19 June 2007

thoughts on a survey

This is a response I wrote to my dear friend Krystle Locey's question that she posted on facebook. Knowing Krystle, she would definately post a question that is really light-hearted and uncomplicated, like, oh I don't know, why are you a Christian? I liked my answer ('cause, you know, I'm bloddy brilliant, if you haven't noticed), so I decide to preserve it e-preserve it on my e-journal, aka'd blogging. Mmmm, yeah.


Krystle's question: "A simple question for everyone. I just want an honest answer. Don't give the theological jumble, don't regugitate the Sunday school answer. Get to the heart of it (whether that means you give a good or bad reason...be honest with yourself).

Why are you a Christian? I mean, really, why are you a Christian?"

A few months, even a few weeks ago, I would have a really hard time answering this question; forcing all of the hardened layers of socialization and indoctrination would have been exhausting and I'm not sure I would have been up to the challenge. I have definatley been at a point in my "walk' where I needed to pause, and even sit down beside the path in the grass for awhile. But this year, certain books, classes, experiences, and divine interventions have prompted me to get up again, and continue to walk with a little bounce in my step. So, here it goes:

To answer why I am a Christian is exceedingly easier than answering why I believe in and trust God: God is the great big eternal Someone that humans have a knack for misinterpreting, while Christ is the Immanuel, the God incarnate, the point in time and eternity when the realm of God and realm of creation meet (speciba to Karl Barth). I believe in Christ because of what I just mentioned, I follow Christ because I believe in my own and the world's need for redemption, which is a concept that is so intricate, complex, and more beautiful than I can imagine. Discipleship is more than paying back a debt--it's engaging in a dynamic relationship that results in complete love and wholeness.

18 June 2007

thoughts, quips, and other general tools used in bouts of writing

Prolouge: So, I've recently come to face the ugly fact that I really really really like writing and I sorta want to do it someday. It's ugly because nothing save sharks and horror movies staring evil, demon-possesed children frightens the shit out of me quite like the idea of captial-W Writing. It is so frightening because it is not my life and limbs or my eternal soul that is at stake, but my pride--I'm actually quite terrified of failing. So to remedy this fear, I've decided to bear myself--er, my soul, rather--to the world to face inevitable scrutiny and rejection. Enjoy.

Also, fyi: I want to write, not type, so these will be abridged journal entries. For some reason, there is a more intimate connection between the hand, ink pen, and crisp sheets of unadulterated paper than the fingers, plastic key board, and an lcd screen (thanks to LJ for reminding me what that exactly is).

So, yes. Mmm-hmm. ok.


The distance of life and the time it takes to pass through it (which are christened the "journey of life" by poets and profiteers who appeal to the sentiment of wonder and purpose in us) has a funny way of administering it's tricky yet beautiful realties on us--which are also notably christened "life lessons"-- in ways that are so simple their beautiful intricacies are rarely unearthed and appreciated. These small and delicate connections that thread individuals to individuals, experience to reality, thought to truth, and love to everything is why I want to write.
I have wanted to work out why I have this passion, that burns or is patiently dormant, and why it is that I am paralyzed by the fear of actually attempting it. Do I really have something that is so important and impressive that I simply must do the world a service and share it with anyone who is willing to listen? Is this merely self-indulgence? I fear this because I have constantly been laboring throughout my life to find the one thing that sets me apart--that makes me both great and unique--so that in the midst of the anonymity that I so often find myself in I can feel valuable. These fears and self-doubts are what have kept me from sharing my writing, or even attempting to do it: I just don’t want to face the crippling disappointment of failing again at something I want so dearly, just because I’m simply not good at it.
But writing because of sheet adequacy is not what makes it a great and timeless pursuit. Rather, it is a courageous discipline that organizes the chaotic mess of the human mind and experience, linking the unrelated to each other, and discovering the patterns or holes which the less eccentric eye would overlook. Writing, along with the creative and mystifying discoveries that are revealed by it, links everything together like patchwork. Slowly but surely, words and phrases, theories and fallacies, pull the threads, drawing the pieces closer together, enabling us to glimpse more clearly into the truth that we all seek: the purposes and mysteries of God.

Yet as big as my words and phrases sound, they are empty of the depth and wisdom that is given to us by our overly-generous Creator. I had a moment today when all of the pieces fell to place as they so masterfully do when God decides to provide us our “life lessons” as I half-mindedly picked up my small copy of Karl Barth’s “The Call to Discipleship”. I had hurriedly thrown the book aside a few months ago when reading it because it, frankly, freaked me out. The parallel splendor and aggravation of Karl Barth is his tendency to masterfully express his views on faith and Christianity in such a way that you get kicked squarely in the jaw with unsettling conviction after spent thirty minutes simply trying to interpret just what he’s getting at. The whole process culminates in you rubbing your incredibly sore jaw but feeling quite pleased with yourself for being clever enough to understand someone that operates at this level of intelligence.
My equivalent encounter with this violently candid theologian brought light to mine—and in my opinion, the contemporary American mainstream Christian Church’s—audacious insistence on laying down conditions for our “Christian walk”. We culturally cannot and will not dream of fully accepting Christ’s conditions for following Him (what with His nerve to ask us to sell everything and give it to the poor, for one); instead, we forcefully squeeze our faith into nice marketable packages of self-help and eternal fulfillment. We advertise the secret to a “life more abundant”, assuming that the terms of this abundance are what we conceive would satisfy us most. I hate this reality, yet I fear leaving it: it’s comfortable, it makes sense, and it’s under my control.
Yet this illegitimate discipleship is not worthy of the Kingdom of God: the impossible realm where individuals are expected to recognize and then surrender their natural allegiance to the social and cultural ties that determine their understanding of reality. Yeah, frankly, this scares the shit out of me. Reading the words of my favorite theologian impaled me with fears and doubts of my desire to follow this Way, to do this Will, which I am clearly instructed that I cannot half-ass.

Faith is a tricky process, and I am slowly learning just how complex it is. Faith is not only believing in what you shouldn’t, but whole heartedly trusting your life and soul into its care. The road to faith is paved with faith itself, and the path to God can only be traveled with daily, tiny surrenders to His illogical Will, somehow being ok, and even rejoicing in it. The wordless beauty of the complexity I think best illustrates my muddled feelings towards writing: the only way down the path to being a Writer is, well, to be one who writes. Religiously. As mind-numbingly simplistic as this sounds, it speaks eternal depths to my fears, anxieties, and second-guessing about my abilities. I can only do it if I try, which is very much unlike the rich young ruler who doubted his ability to release himself from all of his possessions, power, and privilege to follow the One to whom he belonged to before he was even called.

Maybe this doesn’t make much sense to others, or maybe it’s something the world figured out together and I just happened to sleep in that day. But maybe working something like this enables me to pull one thread just a little tighter, allowing us all to see a little more clearly.