BLAST in NYC . . .


So the trip to NYC w/ the EPIC crew was PHENOMENAL!  Spamalot is HILARIOUS!  I highly recommend it!!  Unfortunately, Hank Azariah’s no longer doing the show, and Tim Curry wasn’t at the matinee we attended, but David Hyde Pierce was great.  However, the star of the show – IMHO – was “the Lady of the Lake” (Sara Ramirez).  She used her voice as a comedy tool, and showed some amazing vocal control.  I think I’m in love  She totally rocked!


Then we went to a really nice Cuban Restaurant.  I dropped more cash than I was expecting, but it was TOTALLY worth it!


Next, the group walked to Central Park, and then they quickly returned to Jersey to check into the hotel, while I stuck around to meet up with Reagen at a bar.  Can I say how much I LOVE bars in NYC??  Yeah, 10 times better than anything we have here in Bmore.


Though, I find myself loving and hating the city simultaneously.  I mean, I think it’s awesome because it’s so diverse, and every neighborhood has a different feel . . . there’s so much to do, so much culture, so many great restaurants.  But at the same time, you have to deal with the throngs of people, the traffic, the funny smells, the filthiness.  It truly is a unique place.


The absolute BEST part of the trip was chillin’ with Paul.  After the bar, I caught the subway to his place in Queens, and we stayed up for hours talking and catching up.  Funny, we talk very often, but there’s just something about being in someone’s presence that makes everything seem so very different.  We slept in and on Sunday we grabbed breakfast and talked some more.  Bro, seriously, I love you so deeply.  Probably more than you’ll ever know, for even I have yet to tap the full depth of my love for you.  Thanks for being a great friend . . . and for wrecking me


Alright, kids . . . it’s time for me to head home and grab some din-din. 


Peace in da middle eas’!


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To put a cap on the previous discussion:


Cat, I think you’re catching my drift about missing the point on our understanding of “joy”.  Is there room in the Body of Christ for the depressed?  I look at people like Job – who suffered all kinds of things and was quite miserable, I’d imagine.  Hopeful, trusting, confident even . . . but miserable.  And then I look at the “man after God’s own heart” who rivals ME in bipolar emotions!  David was all over the map . . . at one instance very strong and brave, yet the next Psalm is filled with contempt and anguish. Is the sad, depressed Christian somehow “less-than-Christian”? Does he lack faith?  Perhaps not.


 

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The point of God . . .


Wow, I wasn’t quite expecting such long responses from people!  But then, with a question as magnanimous as this, what other kind of response could one give?


I’d like to thank each and every one of you (both online responders, and offliners) for joining in the conversation.  I’ve had some pretty interesting talks with folks about this. 


I think I was most struck by Ashley’s astute observation.  In many ways, I was taking the default modern philosophical position of making this an either/or scenario, when in actuality, I think it’s a both/and scenario.  It makes a lot of sense to me that we need God for various reasons.  I doubt that we’ll ever come up with a great “catch-all” answer to the question.


This notion of God’s glory was brought up by a number of people.  I’m in full agreement.  Though, whenever that particular argument is brought up, it always seems to come off as though we (I) don’t matter.  That God made this universe simply to show off or something.  He’s so needy, that He created us so that we could ultimately turn to Him and praise Him.  Huh?   I don’t mean to imply that anyone said such a thing, or even believes such a thing . . . but I have a hard time getting past that little hump whenever we speak of God’s glory.  So if anyone’s interested in continuing the conversation, that’s a great place to start


As for the Word (which Dave (not Worshipper) mentioned), I wholeheartedly agree that it’s a great starting place – a foundation even.  I have utmost respect for the Word.  However, I view it a lot differently than I once did.  And I interpret it a lot differently – which I hope is always the case, because I don’t ever want to fall into a place where God’s Word seems stale and old and less-than-mysterious.  But I found it interesting that no one has really brought up much Scripture in tackling this question. Anyone see a problem with that?  (I should note that I don’t . . . I think people know more Scripture than they realize, and they bring up their experience with it whenever they speak – they just don’t spit out a chapter and verse.)


Joe alluded to the “Christians are miserable” aspect (dude, you’re so predictable ).  I guess my question would be . . . does the paucity of Christians who have such joy ever make you think that maybe those few joyous ones you know are just lucky? Or simply have a wonderful neurochemical balance in their brains (i.e., there’s enough norepinephrine and serotonin to keep ’em smilin’) that it makes it easier for them to accept/live/breathe God?  It seems to me that to think otherwise would mean that those of us who are NOT experiencing joy are at fault for our misery.  “If only he had more faith, he’d be so much more on fire for God”.  Mmmm . . .yeah   (I’m not saying that this is what you are saying, but I feel it’s an important question that needs to be answered – keeping in mind that Christ said that all it takes is a mustard seed.)  At some point you begin to wonder if maybe Christians haven’t misinterpreted “joy” and “peace”.  Or perhaps misinterpreted just how awful it is to be wrecked by God.  No pain, no gain, right?  Perhaps it is the poor in spirit who truly see the Kingdom of God?


And last, but certainly not least . . . Cat brought up the awesome point about intimacy.  True intimacy with someoe you love means the whole world.  I’m sure we’ve all experienced it.  But I’m sure everyone has also experienced an inability to be intimate with God – for various reasons.  Take someone like me who’s love language is physical intimacy . . . how am I assured that God loves me?  How do I “feel close” to Him – and fulfilled by Him – when He has no arms to wrap around me?  How intimate can we truly be with God right here on earth?  And before anyone defaults to the “just wait for Heaven, it’ll be different” answer . . .let’s just count that as a given, and try to stick with where we are – right here on earth.  What about an abundant relationship with Him now? 


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OK, enough mental bantering.  Onto more personal stuff.  I’m SO excited about this weekend.  Gonna get to go to NYC and see Spamelot this weekend!  But who the hell cares about that?  I’m REALLY excited b/c I’m gonna get to see my boy Paul – the guy most near and dear to my heart.  Love ya, dude!


I have to look forward to that, becuase this particular evening, I’m super sad   Rebekah is finally gone.  I managed to get through the evening without shedding a tear, until we got to the security gate.  And then I cried for a good 5 minutes until she walked out of site.  Dang, I’m gonna miss that girl.  You really brought sunshine into my life, Beks. I love you dearly.  Don’t think that this little distance is keeping you from walking down the aisle with me


Anywho . . . enough for tonite.  Good night and God bless, one and all!

What’s the point of God?


I’m not trying to sound like an apostate or anything.  But after entering the worlds of Sean, and John, and Chrissy Jo-Jo . . . after having a glimpse into their hearts and lives . . .after sharing my own issues, I find myself wondering what’s the point of relationship with God? (Please note that I’m not asking this as a result of conversations with the above people, but as a result of many tangents my mind took while conversing with them, and those tangents now seek to be addressed.)


In many ways, I think I’m starting over in this whole Christianity thing.  I seem to do this about once every 2 years.  All I know is that nothing makes sense anymore.  All the “truth” I was raised on . . . it has an essence of truth, but somehow lacks the full realization of it . . .and my heart doesn’t really know what to do with anything anymore.


Admittedly, I fell into the trap of believing that Christ was there to give me peace, and joy (i.e., life would be happy pappy if I had enough of Jesus.)  So of course, being unhappy these last few years, Jesus ceased to make sense to me.  Then came a huge revamping and revitilization of my spirituality.  But I suppose the process has not fully unraveled as of yet.


So clearly, life is hard.  Shit gets rough.  God never promised otherwise.  I realize this now.  And somehow, I came to that realization without turning so bitter that I ran from my Lord (for long).  Yeah, got that. 


I heard a sermon by Ray Comfort the other day, where he basically posits that evangelicals made a HUGE mistake by turning the Gospel into a message of love, joy, and peace, because now we have tons of “Christians” who are coming to God and having no idea why.  They’re just sorta “trying Him out”, because they’ve tried everything else.  And then when they experience difficulties, they run.  I totally see his point . . . but his remedy to that is to return to an evangelism that’s based on sharing the law with people, so that they see their error, and thus know that they’re turning to God so that He can wipe away their sins.


There are some in my small group (not naming names, b/c I’m nice ) who totally jibe with this message.  Ray is a hero – to them.  But does anyone see a problem with this line of thinking?  I believe Mr. Comfort forgot to look at the full history, and to take into account some human psychology.  The reason evangelicals turned from that message, is because it quickly turns into a “turn or burn” philosophy.  Sure, you get people saved and they know that they’re coming to God because they are sinners and want those sins remitted, but the natural extension of that logic is that they often come out of fear of the consequences. 


So loving God to gain happiness doesn’t work.  Loving God out of fear doesn’t work.  What else is there?  The pomo in me says that there must be some transcendent view – though I’m hard-pressed to discover how to reach it.


I have a foundation to work with: there’s God, and there’s me.  God and I have this interaction, this relationship, this natural flow.  It’s real, and it’s present, and I can’t imagine life on any other terms.  But then what? 


I do hope it’s clear to everyone reading right now that I’m not in some faith crisis – about to walk out on God.  The truth of the matter is that I’ve found my “zone” (so to speak) with God, and feel quite close to Him.


But I still wonder what the whole point of it is.  Like, when people ask me why I bother with the whole Jesus thing, what should I tell them? 


“Dear sir, if you only KNEW! Just think for the low cost of your life, you too could learn the “joy” of being in relationship with Jesus – and your life could be just as miserable as mine!”  I’m being somewhat facetious, but the truth of the matter is that many of the Christians I know are quite miserable.  Some know it, but some are so pathetic they don’t even realize it!  Either way, they don’t lead a life that I find particularly pleasant, so I can’t really promote them as reason for an unbelieving world to accept Christ.  In other words, I can’t sell crap!  I gotta believe in what I’m selling.


If being with Christ opens you up to all kinds of heartache and pain, what’s the point?  What should I tell the world about Jesus?  Why should they want to know Him?


Thoughts and comments are appreciated


 

Catching up . . .


Had a groovy weekend!


It actually started off pretty rocky.  Friday night was just lonely and miserable   I shoulda driven up to Philly to see “The Devil’s Rejects”!  LOL. 


But I went to Blockbuster instead and picked up some flicks.  Fortunately, I was tired enough that I couldn’t stay awake long . . . so there wasn’t much time to be miserable about my loneliness.  But just as I was falling to sleep, I got a call from Shamyla, and we had an awesome talk.  She kept me up until 3am!  But hey, good talks with great friends are worth the exhaustion


Saturday, I woke up early to go to Bek’s good-bye breakfast down in Fell’s Point, and then we took her to the airport.  Glad I didn’t drive, b/c the more I thought about her leaving, the more the tears started form.


We get to the airport at 11:30am . . . and we didn’t leave until 5:30pm!!  Friggin South African Airlines decided to go on strike, so we were all over every friggin terminal in the airport trying to find her a way home.  Well, 6 hours later, and 3 cell phone batteries later, we managed to get her a reservation for this Thursday on Brittish Airways, HOWEVER, they won’t authorize her boarding until some other shiznit gets taken care of.  Eesh.


Oh well, c’est la vie.  I’m SO not complaining about a few extra days with her . . . I love her to death!  I actually proposed to her . . .but she hasn’t accepted yet.  I think she’ll see things my way soon, though


After that, I went straight home and cleaned up a bit before Sean came over.  Let me just say that catching up with old friends who know you inside and out, and who have nothing but love for you . . . is AMAZING!  We went to the harbor and walked around a bit, then went to Cheesecake Factory. I had such a good time just talking with him.  Everything from love to sex to politics to Church angst.  


We got up today and went to Cedar Ridge.  Unfortunately, Brian wasn’t there . . . but we got SUCH a nice surprise!  A couple of months ago, Brian announced he was stepping down as the Senior Pastor – which worried me, b/c it’s kinda hard to find someone to replace that kind of thoughtful speaker.  But the search committee found a REALLY great guy! The congregation should be voting on him next week.  He spoke today, and seemed to be a great fit for Cedar Ridge.  He loves missional work, is all about the Kingdom of God, and he’s a Brit (with the great accent) to boot!  Hubba, hubba


So yeah, I’m somewhat relieved. I still feel confident about leaving Trinity.


Anywho . . . after service, Sean and I went up to Red Robin to have lunch with the EPIC crew.  We had a ball!  Thanx for a great day, Sean.  I love ya like a mofo!  Hope to see ya next week at the Ridge!


So it’s been a great weekend.  At the moment – sitting here in this computer lab – I feel that loneliness coming along again.  I guess in my heart of hearts, I just wish I had that someone special.  Unfortunately, all such special people seem to perpetually elude me  


Oh well . . .life goes on . . .

I’m not perfect . . . don’t wanna be either . . .


I must say that I’m REALLY enjoying this whole non-depressed living thing.  Still confused about plenty, but at least I’m not standing on the sidelines any longer.  I’d rather be out there living (even if it’s living wrong at times) then being “good”, but not living.


This week has been fun so far.  Had a decent time Tuesday nite w/ the Regen fellaz.  Still don’t know if I trust ’em, but there’s one guy there who’s really cool.  Later that night I got to talk to Jon – one of the best guys alive.  Dang, it’s nice to catch up with old friends.  And apparently, we’re gonna get to meet up in NYC soon!!


Pretty psyched about meeting up w/ another buddy this weekend.  If all goes as planned, Sean will be staying over Saturday night, then we’re gonna head down to Cedar Ridge on Sunday and have some fun afterwards. 


It would certainly be nice to be able to say that life was all grand . . . that there were no problems in the world to deal with.  There’s still pain to sort through, but it’s tolerable.  I can deal with it.  I guess Lance was onto something when he said to just “sit with the pain.”  It hasn’t destroyed me! (yet)  I hope this current trail I’m walking down continues.  I don’t know where I’m going really, but I’m enjoying the adventure anyway.  Thank God “being perfect” isn’t a prereq for having relationship with Him.  It’s nice when you can finally comprehend the words “come just as you are.”


OK, I’ve procrastinated enough.  Gotta get back to work!


Peace out, party people!

Oh to be known . . .


So the popular answer to the previous query seems to be “to be known”, with a “to be noticed” as a close second, though I strongly feel that the latter is pretty much only meaningful insomuch as it leads to the former.  Interestingly, these very short, seemingly “simple” answers to the question are very deep and profound.  It is amazing how much people search for acceptance and strive so fervently to be known.


I guess the follow-up question would be . . . when is it enough?  When are you known enough?  In my own case, I have lots of friends – tons even – yet I still find myself desperately looking for someone to love more, care more, and show me that I’m special to them.  I try to convince myself that having really good friends is enough, yet I still pine.  But would even a romantic relationship fill the void?


And if not, then would ANY relationship fill the void?  I’m sure the bullshit, pat answer “a God relationship” is dripping off of many of your tongues now . . . it’s certainly the first thing that comes to MY mind.  Yet my experience with God – as amazing and loving as He is – is that no matter how close to Him I feel, no matter how much I seek/pray/sit/wait/yearn/struggle, the longing still remains.  Anyone got any prescriptions for THAT?


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In a totally different vein, I had a fabulous weekend!  Saturday started off rather slow . . .just went shopping.  But then I met Diem for dinner and we saw “Wedding Crashers”.  Admittedly, ’twas a bit raunchy at some spots, but if you’re in the mood for mindless comedy, it hits the spot!


Sunday I went to Trinity for the first time in a long time.  I was quite apprehensive about it . . . but I’m finding that I’m OK with things.  I didn’t throw up ONCE through the whole service   I’ll be glad to get back to Cedar Ridge though. 


After church, I had a BALL w/ the EPIC crew.  We had a nice bbq to celebrate Rebekah’s departure.  It was a happy time for a very sad event   I’m really trying not to think about her leaving.  I don’t think reality has quite taken hold yet.  But when I see her off at the airport Saturday, I’m expecting lots of tears.  This girl means the world to me, and I can’t bear to watch her leave

The male ego . . .


Went to a club last nite (Iguana Cantina) in Bmore.  I must say, I’ve never been to a Bmore club before, but I’ve always heard they’re not NEARLY as nice as D.C. clubs.  I now have reason to believe that!


Hey, at least I had good company.  As usual, it was great spending time w/ my boy Tom, as well as his buddy Abhijeet.  Mad cool guys.


I did a lot of people watching (that’s what I always do ), and from a sociological standpoint, the whole concept of people deriving such satisfaction from a little booty shaking is quite intriguing.  Not to say that I’m above that . . . I rather enjoy it myself, but the WHY of that has always been a question.


At one point, the 3 of us were heading towards the dance floor, and I see this couple ahead of us going full on.  Very desperate.  Very sloppy.  Very “french”.  And just as I’m passing them, she turns around so she can get her ass up into his crotch, and she bumps me.  She immediately puts her hand on my shoulder as if to say “I’m sorry”, and the proceeds to rather seductively run her hand down my body!


And I’d totally be lying if I said I wasn’t turned on.  I kept moving of course, b/c I’m not all that much into orgies, ya know?  But in retrospect, I’m rather amazed at how much moments like that can feel so REAL.  They can touch you in such deep, emotional places.  It’s as if we had this amazing connection, and for one brief moment were lost in our desire for each other. 


How fragile the male ego must be to feel that one sensual, alluring moment could be indicative of reality.  Well, at least MY ego is fragile.  But I’d be hard-pressed to find a guy who wouldn’t be captivated by such a moment – who wouldn’t feel desired.


It just makes me wonder . . . what are we looking for?