Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rambling Again

I haven't had much time to ramble lately, since the baby was born. I feel like the only blog posts I've made have been book reviews, so I had a second and thought I would actually post some of my own thoughts for a change. The blog is definitely due for a face lift and overall updating, but I suppose I'll get to that soon enough. Anyway, here's some of the things that have been oozing through my mind:

Ten Year Class Reunion
My ten-year-class reunion was last Saturday night. There were about 25% of our graduating class there. I basically have kept up with my two best friends from high school and recently ran into another. I talked with one of them who was going to be there - Marc, and he said we should take the money instead and just go out for dinner together. He was probably right. Ten years later, everyone pretty much stays within their own cliques and politely says hello. Granted, it was great to see a few folks whom I wouldn't have otherwise, but I probably won't keep up with any of them - I guess we should have just gone out to dinner.

My understanding of church continues to grow and change - almost daily. I am in the midst of An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, and there have been some awesomely challenging and delightfully refreshing articles there that have continued to spark my thinking and prompt me onward. The more I consider the state of things, the more I feel that we've really messed this thing up. I am working toward becoming more proactive in my critique and instead of always assessing the many errors of our ways, begin promoting a direction forward. I recently met with an emergent minister who encouraged me on in that vein. It's when you know where you are to go, when you really take the leap forward. I'm still working on what's wrong before I leap forward, but I feel an insane prompting unlike I've ever felt before. Lee Camp's book that I commented on below has also convicted me to move forward in this area and lead others as well. Humility is the key as I move onward. That is lacking in much of the conversation and dialog I hear and read. I hope to move beyond that.

I put this in here because of a remark made by one of our elders to me today. He works with retirement accounts for a living and I have been thinking alot about retirement lately. I put my jabs in to him (and I know he'll probably read this . . . ha ha) but he knows I am just searching over this one. My whole theology of money has evolved over the past few years to a place that has left me really challenged and confused. It has led me to where I really question the biblical basis for "retirement." The whole American system of retirement seems a whole lot like "tear the barns down and build bigger ones." That, in a nutshell, sounds to me exactly like a 401k. Yes, I have a retirement account. Yes there is a whopping $3,000 in it. Yes, I have serious questions about whether or not this is the right use of this money. On one hand I want my family to be taken care of, my kids to have college savings accounts, my wife and I to have a comfortable "nest egg" . . . but wait a minute . . . that sounds way more like American culture than ANYTHING in the Bible. I'm really struggling with this one . . .

My whole concept of ministry has been blown up since I first began here at Alum Creek. I am finding it more and more difficult to explain to someone (especially a non-Christian) "what I do for a living" and yet at the same time, I seem to have a clearer and clearer picture of what I am to be about! Is there any sense to that? I love my youth ministry. I love teenagers! I could do this job forever. There is nothing more rewarding than working with kids - of that I am convinced. However, I am far from a "traditional youth minister." The church that I work with has allowed me the freedom (intentionally or not, I'm not really sure) to create my own position. There is a huge risk/reward potential here (like I could waste five years going down the wrong path) but God has been faithful throughout and continues to blow doors open before me humbling me to stay out of his way and simply do my best to exemplify the love of Christ wherever I go.

Evan Almighty
We took the teens to see Evan Almighty this morning. A few things have caught my eye about this movie - it's the most expensive comedy ever made. Steve Carrell is hilarious - I mean, if you don't love The Office, I'm not sure we can be friends. And the promotion has been overtly Christian. It was a very interesting experience. I've already written plenty, so I don't want to go on and on, but a few comments. I had a really strange feeling after watching it. It was apparent the Christian community was the intended audience (from the Veggie Tales preview to the constant unspoken biblical imagery throughout that non-Christians would fail to recognize). I felt like I had to like the film, as a Christian (and it was pretty good, but not close to great - it was OK). I think what bothered me most about it was that it was so trite throughout. The biblical parallels were blatant - rah rah for the Christian right, but it seems to me it lacked some authenticity - if that's the right word. Instead, I have been more impressed with the theological overtones not quite as blatant in movies such as The Green Mile (I think this was the first "secular" movie I ever noticed this kind of thing), Superman, and Lord of the Rings. For some reason, it's easier for me to appreciate it in those situations. I don't know if I'm on my own here or not. There is something "cool" about seeing biblical images portrayed straightforward (and rarely if ever did I feel anything in the movie was sacrilegious) . . . but that's what made me wonder about the whole thing. When the Gospel is "cool" . . . hmm . . . that just seems to dull it a little. Thoughts?

So . . . there's what's been going on in my mind


Chris said...

I've seen some of what you recognize as "a message" in a movie, in a book, or in a show. Usually, though, it comes followed up by some overly politically-correct thing that passes for a "message" these days. Sometimes, they leave it alone and let the message stand the way it should.

Whenever somebody deliberately includes a message in the work and makes it so blatant it's like a slap in the face, it probably comes off like a slap in the face to the people who do not believe. When the creator of a work goes through the trouble to show a message (like in Lord of the Rings, or in Chronicles of Narnia), so that it flows more naturally, I think the audience can be more receptive.

I remember a challenge put forth for Christian fiction writers: "Don't force the topic of religion on your work. Your belief should come through on its own in the work."

Have fun doing that "face lift and overall updating!"

Heywood said...

10 yr class reunion:

I quit going to mine. They have one every 5 years. I'd rather read about them or email them than see them.


One's understanding of church and all things spiritual should continue to grow (and therefore change). I don't know about how bad "we've really messed this thing up." Maybe we're just growing and changing but at a very slow pace! Nothing wrong with assessing the errors of our ways if done lovingly and with sincere motives. No matter what, it all comes down to loving God with all we've got and loving each other as much as we love ourselves.


You sound a lot like us Baby Boomers who were born in the 50's and shouted down the financial establishment (and other establishments) in the 60's only to see ouselves as the ones we were criticizing now that we're living in the 21st century. Talk's cheap. God provides. And He does so in all sorts of different ways.


I think your last sentence kinda says it all. I think Alum Creek is fortunate to have a YM who places a priority on "exemplifying the love of Christ" instead of on roller skating parties. This is what really teaches and molds young people ... being real and letting Christ be evident in what they observe in you (and your family).

Evan Almighty:

I liked it. No Oscars or anything but I liked it. I laughed out loud in places. There were some tearful moments as well. I saw myself reflected in some of those situations. I liked hearing "God" say how He answers prayers. I liked it when He laughed at us having our own plans (I know, retirement?). Sometimes the moral of the story can just be obvious and not in some mysterious, subliminal symbolism that takes a few days to sink in. If you are to the point in your walk where seeing the Gospel as "cool" dulls it a little, then maybe you are on your own a little! I don't know that the audience was intended mainly to be christians. I think the studio's motives are much more financial than anything.

Paula Harrington said...

Thanks for your info about Evan Almighty. I was wondering about it.

Anonymous said...

Proverbs 21:20 In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.