I've been feeling rather dull-hearted lately, my soul lost in a gray cloud that should bring rain but knows only fog. My tendency is to see only everything that isn't done yet, everything that could have or should have been different --everything that might have been and isn't. My heart is sorrowful.
I had dreams when I was younger. Visions, even. At 14 I had a vision that even today doesn't quite make sense to me--though I know it hasn't come to fruition yet. My senior year I had lofty expectations of college that didn't pan out. College was the same way. In college, I guess my vision perished.
And the drums of Time beat steadily on.
When I was a teenager, I loved debates. I liked ideas. My friends and I would take turns taking the "wrong" side just to practice. I discovered I love Socratic method. I studied (still study) by trying to refute an argument. This played out on to the website I'd later be a part of for six years.
Rum-pum pum-pum, rum-pum pum-pum....
Of late, it takes more to rile me. I don't know what that means, other than maybe I'm tired of fighting. I've never been one for drama, and social networking drama can be the absolute worst. So I'm either tired, jaded, both, or something else entirely. Or all of the above.
And maybe it's just that social media puts so much of this at my disposal at the same time, but one thing I've noticed is that Christians online can be total psychos.
Rum-pum. Rum-pum. Rum-pum pum-pum...
It's like we thrive off the adrenaline rush a little note in Cyberspace gives us. Maybe we should read more books or something. They say that societies given to affluence lose the ability to take care of themselves. Societies of peace forget how to defend themselves when war comes. The rich forget the poor; the strong man goes soft. The peacemaker cannot exist where war does not. The spiritual man becomes carnal without something chafing at his soul. The branch of the Church that grows the strongest and bears the most fruit is the one constantly under threat of the axe.
So in our lack of physical threat and subvert spiritual threat, we turn inward. We turn on ourselves and devour our own. The truth is that I see very little godliness online. Instead I see bickering, self-deception, gossip, quarreling, strife, conceit, and striving after the wind. Don't believe me? Please review the following list of current topics:
○ Is Dawn Treader evil?
○ Is Harry evil?
○ Should we demand to hear "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays"?
○ Back-stabbing fellow believers as either sell-outs, hypocrites, shallow, narrow-minded, fickle, or any other brand of name-calling
○ CBA v. ABA (Yes, it's on the list)
○ How is something 'spiritual' or not?
○ Is a book or movie "Christian" enough?
○ What makes it "christian"?
○ Should we use the word "Christian"?
○ What is the meaning of Christmas? (See, I can throw my own topic in there.)
○ Is Evangelicalism dead, apostate, or heretical?
○ Is fantasy acceptable for Christians?
○ How far is too far in a book/movie?
Rum-pum pum pum...
You get the idea. And not all of these discussions were especially bad. They do, however seem to miss the entire point. For all the current screaming about "Jesus Junk" and "Christianese" and such, sometimes the very fact that we're having these conversations means something is inherently wrong with us.
Blog rage in unbecoming. Period. There is something inherently grotesque about Christians who can't behave themselves online, or who think it doesn't count. The worst part is that what's online, stays online--forever--and the person raged against might not ever see it.
Eternally held in contempt.
I suppose some might not mind. But what happens ten years down the road when someone reads an old post you wrote back in one of your angry phases and you're ashamed of it.
It's already out there.
In the middle of all this blog rage reading, I've been reading an actual book--a novel titled The City of Tranquil Light (named so for the Chinese city whose Chinese name I'd need to go look at to spell). It's fiction, but written from the perspective of a missionary to China and his wife's journal entries. It covers their entire journey over decades. I'm not done, but it's a very beautiful book.
In China, this couple gets excited about a letter from their family. They wait years for one convert, mostly running a clinic and earning people's trust. It's very quiet. A box from home means food from home. A letter informing of a family member's death is arriving months after the event. A cough can mean death. The wrong word might get you killed.
And a soft answer turns away wrath.
This year, I'm not completely sure what I want. I think, though, what I want looks more like that missionary couple. I want to fight it out with God, to be free to ask what I like and argue with him. To wonder at the gifts of a stranger and remember that even in the middle of a bloody civil war God remains firmly on the throne.
I think I want to be Katherine, whose Chinese name means "beautiful strength."
I've known all my life that the last thing I want is to die quietly in my bed, to reach the end of my life looking at everything I didn't do, realizing I missed the whole point, that I debated about the well instead of drinking the water in it.
I don't even have the desire to write this post about blog rage.
So, God help me, I'll pray for the strength to reach the end, that meaningless strife will cease, and that peace will come to earth.
God bring us more than mirth,
That we may go beyond the grave;
God bring us through the sorrow
That we might learn to love the Light;
Through strife teach us peace unending;
And may we all there stop pretending.
God bring trials that we might now
The victory you've won over the Enemy.
God teach us justice that we love mercy,
And mercy that justice we might know.
Bring Truth to our eyes so that we may see
Treason and faithlessness are misery.
God make us into what we shall be--
And in the end, hold us fast.
Let the light of his face grace your days
And the strength of his arm uphold your nights.
Let all your dross be purged away;
Let sorrows and strivings and vanity cease;
And know your Maker ere end of days.
There really is more to life than debating each other, than hair-splitting and searching out every possible theological deviation, than screaming for social justice or political justice, than demanding my opinions heard, than my happiness, success, or wealth. There's so much more.
And I'm going to find it.
"For unto us a son is born,
And unto us a child is given,
And the government will be upon his shoulders."
I want Him who makes all injustice, war, and cruelty cease, who destroys all that is evil and generates all that's good, who has compassion on all who seek it and wrath for those who refuse it.
And I will find him.
23 December 2010
10 December 2010
So I've been neglecting this blog while posting over at SpecFaith. (If you aren't seeing it pull on Facebook, then just click the link on my sidebar and go to the site. If you click my name under the last post by me, you'll pull all posts.) At any rate, posting every other week there eats my time.
To the subject matter, I'm over at Roots again. I've been thinking off and on about how people approach a subject, as opposed to what they actually say. Over the years I've run into one or two people that, regardless of what they say, I'm never, ever going to allow myself any association with them, because the nature of their presentation is so offensive to me. (The half-joke was that if they'd said "Jesus is Lord" I'd just have to keep my mouth shut, but I realize that may be a bit far.) That was on a forum, so it doesn't particularly matter.
Forums, though, do many things to you. Social media has this uncanny ability to bring our character flaws out of the shadows and into the sunlight. A few decades from now, instead of "character is what you are when people aren't looking" we might wind up with the saying "character is how you behaved respond - whether you actually post it or not - online." At any rate, it'll jade you.
I mention it only to add I read alot (I really need another word) of online material - most of it writing or theology related - and I'll be perfectly honest: The stepmother in Ever After was right. How you say it is more important than what you said.
So I say all of that, not to beat the dead horse, but to make note of the conflicting messages we send people.
-You can't complain about legalists without sounding like your own brand of legalism. (Society of the Non-Conformists, anyone?)
-You can't promote 'tolerance' while lambasting everyone who disagrees with you.
-You can't declare someone else's theology irrational while in the midst of a breathless, red-faced rant.
-You can't complain about a "Me Church" society while at the same time declaring how you think the church should be run.
-You can't complain about how sinful the world and/or the church is while yourself praying "Thank God I'm not like them." (Think about it, my fellow church brats.)
I'm just saying, it happens. And I've been seeing it far too frequently. Truth be told, I know the world has problems. And I know the Church hasn't exactly walked away unmarred by it.
Maybe it's me. I just truly believe there's a fine, fine line between complaining and arguing needlessly and voicing legitimate concerns and probable solutions. And I openly confess I don't always know where that line is. Sometimes it blurs. Sometimes I think I take flying leaps over it and careen off a cliff.
It's Christmas. Watch the Christmas movies/specials, even if they're not your favorites. Eat an ungodly amount of Christmas favorites. Spend too much money on people you love. We're supposed to hold things loosely in our hands, anyway. Be generous and gracious. Don't worry about how far off-is the Dawn Treader movie is, or how materialistic the holiday season's gotten, or whether or not CBA has a conspiracy going on and why. Or why grown men and women behave like children a third their age. If it bothers you, solve the problem.
Christianity, culture, and Christmas are only as much about us as we choose to make them. Most things are.
You know, I started this post with the full intention of telling you every single thing I'm tired of hearing lately. Pot 'n kettle, I reckon.
"He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness."
and wonders of his love.
Labels: *Journey - Sons and Daughters (Understanding Name and Inheritance 2008+), Observations of a Church Brat