Wednesday, September 28, 2005

On Campus

I’m sitting here on a bench in the shade on campus trying to avoid thinking about the Symbolic Logic exam I have to take in about thirty minutes. It’s because I don’t know the material or I’m not prepared. The truth is I feel very prepared, and truly studying now will not help me in the least. I’m also listening to Haste the Day. They’re kind of a screamo/hardcore band. This is definitely not increasing my relaxedness quotient. Very un-relaxed at this moment. But that is why I am trying to blog. For me, blogging/journaling has always been a very relaxing activity. I do it to bring my day together, to process what I’ve learned and done that day or in previous days. I think it was Ignatius of Loyola who talked about desolations and something else in his Spiritual Exercises. I don’t really remember, but the basic process is this identifying “highs and lows” of my days and weeks.
Right now there are groups of people walking around campus taking pictures of unusual things. I saw someone take a picture of a sign next to tree that identifies the species of said tree. I’m guessing it’s an exercise for a class, but that doesn’t make it any less odd. What could they do with these pictures?
On another subject altogether, I got a message through facebook about a possible Orthodox Christian Fellowship starting at SEMO. I giggled, since I am nerdy enough to have a list of my study interests listed under my hobbies/interests. That’s how this person found me. Anyways, I am interested in meeting more Orthodox and getting to know more about the faith, so it would be awesome to be involved in an OCF. We’ll see. I’m going to walk into the Art Building, where I have Symbolic Logic, now. I’ll post this and write a new post during my break after my exam. Blessings.

Monday, September 26, 2005

On a drizzly Monday morning...

On a drizzly Monday morning I'm sitting here in the UC using the free wireless like I am on any other Monday morning lately. I just took an exam in my Environmental Biology class. It wasn't hard, but it was longer than I expected.
Yesterday we visited St. John church in Memphis again. This time it was John, Amy, the kids, and me. We drove through a little residual hurricane/tropical storm rain. I thought Mr. Noel's van (which we borrowed) was going to die right in the middle of the downpour. I think the fuel pump is going out.
This was our kids' first visit to an Orthodox church. When we first got there, Micah said, "Cool, it has a basement." So, apparently that high on his criteria list. Then, when we walked up the stairs to the nave, Micah got to the door and stopped. I guess the smell, sound, and sight of Orthodox worship was very foreign to them. It took a while to get them to sit/stand still. I thought the kids would like the icon frescoes on the walls, i.e. something to look at. No. They were pretty freaked out by the giant Pantocrator icon on the ceiling. Sometime during the service, Micah noticed the icon of the Crucifixion, which the cross on top of a hole with a skull inside of it. He kept asking what "that bone head" was about. Silly. Towards the end of the service I had resigned to watching my kids play quietly downstairs rather than try to force them into the nave and fight with them while they fuss. So, I met a neat couple named George and Patty. They're from Michigan (so am I). It was a joy to hear a Michigan accent in Memphis, TN. Anyway, they were cradle Orthodox. They were baptized in a small Orthodox church in Detroit of which St. John reminds them.
So, all this to say that I was downstairs visiting with George and Pat when the liturgy was concluding with the veneration of the Cross. At some point Alexis and Micah had slipped away and were upstairs standing with Amy in the service. When the time came for the veneration of the cross (everyone lines up to kiss the cross the priest is holding) Amy was going to slip out the back with the kids, but Alexis said, "No, I HAVE to kiss that cross." You can probably read that story told better over on Amy's blog. So, they both did.
The kids wanted an icon of Christ like the one I bought at Annunciation, so I bought them a smaller one, and bought myself an icon of the Mother of God with the Christ-child. When we got home I asked the kids where they wanted the icon of Christ hung in their room. They said they wanted it low enough on their wall for them to kiss it when the go to bed at night. Cute.

Well, if you haven't read my blog before, you're probably wondering what all this stuff about the Orthodox Church is, but you'll have to read previous posts. Also, check out this guy's posts on "Why Orthodoxy?"

May God richly bless you as you go through your day.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

This is a picture I've been trying to put on my blog for a while. It's Amy and me in front of the Dining Hall at Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, CO. Posted by Picasa

Semi-pelagian Shorter Catechism

Here is a link to a really funny parody - the semi-pelagian shorter catechism.

Understand that I'm not making fun of Semi-pelagians, Calvinists or any other tradition in Christianity, it's just funny.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The balancing act

It turns out it is a bit more difficult than I believed it would be to transition to the life of a full time student while maintaining momentum in my current ministry context. Man, am I tired. It's a good thing I didn't blog Wednesday. I was so tired and depressed. Am I up for this? Do I have "what it takes"? Did I make a tragic mistake/misstep in my seeking after God's will for myself and my family? I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. What would make me think I could be a decent student and be a decent Young Life director while being the husband and father Amy, Micah and Alexis deserve? So I pray. That's the positive thing. Since my staff conference last week, I have been more aware of the spiritual battle that goes on around us and within us. I have prayed more seriously for myself and this ministry in the last week than the two and a half years of Young Life combined. I pray for my kids to be protected from evil spiritual influences. I pray for God to send angels to protect us. During my morning drive I read the Orthodox morning prayers from my little prayer book I bought at St. John's. When it comes time for open intercession in the prayers I pray for a while for everyone who comes to mind. There is so much need I know I forget people and situations. So I find myself at the edge. Where else can I go? You [Christ] have the words of eternal life. I do nothing except seek Your face everyday and trust that all will be well in the end. Lord, protect me from the sin of busyness and distraction. So often I look around, compare myself with others and feel myself sinking in the sea. Lord, save me! Please don't let me sink. In myself I have nothing worthy to bring to You, so I depend completely on Your mercy. Lord, have mercy. Holy Spirit, bring Your peace into my heart and into my life. Guide me into Truth. Christ, be my fellow traveller today. Walk beside me and encourage me. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Returning Home

We had a staff conference this week for Missouri YL. It was good. I'm still really tired. I didn't blog at all, even though the lodge had wireless, because I was tired and busy almost the entire time.
The speaker was John Eldredge, or at least a CD of him. I had read Wild at Heart when it was hot stuff and didn't really know where I stood in relation to it. (I'm mildly wild.) So, this was about his Four Streams- DISCIPLESHIP, SPIRITUAL WARFARE, COUNSELING, and DEEP RESTORATION.
The whole thing was kind of interesting, because I openly stated my queasiness with John, and some of my fellow YLers are big John fans.
Well, I don't know where John and I stand now.
The main thing is, John has these weird experiences and decides to make them normative for the entire church. Then he goes to the Bible and backs it up with what I think is pretty standard Protestant exe/eisigesis. The funny thing is, I read a review of his work on Challies, which I don't normally read. And it addressed some of my concerned.
So I didn't buy Eldredge whole idea, although I did buy a copy of Waking the Dead. I actually ordered it from CBD while I was bored listening to one of the CDs.
That's my week. I'm home now and should mow my lawn today. Peace

Friday, September 09, 2005

I'm 27. I'm married, and I have two kids.
I'm now a college junior- full time.
It's been a strange experience being in college full time again. It's been like five years since I was a full time student. The classes aren't hard, particularly. In fact, since I was missing a few required courses, I am taking core 100-level courses this semester. It's almost down right easy. The funny thing is being old, being a minister by trade, being married, having kids-- and having none of my fellow students know this. It's not that I keep it a secret, as if I were afraid of being 'outed'. I enjoy the look my classmates get on their faces when I mention those facts that make me weird on campus. "I thought you were like 23!" That's only a four year difference from my real age, but it's apparently a world of difference to the average college student. I remember being there. I probably still am there about other ages I've yet to reach. I wonder if that's how my 54-year old best friend feels about running around with us younguns.
So, I think, "am I so immature that it seems unbelieveable that I am grown with responsibilities and all?" I prefer to think of myself as "full of life". It's a lot more fun to be full of life, than to put on my old church guy face and be boring. I already bore myself sometimes with some of my own interests. I listen to myself recounting the basics of church history, dogma, or the current splintered state of American protestantism, and I think, who is that nerd. The thing is, I like it. That's right. I'm a nerd. Not a nerd who likes math and science. Certainly not. I'm more of a humanities/liberal arts guy myself.
The big thing that is revealed and impressed upon me is this: if I went to college more ambitiously right out of high school I would probably be graduated with a degree that wouldn't fit me. I didn't know myself then. I don't really know myself now, but I'm getting closer.
As I sit here in the University Center pontificating on useless thoughts, my fellow students rush to the next party.
The sidewalks all over campus declare in colored chalk, "Go Greek!", "Don't go greek!", "Anime Party", "Party at the Shack". I'm the only one who's wondering what all of this is about. It seems like it's obvious to everyone else what college is all about.
God's blessings.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Last night Amy and I watched the movie "Kinsey". It was a disturbing story of the author of the famed Kinsey Reports. It showed the outwardly moral, but secretly perverse nature of our country at the turn of the century. The most disturbing part is how the study and the newfound sexual freedom starts to tear apart the marriage relationships of those involved.
Alfred Kinsey has been blamed (or credited, in some circles) with the sexual revolution, because of the freedom that his reports resulted in. The thing is, it seems to me like he didn't so much say "do this!" as "this is what people are doing."
If I can use the metaphor, it was as if someone shone a light on the darkside of our nation. Nothing appeared there that wasn't really there. For the first time our country got a good look at itself, and it wasn't pretty.
I was struck by how those who were protecting traditional morality (bravo!) were willing to deceive the children or whoever (boo!) in order to accomplish their goals. Isn't it counterproductive to uphold your system of morality by transgressing that same system in another area? I thought so.
Before I got married I bought or someone bought for us the "Christian sex books" by Wheat and the LaHayes (yes, of Left Behind fame- he was originally a family counselor/author). At least these books were honest about what they knew.

Well, I won't talk about sex anymore. I'll get into trouble.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In the past few days I have checked my counter stats and realized that someone had sat and apparently read my entire blog, start to finish. Now, given the fact that my life is a little less than exciting, it would stand to reason that my blog would be boring. It is.
This weekend Amy and I cleaned the front yard. As my lawn mower is broken, I used the Weed Eater to mow. It looks like it was cut by a blind drunk man. Hehe. Our yard was getting pretty ugly from about a month's worth of neglect. The leaves needed raked. I guess my front yard trees have premature balding problems.
I've been really sidetracked from school work with all my extracurricular reading. I finished reading Matthew Gallatin, now I'm read St. Ignatius and the rest of the Apostolic Fathers. It's very interesting. Yesterday I had a conversation with the local First Baptist pastor, who happens to be the committee chair for Young Life locally. He told me that Baptists saw Acts as descriptive (a historical account), but not normative (for all places at all times). Now, this might not be true of all baptists, but for him anyway, it gives the authority to invent church. The problem for me is this: if the big problem of the Enlightenment and modernity was the invention of the self, then how are we doing better to go into varied forms of self-rule? Now we decide that we have the authority to establish the church any way we like it. This relates to the "personal worship preference" discussion. You see, I have many "personal theology preferences". I also have many "personal church polity preferences". The list could go on and on. From my personal perspective, the problem lies in allowing myself that sort of megalomania-control of my affairs. When I enter a situation/church/theological system my first thought is "do i agree with this, do I agree with that?" but this still maintains me at the very center of my own personal universe. This is highly problematic as a Christian, since Christ explicitly commanded his followers to lose their selves, deny their selves, die to self. How does that line up with a cult of personal preference? The short answer is, "it doesn't."
Talk about countercultural. Die to self. Give no regard to your own preferences. Think more of the other than yourself.
In our society this would be tantamount to treason against the reigning all-supreme self.
Now I have to read some more of Plato's Republic.
May God's richest blessings dwell on all of you and your families.