When did you last dance?
I mean lose yourself ridiculously in utter awe of God to point where there was no other appropriate response but to dance.
I fail at new years resolutions.
Numerous articles suggest we all do. Maybe it’s personality type, maybe I just get discouraged and give up easily, who knows.
As part of my job I’m involved in a lot of goal setting, our goals are meant to be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed. Like a lot of business-religious-educational acronyms, some of the acronyms letters seem to only be included to spell a cool word, aren’t achievable & realistic(relative, relevant, result-focused) the same, why would we set a goal that wasn’t relative or relevant? But SMAT doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it.
Maybe I fail at my new years resolutions because I don’t treat acronyms with the hallowed reverence they deserve.
In the past when it came to resolutions I’d get a little carried away, apparently this says something about me as well (personality types & myers briggs) I’d end up with lot’s, achieve very little, forget about them by February, remember one or two half way through the year & officially give up on them. A lot of my goals were about things I thought I needed to do more of or do better. Fitness, weight, the classic christian read my bible & pray more… And it didn’t matter how SMART I was with them, they always became Stupid Heavy Irrelevant Tedious goals.
Instead I’ve stumbled (sorry I don’t recall where) on to something else that works for me, it flys in the face of Deconstructionist (break every thing down) SMART. It may work for you, it may not.
So instead of a goal I pick a word I want to live by for the year, think of it as a focus, motto, heartbeat, ethos, breath….
What word do I want to breathe this year.
This will be my 4th year of choosing a word in the past I’ve chosen Sabbath, Thrive, Create. Last year my brother-in-law chose ‘Present’, an excellent choice, being present, being in the moment. I don’t recall what word my Dad chose but I was encouraged that the concept had worked for him & he was doing it again this year.
Sometimes it’s tempting to chose lots of words, I find if I have a couple I can’t decide between, one eventually falls to the side. Sometimes – like last year – I wanted to choose a task as a word. The problem for me is that tasks, no matter how noble, become chores, work, an obligation, they drain my energy.
Where as a heartbeat word, a ‘breathe’ word, is life giving.
How does this work? One year I chose ‘Thrive’, unlike a narrow smart goal, ‘Thrive’ covers a broad range of life. My word was a question, Thrive: does this help me thrive?
It may just be semantics or devilish-mind-trickery but ‘Thrive’ was positive & life giving for me, instead of “you must be skinnier no more junk food you fatty” goals, it was as simple as does this help me thrive? Got some spare time on my hands – Thrive – what will be life giving for me to do in this space of time I find myself with.
The real bonus of a word for me is it’s easy to remember, it’s just one word, but it covers so much more than a 100 goals. Sabbath was about rest, being still, acknowledging God, it was also discipline & intentionality.
Last year I went with ‘Create’ I wanted to choose ‘Write’ but write is more task orientated & ‘Create’ is freedom. Creating space to be creative, Create was about acknowledging where I get my energy from, looking for a creative approach to work/problem solving, writing, poems, painting, making videos, cooking more, creating with healthier food….
Even if I do forget my word or make poor choices I can still come back to it, because Thrive/Create starts every day, it’s not the classic “read your bible in a year-plan-oh-no-im-6-months-behind-give-up-futility”.
This year my Wife & I have chosen ‘Wellbeing’, we wanted a word that could embrace the various areas of our lives holistically. So that’s my word for the year, have fun discovering yours…
Discovery now that’s an excellent word.
I believe in world peace.
I believe that all men are created equal.
I believe in the Force, America, freedom, the Tooth Fairy, a bearded man in the sky, Jesus Christ.
Beliefs are cool but in the words of Tyrion Lannister,
“words are wind.”
They say faith without works is dead, and I’ve often felt that to believe something you need to be living it. Otherwise you just like the idea.
But what happens if that “living it” takes over. What if that action becomes the only sign of faith, does it just become empty ritual… and how can you tell?
How can you tell when you’re so caught up in the doing that you’ve stopped being.
When you’re more Martha than Mary.
How can you tell when the things you do sneakily become the relationship you have, instead of overflowing from it. And does the fact that I even have to ask a sign things aren’t right?
What seems like an eternity ago I embarked on some travels, part discovery, part losing things along the way, part chasing dreams & passions. A journey which saw me hanging out with the houseless in Hawaii, and sharing tears in Palestine.
A journey which saw me stop writing. A little bit awkward if you keep a blog.
And in amongst the travel weariness, shameless self promoting selfies, new experience buzz, innocence lost insight, humanity rediscovered, crisis uncovered, laughter, tears, solitude and connection, was an invitation to enter the void.
I would summerise my faith journey this year as an invitation to enter the void. The laying down of things near and dear to me, let the chips fall where they may.
I started writing this post early 2014. I’ll finish it in 2015. Apart from a couple of YouTube videos, quotes & previously unpublished poems, I only wrote one post last year. And while very little of what I write sees the light of day I pretty much wrote nothing of anything.
I didn’t read much either, I made no videos, I didn’t volunteer, I didn’t go to church.
In fact I lost all desire to do any of these things, which was a little bit strange.
Concerning even, if I thought to hard enough about it.
Yet I felt strangely at peace with this invitation to emptiness, as if it were ok to be on this journey. Some how comfortable with the uncomfortable, or at least at peace with the process… whatever that might be.
Like rehabbing an injury, things aren’t right but one day will be.
Last year I attended a friends exhibition and was really moved buy the powerful stories and imagery, so much so that I bailed early, it made me think about my own travels, the people I’d encountered and their messed up situations. Maybe 2014 was the year I chose to shut down a bit instead of being overwhelmed by the worlds problems and my inability change things.
As 2015 begins I find a rekindled energy for some of my passions, a desire to read, to write, to create. I’m looking forward to finding and committing to a faith community, but that may depend on where I end up living. Somethings I don’t think I’ll ever resume, their time has past and I’m happy to let them go.
Love & Breathe. Here’s to doing coming from being.
behind a tranquil monastery is a boundary of forestry hiding a barbed-wire monstrosity
a church safe cursed by a razor-wire crown of thorns
we must protect our truth, sanctified and clean
like we set the standard for what clean is
hide your light under a bushel
unless it’s sanitized and superficial
Supermarket-church snap-frozen-reheated greetings, cookie-cutter-christians rehearsed prayers and scripted meetings
Yahweh’s speechless we’ve hijacked his voice and branded it like sneakers,spread the brand globally sweatshop-manufactured-ministry, unethical in our political standing on others to maintain our status quo
checkered shirts, buzz words, clap for yourself ignore the helpless, it’s you who commands and god who follows, enslaved by his own words pages of grace turned into spiritual laws and promises
a world void of colour and complexity, 40-days of formulaic-faith-paint-by-numbers-christianity
we’ve robbed the God of creation his creativity, denied his mystery, trapped him in a black and white box of simplicity
is it any wonder he doesn’t flow through me…
when kingdom looks so different from this brand of culturanity
The airstrikes happen everywhere, anytime, day and night. At night is the most difficult time. The bombing intensifies and I can feel it getting closer and closer. I’m exhausted but I try and force myself not to fall asleep… the explosions are even scarier when they wake you up. I prefer to be awake when they strike.
I prefer to be awake when they strike.
Wow… that line blows my mind.
Think about that for a second.
How fucked up would my world have to be for me to utter a sentence like that…
the bombs are going to happen, I prefer them in the daylight.
It blows my mind that strikes are so inevitable as to have a preference.
It blows my mind that this is someones reality.
It blows my mind that for some, throwing rocks is the last little bit of resistance they can offer.
It blows my mind that we can label a whole people group as terrorists… the grandparents, the sons and daughters… the parents that hope for their kids just like parents all around the world do.
A people group whose hopes & dreams aren’t that different from yours or mine.
It blows my mind how indifferent or dismissive we can be…
Because acknowledging their reality would force us to confront our own.
The quote from the beginning is from Arwa Mhanna’s article for Oxfam, the full article can be read here.
Donations to Oxfam’s Gaza effort can be made here.
Fallout. Some intended, some not. Some you see coming, some you don’t. Some you think you’re ready for… only to discover you’re not as invincible or as invisible as you think.
I haven’t published anything of substance since March 22nds opening the Gay Marriage Can of Worms.
That’s 6 months ago!
This is my
4th 5th – I’ve lost count – attempt to write a follow-up post.
I scrapped the “thesis” post, the “argue-louder-I’m-angry-you-called-me-those-names” post, and the “mailbag” post…
So I guess that leaves you with the “fallout” post.
What’s happened since then
Lots of people read it, it ended up in places I could never have imagined. I shut comments down, I received more emails in a couple of days than the blogs entire lifetime – some nice, many not. I had coffees & catch-ups. Gay marriage was made legal… my Facebook news feed read
Congratulations mps on passing your new bill now you have legalised gay marriage and prostitution what next pedofilla and rape?
and the world didn’t end.
I ambitiously set about responding to all those emails, had some great discussions before crawling into a hole & escaping to blog elsewhere for a bit. I went to Uganda.
Which brings me to the most surprising thing that happened.
I did a City-to-Surf run to raise funds for a mission trip to Uganda… someone asked for their money back.
Yep, that actually happened (& wasn’t the only weird bit of overreaction).
If these were the views I was espousing they didn’t feel morally they could support my trip. Never mind that homosexuality is illegal in Uganda… what’s interesting is I saw more guys holding hands (and held hands with several men) in Uganda than you’d see in NZ… you see it’s not a gay thing its a cultural thing.
Which leads to the conclusions we jump to, two guys holding hands in Uganda are friends, two guys holding hands in a western country are gay. Conclusions we jump to.
Several emails I received were about how provocative this pic at the end of the post was.
Two guys holding hands.
Except it isn’t.
I just googled “holding hands”.
It’s interesting what we see when we’re a little riled up. I got a little riled up, it’s why I initially delayed a response. It’s interesting the space we go to when we feel under siege, part of me wanted to hit back, part of me wanted to do the “mailbag” post & answer every question…
Instead I’ll leave you with a few ‘fallout’ observations & then the reason why I wont answer all those questions, comments, accusations…
The original post was just some thoughts on recurring discussions I was hearing. A lot was cut out, I could have written a book, but even I don’t read long posts. It was to provoke some thought, to (I hope) be permission giving for some, to even begin a discussion or heaven forbid… have thoughts.
The Bible – this could be another book 🙂
why the lack? There are many books dealing with biblical interpretation, bible times culture & homosexuality. Some arguments are stronger than others.
Ultimately we pick what we want.
Then justify our method.
If I’d included some text that’s all I would have been doing, and that’s the reason why I said, the “surrounding issues are close to many peoples hearts”, the surrounding issue being the Bible & how we read it, that’s what it really comes down to, that is the core issue. Not just in the gay debate, but everything… women leadership, abortion, evolution. Different crisis, same issue.
You’re asking me to read my Bible differently than my tradition has prescribed, and so I can’t go there. If I do, my faith is kicked out the door
– Tim Keller
Whatever side of the argument we’re on we make the bible jump through hoops and conform to the views we hold. Ultimately we make the Bible bow to words like “authority”, “inerrancy”, “narrative” & “myth”.
A human face
I finally put my name & photo on the author page. We interact with things differently when there is a face attached to it. It’s the same with the ‘gay’ issue’.
When we lack a ‘face’ we lack compassion, we say “love the sinner, not the sin”, and while we can love liars (after all, we’ve all lied), thieves (I’m guilty), druggies (we’re suckers for a good “Saul/Paul” story), pastors who’ve had affairs (so much temptation out there), our love for homosexuals extends as far as wanting nothing to do with you.
For many of us there is no real face to it, we can’t identify with the struggle, it’s media stereotypes and fear of that which is “other” to us.
If I preach love & can visit murderers in prison but can’t give a gay guy a hug, then my love rings hollow.
The face for me is, my gay neighbours & their adorable wee boy. The gay family I stayed with overseas. Friends I’ve studied with in High School & Bible College. Those I’ve cried alongside with in the church, because wrestling with your sexuality & faith in a place that is hostile is just brutal. I can see why many choose to quit on church, I get why most choose to remain silent, I consider it a privilege to have journeyed a little with those who didn’t.
Love & God on opposite sides?
This comment drew a lot of attention.
If when it’s all said & done, and I stand before God & I’ve gotten this wrong, I know I will have erred on the side of Love, and that is something I can live with
I guess what I’m saying is that, in this moment I’ve made what I feel to be the right decision for me & my faith journey. But I recognise that 12 yrs ago I thought the world had to have been created in 7 days & it was dangerous to think otherwise, so things change. Ultimately I recognise my own shortcomings, I’m not perfect, and I’m not God.
why no ‘mailbag’ post
I don’t have all the answers, I’m still trying to figure stuff out.
I don’t think the topic of “how we interact with those who we see as other to us” is a question that should be answered, a box to be ticked, a solution filed away…
rather it is something we should always wrestle with, so I’ll leave it open…
wrestle, read, have conversations, think, pray…
because there will always be minorities.