Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two Talents Instead of Five

Thanksgiving is next week. A few days after that is my birthday. I have a great deal to be thankful for. I have a job that, though it doesn’t pay very much, doesn’t leave me feeling miserable at the end of each day. I have a great family: parents, siblings, a few close cousins, etc. I’ve been able to see and experience some pretty amazing things in my life. I’ve dug for dinosaur bones, been the producer and co-host of an international award-winning radio program, and walked atop the white cliffs of Dover. I currently live in a rural and somewhat remote area and I sometimes joke with people that it would be nice to have some friends, but the truth is that I have friends literally spread around the world and many of them I’m still on a good basis with. Also, even though I’m an impoverished American (poverty in America is much different than the rest of the world), every one of my needs has been provided for. My faith is the central core of who I am and God has been good.

Yet, despite all of these blessings in my life, I find myself struggling to be content. Most of my friends from high school and college are now married and have families of their own. Most are earning incomes of thirty, forty, fifty, and some close to a hundred-thousand dollars a year. They have their own homes and drive around in vehicles that aren’t on the verge of breaking down and falling apart. Some have gone quite far in their chosen careers and are now in positions of power and prestige in their communities.

I try not to compare myself to any of that. But it’s extremely difficult sometimes. I was born poor. I’ve tried to rise above that while still truly living life to the fullest, but the fact is I’m still poor. I don’t own a home and though someday would like to, I know that it might be financially impossible for me to ever do that (besides I have wanderlust I constantly have to deal with). I drive a car that is seventeen years old; being poor and already in debt doesn’t allow for one to do buy new cars. As for matters of the heart, I’m pretty much a complete loser in that aspect and though I’m content being single, but I can’t deny that I’d really like to be married someday. As for careers, well, neither of the professions I chose to pursue thus far have turned out very well. I really want to make movies and write. I was supposed to go to film school several years ago, but gave that up to get a teaching certificate instead. I can make a great teacher, but that field hasn’t turned out very well and the politics of education in America has soured me about it. In all honestly, instead of teaching I’d much rather make movies, but finding those opportunities with hardly any experience is incredibly difficult where I’m at right now. I’d move to a better locale, but moving requires money and once again I’m back to being poor. (As for writing, I do that and do it well. I just may never have the connections to be able to turn my writing into some sort of income.)

Lately, I find myself thinking about Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matt. 25:13-30). In that parable a master gave one of his servants five talents, another two, and another one. He did this just before he left on a long journey that he might not come back from. But he came back and we he did he went to those three servants to see how well they did with what he gave them. The guy with five doubled his, the guy with two doubled his, but the guy with one buried his in the ground. The guy with five and two were rewarded but the guy with one was literally thrown to the wolves. I don’t think I’m like the guy who just had one and then hoarded it. I’ve never really imagined myself as the guy who was given five either. Instead, I’ve always felt I was more like the guy who was given two. He wasn’t given very much, but he doubled the investment by the time his master returned. The thing I keep thinking about is the servant who was only given two talents. He started out with only two while his friend was given five. The guy who was given five talents had a huge advantage over him. I know the master only gave them what they could handle, but that still doesn’t stop me from pondering what would have happened if the servant with two had started out with three talents instead of two.

As Thanksgiving approaches with my birthday soon after, I have to remind myself that I only have control over what has been given to me. Other people are not you. Even though I wrestle with tinges of jealousy when I see my bosses son’s new BMW or hear about another girl I was kind of attracted to now dating, engaged, or married to someone else or find out about a friend’s recent promotion, I won’t let those feelings of jealousy control me. I’ve lived, and not just existed, a pretty good life so far. I am blessed and God has been faithful. Despite not being where I would like to be or doing exactly what I want to, I know things are going to turn out. Life moves too fast for me to compare myself to others and I am what I am.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Can Do More Than Imagine

A few years ago a Christian band named Mercy Me released a song entitled "I Can Only Imagine". The song was huge on Christian radios stations (and is still played rather frequently) and many churches and para-church groups use the song as a praise song. Basically the gist of the song is that a believer can only imagine and really has no idea what it will be like when they die and go to Heaven and meet Jesus face to face.

What a crock. First off, if you can only imagine what Heaven is like, then apparently you haven't read the Bible very well because there are some fairly vivid descriptions of certain things to be seen in Heaven. Besides that, if you can only imagine, then you haven't lived much of life, either. I'm not that old, yet, but there are times in my life during certain events and experiences that I know I've tasted a bit and been given a glimpse of Heaven here on Earth. Granted, sometimes it wasn't until after those moments had past that I realized the significance of what had happened. But still, it happened.

Perhaps instead of singing about only imagining, you should walk outside and actually do a bit of living, and not just existing, first.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama's Faith

For a fascinating interview with President-elect Barack Obama about his faith read this article. It's pretty clear from the interview that at the time Obama was a unitarian universialist, possibly growing into a deist.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

THE SPIRIT Should Bomb

While waiting for the new James Bond movie to start last weekend, I saw a trailer for an upcoming movie entitled THE SPIRIT. It's from the mind of Frank Miller and done in the style of SIN CITY. However, I'd advise people not to see the movie. Why? Because it's going to be terrible. How can I say that, you ask. Well, because of this one line taken straight from the movie"

"I'm going to kill you dead in so many ways."

I think Uwe Boll can write better dialogue than that.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I recently finished reading a book that I really enjoyed. The book is entitled Jesus Made in America and is written by Stephen J. Nichols. It's a book that I think every Christian in the U.S. should read. Many of the Nichols' major points are things I have seen and felt, too, but he expresses them much better than I ever could. The book has eight chapters and is basically split in two distinct parts. The first four chapters focus on the history of Christianity in America and how Jesus has been viewed differently from the Puritans until now. The second half of the book (last 8 chapters) focuses on how Jesus has been used, abused, and debased in our culture, specifically through music, film and television, merchandise, and politics. I've selected a few passages that I found particularly relevant.
On Traditions:
"Jesus, like most cultural heroes, is malleable....But there is something peculiar to the tendency to contemporize in American evangelicalism.....American evangelicals reflexively harbor suspicions of tradition. In fact, most tend toward being rabidly antitradition. Consequently, the past is overlooked as a significant source of direction. This leaves American evangelicals more vulnerable than most when it comes to cultural pressures and influences. In absence of tradition, we tend to make up a new one, one not tested by time and more or less constructed by individuals or by a limited community....This is the tendency of Americans in general to be not only amnesiacs of the past but to be amnesiacs who aren't necessarily looking to be cured." pp. 10-11 (emphasis mine)

On Contemporary Christian Music:
"All of these songs focus not on any act of God in history, not on the concrete events of Christ's life and death and resurrection. These songs all lack exactly what Jon Fischer lamented as a lamented as a great loss, linking Jesus' love not to anything done in history, but to the personal experiences of feeling Jesus near, of feeling him close during those hard times. Like a good boyfriend, Jesus shows up at the right moment, says the right thing and knows how to hug. Take out the name Jesus that occurs from time to time and these songs could be sung to a boyfriend....It becomes hard to not see triteness in much of the lyrics of CCM when so many artists speak so glibly and vaguley of the love of Christ, reducing it to romantic notions and mere personal experience. It also becomes hard not to see how this love sung by Christian artists is on par with the way love is handeled in the non-Christian songs adolescents also listen to....The longing to express a deep devotion to God is laudable. But caution enters in when that longing coms in a theological vacuum." pp.140-142

Importance of Nicaean and Chalceonian Creeds:
"American evangelicals have sterling proficiency in the realm of subjective and experiential. But not all of the answers to life's questions come from within or com from our own time. If American evangelicalism will ever land on that crucial life-giving Christology it will have to deal with the fifth-century council of Chalcedon as well as that fourth-century one at Nicaea....The Bible and these councils save us from our limited perspectives and our cultural static. In one sense, then, we can answer the question concerning how we construct or deposit of faith in the twenty-first century by telling ourselves that we don't have to start from scratch....These creeds and the biblical texts they are fashioned from provide the church with its perennial theology, which the church in any country in any century simply cannot afford to live without. From the vantage point of the past, we can cast a more critical eye on the present." pp.224-225.

"To start, it may be helpful to listen to Scripture first, then to tradition, then to experience rather than the more typical reversal of that order. Listening to tradition means not relying on our own resources to solve all of our own problems or answer all of our questions. It takes humility to look to the past. And it takes humility to submit to Scripture." p. 225.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Praying for an Elijah

I'm praying for an Elijah.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Expanding My Horizons

This past weekend I took a trip up to Chicagoland to visit some friends. It was really good to see my friends and it was a nice little "vacation". In addition to getting away from the hustle and bustle around me and spending time with old friends, I always find it fascinating how many opportunities present themselves during trips like that. I'm a person who wants to live life to the fullest and here's a small sample of how my horizons were expanded this weekend.

1. I dressed up like a penguin. I've been wanting to do that since I was three. It was also the first time I've dressed up for Halloween in about a decade.

2. I tried sushi for the first time in my life and enjoyed it. I look forward to trying it again in the future.

3. I was introduced to the the comedy duo "Flight of the Conchords" and loved them. They are hilarious.

4. I was introduced to the cable show GOOD EATS on the Food Network. It interests me very much. The host Alton Brown has lived a life and has a career that is similar to what I want to do

5. I ate a Chicago-style hot dog for the first time in my life.