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Friday, April 27, 2007

directionality

"The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we stand, but in which direction we are going."

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

free to be....


























"Free in your own home then? Barely. If work & TV haven't shrivelled your soul to a pea, if the habit of obedience has not been sufficiently learned, if the practice of conformity has not become an unconscious tick - can you even remember how it feels to live?

Damaged. Your soul in your suitcase, packaged. Where do you think you are sending it? Saving it? For later, you might need it, don't step on it. Just forget about it."


(Minotaur Picular)


yet again i sit typing, and realize that i'm probably writing in vicious circles which make no sense (it's on these days i wonder how my name ever hit that little contributors list)...whether or not it serves any purpose, who knows, but i guess i'll just take that chance yet again.

lately, i've seemed to be traversing in uncharted territory and tended to not want to be a voice on this virtual forum. despite that, i've wanted to read it all the same and the other day came upon this portion of a post.

this got me thinking about conformity, societal boxes and expectations, societal stigmas which cast negative perceptions and whether there truly is a place of being 'free or happy' when you choose to go against the grain. conformity and societal boxes really get under my skin...as to why there's even any perceived 'boxes' or 'bars' that need to be met or conformed to. i guess i'm at a point in life where i wish people would simply embrace individuality and allow all to be who they will be. there's a lot of perceptions of being 'free and happy', but until a lot of the societal stigmas and expectations are dropped, i don't buy it.

i'm as guilty as anyone for buying into needing to be a certain way in my roles of life, in order to be respected. i guess maybe that's why i'm walking a 'funky' road right now...as i begin to chart a new course and deal with the new issues which come with that one. i simply want to be able to feel life and all it has to offer...speaking from experience, when you lose sight of your own individuality, you lose sight of life itself and that's disastrous on many levels. i'm sure by saying that, many will perceive it as a 'weak' person on the playing field, but often it's very much the opposite.

i'm simply gonna close this 'funky' post with the comment i left the other day...you know, i think this society does seem 'free or happy' in some senses to those who are conforming to the things around them. but when you choose to live outside that view, it doesn't always seem so friendly and nice. as uncomfortable as it feels sometimes, i always hope i will be looked at as the person who doesn't fit those nicely 'societal' boxes that i seemingly should be in. i'd rather be known as 'weird' in the eyes of society when it comes to my roles, than to be another dot of conformity along the line.






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Friday, April 06, 2007

cold war


about seven years ago i was writing articles for a small denominational magazine in canada. this article was the only one that was rejected, on the grounds that the theology was too 'reform.'

although there is a troublesome idea about the sovereignty of God that i still wrestle with today, i have been thinking a lot about the morning after the 'night of His betrayal...'


seemed appropriate to post this on Good Friday.

*sidenote: the greatest rationale for Good Friday services is that we go from palm sunday with all of the 'hosanna heysanna' hoopla to Easter and the resurrection, having not really dealt with the cruelly torturous passion of the Christ. without Good Friday, Easter would be just another sunday, right?

have a blessed Easter, my friends.
-jb
***

being an early gen-X canadian, i remember very few things from 1972 at all- much less any that impacted my life like the amazing canada-soviet hockey series. this series was the reason i started to play hockey. i remember sitting in the open-area (the big educational trend of the day) with a hundred or so other third-graders watching the games on a 20" black and white tv during school time. i remember rushing home afterward to the paved driveways and the back streets to live out those great hockey moments in our own luke-warm version of the cold war. i had no idea what the series was all about, other than national pride. this was, after all, why we sang O Canada in the first place... it was the unofficial 'hockey night in canada' theme song.

so I was troubled, as were most canadians, when I saw what bobby clarke did. he was a canadian ambassador from flin flon manitoba who had lived out the canadian dream. he'd made it all the way to the nhl and even had a puck-shaped hole where his front teeth had been. he was playing in a series that would be remembered more as a series of battles than a series of games, but when he swung his stick down upon valery kharlamov's ankle, fracturing it and thus impeding one of the soviets' key offensive weapons, he stepped over a line for me. coach john ferguson, no stranger to warlike play, had chosen clarke to carry out the deed because "i couldn't tell that to rod gilbert but i could certainly talk to bobby clarke and he'd do it."

shrewd coaching or abandoning an ideal in order to accomplish a desired outcome, the result was the same. i saw kharlamov hobbled on tv by one of my heroes.

***
how could i have done this to you, Lord?!”

the tragic voice cries out in the coldest moment of the night- that moment that lingers seemingly forever as darkness pauses in chilling solitary stubbornness before surrendering to the first hints of morning light that at once begin to whisper the coming of day from somewhere in the eastern abyss.

“oh God- i’d give anything to take it back! please remember me as a sin offering to I AM!”

the tortured voice cries again to be followed by a sickeningly sonic quadratic of rope pulled tight, creaking wood, cracking bone and escaping air. after this there is only that whisper of morning across the clouded sky. just hours later another dying man will cry out from an entirely different tree of pain before darkness claims this troubled mediterranean district for three hours in the middle of the afternoon.

*****
“goddammit, I told you- I DON’T KNOW HIM!” a gruffly frustrated, heavily accented voice snarls from the comfort of the warmly burning embers and billowing smoke of a courtyard fire. even now the details of this night with its cryptic words, its symbolic gestures and its empty embraces are hazy. one thing seems certain: whoever this voice in the shadows belongs to clearly knows the man of the hour who turns to look straight through the firelight at him as that same darkness surrenders that same piece of sky. off in some barn in the distance, a rooster acknowledges the coming of friday morning for the third time in just minutes.

*****
we are really good at judging. we have had a lot of practice. it is as comforting to be able to point at someone in gethsemane as it is to berate adam and eve for getting us all thrown out of eden. we know that judas kissed Christ with a divided heart many times before the garden, and that peter's bloody sword could only temporarily hide the lack of resolve that his words betrayed for all to hear. yet in our heart of hearts we know who we are, and we wear those same labels again and again in our own lives. perhaps that’s why we judge so effortlessly. the ability to do that came once we tasted of sin for ourselves and discovered first hand the difference between faithfulness and disobedience.

but here's the thing. each of the disciples betrayed Christ in that moment when they were required to be faithful, yet didn't the gospel go ahead anyway? as a matter of fact, didn't the gospel require the Christ to be betrayed by those whom he trusted? as i look at the story of judas, i am struck by the idea that perhaps God simply chose judas because he knew that judas would, on his own, do what needed to be done in order for Christ to be ultimately glorified. how could Christ have conquered death and the grave for real without that horrible thursday night? without the death there could be no resurrection- and the resurrection was the point. had judas not been the type of man he was, he would not have been in the position he was, nor could he have been as involved as he was. he was there because Almighty God knew that he would do the job, and an ugly job needed to be done.

such is the sovereignty of God- to know our failings and somehow be glorified even in them.

i believe that the real difference between judas and peter came after the moment of betrayal. betrayal takes on many forms, and both peter and judas were guilty of the severe where we are guilty of the subtle. nonetheless, as the sun came up, one man took his own life and one man recommitted his. the difference between judas and peter was the simple acceptance of the grace of God. whereas judas could not allow himself to be forgiven- in truth he could not forgive himself- peter went away praying a different kind of prayer, and upon that praying rock did Christ build his church.

God is honoured in many ways. he chooses to allow us the freedom to be fallen or faithful, because the choice itself glorifies him. through our faithfulness, we invite others to ask "who is this God that he/she serves and why is he/she able to remain straight while the rest of the world curves?" our lives are to be a plumbline showing how far the rest of this life has slipped away from truth.

because God is omnipotent, his will is accomplished in all things whether anyone, even he, likes it or not. God doesn’t want us to hold out on him, but his will will be done with or without our acquiescence. the choice as to how actively we are involved in bringing honour to his name is up to us, for even fallenness can be used of God to accomplish his intentions.

bobby clarke’s coaches knew their players well. they knew who to call upon for any given play in the game.

although the comparison between the coaching staff of that historic hockey club and the creator of the universe is tragically flawed, the comparisons between the players involved might not be so far off. when God is looking for someone to do a job that accomplishes his will and ultimately brings him honour, when does he call upon us? does he have our faithfulness or our lack of faithfulness in mind when he thinks of us?

I RETURN ONCE AGAIN TO A PLACE I OFTEN VISIT
THE PLACE OF BEGINNINGS
WHERE I ASK YOU TO BEGIN AGAIN

THE LONGING OF MY SOUL
IS TO WALK WITH YOU
WITHOUT A BURDEN TO SLOW ME DOWN

TO CHERISH EVERY MOMENT
AND TRADE AWAY THIS LIFE FOR YOURS
MORE THAN TO BE ALIVE IN YOU I WANT YOU TO BE MY LIFE

TAKE MY HAND- JESUS LIFT ME UP
BECAUSE IVE FALLEN AGAIN
RESTORE MY HOPE, JESUS, WITH YOUR STRENGTH
I WANT TO FOLLOW ONLY YOU
(© 2000)

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Monday, April 02, 2007

sex


























recently societyVS made a comment that got me going. i realized, once my flourish of typing had abated, that my comment was probably too long and should just be another post...


"at some base level men and women will think in that certain 'lustful' way no matter what..." (societyVS)

so is there a difference between sexual and lustful? i mean, as societyVS mentions here, at some 'base level' human beings are sexual beings (although there is not an equal sign between human and sexual here- two different phrases that are related but are certainly not synonymous) and this means that the appreciation of the physical forms and functions of this is implicit, regardless of style or orientation or whatever. that's just biology.

but it's God's biology.

this past weekend i got on a roll and spouted off some personal theosophy in front of the crowd:

life is worship…

our lungs bear testimony to the wondrous gift of life. Every breath is a celebration, as it provides rejuvenating fuel for transduction (the transforming of energy from one form to another) to take place in us, not even by decision but simply by design. anything, anyone breathing enacts God’s love, as life from love did begin.

therefore a call to living is a call to worship…
and Jesus said to worship in spirit and in truth.


(yeah, kinda lame to be quoting oneself, but whatever- at least i still agree with myself... kinda interesting how often we actually disagree with ourselves, our statements, our decisions. that's probably a whole nother blog, though.)

one could argue that our sexuality is as much a celebration of God's holy artistry as any other part of our being that contributes to the worthiness of the phrase 'fearfully and wonderfully made.' i certainly hold to this idea.

but what is lust? probably an equal sign COULD go here because, as equal signs are nondirectional, bearing no logical preference:

lust = sin
sin = lust


if sin is the illegitimate meeting of a legitimate need in oneself and lust is a "passionate or overmastering desire or craving" (thanks, dictionary.com) then i think that we might have a match.

i have to have and i will, in spite of all = i have to have and i will, in spite of all.

in the 'overmastering' part, the 'desired' becomes the 'needed' (which quickly graduates to the 'required' in any addictive personality) in a twisted inner-codependency-thing. maslow's triangle models this nicely... and provides a rich illustration in it of what happens when we start to take higher level things and counterfeit them so that they can fit into lower, more basal needspace. eventually we have completely inverted the thing and are not climbing towards actualization of ourselves, but are, instead, spiralling downward into oblivion. passion, instead of being that which drives us to pursue whatever great thing, conquest or ideal, becomes instead this warped, compromised, calculating and ultimately self-destructive desperation.

i've seen it happen.

but i don't think that this is what God meant when he started equipping our machinery with nuts and bolts that could find each other in the dark.

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head-on

"At the heart of the story stands the cross of Christ where evil did its worst and met its match."

~John Wenham

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