practicing with the windows open. Its about 65º outside and a breeze is blowing through the room. There is a smell. Is it a smell? Or a temperature or a… This is something I remember from childhood. We lived in a tiny house with our bed room on the west side. My brother and I had bunk beds but I remember one summer when the beds were separated and the head of my bed was at the window with the foot out into the room. I’m clean and have my pajamas on (cotton shorts and a t-shirt). There’s a breeze blowing in. The smell/feel/sensation is exactly as it is now.
Do you ever have a memory of nothing but a feeling? Environment? Atmosphere? Usually we remember doing things, events, people. What about a feeling that stands out so strong that it doesn’t even require a stimulus to bring to mind? That night or series of nights, or summer, stands out so powerfully to me that I’ve often lain in bed with the windows open and lamented that I couldn’t experience it again. It must be a combo of senses. The smell of the warm night, the caress of the breeze, the soft cotton jammies, the song of the tree frogs. I’m five years old. I don’t have to go to work in the morning. I’m just laying here listening to dad snore before he gets up to go to work.


Thursday, March 04, 2004

over 40 moment

ronnie montrose never played with head east.
faulty 40 year-old memory


too early, too late

Why does the night time come after the day?
And all of us children can no longer play?
Mom says "its bed time" and I say "no way".
Why does the night time come after the day?

Why does the morning come after the night?
Still sleepy, I wake up to sunshine so bright.
Its time to get up but the bed feels just right.
Why does the morning come after the night?


Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Ronnie Montrose

Here's my visited states. Not as impressive as Chris, but when I was his age, they probably didn't have as many states. So I've hardly crossed the river, but I've been to all the states on this side, very many times. Some day when I've got a bigger bike I'll head west. And North to Alaska. The rush in on.

create your own personalized map of the USA


Monday, March 01, 2004

convention ≠ conviction

It occurs to me that it is possible to see postmodernism as a logical evolution of modernism rather than simply as a reaction. However, this understanding is hidden by methodology. Through recent generations, certain ideas and thought processes have gained strength with each successive generation. But we’re more married to traditional methodology than we are to beliefs, ideologies, World View that spawned those methodologies. Therefore, we’ll continue to behave accordingly, long after our beliefs, convictions and world view has changed. Eventually, a generation comes along whose thinking is no more different than any other successive generation, but who is the first to say, hey if we think like this, why are we acting like that?
This generation will be the first to abandon behavioral mores that are kept in place only by tradition and cultural acceptance, but have long since lost their conviction.

This generation begins to behave according to their convictions rather than convention. Previous generations observe this and are mortified despite the fact that their own convictions don’t differ much from those whose behavior seems outrageous. I believe a close self-assessment would often reveal true moral conviction that is out-of-step with outward culturally induced behavior. I feel this is what we are witnessing as authenticity, transparency and vulnerability become the buzzwords of the pomo Christian. Sadly, the pursuit of authenticity often sets one on a backward path of transformation in which he ceases to hide his inner sinfulness and simply shows his natural man to everyone. Community is born which becomes perverted into some kind of support group where we all feel comfortable being sinful. Would it not be better to clean the inner sinful man so that he becomes as clean as the outward man seemed to be? Community then serves as accountability and encouragement when inner and outer are not in step.

This phenomenon is also manifest in the church when Pastors preach from the pulpit theology which is not their own. They preach doctrine that they no longer believe. Surveys have shown this taking place in mainline American denominations. When our questionable generation comes along and preaches only what they believe, we mourn the absence of the content of previous generations. But it would seem that the conviction and belief disappeared long before the content of the sermon. Why do we long for a time when we convincingly pretended to be what we weren’t. A time when we pretended to believe what we thought was myth. It seems we need to look a bit deeper than our thinking that we need to stop this downhill spiral. We need to turn around, backtrack a bit, study the source and own a theology that is real. Then live accordingly. I hope that is where this scary, uncertain, ancient future is leading.