This is more for me than anyone else. It’s just a musing that I am working out. But I felt like sharing.
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Ben Franklin
Liberty lives in the heart of veterans like me. Like me, some of my war buddies have an as of yet unaccounted for revulsion to all this talk about equality that is everywhere these days. Girls are equal to boys. Children are equal to adults. All religions are equal. All cultures are equal. All countries are equal. It’s all hogwash–at least according to me and my pals.
Why? Because we didn’t fight for equality. Men don’t fight for equality, certainly not with their flesh. Lawyers and judges and statesmen might consider their fight to be for equality. But the fighting man? The warrior? (And, no, not the metaphorical warrior, folks). No, sir. He fights for freedom. And when he is finished with his fight, then he desires it. He needs it. Why? Because if he can’t have it, then he must fight again.
I want to offer for your consideration something new. I offer the idea that equality is synonymous with security, synonymous with safety.
How would you distinguish them? I no longer see the distinction that might have once been in my mind.
I sought work at the gentlemen’s club, in part, because I had never worked with women. Right after college it was Air Force pilot training (mostly men), followed by the last male-only Air Force flying squadron (must have balls), then several odd professions to include a car wash (mostly fellas) and the oil fields (oil rigs being the last bastion of actual men on the LORD’s good earth).
Despite, or in spite of, being married for six years, I had never really been around women, nor really even desired to be around them. It’s been three years since big-P-I-M-P-in and in a most unexpected change, these days I often seem to find myself around only women. Don’t get the idea that I am one of those creepy, sinewy older guys we all know at work who aren’t quite gay, but somehow are only able to be friends with women. For good or bad, that’s not me. With me, the situation is manifest in other ways.
For example, my beloved toastmaster’s club is gaining women by the droves. Six years ago it was the only place I knew of which had about a 50/50 make-up. But recently I went to a off-day meeting where the ratio was more like 80/20. The official roster has it 60/40–or 31/19 to be more precise. Where have all the cowboys gone?
Then there’s the last time I was asked to teach at church. Naturally, each Sunday I notice that most of the regulars are of the fairer sex, but that did little to diminish my astonishment as I was totally unprepared to speak to a group of two men and thirty black women. In answer to my reactionary inquiry, my pastor said, “Expect more like 80/20 in the future,” but that, “Yes, it’s more women than men.” Me, teaching women? Ha. What do I know?
Here’s what I know. After much deliberation on the matter and many years in school, I’m calling it quits on trying to learn about women. To me, from what I’ve seen and from what I believe I have been purposefully shown, that goal would be no different than trying to learn about the ocean. I don’t mean learning about the elements of one of Earth’s oceans that we can observe with our five senses. I mean that, for me, women as a group are like the ocean that is eternally beyond the ocean that we presently perceive. What’s more, even if I could learn about women, not one reason comes to mind as to why I’d want to.
Instead, I’m going to focus on learning about one woman. That’s right. My mind is resolved. One of you lucky women will soon gain a suitor. Get excited. And since I’ve recently also concluded that shame is probably the deepest sensation felt during the acquisition of knowledge, I’m pretty sure that my upcoming education will be exceedingly difficult for my prideful self.
As far as the other thought, I lost it somewhere by the ocean part. It’ll return some other day, I guess.
I will give you this, though. Just now as I walked by the dumpster in the darkest hours before the dawn, I saw the regular raccoon but also two smallish ones. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a raccoon family before. What about you?
Late last year when actresses began revealing that the situation in Hollywood was exactly as most of Middle America had always known it to be, I made a small non-monetary wager with one male relative of mine who shall remain unnamed. Pride was the only thing worth winning or losing. I said, “This whole thing will blow over by summer. Quit acting like trending hashtags have power.”
Well, you can imagine that he has been quick to point out that summer is here and the #MeToo movement still moves.
My angle has always been H-. What do you want me to tell H-? I believe that the only thing to teach her on this topic is what the Bible teaches. Its words have at least two elements which women need to be raised hearing repeatedly. The first element is that men rape women. As many skeptics point out, this behavior is recorded as occurring more than once and sometimes even by the so-called hero of the story. No argument here. Thousands of years later, however, we should not be shocked to discover we have not evolved or some shit.
The second element is the teaching that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. How many victims believe that about their body? Maybe all, maybe none. No women mention it in their accusations is all I know.
As a divorced man, I can tell you that I will never understand the “stay” aspect of #MeToo. The “safe word” notion seems reasonable if you’re into some kink. If he doesn’t agree to it, well, at least you know where he’s at. But to be frank, well no. Frankly I just “can’t get there from here” as they say. (LEAVE.)
You know what one of you once told me? She said, “On dates I never think about how I am being treated. I think about how mad my dad would be if I let myself be treated bad.” Obviously I haven’t forgotten that. And not so obviously, after three years of ancient language study, I think that is a near perfect word-for-word translation into English of the Apostle Paul’s Greek, “your body is the temple of the holy spirit.”
Lastly, if the I’m-only-sharing-this-now-because-I-want-to-prevent-further-victims sentiment that falls under the #MeToo umbrella, if not is the umbrella, continues past the summer, I cannot see how anyone still associating with #MeToo is not a fool in the sandy biblical sense. Unlike, say, the American Revolution or the Civil Rights movement, in this case, the longer you last, the weaker you become. You set it up that way.
Then again, reading “20 Years Strong: #MeToo Movement Denies Allegations of Impotence As It Considers New Gender-Neutral Logo” on some future day does not seem unlikely.
“Yes,” I am aware that I am a hypocrite. But “no,” that is not going to deter me from changing my wicked ways and speaking truth to power (that’s right, ladies, you are powerful).
I cannot remember precisely when it began for me, but if I give it a thought, it was probably when I first headed from little pink house-Lenexa to the Rocky Mountains to ski as a teenager. It may have been the drastic difference in how you appeared on the mountain versus how you appeared in the restaurants, that is, the change from puffy snow-pants to form-fitting leggings.
Or maybe it was the cheerleaders’ underskirt attire during cold-weather events. Aren’t cheerleaders the rightful leaders when it comes to fashion?
Whatever it was, as a young man I wasn’t going to say “no”–if you weren’t. More form-fitting clothing, more of the time, I said!
But now, after two or so years of all y’all–no matter how short, tall, fat, or thin–wearing nothing except leggings, I’m telling you it is time to put your pants back on.
Oh, and here’s a tip for the next time this trend surfaces: I maybe could have lasted for a few more months if you wouldn’t have started wearing leggings that have massive patches of fabric missing around your not-naughty bits.
Here’s the tru tru. I have a daughter. As you know, I cannot fight every battle and win the war. So help a brother out! She deserves better from you.
I have had a couple papers due over the last two weeks and so this post isn’t developing very quickly.
The book on humility that I’ve been reading is written by a priest from some years ago (maybe a couple hundred). I am also doing some reading about Eastern Orthodoxy for a theological synopsis paper.
(Random thought: If you’re a believer and have some time, pick up some systematic theologies and read the chapter on the atonement. Extended thinking on the atonement is, as one says, “Marvelous to relate”.)
Anyhow, taken together (the West and the East), I am beginning to notice something about Evangelicals (or my thought process as an Evangelical) that I think can be more finely tuned. (BTW, I discovered from a friend what Evangelical means as it falls within Protestant. We Evangelicals believe the Bible is true. Apparently there are quite a few “Mainline Protestants” who think the Bible is helpful, but not true. For instance, my sister shared that in KC there was a news story about some 30 or so Methodist pastors who signed something that declared they did not believe Jesus resurrected. Be that as it may, Evangelicals still believe the Bible is true.)
Anyhow, back to humility and the Western and Eastern churches. I’ve mentioned that another exercise I’m doing is memorizing the Psalms. So my big “reveal” in this post about humility is that throughout all these different perspectives it is becoming clear that humility is really just about right orientation towards the one true God. The priest emphasizes this directly. The bishop communicates this by his insistence on mystery. I spent most of the last two weeks pondering the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. It appears that that my attempt to solve “the problem” is a feature of my being an Evangelical. The Orthodox church simply calls the sovereignty/responsibility dilemma mystery and keeps its focus on God. Oh well.
The bigger point is that when taken together with David’s psalms, it is becoming clear to me that the very way I have been thinking about God is in need of correction. In the Psalms David never seems to compare God to the way he used to think about him. For some reason we have all these bizarre conceptions of God. I think Sunday school is to blame, but even now I am not following my own advice. See what I mean? It’s easy to get distracted from God, even when talking about him. I am now feeling that I need to eliminate “compare and contrast” past and present out of my walk with God. As in, an ever-vigilant, “Okay, Pete, get a grip. Instead of talking about God, talk to God.”
Finally, as always, when talking about humility and God, I can never forget that gratitude is in order. Put another way: Thank God. It’s almost magical what happens when you thank God.
A fellow student in my theology class told me that in his 69 years of existence he’d never encountered hamartiology. My own 34 year old pink body hadn’t either until two weeks ago. Hamartiology is the field of Christian theology which studies sin. Fascinating stuff. How many people even believe in sin anymore? Here in Denver the concept has very little support. I have had several older folks tell me bluntly, “Well, I don’t believe in sin.” Like I said, it’s fascinating. Then this past week we read about atonement and all the different reasons Christian thinkers over the years have deduced the reason for Jesus’ death to be.
As I hope the savvy reader can imagine, there are no clear cut answers. Christians have been doing their best and generally fall into only a handful of categories, but there is no universal agreement. (No surprise here). What was intriguing to me, however, was how integral a person’s concept of sin is to their concept of atonement and why Jesus had to die.
Obviously, I have nothing new to add to the study of sin, but I do have one observation that brings me some hope. One of the books mentioned that sin is both our condition and the result of our condition. We sin because we’re sinners and we’re sinners because we sin. That’s easy enough, nothing new. But then it went on to remind readers that we (humanity) commit sins not just because we’re sinners, but because we’re the recipient of others’ sins as well. For example, I have been living a fairly spartan life these last couple weeks. Early to rise, been memorizing scripture, reading voluminously, no movie/TV-watching etc. Yet I have still been sinning in some very easy to acknowledge acts. Before I read the aforementioned section about being on the receiving end of fellow humans’ sin, I was a bit perplexed. But now I feel like I’ve gained some understanding, or perhaps one more example, of the reality that I cannot ever do it on my own. Theoretically, if I could erase my memory and become a hermit on Mars with no more contact from humans, maybe I could avoid sins of commission. But even then sins of omission would be occurring because I’d be avoiding my purpose.
The point of all this is that hamartiology and the Christian doctrine of sin is the most accurate description of reality/evil I have discovered as of today. Consequently, I believe, like most Christians do, that I am a sinner in need of repentance and that God sent Jesus to die to take my place in order to restore the broken relationship that the first man caused by his sin. Those of you who know the story know that the ironic piece, of course, is that the biblical writers suggest that in my act of recognizing both my status and that there has been a substitution of characters; instead of being punished, I am forgiven. That’s a relief, a veritable un-burdening–especially compared to the sensation that accompanied me while I distorted the reality of sin’s effect on my life.
Oh. What is sin, you ask? What is the root of all sin? It’s the displacement of God from his rightful place.
Last week wasn’t one of my favorites.
Remember my character formation class that I have been touting? Well, the character trait that I have decided to specifically get working on this semester is humility. That really has nothing to do with this post except to share that one of the spiritual disciplines that a book suggests is journaling. All of us bloggers do this without thinking and so while I have been blogging for a few years now, I am specifically going to dedicate one blog a week to my walk with God, if you will. I share this because sometimes I get the feeling that Christians do read these posts every once in a while and maybe they’d be interested to see just what goes on at a seminary. Anyhow, back to last week.
I had lunch with a friend and there was discussion about the nature of God and scripture etc. A couple years ago when we met, we both were in the agnostic category, but obviously I don’t believe I can ignore what I’ve been feeling and learning, nor do I want to. Suffice it to say that he hasn’t changed. He’s old, so it’s not like I expected him to during the course of one conversation. I even said this in the conversation. But I love the conversation and he’s kind of been a mentor of sorts so I wanted to pick his brain a bit about why he believes what he does. Long story short, I sent him a follow up email (old habits–post-flight debriefs–die hard). At the end of the email he wrote that he does not want to continue talking about the subject.
I don’t know what to do next. “The subject” is kind of my life right now. I wouldn’t know what else to talk about. As I have gotten older I have begun to recognize the subtleties of my body’s physiological reactions to life. The physical reaction happens before the words develop to describe how I feel. In this instance, as I read his “conversation over” assertion, I felt a sadness in my gut that demanded a long nap with the hope that upon waking I would discover that it was just a bad dream. Then I labeled all that rejection.
Am I that unbearable?
Perhaps it’s because I plain and simple talk too much, but ever since my divorce I’ve noticed that divorced men are huge conspiracy theorists. Have you noticed this? Now that I’ve mentioned it, do your observations support my claim? Or no?
Last night at work a gentlemen was trying to explain to me all about the Illuminati and Freemasons and some letter written in 1871 that successfully predicted the first two world wars and also looks to predict a still-to-come third world war. What gives?
All I said to provoke all of it was that I was attending school where I am attending school. I think I was just musing about how awesome it is to work at a pizza place again at night while doing school during the day. Then boom. Can you imagine it? It was three on one. Three fellas citing this, that, and the other about the most outrageous claims about the nature of human life on planet earth, and all the while I just said, “I don’t see any hope in those beliefs, in believing what you believe. All I see is that it takes all responsibility for proper living out of your hands if you believe some secret societies are controlling everything anyhow.”
The point is, this isn’t my first encounter with these type of divorcees. There’s something about the breakup that causes men (I’ve never noticed this in divorced women) to just latch onto conspiracy theories. Maybe it’s because they return to drinking fluoride-laced tap water (you know what that does, right?) out of the sink instead of bottled water. I don’t know. I guess it’s just an observation I wanted to get onto this blog for the record.
As I keep sharing with folks that I’m excited to be in a masters program that is based in “purpose”, I keep getting the same response I already mentioned.
“You’re going to school to become a preacher?”
It seems, then, that a further note of clarification is in order.
I never have, nor ever will believe in educating myself in order to gain financially. I went to college after high school because I wanted to be (first an FBI or CIA agent and finally) an Air Force officer and pilot. I wanted to “be” those things because of what they meant in and of themselves. Whether I was paid or not was never part of the equation. Becoming them required college, therefore, college.
But somewhere along the way learning became an end in addition to a means. For a Three Amigos plethora of reasons, I am now taking courses at a local seminary because I am interested, not in someday getting paid for my future and resultant mastery of all things evangelical Christianity, but rather I am interested in what a right relationship with God looks like. And this in order to determine if I want to pursue that sort of thing.
Put another way, there is a quote from Tom Selleck’s Mr. Baseball where he is exasperatedly explaining to the exceedingly high work-ethic filled Japanese team to which he’s been demoted that: “Baseball is a game and games are supposed to be fun.” Like Selleck’s delivery of this line, I can’t do more than encourage you to discover learning as an end. I can’t reason you into understanding this anymore than he can force the Japanese team to have fun.
One more observation: It’s nice to be around people who can read aloud with confidence. (Maybe everyone in a masters program can, but for some reason I have been surprised that nobody elects to “pass” when it’s their turn to read and also that they don’t struggle with English. And even writing this now makes me suspicious. Should it really take a college degree to be able to read aloud?)
I mentioned in post number one today that a theologian named Marcus Borg labeled Jesus of Nazareth a “movement initiator.” That’s funny to me because it’s so demonstrative of effort. Borg was a Believer, but he really thought that things weren’t good enough as is. He seemed to think, “Maybe if we change the words and labels more people will buy into this garbage.
“Messiah? Too old testament. Movement initiator? Brilliant!
“Christ? Too Greek. Che Guevara? That’s the ticket!
“Son of God? Too not-atheistic. Barack Obama? Exactly!”
Well, I have a revision of my own that I’d like to share. This one came to me the other morning. Different than a phrase, mine is an image. But I’m no artist, so I’ll do my best to describe the image.
To make it palatable, you need some backstory. The backstory is that a good friend, or former good friend (he has a girlfriend now and naturally we don’t talk anymore), is a little brother. And through conversations he shared with me that he has lent his big brother money and never been repaid–not that he ever expected to be. Why did he lend the big brother the money? Obviously love is the reason.
Most of you know that I, too, have a brother. But in my case, I am the big brother. So the other morning, I am reporting in to my little brother that a big conversation with the ex ended terribly and left me without hope, at least in the financial realm of life. As we chit-chatted via the wonder of texting, I jokingly asked him for money. (Actually, I asked him to buy me a house.) Suddenly, my friend’s situation came to mind, and I felt terrible because it occurred to me that maybe my question, despite being ridiculous and clearly a joke, would actually cause my little brother consternation because of how much he loves me. Still with me? I suddenly feared that I was becoming my friend’s douche-bag older brother who was taking advantage of his position in relation to my good friend. And that was not my intent at all.
Now, whether or not my little brother felt any pang of “maybe I should…” before he texted me a resolute “no”, a new version of Jesus’ attitude/demeanor before/during the crucifixion came to mind.
Mel Gibson and the events as recorded in the Gospels seem to have it that he willfully submitted to the punishment because he knew that it was what had to happen if we were ever to understand the better. But for today, at least, I’m kinda in love with this new revision of his emotional state at that trying time. Instead of willful submission, try picturing Jesus of Nazareth in a discussion with the human race. His side of the argument? “Listen to me. Life because better. I speak the truth.” Our side? “Prove it.”
And much like my friend, Jesus would really prefer to avoid the debate. Not because he doubts himself–no. But because he knows how far he will go to prove his conviction. He knows that he will do anything to convince humanity that he’s telling the truth–that he loves us more than he loves himself and that that’s because we deserve the love that we just won’t accept for some reason. So my revision of Jesus during the passion is an unkemptly bearded man pleading with me, a sure sadness in his eyes, “Please don’t ask me to prove it. Please.” And then to himself only, continuing, “Because I will. You don’t know how far I will go.”
Forgive me, brother. My request was in poor taste.