June 10th – 13th

READ/RITE/REFLECT; THE SILENCE OF THE HEART: “Faith is the perception of goodness in what appears to be evil.” Yikes. Alick said he struggled THROUGH the bull-shit doctrine and still came away “instructed”. I can respect that. But I am SO caught up in the BULL-SHIT DOCTRINE! Oh my Gosh!

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…” ! Hebrews 11

“Do not accept what doesn’t feel good” but less than a paragraph before Ferrini says “All your fear and shame must be raised: and a mere paragraph later says, “…any pain you feel is not bad.” Argghhh!

There seem to be two hammer blows this guy is alternates with:

1) All power, all reality (God) is entirely within you.

2) Take responsibility for your own reality.

We enter a segment now that I would classify as embracing your “gifts” and I’m in agreement with him. Move toward your joy…that’s what you were made for. He then over corrects toward the opposite doctrinal ditch, however and says that if you’re pursuing your “passion” and it isn’t working out there are ONLY two possibilities: “either what you’re trying to manifest isn’t your gift or you don’t believe in your gift sufficiently.” It’s the shadowy side of the prosperity gospel.

For a “teacher” who majors on convincing his students that they are at their core good and that there is no real evil, he offers up a pretty hopeless equation: When things don’t work it’s either because you’re barking up the wrong tree ALTOGETHER, or you don’t believe enough…you’re too weak. The downside of having yourself as god in a universe with no real evil is: you have to bear the blame for all the shit that still goes wrong. There are no other options. “Hurricanes, oil spills, sexual abuse, cancer…it’s all your fault, F*cker.”

BIG PICTURE: I chose a stone for last week called Stormy. It represents not just the single most violent and sustained rain storm I have ever seen in these parts, but also the up and down nature; the turbulence of the week. I have ping ponged between spiritual highs and lows, between moments of laser beam focus and diffuse distraction, Brenda and I have experienced more friction this week (well friction of a “kind”) than we have thus far.

The idea has popped up that perhaps I should spend the rest of my time (after class work is complete) doing some writing. It has occurred to me to either a) edit and summarize already written material into some sort of coherent whole or b) really get going on my “novel”. That strikes me as funny as I type. Isn’t writing a novel on most people’s bucket list? We’ll see what happens.

My 7 puzzle pieces sit in my lap, unmoving, inanimate. I have had a feeling for sometime (weeks at least) that I haven’t been able to articulate until now. The Stone called Weary helped. The feeling is weariness. The poem I wrote ended up emphasizing the loss of my father more than the experience truly held. Not that I didn’t miss him, it’s just that the weariness in anchored in much more than grief.

I imagine the work required to bring the 7 pieces to life somehow and I picture the kind of frenetic activity surrounding a church plant. I read the MBE book (more on THAT later) and I get the same sense of late nights, stretched capacities, heart pounding risks, scrambling and scratching to meet deadlines…all very exciting, and the thoughts exhaust me and do not move me BEYOND the superficial excitement that I referred to in earlier entries. I imagine vision casting settings, meetings with other leaders, etc. etc. and my excitement fades. It is shallow rooted excitement; I feel that as soon as the sun comes out, my excitement will wilt because it has no roots.

I contrast this with the feeling I get while reading the biography of Francis of Assisi. I don’t feel excitement in the sense I am most familiar with the word…but there is a compulsion, a resonance, an increase in heart rate that feels real. I think I’m beginning to distinguish between three kinds of passion. There is the surface passion which favors activity. There is a very deep passion that calls me to solitude, to simple living and the contemplative, but there is a THIRD passion which spans the gap. I find I return to this theme of the middle ground…the high wire, the narrow road.

CLASSWORK: Hermeneutics is cool. I will take two tests on Tuesday, and have only one more to complete. I will endeavor to have it done before leaving for California next weekend.

READ/RITE/REFLECT; MBE: Excellence was the theme of the portions I read yesterday. That word is really beginning to annoy me. I get the foundational idea of bringing God our best lamb (I just finished a course on Old Testament theology for crying out loud!) But if that concept is the smooth unblemished surface of the excellence ship, then it has taken on some barnacles over the years. I think we get our culture mixed up in it. I just don’t think that one can maintain the kind of stillness, the personal, Christ-centered internal life AND be committed to “excellence”: Ideas, like, “Whatever it takes!” and “We will not settle for less than…” and “…we will not compromise”.

I had a brief conversation with Johnna a few months ago that was telling. We were in the drama room during or just before services and we were talking about the remodel I think, and I was saying how things will be different, we can clean the place out and store stuff in the new space, and it will be all CLEAN and efficient, and EXCELLENT! In passing she said something to the effect of…”ya’ know it’s likely not going to change really, because fundamentally, I’m messy. And since this is my department, it will reflect my values, and honestly, I don’t care about having things efficient and organized…”

I think this little exchange indicates that Johnna is closer to realizing the right relationship with excellence than I am.

Perhaps the question is: What would she be excellent at? Another church’s recent problems are a pointer. They are beautiful people who worship a beautiful God who meets all their needs. Their website is excellent, their office furniture is excellent and it appears that they are rotting from the inside. It seems to come back to something I have said for sometime: We are the “Meatballs” of churches. We’re excellent at that.

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