Label Maker

Sarah Mac sent me one of the funniest videos I have ever seen.  However, I can't figure out how to get it on my site.  So, if you wanna see it, you'll have to contact one of us to get it.

In other news, this post promises to be long but still on the same lines of stuff I've been thinking about with a few other things thrown in.

I've picked up A New Kind of Christian again.  I never got completely through it the first time I tried to read it awhile back.  The reason is that I was probably sick of hearing the term post-modern.  But I'll get to more on that in a moment.

First, here is a picture of the first bloom of the first plant I planted at our house.

Pretty cool, huh?  It's called a Texas Star.  I will accept no boasting about this from any of you Texans.  I do not believe the splendor of this flower is linked to it being named after your ego-bloated state.  Of course, I'm from Mississippi and live in Alabama so maybe I'm just jealous (though unlikely).

Now, I'm about to get back to the whole "me being sick of hearing about post-modernism" in a second, but first let me give this disclaimer:  I realize that many times my posts can get kinda long.  That it is an act of ego for me to ask you to read that.  However, my hope is that I might find companions along this journey.  In no way are my thoughts here really fully fleshed out.  I write on this site and get my thoughts out in other arenas so that I can work through them.  In a counseling session once, my counselor made me write all I was involved in and worried about on a chalkboard.  He then made me spend most of the session standing with my nose against the chalkboard to illustrate my approach to life.  Excuse the term, but often I am "balls to the wall."  I have to slow down and step back in order to get the big picture of things.  Xanga helps with this.  So, there you go.  I could tell you about how I made the comment Sunday morning in RBF about why do we get up in arms at the suggestion that Mary Magdalene did what women have been doing for millenia and had a child by Christ.  Of course, I don't believe this happened, but in the context this thought was not completely fleshed out and I'm sure I left a couple of people at least wondering what I do think on the subject.  (If you want me on the record, you'll have to ask me in person so I can fully explain myself).  Disclaimer ended.

Post-modern is a label.  We're given many labels my many people.  We've been talking about this around Student Life because of a creative opener we're planning for the conferene tour.  I was also thinking about this with regard to a monologue I was writing recently for a curriculum lesson.  Recently, some of the labels I have been given or that have been discussed about me are as follows: 1. Introverted intuitive thinking perceiver  2.  Liberal  3. Sensitive  4. Cool  5. Pompous  6. Out of shape  7. Creative  8. Good  9. Hard  10. Stressed.  And the list continues.

Now the question arises, "do I fit those labels?"  Perhaps I do.  In fact, probably most certain I do.  This may surprise you, particularly the "liberal" part.  But the truth is that in some situations on some issues (political or theological) it could be said that I'm liberal.  However, therein lies the actuality.  That part you read that said "in some situations."  Actually, there are times where I defy all of these labels, even that one you get from a personality test.  But labeling is very important to us.  It helps us categorize everyone and everything as well as ourselves.  It puts our world in order so we know how to respond to it and how to live in it.  But when we get honest with ourselves, we realize just how disorderly it really is.  So, it all boils down to labeling simply being comfortable to us, a security blanket in the cold, dark nights of the soul.

I mentioned that monologue I was writing.  I wrote it for a lesson on Elijah, where he flees the wrath of the king and God has to provide for him while he's out on his own.  The lesson is about how even when we're alone God is always with us.  I thought it would help portray the idea if we didn't produce a sketch for the lesson, but rather made it one person on stage, talking all by themselves.  This turned very personal for me, because with regard to where I am in my journey (spiritual journey?  yes, i realize that any journey I'm on has to be spiritual because I am completely and wholly affected by the spiritual) I often am lonely.  Many of you probably suppose that isn't fair.  After all, I have a wife, a life-long companion.  I have a job I think I'm good at where I work with people that are much more than co-workers and are actual friends.  I have a community of faith that, regardless of how much I struggle with it, is God's plan for His kingdom on Earth.  It seems at least that I have a real relationship with God because of how much I think, write, and talk about it.

All this is true, absolutely.  But I find it difficult to discuss this.  Again, that's why I write it here.  Who really wants to listen?  I've always felt different, but if I'm honest, not good different, like innovative or something.  But bad different, odd, strange, queer (not gay).  I worry that if I talk to people or seek help for the stuff that I actually do spend the majority of my time thinking about, they'll get sick of me.  "Oh, Kinsley, man, he's too worried about it.  He takes everything too seriously.  He's too spriritual.  He's too much of a seeker.  He's too much of a doubter.  He's immature in his faith."  Etc.

So, I don't.  Talk about it I mean.  I kinda talk about it here and maybe to a few individuals.  Kinda hint at it, I guess, is more like it.

I was thinking lately about this problem, because for me it has defninitely become a problem.  I'd like a solution, a community of people not like minded, unless that mind is of Christ, but who will talk, and listen, and help.  Ideally, I say I'd like it to be like what I imagine they had in the first century, right after Christ ascended.  But the truth is I have to imagine that because I'm not even sure what it is.  None of us are.  We're too far removed and we've interpreted everything through our own lenses, or worldviews or experiences.  They (those early Christians) didn't leave us that much about it specifically.  We got some hints and some offices from Paul that might help organize the church (interestingly, though, how many of those offices exist in your church?) and he wrote to some churches to tell them some stuff to avoid and to love each other and stuff.  They didn't seem to be so concerned about it.  Why?  Because Jesus said he was coming back.  That's what they focused on.  So, here we are with completely different focuses just floundering around.  But, believe me, I don't have any answers, so some say I should just shut up.

This brings me to my book.  It's working title is He Had a Face.  This title comes from something that happened to me in college.  There was a class we Christian Studies majors had to take called "The Teachings of Jesus."  Jokingly students said that Jesus himself couldn't pass the class.  It was taught by a professor named Dr. Greene who preferred being called "Big G" though I never could.  He was too intimidating.  He was a professor who actually expected more out of us than we did out of ourselves.  I walked in to "Teachings" on the first day of class and took my customary seat on the side, in the back, near one of the doors.  Dr. Greene came in, turned off the lights, pulled down a white screen, and turned on a slide projector.  He then went through numerous slides depicting Jesus in various forms of art from various regions and various time periods.  He would pause for a number of seconds on each slide and simply make the statement, "he had a face."

I was at a conference with Brennan Manning a few years back.  He asked us to, as a spiritual exercise, picture Jesus for a moment and our interaction with him, literally.  What does he say to us?  What do we say to him?  This was to give us insight into how we perceived him more than get us in touch with him personally.  I realized that my "Jesus" had a body and long hair and wore a robe and everything, but I could never see his face.  It was always obscured in shadow.  I might get the vague feeling that he was smiling or looking at me or whatever, but I never knew for sure because I couldn't see his face.  My mind wouldn't let me give him one, whether it be Jewish, Anglo, or American.  I couldn't do it because I don't know what he looked (looks) like.  It just seemed inappropriate for me to randomly assign a face to him.  But most of us do it all the time.

He had a face.  He did.  According to my theology and faith, he still does.  I know people who have claimed to have seen it, which is great for them.  What this idea tells me though, is that ever since he walked this earth, we've been interpreting Jesus for ourselves through ourselves.  Our art is a reflection of that.  But he is real and exists.  He's saved me and loves me and walks with me.  He's sent his spirit to me as another helper, like him.  He reflects the father to me.  But who is he? 

I realize the last thing the world needs is another book on Jesus.  Why not just read the Gospels for the rest of your life?  No, really, why not?  That's why this "book" will probably never exist for anyone except me.  It's my journey and I want to know him, not anyone's idea of him.  I would much rather you know him too, instead of my idea of him.  Somewhere, in the midst of the Gospel writers' idea of him and Paul's idea of him and our own experience of him, back behind all that and motivating all that and inspiring all that is Jesus.  If they got it right, he's under our noses, dying, literally, to be known by us.  If they got it right, also, he intends for us to help each other along the way.  Won't you help me.  I need it.

On a side note, for all of you who will be supporting the Narnia movie this December while condemning Harry Potter, you might want to consider that Lewis has said Narnia is not an allegory, it is rather a supposing.  Also, he started it with an image of a fawn walking through the snow in the light of a street light in the forest carrying a stack of books and an umbrella.  That's an image he had since he was a child.  That began the project, not the intention to illustrate the Gospel for children, or us for that matter.  It's more a testimony to the Holy Spirit's work in his life that it does.  Funny, how Harry Potter might could be used for the same thing, if only we were willing to think about it.

Go ahead.  Call me a liberal.