One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when David played the lyre for King Saul. The short version goes like this: King Saul sucked at stuff, so God removed his Spirit from him and subsequently sent an evil spirit to torment him. Saul then looked for a musician to come play for him, and someone recommended David. So Saul summoned David, and while David played music, the evil spirit would leave and Saul would feel good for a while.
I love this story because I think it speaks of the inherent beauty of music. It reminds me of seeing certain bands in concert and getting so lost in the music, in the art of the moment, that I felt incredible joy, peace, and inspiration. Or it makes me think back to some of the worst times of my life, when all seemed to be caving in around me and I felt utterly alone and the only solace I would find would be in listening to a particular song. (more…)
I am a crier. At least once a day I read or watch something that hits me right in the feels and my eyes well up with tears. Sometimes it’s full of joy, sometimes sorrow, sometimes unidentifiable emotions that confuse me and make me want to cry more because I can’t figure out what is happening. Luckily for my insecurity, our culture really sees guys who cry as confident, manly and cool.
But anyway… In case you think I am exaggerating, let me offer up a few examples, all from this last week.
On Sunday, my wife used perhaps too stern of a tone after our daughter did something she shouldn’t have done. My daughter cried, and my wife felt bad. After a few deep breaths, the sorrow began to dissipate, at which point my wife said that it broke her heart to see our daughter so sad. Our daughter replied, “Mommy, you’re (more…)
I remember when I was younger and people would tell me how just looking at the sunset let them know there was a God. How the intricacy and beauty of flowers spoke of the creativity and power of a divine being. For many of those people, it was evidence enough that the theory of evolution was simply not true.
And while, at the time, I believed in a literal 6 day creation and a young earth, I never had those moments. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly marveled from time to time and some of the beautiful aspects of nature, it was just that my first reaction was never “Thanks, God!”
But a few days ago, I was caught off guard by what I think was a pretty comparable moment. I was driving to work, and due to a pretty dense fog, I was paying a bit more attention to my (more…)
I saw a video yesterday. It was a recording of a woman screaming absurdly racist things in the parking lot of a Dollar General. I also read a short article. It was your classic tale of a collective of Youth Pastors who thought it was appropriate to positively cite the most infamous proprietor of mass genocide in an attempt to promote their children’s ministry. Seriously? Hitler? Come on, guys.
And as I discussed it all with a couple of my colleagues, who aptly referred to the raging internet debates collectively as “the shit pile,” I had to weigh my options. Do I engage the shit pile or do I just move on? I went for it. I started to write a blog post about the Hitler thing, and how it was somewhat symbolic of broader evangelical culture. It was a pretty good piece, if I do say so myself. I had to stop though. Not because I thought I was wrong, but because all of a sudden, a weird peace came over me. One minute I was typing away (more…)
Something new happened to me recently, and I suppose I may have experienced something like it in the past, but not this pronounced, not this heavy. As I was reading a book on the history of American public education, I was stopped dead in my tracks. It was as if the words I encountered were so powerful, so important, so forceful that I was unable to continue reading, unable to turn the page without first dealing with them.
And I tried to move on; I tried to brush them aside and let the rhythm of my hushed voice carry me into the next paragraph. But as often happens when I am distracted, I mumbled the next few sentences without any idea what they meant. As my eyes and voice took me further into the chapter, my brain and heart were stuck back on that page, distracted by those words.
“He was square inside and brown.”
I tried to picture what that might look like: a boy, once with typical features and human qualities, (more…)
Part of overcoming insecurity is being willing to change the things that need changed. I like to think I’m making progress, because I experienced this sort of change, or shift recently. I am not quite sure where in my being the shift began, but it was definite, and almost immediate. It started with an experience, and introduction of sorts…
From time to time, and more often than we realize, we have experiences that don’t line up with our perceptions of reality, or that won’t seem to fit into the preconceived notions we have about the world. We know something to be one way, and then we find ourselves face to face with evidence that suggests it might be another. When we encounter those situations, we are forced to do something with them. Often, I find myself either cramming these new concepts into my immutable worldview, hoping I don’t ever have to deal with the inconsistencies, or chalking it up to the mystery of the universe and ignoring it until I forget.
But this time, that didn’t seem to be an option. This time, it seemed to me, people’s lives were at stake. And I am not quite sure what was so different this time, because I have met transgender people before and never felt the weight I felt in (more…)
I grew up in a conservative evangelical church and school. From an early age I was taught about the misinformed, misguided, and downright foolish beliefs and lifestyles of a host of different people groups. Muslims and Hindus and Gays, oh my! As long as I stayed on the straight and narrow yellow brick road, I would eventually find my way back home to Jesus though, and hopefully, with enough prayer and some good logical defense, I could show a couple of those heathens how wrong they were and get them walking on the streets of gold too.
In fairness, I grew up with wonderful people, and it wasn’t usually stated like that. While there were definite moments of hatred and fear towards the unidentified, stereotyped them who stood opposed to the thankfully saved us, more often it was a sort of well-intended critique of other people groups, blanketed with an emphatic ‘love the sinner, hate the sin.’
So when I went off to college, it was with numerous warnings of the liberal agenda and harsh atheistic culture that permeated the entire (more…)