Thursday, May 21, 2009

a review of sorts

So I had a good chunk of time to kill on Friday and spent the greater part of it at Barnes and Noble. I picked up a book called "The Unlikely Deciple" by Kevin Roose. Basically the author was a college student at Brown University, one known for its partying and liberal lifestyle. He decided, as a journalist, that he wanted to know more about the evangelical christian community. Kevin decides to transfer to Liberity, a Baptist college known as "bible boot camp", for one semester. He attends as if he shared the same beliefs as all of those around him: a kind of seeing them in their natural habitat. I've only read the book to page 93 so far, but i fully intend upon finishing it. So far in my reading i've developed a deep respect for this person. He went into a place completely out of his element and comfort zone, and immersed himself in a culture that went against many of the things that he was brought up to defend such as homosexuality and abortion rights. So far he's made some good observations, not all of them positive, but nonetheless accurate in my mind.

One particular observation was one that had never occured to me, but i was glad he made it. He said that one question that seemed to get thrown around often in the evangelical circles was "how is your spiritual life?" Indeed for him it was a little disconcerting, especially since it wasn't just good friends that would ask, it was people he would barely know. The question was a personal one, and would involve a following of more detailed questions such as "how often are you reading your bible" and others picking at the minor details. However Roose concluded that in a religion where the belief was that if you didn't grow in your faith you could lose it, and that meant going to hell or at the very least not going to heaven, when they asked you about your spiritual life it meant that they cared. They wanted to make sure you were safe.

It reminded me of a documentary i once saw on the amish runspringa, or the time when amish youths were allowed to go into the world and decide if they wanted to continue the amish life style. If a youth chose the amish lifestyle, but then went outside of it, that was seen as breaking a promise and could result in the amish community shunning them. While this would seem as a heartless or cold reaction, the truth as one youth put it was that this was their last method to show you the gravity of what you were doing, and they did it because they loved you and didn't want you to go to hell.

This makes me think that love, real love, is not socially acceptable. Love is not polite, it is awkward, and invades the privacy of an individual. However as i was reading this novel i couldn't help but think, "WHY WAS THIS NECESSARY?"

Do you realize that this man had to INFILTRATE the evangelical community? This makes the Kingdom less of a community, and more of a fortress. Have we been put on a pedestal? Are personal relationships not even plausible?

I always thought it was supposed to be the other way around you know? Paul said that when he traveled, he became all things to all people so that he might save some. To me that sounds like a christian going into the secular community and building relationships, not the other way around. Jesus himself said that the kingdom of heaven was like yeast working its way through the dough. To me that also sounds like the christian community spreading themselves througout the secular world, not making themselves a completely separate loaf of bread.

Its a truly good book and i suggest it highly, however i'm not sure i'm happy that it exists. It shouldn't have needed to be developed. I understand that the belief in absolute truth is one often considered to be oppressive, and thusly pushed out of most social circles, but we shouldn't give up and separate ourselves. And when you think about it, socially unacceptable meant death by stoning for the early christians, yet they managed to convert kings. Whose lives are we touching? Is it the journalist who snuck into our barracks?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

on angels and demons

so i was watching a movie the other day where the villain was a man who had lost everything; his family, his friends, his home. his pain was great, so who he became was a great pain inflicter. he wanted others to feel the same pain he had endured, especially if they were someone who connected to the pain, or if he blamed them at all. so, when i come across a person who inflicts great pain on others, i have to think "what have they gone through/ are they going through to make them so vindictive?" i never believed in bad people (and i fear saying that to people thinking so many will automatically retort "so you think (insert facist dictator/murderer/rapist here) is a good person?" or even more will just think me naive). i believe in broken people, and even more broken people. when it comes to others, every fiery arrow of the evil one they hit you with is another fiery arrow the evil one hit them with. so what of myself? what of my demons? do i hurl the arrows hurled at me? by man or demon? this is what i think. if i let my demons be who i am, let them affect how i treat others, i'm no better than the demons who hurt me to start with. i could make the excuse that i'm only human but that diminishes what humanity is. if humanity were meant to settle in its imperfection we would be demons instead, because when you settle in a rut you wear it down deeper, and what does a demon do but cultivate pain? so what is the alternative then? only to live for Christ, as Christ, with love and utter humility and selflessness. because if my demons are who i am then living for others ceases to be living for those demons. but if i am not defined by whats wrong with me, then not living for those demons and doing right makes sense as well. i will not diminish humanity to demony by resigning myself to reflecting my pain on others and explaining that away by only being human. yet i will not claim angelicism. angels live better than humans, above them. instead i will accept being human and live as such, as was created loving others despite the taint of my demons. what makes us good, and gives us strength is refusing to inflict our pain upon others, even if they inflict theirs upon us, because i can not expect them to live beyond their demons and refuse resignation. and living for others makes us like Christ, and only God is truly good. in short: no matter what i've been through, i can still treat others with love. my demons are not who i am. no ones are. i will love others despite their demons. i will love others despite mine. Jesus did, and never demeaned another despite the torturous death He faced. even during that time He forgave the aggressors, and another in the same boat as He. i'm not a demon i'm not an angel i am human and i will live like one.

Monday, May 18, 2009

moving up

In the beginning there was xanga.

Or at least that was the beginning for me.

Xanga was how I dipped my toe into the social networking pool. It was my first blog, and believe it or not it still exists. I write in it once every six months or so anymore, and have a singular reader whose xanga I in turn read when she updates. However for the first few years I possossed it, it was writ in faithfully. Then myspace happened.

I didn't blog in myspace right away, but gradually it became a regular update. I still blog in it in fact, and don't think i'm liable to stop. I get quite a few reads per post, anywhere from 14 to 56. I see no reason to change that.

However I see blogging as one of the last forms of free speech. Plain words can be made into a federal case if "political correctness" is called into question, and while a piece of art expresses freely, only few will lay their eyes upon it. The press used to be a great method of getting word out to the masses, but now has turned into a machine of propaganda. The media only publishes what they want us to know, whay they want us to get riled about, and what they think will sell. Meanwhile what we want to say gets pushed aside, and important things we could be knowing are left unreported. It's no wonder the rest of the world thinks Americans to be ignorant. Blogging is a method of self-expression uninhibited and available for all to see.

Even though I already have a blog, this is my opportunity to state what I think and be heard by others outside of my circle of friends. The first step to peace is listening to one another.

So welcome to the ugly duckling diary.