A Thousand Voices

Twitter has a much stronger draw for me than Facebook does. I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s the constant flow of information or the thought that I have access to a world of thought completely outside of my own normal circles (my Twitter feed is generally much less conservative than my Facebook feed).

I actually quit Twitter for a little while. I used it for a few years very regularly and then got tired of how much my attention was being grabbed by it right around the end of the 2016 election. I also remember being disappointed in myself for constantly thinking in “tweetable” thoughts. I.e., anytime I attempted to chase down a line of thinking, I couldn’t help myself but find ways to tweet about it, which inevitably stunted my ability to flesh out my thinking on pretty much anything in a meaningful way. So, I archived my entire Twitter account and deleted it completely.

That was fine for a little while until I felt the need to return. My hope was that, having had some time off, I could better manage my attention and my thoughts and who I followed. Some of that has been true. I’m much more careful now about what I say and how much time I spend on it look at that feed daily. Something is still not quite right though. I see a lot on Twitter about how it has changed — that the way we interact with one another is far too insular, that we are especially reactionary on it as opposed to other platforms, and so on. But I’m not convinced that Twitter is changed (besides bumping us up to 280, curse the name of Twitter forever) so much as American culture and thought life has changed. Twitter is reactionary because we are reactionary. Our experience within Twitter is stunted and insular because we are stunted and insular.

My concerns with Twitter abound, and after experimenting with it for a second time, I don’t know that I’m any better off than I was the first time around. I might personally handle it better than I did a year ago. But as I told my wife recently, I can’t help but feel like when I log in to Twitter, I am greeted with a thousand voices that are demanding that I care about the political issue that just occurred, or the new sexual harassment revelation in Hollywood or D.C., or today’s theological controversy. The fact is, for the most part, those things are not my job to care about. There is literally nothing I can do about them, despite the fact that those thousand voices lay an infinite demand on me each day that I can and should. The better, more effective work that I can do is right here in my own tight-knit community.

A Mundane Holy Week

Every year when Lent rolls around, I tell myself that I really want to do something different this year for Lent/Holy Week/Good Friday/Easter Sunday. I internally say that I want to have a little more focus, maybe use the daily lectionary, maybe pray a little more, maybe do something to better understand what the atonement is and what Resurrection means and how it fits in this life of mine.

And then, you know. Work, kids, TV shows, new music, grass mowing, herb gardening, reading, visiting family, coffee roasting, and on and on.

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None of it is bad. I actually AM trying to find ways to enjoy and just be in these daily and weekly rituals. This time with my girls and my wife that I will never get back if I keep checking my phone for Facebook and Twitter updates. Mowing the lawn is a lot more fun now that I’m an adult (Chris from ten years ago would look at me with such disdain).

So I can look back at this past couple of months that I gave up Twitter for (most of) Lent – only to replace it with constant Facebook checking – and be disappointed in myself. I can look back and be frustrated that I didn’t spend time in prayer nearly as much as I wanted to.

Or

I can be satisfied. Content. Happy that I actually do have a fulfilling life. I can use this next few days to reflect on my failings and faults and successes over the last few months and change something about myself, about how I see the world and parenting and being a husband and a Jesus follower.

Is that the point of all this? To try and fail but try to not be discouraged but see where I can do better and see how the Spirit might be working in me and in the people around me that I love so dearly? I think so.

Maybe this Easter Sunday won’t feel special in any real way. Our family will go to church, hopefully have some time to reflect, both on what the Crucifixion might mean and what the Resurrection pulls us toward. We will do so while one of us bounces a five-month-old so she isn’t fussy and we both worry about how our two-year-old is doing in her little classroom. We’ll leave church and eat ham and play in our new backyard and maybe, even if for only a moment, we will experience a taste of the Kingdom of Heaven in our seemingly mundane lives.

Breaking Bad and Neglected Kids

I’m a pretty big Breaking Bad fan. I know, who isn’t, right?

Anyway, I’m re-watching the series here and there if I have extra time, and I recently came across an episode that I had forgotten about. It’s a part of a two episode series where Jesse goes to the house of a couple of meth addicts that have stolen money from him to get his money back.

Long story short, he ends up breaking into the house while (he thinks) no one is home to wait for the addict/thieves to show up. While he is waiting, he is surprised by a small red-headed child, maybe three years old. Without acknowledging Jesse, he walks into the living room to turn the TV on. The child has obviously not been bathed in a very long time; he has dirt on his face, his hair is untidy, he is wearing a raggedy pajama shirt and what looks like very old underwear. This is not to mention the condition of the house. Random crap is strewn about everywhere, and the house is in an obvious state of disrepair. When Jesse finally gets the child to talk, he only says two words: “I’m hungry.”

It’s probably safe to assume he hasn’t eaten in a long time.

The rest of the episode goes on, but that’s not what I’m here for. The entire scene with the child reminds me of a camp that I have been a part of for the last three years, Royal Family Kids’ Camp. The camp is a week-long camp meant for children in the foster care system that have been abused and neglected. You’d be surprised at the stories I’ve heard – about what these children have had to go through. The Breaking Bad scene puts a picture in my head of how these children have been forced to live. They are a part of families that have made them feel unwanted, they have been left to wallow in filth for days on end, they have been treated with such cruelty that most of us can’t even come close to imagine.

I’m not one to normally do this. Below is a link to the Royal Family Kids’ Camp page in South Dallas. It’s the one I have participated in for the last three years. The camp is intended to give these children a chance to see that there are people who really love them, people who would give up time just to hang out with them for a full week. It’s not much, but as our camp director likes to say, “If you were blind, what do you think a vision would mean to you?”

If you are looking for a place to make a charitable donation, or to give any of your time or resources (there are lots of ways to help), please just check out the page. From my experience, this camp is the kind of thing that can change a child’s life.

Royal Family Kids’ Camp of South Dallas

To My Friends and Family

I’m writing this post on the backside of a conversation I had with Elaine today regarding the content of my blog posts online. She and I had a constructive conversation about the (potentially) controversial nature of some of the content I’m writing about, especially regarding my more theologically and socially conservative friends and family.

First, I would like to say that I love writing, and I’m not going to stop. It is the manner in which I feel I can best express myself, my thoughts, and my faith. It also helps me to work through various theological and philosophical issues, and helps me to become a better writer overall. Nonetheless, my views are my own, and they are subject to change – as I think they should for everyone.

Second (and with complete honesty and openness), I recognize that many of the issues I have written about – and no doubt, will write about – are controversial (to some) in nature. To be clear, I am not simply choosing to write about topics that are controversial for controversy’s sake. I write about them because they are important to me right now, I find them interesting, and I want to have an open and honest discussion with people from all walks of life about these issues – whether you agree or disagree with me. However, while some of you may find my treatment of topics to be over-the-deep-end theologically, or too liberal or emergent or whatever, this is not the case with a large population of theologians and Christians across the nation.

In other words, to you, I might seem too liberal. To others, I am seen as too conservative.

I write because I love it, and because I love talking about God. I also love having healthy, constructive discussion and debate. If you agree or disagree with me regarding something I post, please leave a comment on this blog or on my Facebook page. If you would like to better understand where I’m coming from or why I think a certain way, respond by having a conversation with me – not by talking about how “concerned” you are for me, or immediately attacking my viewpoint. I don’t mind disagreement, but I won’t take any kind of belligerence or ignorant attacks seriously. This, I feel, is the way forward for all of us.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for being supportive. Grace and peace to you all.

Gordon-Conwell Acceptance!

I won’t be posting anything controversial today!

Just wanted to let everyone know that I received my acceptance letter (via email) to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for the fall 2013 semester! Also, they included in the letter that I have received a $4,500 per year scholarship. I may also be receiving other scholarships, which I will find about later.  I’m very excited about the prospect of going to seminary, and especially for being about to continue on in my theological education.

 

For those of you who don’t know about seminary, here’s a little info: I plan on going to seminary to receive an M.Div., which is pretty close to receiving two master’s degrees – one in practical theology (basically ministry) and one in (I suppose you could call it theoretical) theology. The current goal for our family after seminary is to pursue church planting. Also, we plan to plant a church community that looks and practices on a much different plane than most churches do today. That’s something I’ll probably explain at a later time. Many of my thoughts on the subject are still abstract, but suffice it to say it won’t be “church” like people recognize it today.

Also, Gordon-Conwell is really cool because it is a well-respected, theologically-conservative seminary that is in the top tier of divinity schools and seminaries around the country. It is so well-respected, in fact, that it participates in something called the Boston Theological Institute, which allows for cross registration in classes at schools like Harvard Divinity School, Boston College, and other highly respected institutions in the Boston area.

Elaine and I are still in the middle of really deciding about this whole seminary thing, but I know it is a step in the right direction for our family (or will be at some point in the future). We will be in prayer over the next few months about making this decision and weighing the pros and cons for what moving would mean for our family.

As an aside, only 23 days until graduation!

Shameless Promotion Day!

Though this blog is fairly new, I figured I’m always up for trying to increase readership. What better way to do that than to join in with a guy who gets like a bazillion readers a day on his blog?

Anyway, in order for me to participate, I have to post a link to a recent interview between Frank Viola and N.T. Wright. Fortunately, I’m a big fan of both! Check it out:

N.T. Wright Interview: “Simply Jesus” & Wright Responds to Critics

http://frankviola.org/2012/01/23/ntwright

And if you’re a fan of Scot McKnight (which I am as well), check out this interview:

Scot McKnight Interview: “The King Jesus Gospel” & McnKnight Responds to Critics

http://frankviola.org/2012/02/08/scotmcknight

 

Enjoy!