Tagged: life

The Hood

“Well where’s the hood?” he asked.

“The hood?” H- replied in kind.

“Which side is the hood facing?” he repeated.

The father-daughter duo were back in the tent from an early morning bathroom run. H- had really needed to go.

“Yeah, on good sleeping bags like yours they put a hood where your head goes for when it is super cold,” he explained.

With wide eyes and delicate hands she proceeded to maneuver the sleeping bag around until she thought it matched her father’s words.

“Good,” he confirmed. “Now get in like normal,” he suggested. “That’s right. Now-”

H- needed no further instruction. Once in, she pressed her head up against the top of the hood and pulled down on the sides, experiencing that sensation which must fall within the bounds of what more studied men call pure delight. Soon, no longer seen by H-, he observed that she had let the hood fall over her eyes all the way down to the tip of her nose. After she fiddled with the drawstring she carefully exposed her finger from within the bag once more, this time to touch her nostrils.

“What are you doing?” he inquired, chuckling to himself.

“What?” she feigned.

“Were you just checking to see if you could still breathe out of your nose?”

A pause–probably much longer for the girl in the dark.

“Yeah.”

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I Bought A Pocket Sundial

pocket-sundialI bought a pocket sundial. I bought it because a lot of my recent reading has caused me to question my assumptions about everything, including time. You see, the Christian Bible has many instances where man’s conception of “time” is kind of poo-pooed. And with many of you sensuous heathens being incapable of listening to words that follow, “The Bible says…”, I needed to find a different way to get you to the Word. Now, with my sundial in hand, I finally can demonstrate what the biblical writer’s were saying in a non-threatening manner. Here’s how.

Suppose I have my pocket sundial. And suppose after a leisurely midday meal I set the device correctly and the sunlight passes through the hole and I read the time to be 2:45. Now, suppose you check your phone and it reads 2:52. Well, you know me; I’m stubborn as a mule and I insist that I’m right. And I know you; you’re arrogant as Icarus and you insist that you’re right.

Who is right? By what measure can we agree?

In the end, I have a piece of pretty metal upon which a spot of sunlight shines and you have an electrified screen upon which an Arabic numeral appears. All we’ve demonstrated is that time is a convention. I’d feel smart if my namesake didn’t express the exact same truth nearly two thousand solar-Gregorian-calendar years ago when he said that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day–without pocket sundials or portable electricity at his disposal.

But noooo. I couldn’t just listen. So I bought a pocket-sundial. And on the seventh day of owning it, I found my thirty-five year old self expressing to a friend, “Did I tell you I wrecked my car the other day? Sometimes I feel like, ‘if I can just make it to forty’…” as if I hadn’t learned a thing.

Christ is all and in all. Don’t give an inch.

When You Say ‘Radicalization’, What Do You Mean?

The 1910 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica uses “Mahommedan Religion” to describe what we now call “Islam.” Times have changed so much that my 2016 spell-checker thinks even the spelling of “Mahommedan” is wrong–both times. Here’s how the entry opens,

“The Mahommedan religion is generally known as Islam–the name given to it by Mahomet himself–meaning the resigning or submitting oneself to God. The participle of the same Arabic verb, Muslim (in English usually spelt Moslem), is used for one who professes this religion. The expression “Mahommedan religion” has arisen in the West probably from analogy with “Christian religion”, but is not recognized as a proper one by Moslem writers.”

(As a grammar refresher, a participle is a verbal adjective. In English, it is usually an “-ing” word: running, walking, or in this case, in Arabic, Islam (“to resign/submit [verb] to Allah”) becomes Muslim (“resigning/submitting” [participle] to Allah”).

Before getting to radicalization, I want to take one moment to call your attention to the name change–or how no one says “Mahommedan Religion” anymore. My point is not to romanticize the past, but instead to suggest that we can benefit from the admission that there has been a change. And not just a change in names, but in the way we write–a change in our methodology. That little paragraph is very observational. The writer merely recorded what was going on. The writer was very honest. He admitted, “We say ‘Mahommedan Religion’, they say, ‘Islam’.” (period)

I cannot speak for you, but to me that kind of honesty feels as refreshing as a new pair of wool socks on a snowy winter morning in the Rockies.

On the whole, though, like the American prize-fighter Muhammad Ali demonstrated, I fully support letting each person decide their name. This should be no surprise considering the theme of my last two posts. At the end of the day, I just want to be able to swap stories and ask what you mean if I become confused.

And I am confused these days.

See, we hear the word radicalization more and more. In my social circles, I seem to be the only who is confused by this word.

By my thinking, radicalization is a distinctly non-Christian word. By my thinking, radicalization implies some form of neutrality at an earlier stage. And by my thinking, followers of Christ–those of us filled with the Spirit of the Living God–know that there is no such thing as radicalization. Instead, we believe that there is redemption. For we believe that all have sinned–even the terrorists.

There is no neutral–not in our story at least. I certainly was never neutral. I have only ever been in motion. And I think no matter what story you have believed up to now, you have only ever been in motion too.

I have been moving forward or backward or left or right my entire life. It was never a question of “should I move?” or “should I grow?”, but “which direction?”

Cars have neutral. People–not so much.

You want to use the word radicalization? That’s cool. But can you please tell me what it means? Because as of this moment, I can’t seem to ground your word except in relation to redemption. And redemption only comes from the blood of Jesus Christ.

Three Random Ramblings

“I know the Bible is God’s word because it says so.”

It’s a silly notion, no? It also rightfully causes a certain anger to develop, assuming you haven’t hardened your heart against God so much that you can’t feel anymore. Well, know that I’m with you. It’s illogical. The particular fallacy is named “Begging the Question,” if you care.

Now for the fun part. I need you to take all your willpower and see that I get to be just as righteously angry when you say, “God (or anything supernatural) doesn’t exist because science says so.” That’s also begging the question. We’re talking about the almighty triune God. Measurable? For your sake and mine, appreciate that He isn’t and wouldn’t be.

****

Speaking of books that contain prophecy, check this out. At work the other day a 17 year old man asks me, “Isn’t Sam Smith (the singer) dating some hot chick?” I said, “I don’t think Sam Smith is heterosexual.” He said, “What’s a heterosexual?” I said, “I’m not telling you that one. Google it if you care.” He googled it, then said, “So, they like multiple people?” I said, “What?” He read, “A person who is attracted to persons of the opposite sex.” Luckily, his online highschooling surfaced and he realized that persons wasn’t indicative of many before I lost my mind.

This little scene led to me randomly considering that George Orwell got it wrong when predicted the message “Big Brother is watching” would accompany the future all-encompassing government surveillance. The metaphor no longer works. American kids don’t even know what that means. Big brothers aren’t overseers anymore. Like everyone else, they don’t have a clue or a care about anyone but themselves, if big brothers even exist. (I indict myself as a parent of an only child here too.) All you parents/grandparents who made the book a “classic” have failed. How does that feel? You’ve ignored your children in favor of yourself, in favor of work, in favor of the dollar so much that all brothers and sisters care about is themselves, let alone you, me, or God. Taken with the fact that kids think government is their lord and savior–the righter of all wrongs–the only choice this arrogant, selfish godlessness leaves us is Trump or Clinton. No thank you. If you want to find me, I’m taking my Bible–the very revelation of the one true God to humanity–to the streets. There is only one Hope, there is only one Lord, and there is only one Savior. Pray that He has mercy on us.

****

As I was delivering pizza tonight, I looked out of my window to see a partly cloudy blue sky. Against a setting sun, it was particularly striking. I was moved to think, “Of course there is a God. Why else would that look so beautiful?” Then I reprimanded myself and said, “That’s so stupid, Pete. It’s just clouds and the appearance of the color blue caused by the light of one star out of billions.”

Remember I wrote that a professor said Christianity is just glasses? Glasses with which to view the world? Well, let me use my hero-ness to twist that metaphor a bit. I offer that Christianity is night vision goggles.

Night vision goggles have to be focused by pilots before every flight. The best they can guarantee a pilot is 20/40. Obviously this isn’t the 20/20 of daytime, but we’re talking about seeing at night. Well, one part of NVG focusing is that they have to be focused upon either a fixed distance or an indeterminate distance. The way we flew with them, we’d focus them on an indeterminate distance in order to see outside, and then we’d look under them to see the flight instruments with our naked eye.

Well, as the NVG-focusing lore goes, back in the day there was a pilot who thought he’d be real smart and focus one tube of the NVGs to see the dimly lit flight instruments, and the other tube to see the outside world. Suffice it to say that the next day he wore sunglasses to work because he jacked his eyes up so much that he didn’t want anyone to see them.

The point is, just like pilots adjusting their NVGs before a night flight, all of us are adjusting our vision every day. This activity is inescapable. Yet if we get it wrong one day from the next, God spares us and we live on.

Christianity is the only adjustment that gives 20/20. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to prevent you from zooming in closer than 20/20 (Buddhism/Quantum-ness) or not close enough (atheism/agnosticism/the belief that I am merely an observer, not a participant). Reality is no different than how there was nothing that poor pilot’s friends could do to get him to not experiment with the NVGs. The beauty of Christianity is that it never disputes the experienced reality that I do not possess the ability to focus your NVGs for you.

In other words, I concluded that the partly cloudy sunset was beautiful because God created it to be so. And so are you. Believe it.

The Peanut Butter Table

Not sure the reason, I found myself standing in the kitchen, holding the Krusteaz Belgian waffle mix box. (H- adorably calls said mix ‘sugar’.) She was finishing her waffles at the nearby table. That’s the reason! I was putting the box back on top of the refrigerator. Beside it, I also keep the cereal and–my favorite non-perishable treat–the Nutty Bars up there. Like her ol’ man, H- too had experienced love at first sight with Little Debbie’s delectable wafers.

“But you can’t give me the peanut butter and chocolate bars for snack time,” H- declared out of the blue.

I turned to look at her. She turned to look at me.

“Oh yeah?” I asked, carefully dividing my attention between the waffle iron and H-‘s mind.

“Yeah.”

“Why can’t you have them at snack time?”

“Because some kids are allergic to peanut butter.”

“Don’t they eat lunch with you too? How can you have Nutty Bars at lunch, but not at snack time?”

“At snack time the kids sit at the same table as us and they can smell the peanut butter,” she answered steadfastly.

This smelling problem being news to me, I resumed my inquiry with, “Okay, so what do they do at lunch?”

“They sit at the peanut butter table. There are not very many of them.”

“Ha. The ‘peanut butter table?’ What’s that?”

“That’s the table where you can’t have peanut butter.”

“So the poor kids who can’t have peanut butter have to sit all by themselves?”

“No,” she corrected. “They just sit at the peanut butter table. Anyone can sit at the peanut butter table as long as they don’t have peanut butter.”

“So there is no peanut butter at the peanut butter table?” I asked.

“Right.”

“Right.”

The Mother

The baby is not the last thing that will be removed during an emergency C-section. Neither will the baby be last in a planned C-section or vaginal delivery for that matter. The last thing will be the placenta.

****

Attempting to quell some of my new-found, seemingly limitless nervous energy, I quickly flipped through the CD book. I was searching for the one she wanted to hear.

“This is it. This is the last car ride as a childless couple,” I pointed out, hoping to distract her. Her musical request now playing, I put it in reverse and slowly backed down the driveway.

She was ten days overdue.

Almost from the moment of conception, though definitely intensifying during the Lamaze classes, I had witnessed her become more and more terrified by the thought of a C-section.

“Do we have the movies?” she asked, playing along in our little game.

“I put them and the DVD player in the backpack three days ago,” I reassured her, tapping the bag stowed behind me.

****

Having completed the stretching of her skin, the doctor will cease to give consideration to anything or anyone–whether the room’s familiar beeps and buzzing, his assistant’s breathing, or even his own thoughts–as he silently and hurriedly slices through the exposed portion of her tough, clammy, and purple uterus with precision.

Like a consecrated moment of silence, his worth can now be demonstrated solely through execution.

****

“Well, looks like you’re all settled in. This seems silly. We’re going to sit for twelve hours, eh? Just waiting? Do you want me to put on one of the movies? Or I can read to you from one of the books? I brought T.C. Boyle’s new one.”

The hospital room’s television was already on. She was viewing it from her bed as she shifted her attention over to me briefly. I kept talking about random trivialities, but we both knew there was only one thought being entertained.

Guys at work, fathers, had recently reminded us–unhelpfully–how doctors were paid more for performing C-sections. “That’s another reason why there are so many these days,” they would speculate. “But the female body needs to experience a natural delivery if the mom is going to come out of the pregnancy alright,” they would continue, with a look that meant alright in the head. “There’s a lot of stuff going on in a woman’s body during a pregnancy and just cutting her open and pulling out the baby does not let nature take its course,” ran the last theory explained before I noticed her dilated pupils and silenced them.

Back in the hospital, she said, “I can’t eat, but if you want to grab some food like we planned, now’s a good time.” She tried to smile.

“Are you sure you’ll be okay by yourself?” I asked before leaving.

****

Her rushing breaths will never abate even as she unavoidably seeks the eyes of the motherly voice that just announced, “Okay! We’re getting ready to pull baby.”

Four hands will squeeze into her abdomen. They belong to the doctor and his assistant who will have positioned themselves on opposite sides of her. Not even sparing the moment it would take to make eye contact with each other, they will then begin to alternate a violent pulling and tugging. Their pace for stretching her skin will be a mean one–precisely between reckless and urgent. Pull-tug-pull-tug-pull-tug.

****

“Why don’t we see how laying on your left side works again?” nurse number five suggested. I had just finished my burger.

The nurse–like the others before her–mechanically touched the bedding and then my wife as she waited for task completion.

“I’ll be back in a bit, after we see if that works,” she said on her way out the door.

On one of the screens near the bed, I noticed that the green number relaying my wife’s heart rate had climbed ten digits since last I looked.

Only two of the twelve hours we were told we would have to wait before they would induce delivery had elapsed when a tall forty year old doctor that we had never seen before walked into the room.

“The baby’s heart rate is staying consistent through your contractions which is good,” he began. “But the baby’s heart rate is dropping after them.”

Hearing nothing, I turned to her in time to see her hold back her tears by nodding rapidly in response.

“We need to do a C-section to deliver the baby,” he concluded. Then he left the room.

All I could think about was what the guys had said. The doctor is greedy. He knows the baby would probably be fine, and the only reason he told us anything is to justify his payday.

“I can’t believe this,” I began aloud with an undignified tone that feigned a feeling of helplessness. “Can you believe this?” I asked her as she trembled uncontrollably. “This is exactly what everyone told us would happen. I am so sorry. We don’t even know this man and we were supposed to wait twelve hours before even beginning to induce. It has only been two. What the hell is going on here?”

Waiting for help, she cried.

****

These days scalpels under a new name are plugged into a power outlet and cauterize as they cut. There will be no blood.

****

I came into the operating room after being shown how to put on all the disposable sterile gear. The room appeared to still be under construction. A nurse led me to my wife’s side along a path that ensured that the blue sheet hanging over her torso, the sheet meant to obstruct her view of the procedure, would also obstruct mine.

****

Arms and legs strapped down, the woman will lay on a padded table awake though nauseous from the anesthetics.

“How are you doing, sweetie?” the nurse will ask just prior to the doctor making the initial incision. The doctor will not hear this, his thoughts centering instead on getting the baby out.

The hot blade will then slice through her unfeeling skin, fat, and muscle with little resistance.

****

Her restricted hand moved. The finest edge in the room was the courage behind the words that I will never forget. Piercing every form of fear, she filled the world with five syllables.

“Will you hold my hand?”

Another One Bites The Dust

I’ve got a killer short story in me that is just needing a few more days to ferment. In the meantime, I wanted to share that I finished my semester today.

Walking down memory lane, last semester I was working full-time and had four finals on my last day of the 15 credit hour semester. I think that day felt amazing because of the difficulty of the task. Tonight, I don’t feel as relieved or accomplished or whatever. Partly, I confess, it’s because I am a bit upset with one of my final’s scores. I read so much for my theology survey class. The problem is that I think I would have gotten the same grade on the multiple choice part if I didn’t read anything. It’s frustrating.

But I think the real reason I feel different this semester is that I’ve hit the sweet spot of learning that is at once joyous and terrifying. I’ve hit the spot where I realize how little I know and how much work I have ahead of me in order to get the degree. It’s also the spot where I realize how my life is at a significant crossroads. I started this seminary thing almost as a joke. I’m not laughing anymore, and that scares me.

****

Tonight, H- and I went to the second to last (15 of 16) Colorado Symphony concert of the season. They played Dvorak’s 9th symphony. One of my professors describes Christianity as glasses. Would you understand what I mean if I said that after two semesters of seminary I have come to see music more clearly? I originally bought the season tickets to force myself to take a break from studying last fall during the insanity. But tonight was something much richer than a break or an escape. I don’t mean something intangible, quite the opposite. I mean that I am starting to see life clearly. The creativity. The fragility. The hope. The despair. The will.

Without God, drowning in Trump, Clinton, netflix, news at 9, work, diapers, dishes, football, email, texting, sexting, fb, tweeting, snapchat, instragram, drudge report, isis, obamacare,  processes, nothingness, illusions, spirituality, marijuana, alcohol, and most poignantly, without God, drowning in me seems worthy. Alas, I am not worthy. The triune God, however, is worthy.

Pray; pray that God has mercy on us.

Amen.

H-

“I’m so excited about St. Patrick’s Day because I get to wear green and my mom’s favorite color is green!”

“Ha. That’s true. When is it?”

“I think it’s Thursday next week.”

“Ah.”

“Are you going to wear green?”

“Now H-, when have you ever seen me dress up for a holiday?”

“Do you want to get pinched?”

Constructive Criticisms Of My Evangelical Seminary

A friend at work asked me what an “Evangelical” is. He asked because the group “Evangelicals” keeps getting referenced during the election. I told him that to the best of my knowledge it is more about what it is not, than what it is. Evangelicals are not Catholics or Orthodox or Quakers or Amish. I still have to ask someone from school what distinguishes Evangelicals from Protestants. I think the main difference is that a person uses “Evangelicals” when they intend to be pejorative, but would say “Protestants” if they didn’t. However, since I am an adult man, calling me names really falls on deaf ears so I can’t be sure. The reason this friend asked me is because I am currently a student at an Evangelical Christian seminary. Why am I an a student at an Evangelical Seminary? Because I was raised a Protestant. I don’t believe in papal supremacy, so I can’t see myself converting to Catholicism, and I don’t have much ability to interact with Orthodoxy, so I don’t see that in my future either. However, I can’t deny that the tradition and history of those two cultures of Christianity have appeal. Given that my personality always trends toward extremes I don’t mind admitting that I wish my Evangelical school was more rigorous and disciplined than it is. Here are a couple of constructive criticisms that I need to vent about.

Does everyone know what the Jewish Mishnah is? At the risk of being over-simplistic, it is essentially the written interpretation of the Torah. Unfortunately, when Evangelicals discuss the Mishnah, it is often presented as a silly, if not altogether unnecessary document and concept. “The Scripture is clear,” the Evangelicals say. Well, that’s not really what you (Evangelicals) believe. Have you seen the library on campus? What do you call that if not a Mishnah?

That leads me to Christian books. Want to publish a Christian book that will appeal to Evangelicals? Open with, “One area of Christianity that is often neglected is…” Seriously? I beg to differ. Everything has been covered endlessly. 2000 years worth of coverage. What you meant to say is, “Because I lacked wisdom and discernment (but not confidence), in other words, because I was a teenager when I converted, for a long time I believed Christianity was simply what one man told me it was. Then I switched churches after I (choose one of the following or insert your own) got divorced, committed a crime, got fired, had a kid, or experienced life in some way that wasn’t according to this man’s conception and realized the error of my ways. Perhaps my story can help you and make me a buck in the process.” My criticism is that while autobiographical accounts might have worked up until the advent of the internet, they don’t anymore. Now it’s time to interact with people. Evangelicals: Please don’t succumb to the temptation that your story can save people. Only Christ’s atoning death and resurrection possesses that sort of power. No Christian doctrine calls for believers to compete with the world on the world’s terms.

Here’s another chance for me to discuss coercion. Coercion has no place in Christianity. It doesn’t. If you believe it does then you believe in what early church fathers called a heresy. Evangelical pastors that preach war are consequently heretics. But that’s okay. Comparatively, this is an easy problem to fix. Just stop. There is no rule that says you have to preach war or believe in war and violence and there most certainly is a rule which says you can transform your teaching.

For all the Christians that served, fought, and maybe even killed people: no big thing. Sound biblically based theology says you’re forgiven. Easy enough.

For currently serving Christians, get out when you can. Maybe see if you can switch to a non-combatant when you feel convicted to do so.

Military Chaplains: you have a big job.

Parents, church-goers, youth pastors: stop. Stop encouraging teenagers to serve in combatant roles.

This brings me to Star Wars. Evangelicals love the force. In a tremendous act of projection, they consistently see the force as a redeeming metaphor of the Holy Spirit. What they miss is that Star Wars is ultimately still about violence solving problems. Christianity and the Holy Spirit are not.

Let’s zoom out to movies in general. Evangelicals love movies. But nearly all popular (blockbuster) movies believe that violence solves problems. Given that Christians don’t seem to have the upper hand in the film industry, that the industry endlessly promotes violence as a problem solver should come as no surprise. What would a Christian movie look like? That’s difficult to say. It wouldn’t look like Star Wars or even Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. The fact is Christians are called to glorify God. Entertainment is hardly suited for that task. Building schools, however, and hospitals, and homeless shelters–that’s on the mark.

Lastly, this brings me to my minor area of expertise: strip clubs. Keep in mind that while I believe Christians must be pacifists, I served and on at least two missions humans were killed directly because of my service. And while I believe Christians should avoid patronizing strip clubs if at all possible (if you’re hopeless and feel compelled, please patronize away; just don’t stop going to church), I managed one. This is because I couldn’t ever see myself offering counsel on these things based on second-hand knowledge. In any case, Evangelicals need to get over sex and eroticism. We must. The biblical (Almighty God’s) standard has never been in doubt. One man, one woman, forever. Yet Evangelical leaders persist in communicating a tremendous insecurity about the matter. For example (the following is meant to be convincing in its overwhelming-ness), one professor last semester mentioned he was a virgin until marriage in his 30s at least every other class session. Another also regularly mentioned he was single very late into life. Another mentioned that a former student was involved in ministry to adult film stars and that he (the prof) wasn’t sure if that was possible. Then this semester during the opening session of a course a professor randomly mentioned strip clubs and how as he drove by them he would pray that the people would be “saved”, but the building/business be destroyed.

Seriously folks. Christianity is about more than sex. You’re afraid of strip clubs? Strip clubs are the very, very end result of a long series of events in which only fully grown adults partake. Would it be nice if all adults could be happily married in heterosexual, monogamous relationships? Sure. But if we’re going to talk about active contributors to purposelessness and godlessness, parents and the home is number one. Since we’re never going to pray for the destruction of the home, the next institution in terms of negative influence on humanity that Evangelicals should be praying for God’s intervention and destruction of is public schools. Or maybe we shouldn’t be praying for destruction.

Instead, I recommend praying for wisdom and insight regarding the tremendous amount of wealth and power Evangelicals have at their disposal. Something like, O Lord, we give thee thanks for blessing us with more power to carry out thy will than all other previous cultures. Lead us not into the resultant temptations, but guide us so that we may best glorify your most holy name. Amen.

Why Did You Pay Me? – Part 2

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was struggling tremendously with the notion of salaried pastors. I was struggling because I am essentially in training to become a pastor and yet I couldn’t imagine how at the end of my schooling I’d somehow be willing to not need a job anymore because some congregation paid me to be their pastor while they worked their crummy jobs everyday. In an effort to gain insight and make a point, I asked why did you (the public) pay me to be an Air Force officer and pilot. Only a few folks answered and there wasn’t tremendous agreement. But I know why you paid me even if you don’t. You paid me to be virtuous. Sure, military officers are “yes men” and flawed no different than anyone else, but we’d be missing something vital if we didn’t recognize that they still possess tremendous power and regularly refrain from abusing it. Military officers control the bombs. Do we want incompetent liars in control of the bombs? No. (Iowa might). So I say that the reason American citizens pay their military well (sorry folks, but the military is well-paid despite the colloquial wisdom) is because it creates the ability to recruit and maintain a virtuous fighting force.

Back to pastors. And not just any pastors but me and my future as (possibly) one. What would it mean if I took pay to be a pastor and therefore didn’t need a regular job? Here’s how I can comfortably rationalize it. (The following should come as no surprise). Christians believe in purpose. They believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord…insert the rest of the Apostle’s Creed. And yet they live in a world which behaves as if there is no purpose. Therefore, it is very easy to forget that there is purpose. How could they be reminded that there is purpose? By a leader who is designated to keep an eye on the prize, so to speak. (Remember that the reason we know, rationally, that purpose is objectively true is that it is beneficial to live accordingly, which then becomes self-fulfilling as a result.)

I started this blog with the tag line “the only way to get there is together”. I think that that is still true and theologically sound. When I came up with the additional “life on a different plane” tagline I did not intend to capture anything to do with God. Now I do.

When I served, I was a pilot of a crew helicopter. There were six of us on the crew. Four of the six served in auxiliary roles which enabled the two pilots to focus on keeping the greasy side up, as we used to say. Besides simply flying safely, the two pilots were also the ones ultimately charged with completing the mission.

So that’s what I’m proposing now. That’s what I’m comfortable with today. Maybe I’ll be a pastor someday, maybe not. If I am one, the reason I would be comfortable being paid by the congregation for what I would consider “doing nothing” is because I would interpret the monetary part of it to be that my role is again that of a captain which necessarily requires a certain level of discipline. The congregation is no different than the four non-pilot aircrew. They are doing jobs that I view as crummy, but until we collectively come up with something better those jobs are apparently necessary. Necessary? Necessary for what? Necessary to keep the plane (the Church) right-side up, safe, and able to complete its mission, its purpose.

For now, crummy job or not, keep on keeping on. I will too. And together we’ll get there.