Showing posts from 2010

Much Afraid and Perfect Love

My friend JJ and I had a really good discussion the other day. We talked about things that go on but that we can't see, how the Bible is very elusive in its hints about spiritual warfare, and how, while this can be exasperating, is also gracious. How we have to trust instead of having tangible facts , and how trust is really all we have anyway. How hard of a grace that is to live in. We talked about age, how it seems that one grows older with experience, younger with love. We talked about the odd connection that some people have -- she called it being on the network -- the connection where they hear other people's heart-cries. About how maybe, if you hear those cries, you could walk away rather than give yourself in responding, but you have to lie to yourself ever after. Walking away is not a good way to live. People call that heartless , said JJ. But they call it insanity to stay , I said. To stay when it hurts, to to remain in the fire by choice, can look like insa

Nightfall and Vows

Here's what caught me tonight reading Fellowship of the Ring : "On [the Ring-bearer] alone is any charge laid... the others go with him as free companions to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road." "Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens," said Gimli. "Maybe," said Elrond, "but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall." "Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart," said Gimli. "Or break it," said Elrond. "Look not too far ahead! But go now with good hearts!" Oaths do make and break hearts. They bind, and sometimes the binding is what breaks us most deeply. But we cannot li

Crazy Plans

"There remain two more to be found," said Elrond. "These I will consider. Of my household I may find some that it seems good to me to send." "But that will leave no place for us!" cried Pippin in dismay. "We don't want to be left behind. We want to go with Frodo." "That is because you do not understand and cannot imagine what lies ahead," said Elrond. "Neither does Frodo," said Gandalf, unexpectedly supporting Pippin. "Nor do any of us see clearly. It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy. I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom." I was reading this part, with the choosing of the Fellowship, to my youngest brother tonight, and thinking about how amazingly true Gandalf's words -- and Elrond's as well -- a

Letter to a Friend

No, your words don't surprise me. I knew as soon as I began reading that you were writing out your soul, that you were reflecting how you see yourself. And I was impressed, not only with the story you were weaving, but with the perception that it took to see yourself accurately enough to portray yourself as a killer, and with the honesty you showed in sharing the story. It doesn't surprise me because I know what is in a man. I read the words and I recite them back to myself, in my living room, perched on a rock in the middle of campus, confessing that I cannot live up to God's law, that I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor that the fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners --- corrupt from conception on. that we [are] so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil. It helps to grow up catechized with those words. Then at least I couldn't say No one warned me , not the night when I heard confessions of

Why I Need Advent

Yesterday one of my wonderful roommates sent me a link to the blog Six Year Med , and I've been reading the back articles. I like finding out what makes people tick, and Danielle is an excellent writer. Tonight I found this post, Evidence of Things Unseen . It was a good reminder. Sometimes we run from responsibility that we should have shouldered. But sometimes we carry it too long, carry what never should have been ours originally. Jars of Clay : All of those nights Spend alone in the darkness of your mind Give it up Let it go These are things you were never meant to shoulder... Conversation with a sobbing friend: "This was never your choice to make. You have been faithful much..." "I should be the one paying the prices." Because we're prideful and we want to carry the world on our shoulders and be the savior. I know, because that's me. The good thing is, I'm not the world's savior. He is. It's good to be reminded from time to time t

The King Who Did Not Forget

Before the creation of the world, they had made a covenant, binding themselves in a relationship without end. There would be the creation, the bringing-everything-to-be. And beyond that lay the darkness of the image-bearers who would blind themselves by looking too long at the light as they tried to overthrow it. The agreement was that he would redeem the rebels, this covenant made even before they were created. He entered into this willingly, despite the dreadful cost, pledging his very life to save those who were born to be his subjects but were self-determined to be his enemies. The morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Ready?" The children, wrapped in their blankets, huddled by the fireplace, nodded. The story began with Once upon a time , as many good stories do, this story of the fulfillment of the covenant. He was born into a land of the planet hostile to him, as had been agreed. He had to grow up humbly, with none of


As I walked back from the dining hall today, I heard a voice singing quite loudly. It made me smile, this guy coming out of the freshman dorm singing, and so I began thinking of how many amazingly good things have happened in the last few days. So I thought that I'd make a list of some of these things that I'm thankful for... Dinner with Katie E and her parents on Thursday night and studying for our bio test in her room... it was very fun and relaxing, as well as productive study time. The immune system . I really enjoy studying it. I knew there was a reason I was taking more bio. Dinner with C-1 on Friday night and listening to how ridiculous we were all being. Finals are definitely approaching... Story writing and discussion with a roommate on Friday night... Filmfest on Friday night... and getting dressed up... and seeing a lot of campus looking classy. And, of course, getting to see a bunch of amazing films put together by the people I get to go to school with. This

Adventures of Late

Yesterday was the first day of Advent. I love Advent, maybe more than I love Christmas. I love looking forward to Him. I love the double-edged nature of Advent now, looking back to when He came, looking forward to His coming again. Tonight I turned on the Music of Silence and now I'm basking in it, the glory of voices echoing out solemn and beautiful. There's still a lot to be done before the end of the semester. But some of that is laughing and sharing memories and drinking in the beautiful and my heart crying out, Come quickly... But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” (Hebrews 1:8-9 ESV)

Recent Pieces of the Semester in Photos and a Few Words

Midnight showing of Harry Potter with a bunch of my best friends... Days spin by in a dizzying drift Calender pages floating to the floor Slipping from my over-full hands. “SHUT UP! I’M TELLING A STORY! I’M NOT EVEN GOING TO TELL YOU THE STORY!” So I follow Your footsteps And the sound of Your voice To the place where light meets the evening.. .

More Than Enough

Two years ago seems like a long time. But as I realize that the semester is thundering towards its end in a blizzard of papers due and presentations to give, more knowledge in my head and hopefully more wisdom in my life, I'm thinking about what it was like two years ago. The college years, it seems, are full and fast and it's hard to remember last week, let alone my first year here. But I stretch out my fingers to that time, trying to recall who I was then and what I wish I had known, trying to see who I need to be, what needs to change in me in the time coming. I pull up pictures on my screen from that first semester. Dag, sunshine, Frontier Club, people who I barely knew then and now count as friends. Fall leaves, a friend's soccer game on her birthday, eating meals in the dining hall, in peoples' homes. A small concert in the gym, first snow, a retreat one cold and icy weekend. Winter Wonderland, with my hall transformed from bare white walls by paper and mar

Postmodernism and Job

We were discussing postmodernism today in Humanities. I know that I have blogged about it before, but here were some thoughts and questions from today's discussion. Should "postmodernism" be understood as what those who first began using the term -- Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard -- meant it as (which are not always the same thing) or as it is commonly used today, by people on the street? By students in the classroom? Does a word mean only one thing? What does it indicate when the majority of the students in the classroom -- and we're a pretty traditional bunch of students, in the 18-22 year old range or so -- are extremely frustrated by cultural artifacts such as the postmodern poetry of Hannah Weiner? So... maybe it's clever. But we want to know what it means , and we're sure that it does have a meaning, that no one puts meaningless words on a page and no one publishes (totally) meaningless things. And we want to know what this meaning is. I've been to

Tonight's Report of God's Goodness

It's good being a junior. Tonight I'm sitting in a lounge of a building I used to live in, with two freshmen. We've been goofing off. I went to find one of them to watch a movie, but he was coming over here to do homework. I don't think either of them have made much progress on the homework, and I can't say that I've accomplished a ton either. But in non-homework terms, there's been plenty accomplished (even though that hasn't included watching the movie that we wanted to watch...) We've laughed. A lot. Talked about how we all hate 2010: A Space Odyssey . Distracted each other and swapped stories of epic events and epic fails and totally unepic every day stuff. Mostly we've laughed. We've shared little snips of who we are -- middle names, siblings, churches. Argued over the difference (or lack thereof) between the words "normal" and "average". And I find myself thinking, this is how the threads are woven togethe

Mealplans and Denial and Prayer

Today my Sunday school class was talking about prayer. We do this every week this semester, an hour on Sunday mornings after we've all worshipped together, all of us in a room to talk and listen and to pray. And today I was thinking about two things as we discussed the Lord's Prayer and why we don't pray as we ought to, why we don't ask for our daily bread and why we don't beg Him for His Kingdom to come. About why I don't. Mealplans. Denial. First, mealplans. This summer almost every weekend I stayed somewhere different. Every place I went was good, but every place was strange and different. Different families. A different bed. A different road to get there. A different church. A different way back to the next week of work, the next week of camp. I like routine. I like knowing my schedule, and being able to move within it as I please, to disappear when I want and return when I want, to know the lay of the land and where to run into certain people. I like


These days, I'm thinking about grace. I'm working on developing a character named Gras Chwerthin -- grace-to-laugh. I'm praying for more grace in my life, because I'll often say words fast and sarcastic, or unthinkingly, and not make sure that they all point to him. I love songs that speak of grace. Right now, especially Lifehouse's Breathing . Last year I had them hung on a wall in my room. This year they just echo in my head. I'm finding my way back to sanity, again Though I don't really know what I am gonna do when I get there Take a breath and hold on tight Spin around one more time And gracefully fall back in the arms of grace I am hanging on every word you say And even if you don't want to speak tonight That's alright, alright with me 'Cause I want nothing more than to sit Outside Heaven's door and listen to you breathing Is where I want to be I am looking past the shadows Of my mind into the truth and I'm trying to identify The

Older Sisters

It's almost three hours we've been talking for now, three hours that stretched long and hard, me silenced and unsure of what to say. The hours stretched over two days, over a table with benches and a bridge that we dangled feet and shoes off of, a pavilion and a bench and now a bench in a shelter, watching rain come down, or the possibility of it coming. I don't remember which it was, now. It seems like it should be raining and grey. The stories are all broken and weary, and I look at her face when I dare and marvel at the wrongness of it. She's barely the age of my youngest brother, and this all hurts for so many reasons, but her face and her voice say that she doesn't let it hurt, not any more. I guess that I wouldn't either. I still wonder how we connected, why she decided that I'd be the one she'd talk to there. Because when I thought back on it, I realized that she had been my small shadow even in the days before I especially noticed her. And

Why I Do What I Do.

We slammed our bodies into seats, backpacks onto the floor, all in a rush of exchanging last minute greetings and reminders before our test in Augustine today. Hey! How're you doing? and Epistemic authority is someone who knows what they're talking about, moral authority is one that lives it out -- to be a good authority you have to be both. And I got teasing about not being at the Reformed Campus Ministry presentation last night -- yes, I hung signs for it, yes, I ran into some of the guys coming out from it, and yes, I was doing something else. Keith turned to shut up both me and Matt as we semi-argued about it. "I know how to get her there, how to make sure that she comes." "No, you don't," I said. "Yes, I do," he insisted. "Nuhuh." He grinned. "I'll get Professor Miller to come speak..." There was a second while my brain thought of our humanities professor -- who I loved -- but it's hardly failsafe. Then

Not-Real and Real

Lately I've been listening to a lot of music by Sandra McCracken. At first listen, her music does not always have the most polished sound. Or something. I'm sort of an atrocious music critic, because what sells me is the same thing that sells me on a movie: the story. And her songs have story. I've especially been appreciating her song Lock and Key . You can hold your world inside You can scream out loud Or you can fight these enemies And kid fears tonight if you want to You can drive your car out to L.A. You can lose yourself just to make your way You can change your mind Or change your name if you want to But you're under lock and key All by yourself And sometimes you just need somebody else I cannot read your complex mind I can't understand All the reasons why But if you let me in, I can try if you want me to And I can say I'm sorry if you wanna hear it It might be too little too late, my dear I can't take back the pain of all those years, but I want

Seeing Him

So, there's this video on youtube that I can't find right now. It was really cool. It was about how the world would look if we had special glasses that let us see what people were really thinking when they say things like, "I'm fine". The point being, of course, that we miss a lot of the needs around us because we don't look carefully enough to see. Today I've been thinking about what life would be like with a different kind of glasses. Ones that let us see God's grace. What would it be like if we could really see how good He is all the time? If we really grasped the depth and extent of His unmerited favor that He saturates us in? It makes getting to know people worth it. Because you generally have no idea of how they manifest God's glory until you know an awful lot about them, about where they have been, about what they have grown out of. I was thinking about it today during chapel as I was trying to figure out why I enjoy being with one o

The Dangerous Idea of Academic Faithfulness

As background to this post, my college is very fond of a book called The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness. I haven't read it yet, and maybe I should, but I keep seeing the title since my one roommate has it laying around. Today in Sunday School we were discussing prayer (also a staff focus at camp this summer) and how it works with being a college student and especially how it interfaces with being busy. And in the midst of this discussion, I began wondering if Christian schools shoot themselves in the foot at this point. You see, I understand that classwork is important. And academic integrity, yes, is important. And academic faithfulness also. But maybe, maybe, for some of us, the idea of academic faithfulness is no longer outrageous and sometimes it dances too close to idolatry and that is not faithfulness, not when it crams our minds and hearts and souls so that we feel that we do not have time for devotions and do not have time to truly rest because honestly some

How to Not Hate (by way of Dallas Willard)

I'm reading The Divine Conspiracy again. (Yes, Griffin, you may laugh now.) I read it in high school and I don't think I was terribly fond of it at that point, but I must have been impressed more than I realized, as I've been thinking about it a lot over the past year. Anyway. Here's a section that I read today and I really, really liked it. When I go to New York City, I do not have to think about not going to London or Atlanta. People do not meet me at the airport or station and exclaim over what a great thing I did in not going somewhere else. I took the steps to go to New York City, and that took care of everything. Likewise, when I treasure those around me and see them as God's creatures designed for his eternal purposes, I do not make an additional point of not hating them or calling them twerps or fools. Not doing those things is simply part of the package. "He that loves has fulfilled the law," Paul said (Rom. 13:8). Really. On the other

Postmodernism (now there is an aspiring title!)

I started college with a major in philosophy and dropped it to being a minor pretty quickly, because I learned that philosophy in college wasn't the same thing at all that my friends and I called philosophy. Which was a bit surprising, but okay. I still get to do what I love to do, even when I find the process a frustrating. (I was going to say "a bit frustrating", but I already said "a bit" in the sentence before, and it wouldn't be true, as my roommate can attest. I get very frustrated with philosophy classes at times.) Anyway. My particular area of interest in philosophy is postmodernism. I could talk about it all day, but I'm prone to writing long posts anyway. But just to give fair warning on what I think postmodernism is -- and yes, I do think that I have qualifications to offer an opinion, because I am someone who has grown up in a postmodern culture and been taught to think a lot -- here's what I wrote this spring in my "personal e

Following II (and Leading)

One of my favorite activities at camp is the Challenge Course, where we facilitate the groups of campers going through different challenges... point being, that they have to stretch themselves and work together. Afterwards we have a "debrief" where we discuss what went well, what could have gone better, what they should take on to the next challenge. Some of the challenges are on the ground, some are thirty feet in the air, and there is a progression in height (and physical trust!) thoughout the day. Hopefully. When things go well. Sometimes things do not go well and they argue and they are silent and they don't seem to learn anything and counselors go back to main campus at the end of the time and lay on the porch and moan. And we sympathize a bit with each other... and try it again the next week. One of my favorite elements is called The Wall. It's pretty simple. It's a wooden wall that is about ten or eleven feet high and the point is also simple, to get


It was the same thing that He had said at the very beginning. Follow me. And things had changed, He had changed the man's name early on, nicknaming him, calling him Rock instead of He Has Heard. And Peter had followed Him for three years, everywhere He went, seeing Him do miracles and shine in glory and he confessed Him Christ, the anointed one. Peter was always fast to talk, and it makes me wonder if his mother despaired at his name having to do with listening. Really. He was fast to speak up till that last night, when he said, all offended? seriously? that he would never deny. Maybe everyone else would, and would run away, but he would not. And then he did. Three times. And saw Jesus and knew his sin and wept. How do you recover from that? Even if Jesus said you were forgiven, would you believe? How about in the years to come, when He would no longer be there to run to, for Peter to look into His eyes again and reassure himself that the forgiveness was real? So I read John 21