( Wednesday, May 30, 2007 )

Sex God

I just finished reading a new book by Rob Bell (his other book is called Velvet Elvis, and he also does the Nooma videos, which are amazing), called Sex God. It's a quick read, but it has some really great stuff in it. The main theme of the book is connection, with God and with each other, and how that relates to (or actually is) our sexuality. I'd recommend it. It's an easy read.

I thought I'd post a few bits from the book that really meant something to me.

You can't be connected to God until you're at peace with who you are. If you're still upset that God gave you this body or this life or this family or these circumstances, you will never be able to connect with God in a healthy, thriving, sustainable sort of way. You'll be at odds with your maker. And if you can't come to terms with who you are and the life you've been given, you'll never be able to accept others and how they were made and the lives they've been given. And until you're at peace with God and those around you, you will continue to struggle with your role on the planet, your part to play in the ongoing creation of the universe. You will continue to struggle and resist and fail to connect.
(pg. 46)

Love is handing your heart to someone and taking the risk that they will hand it back because they don't want it. That's why it's such a crushing ache on the inside. We gave away a part of ourselves and it wasn't wanted.

Love is a giving away of power. When we love, we give the other person the power in the relationship. They can do what they choose. They can do what they like with our love. They can reject it, they can accept it, they can step toward us in gratitude and appreciation.

Love is a giving away. When we love, we put ourselves out there, we expose ourselves, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

Love is giving up control. It's surrendering the desire to control the other person. The two - love and controlling power over the other person - are mutually exclusive. If we are serious about loving someone, we have to surrender all of the desires within us to manipulate the relationship.
(pg. 98)

To pursue being naked, you have to believe that this person is worth getting to know for the rest of your lives. Being naked is peeling back the layers, conversation after conversation, experience after experience, year after year. It's rooted in a belief that the soul has infinite depth and you'll never get to the bottom of it.

Our understanding of what it means to be naked reflects what we believe about the human soul. Is it infinite? Or can you get to the end of a person?
(pg. 158)

--Rob Bell, Sex God

( Wednesday, May 23, 2007 )

Outside In The Gutter Looking In

Only three yards away, behind the thick glass doors of the Sunday Times lobby, was the bright and comfortable world that suited most people well enough. I could see the commissionaire, smoothly uniformed behind his desk, looking forward to a pint of beer and an evening with the telly. People in sensible light-weight suits, with interesting jobs and homes to go to, flaunted their security at me and I felt my gut scream at me to strip off this ridiculous outfit and rush back into that light and the familiar interdependence. It struck me very forcefully that if I went on with this folly I would forever after be the man outside in the gutter looking in. For a moment I was lost beyond hope, utterly defeated.
Then I turned away from all that, somehow fumbled my packages away, got on the bike and set off in the general direction of the English Channel. Within minutes the great void inside me was filled by a rush of exaltation, and in my solitary madness I started to sing.

--Ted Simon, Jupiter's Travels

( Saturday, May 19, 2007 )

Oceans Above

Check out this new worship band I've been listening to: Oceans Above. They're pretty fantastic. I don't think I've been this into a specific worship band since I first heard Hillsong United. I especially love the song "Jesus Blood" - the last minute is great.

Someone said they sound like a Postal Service worship band, and I'd say that's pretty accurate, especially with "Beautiful One". It's a really cool change, I think.

( Saturday, May 12, 2007 )

Kilo Yankee Lima Echo

Something interesting--at least to me--occurred to me the other day: it's more difficult to open your eyes than it is to close them. Think about waking up in the morning, or when someone flicks on the light in your room after you've fallen asleep: it's painful, at least uncomfortable, to open them, to suddenly go from darkness to light, from nothing to something. Yet falling asleep requires no effort at all. Your eyes shut and more often than not it feels good.

I could pull about twenty different analogies from that, but I think the most obvious (at least, when the thought first crossed my mind) was that it's always more difficult, requires more effort to face truth than to run from it. In the same way it doesn't hurt to keep your eyes open and processing once they've adjusted to the light, so it becomes much easier, even satisfying, to live with truth once you've come to terms with it.

On Thursday and Friday nights last week, on my hour-long drive home from work, the radio station I listen to was at some kind of club and was playing all the music on the air that they were playing for the people on the dance floor. It was kinda of nice because during the entire hour there were no commercials -- just straight music. But it was kind of strange to me how they managed to make every song blend in with each other. They had remixed every one of them to share a similar, pretty standard beat. And for the most part, they did a pretty good job.

And then I was thinking, why is it people react to beats pretty much the same way, whether it's tapping our fingers, air-drumming, or pretending to be members of Riverdance? We're creatures of rhythm. It's actually kind of incredible the way we're wired. It's not just the beat either--it's music in general. I can't think of a single person I know or have heard of that didn't like music. Sure, different types for different people, but it's all music nonetheless. And we all like it. I think it would be interesting to find out just how much music we listen to/hear in a single day. I seem to always have music playing, one way or another. I think most people do. It's amazing, actually, how basic it is to us, our need for that rhythm and sound and melody.

Speaking of music, do you ever notice how at least a majority of music is about girls (or boys, if it's a girl singing)? Kinda crazy, if you think about it. One topic talked about a million different ways. And it never really gets old. Unless it's Avril Lavigne singing it. Sweet mother of fortune cookies, her new single has to got to be the dumbest song ever written (not that any of her other songs were finely tuned masterpieces, but this one is pushing it). No, no, I take that back. I kid you not, I heard this song the other day that went like this: "If you want to be somebody, put your hands in the air. If you want to move your body, put your hands in the air." WHAT?!

Again, speaking of music, I think everyone needs a friend who's into indie music. I had a friend at school this past year who did a great job keeping me in the loop. We had kind of an exchange program going on, where we'd share with the other whatever new band we discovered. It blows me away every time I discover a new band just how great all this music is that no one (and by no one I just mean less than the majority) has heard. I'm not one of those hardcore anti-pop music guys who thinks anything popular is bad, but I do think at least 83.4% of it isn't very good. When you start to hear these bands who aren't played much on radios or had their songs covered on American Idol (*shudder*), you realize that there is an entire universe of incredible, unique, thoughtful, and good music out there. So find a friend who will do the hard work of finding this stuff for you. It could be the beginning of a new chapter of your life. Or just add some enjoyment to it, if you want me to be less dramatic about it.

How in the world do so many people who clearly have no business driving powerful, heavy, and very pretty automobiles at speeds high enough to disintegrate small pets, children, and little old ladies, get their licenses?

Drive-thru's are funny. Here's a typical run-down of what happens between me and the Voice.

Voice: Welcome to Tim Hortons. What can I get for you?
Me: Yeah, uh, I'll get a large coffee, two cream, two sweetner.
Voice: Sorry, a large coffee and...?
Me: Two cream, two sweetner.
Voice: Two cream, three sweetner?
Me: No, two sweetner.
Voice: Three cream, one sweetner?
Me: TWO cream, TWO sweetner. A large coffee. TWO CREAM, TWO SWEETNER.
Voice: *Suddenly Lots of Static* Hello?
Me: Hello.
Voice: Can you repeat that?
Me: Hello.
Voice: No, I mean, sorry, your order.
Me: A large double-double, with sweetner.
Voice: A large double-double. Is that all?
Me: That's with sweetner. And yeah, that's it.
Voice: How many sweetner?
Me: Fortheloveof...

This is funny.

So is this.

Hard music isn't just good for rocking out; I've also discovered it's perfect introspection music. I never could put my finger on it until tonight, listening to the new Chasing Victory CD, "Fiend," and thinking to myself, "Boy, I really am a screw up." It's good for the soul, I think.

It's kind of scary to me how few people are content with their lives. I almost don't even notice it anymore, partly because I tend to be in that group more often than not and get caught up in my own wishfulness, and partly because it's so pervasive it's become commonplace. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (ok, is it just me or that expression a little dated? What can we use instead? A geneticist?) to see that every marketing campaign in existence is designed to make you feel unhappy unless you succumb to the product being paraded in front of you. But it's deeper than just materialism. It seems to me people in general take a great deal of pleasure in seeing successful/famous people fail/fall, and suffer a great deal of jealousy when others that they know make it big (as far as wealth or fame are concerned).

That topic deserves more than a few short sentences, but I'd ask you this for now: are you content? And if not, why?

I've concluded that a lot of times my discontent is rooted not so much in the idea that I have high hopes that I have yet to reach, as much as that I have low self-esteem and am easily jealous of people who seem happy or have exciting things happening in their own lives. I think, too, that realizing that has actually helped me stop reacting that way, and to start living my own version of the here and now. I also think it's something that will take a concentrated effort to avoid feeling from now until the day I die.

Thanks to Wikipedia for helping me out with my military-speak.

( Sunday, May 06, 2007 )

Call For Clarity

Tonight I got a chance to talk on the phone with a friend from Bible College who I haven't talked to in a while. He's one of those guys who is about as solid in his faith as a leftover Thanksgiving turkey is hard after sitting on the counter for a week (or something like that). I've always had a great deal of respect for him because I could always tell he had a very profound and sincere faith in God. And it wasn't just something he could pretend to have, either. His life reflected it. His personality reflected it. The way he handled himself in situations, the way he talked, the way he behaved was the real evidence of his relationship with Jesus. And I think that always gave me a sense of comfort. For all my cynicism towards the church and other Christians at times, my friend always managed to cut through that with me, whether he knew it or not.

Anyway, in our conversation tonight he talked a bit about the different things he's been doing in ministry, and it all came back to me, all that respect I'd had for him in Bible College. It amazed me how little he'd changed since graduating. It's not rare for people to take a dive after leaving the relative ease and comfort of the spiritual-steroid injected community that is Bible College. (I'm not in the group of people who think that kind of community is a bad thing either -- just for the record. Actually, I think the sense of community I felt at Bible College, and the total immersion in all things God, was one of my absolute favourite things about it--maybe more so in hindsight than while I was there. Since being away from it, I do miss it.) But my friend somehow left that place and remained exactly who he'd always been, a genuine God-lover.

At the end of the conversation we prayed for each other, and I think that single act jump-started something inside of me, something I'd let wilt and die a long time ago. I can't even remember the last time I've prayed with someone. But there is something indescribable about it. It's something that maybe you're not always aware of when you spend so much time doing it, as can be the case with anyone who's spent enough time in church/Bible College/a monastery. But after having been away from it for so long, it felt like someone was breathing air back into my lungs. I felt like this huge cloud around me lifted and dissipated. It was a good feeling.

Talking to him also made me remember things I'd forgotten about myself, characteristics and gifts that God gave me, that I may have used at one point in my life but haven't gone near or exercised in a really long time. And not just gifts, but basic qualities of Jesus that I'm supposed to live out every day, hour, minute, and second. With that came a sense of sadness, but also a challenge to start doing what I was created to do. Never mind vocations and careers and "callings" -- what about the basic, fundamental calling of every Christian? I think I get too caught up in some kind of grand scheme of things and ignore the small but fundamental details of living right now, wherever I am, doing whatever I'm doing. I think those details are the same ones Paul told Timothy to chase after:

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
(1 Timothy 6:11-12)

That's the kind of life I want to live. I think I'd forgotten that at times. Maybe I'd forgotten it completely. But that's the direction I want my life to go, regardless of job title or yearly income. I want my life to be about the pursuit of God, about being "the aroma of Christ" (2 Cor. 2:15), about doing the unknown and experiencing the unseen -- and really, being what I believe.

Thanks for the smack upside the head, Ben.

( Saturday, May 05, 2007 )

FWD: FWD: FWD: RE: You're An Idiot

Now this is something people should be forwarding: Top 25 Web Hoaxes/Pranks.

(The cat one is especially funny -- a few weeks ago in one of my classes we were talking about how they pulled that off in Photoshop. And then we had a debate about whether it was possible to have a cat that big. And then people started getting really angry, which led to more arguing, which led to an all-night Photoshop-athon, which was, of course, to the death. We lost some good men in that computer lab. All for the want of ethics in the photography community.)

( Wednesday, May 02, 2007 )


For some reason, no matter how frustrating they become, I keep buying and sticking with white socks. I'm not even sure why. I'll wear black if the situation demands it (for example, a fancy dinner where there is a chance someone might catch me breaking the Great & Unquestionable Formal Dress Code). But grey -- no way. And pink -- well, that's just not right. So that leaves me with white (yeah, I know that there were other colours that I didn't mention, but I think I covered the general categories, ok?).

But I'm telling you, laundry day is horrible. Basically what happens is I dump the large white pile of clean socks on my bed and leave it there for a few days. Sure, I'll move it around if I need to, say, get under the covers or find a clean pair to wear the next day. But trying to match up white socks is horrible. 'Why,' you ask, 'is it so hard to match up white socks?' I'll tell you why: because they all have different wear patterns, and there are few things worse than pairing a good sock with a solid sole to a well-used, semi-disintegrating one. Clearly one of the two is going to be more comfortable, and that just will not do. I'm either cozy on both feet, or uncomfortable on both feet. None of this, "Cozy on one, uncomfortable on the other" business. Not me for me, thank you very much.

I've started to branch out and get socks with a blue or black stripe on them, which helps. But the problem doesn't really change because I'll match those ones up right away--so I can wear them right away--and then still be left with the orphaned hundreds.

I need to hire someone to take care of this for me, I think.