Monday, March 27, 2006

Going back to Cali

Here's some pics from my recent (spontaneous) trip to California... the sun setting over the beach at Santa Monica and the mission in Santa Barbara, where I used to live. It was about 40 degrees the whole time I was there, but it was still great!

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Finding that faith
Comes in sizes unforeseen,
I remember my previous refusal
To live inside a box.
I pride myself
On being alone,
Longing all the while
To commune intimately with others.
I let myself believe
That my own path is the best way,
That my own road less traveled
Marks the way to happiness.
But marked on that road
Are shortcuts and obstacles,
Where I find myself reevaluating
The consequences of directing
My own destiny.
Providence requires a great deal of
And when unassisted will immediately
Change the course.
And for that I am retrospectively
I resolve to risk,
To underestimate,
To pursue the dreams
That seem so shelved.
And I will look for those dreams
In the form of many colors,
Dancing through
And seizing each moment
For what it is worth...
And that worth is found intrinsically
In the sweet wonder
That flows from imagination
And spiritual awakening,
Eyeing all odds and changes as simultaneously
Beautiful and terrible.
My own road is not yet completely determined,
And I surrender to walk it somewhat afraid,
Journeying into the sweet mist that clouds
So many of my plans,
Grateful for each
Struggle, and
Live easy...

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Lenten Protest

Lent is the time when the Church historically observes a period of waiting in the weeks leading up to Easter. This time is to remind us of life before Christ, to encourage us to reevaluate our commitment to God, and to deprive ourselves of some necessity. So this year for Lent I am giving up… nothing.

I am not fasting from anything, I am not conducting extra rituals or spending more time reading the Bible, and I am not quitting any habits. I have followed this portion of the Lenten tradition in the past. Chocolate, caffeine, television, movies, and others have made the list of things I have given up (or attempted to do so) for that very long six weeks. I believe one year I fasted from Starburst jellybeans. But this year is different.

Perfectionism is one of my greatest struggles. It affects and influences my work, studies, relationships, and communion with Christ. I decided that I do not need one more thing for which to seek perfection, another task to make me crazy for fear I will not wholly accomplish it. Giving up anything would at this point induce me to obsess over the work of that fast.

If Lent is meant to further entrench the works mentality and fear of imperfection that I hold so closely, then I will not participate. If wearing an ashen cross on my forehead will equate me to a Pharisee because I desire to flaunt my piety, then I benefit no one from that display. If depriving myself from a pleasure leads me to find a substitution less healthy, then I have really fasted from nothing. If Lent is intended instead to spur believers to practice gratitude for salvation and to observe waiting in hope and expectation, then I will do so.

So in some ways I am giving up something. I am giving up on the suggestion that I need to be or do more than I am to be pleasing to God. I wait and I hope and I offer thanks. But for this year, that is all.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


What follows are disjointed thoughts and questions, that all tie together somehow, but not necessarily in a coherent manner...

The February 26 Relevant Podcast features an interview with Don Miller in which he discusses a number of issues, including the war. Miller mentions that although Peace Studies programs are becoming more and more popular in American universities, only one Christian university has such a program (it was started just last year). Why are we afraid to talk about peace?

I am more and more of a pacifist. I think Christ teaches peace, loving your neighbor and yourself, living in harmony with others. Jesus did, of course, turn over money tables in the temple and loudly confront hypocritical leaders. But He communed with the unlovely, He loved everyone, and He invited all to join His Life.

Does it matter if I support the war or not? Yes. Does it matter more that I love my neighbor (meaning my brothers and sisters everywhere), myself, and my God? Of course.

And why is peace only mentioned when we are closely affected by or involved in war? Do we need a drastic and negative example of the opposite of peace to inspire us to consider it?

I helped with the kids at my church on Sunday evening and heard one of the mothers discussing with her 4 year old why hitting another boy was unacceptable... she provided a recent example of when he had been loving and went with him to apologize to the other boy. That is where peace begins, teaching children non-violence and the love of Christ in practical ways.

Following the tradition of non-violent resistance, what ways can I contribute to issues of social justice? Is my green "Save Darfur" bracelet really helping to save Darfur or am I just making myself feel better by wearing it everyday?

Peace Studies is a wonderful idea, but unless we are equipped to really love others and deal with injustice, it is merely an idea. We can talk about how to be peaceful all day, we can debate the benefits being anti-war, but in the end we need strategies, we need tactics, but most of all we need to let Christ's love fill us and overflow out of us. Trying to be peaceful on our own is entirely fruitless.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)