Splashing around in theology.

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Location: Ottawa, Canada

I read lots. I have a cat. I drink coffee. Therefore, I am.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
-- Romans 11:29 --

Wanna talk a bit about giftings.
Is that OK?

The New International Version is a bit clearer than the old King James Version, above. The NIV says:
“For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

First of all, I believe in the existence of God. A “god” that is separate from us human beings… in other words, not a figment of our imagination. Rather, this God is the reason that we HAVE an imagination! Having said this, the God I believe in is yet subject to our imaginations, and hence, diverse! This God does not declare Him or Herself unequivocably. The indescribable, indefinable, ineffable, God.
Capital “G”.
The god who deserves upper-case designation.
Let me call him He.
He gifts each of us.
He gives each of us special giftings. Things that we are especially attuned to.
Things that we can especially do. Things that we can especially perform or desire to perform. Things that we can understand in greater depth than someone else, whom He has gifted in some other area, where we are most likely deficient.
GIFTINGS are the reasons we differ, as humans.

My belief that God “gifts” us, is a belief that I hold in faith.
There is no tangible reason I should believe this.
Someone else may acknowledge that different people gravitate to certain abilities as a result of other reasons, even if those reasons have no ultimate god-like source. Even if those reasons are entirely random, conditioned, or the product of a healthy or inhealthy womb, as the case may be.
And granted, an impregnated woman who drinks pure orange juice every morning is more likely to give birth to a “gifted” child, than one who drinks turpentine for breakfast.
I acknowledge that fact, and I do not make light of either contingency.
A mother who is “on crack” is less likely to push out an Einstein after baking the thing for nine months.
Point taken.
But, on the flipside of the coin…. there is no commensurate sort of corrollary principle to apply to those completely doltus-headed mothers who have birthed geniuses! Sometimes “giftings” go far beyond progenitry.
Children surprise us, time and again.

The reason I am even looking at this thing [this issue] at all, is because I have become intrigued by Joseph Campbell’s phrase, “Follow thy bliss.”
It is something he used to tell all of his students.
“Follow thy bliss.”
Follow that which most moves you. Follow that which most excites you. Stirs you. DO that which you are most suited for, FOLLOW that which most makes your heart beat!

Let me back up, before I get too far afield.
[Some of you may be already saying to yourself…. “Oh, this time, he does not have a clue what he is talking about.”]
Let me assure you…. you are right!
All of this blog, and not only this one, but all of the previous ones…..is a hunch!
But I have a hunch that there is something within all of us that speaks most directly to the core of who we are. There is something for which we feel we are most suited, most equipped.
Because of diversions, roadblocks that get thrown in the way of our true heart’s desires, we get thrown off these paths, and thrust into occupations that so take us off of our true path, that we even forget what we were meant to be.
But the angst is there. We know we are missing something.
God, if there is one at all, in your schema….. this God must be chagrined at your confusion. Yours and mine. He put you here for a purpose.
I am not talking about being a missionary in Borneo, or being a nun, or being a priest, or being an evangelist….. NO.
I am talking about being an actor, a plumber, a computer technician, a guitar-player, a sheet-metalist, a boiler-room operator, a songwriter, a graphic artist, a politician, a poet, a cab-driver, a surgeon, a dentist, a pilot, a veterinarian, a greeter at Wal-Mart, a teacher, an astronaut, a popcorn expert.
In other words, there is no reason [I really believe there is no reason] why we need to assume that the giftings that God grants us are limited to some sort of God-ish thing.
God’s greatest desire [I believe] is that we are fulfilled in our lives. In that which occupies our greatest amount of time spent on earth. Our vocation.
If we cannot find a way to “follow our bliss” in that which comprises the bulk of our time and energy [our jobs] I believe that we need to seek these areas out in the other time we are given.
For me, this [currently] means the other time of the day and night. The time when I am NOT at work. That is sad….. but it is not TRAGIC.
It is not a death sentence!
Many people are in a similar place.
They spend the greater part of their active day in a place where they are not especially “gifted.”
I am one of those people, so I know what it is like.
For me, “following my bliss” would mean firstly, being a professional musician.
Secondarily, a writer.
But I am not professionally employed in either of these pursuits.
Should I go kill myself, then?
No, I should acknowledge the fact and then do what I can, within reason, to compensate for, or change it! To redeem the rest of my available time and energy.
It is profoundly important though to be aware of those realms in which we are most gifted, and to do the most with them as we can…. not so much to PLEASE GOD, as to please OURSELVES!
And in this, I think we, in turn, please God!
Because these gifts COME FROM HIM. From God! This being said, He is ALREADY pleased with us!
Our acknowledging our giftings is going to please US, more than it pleases God.
He is not jealous of this. This is His gift to us. Ourselves. We are our gift. He is the giver.
If we cannot fulfill our giftings in our place of employment, I believe it up to us [individually] to seek their fulfillment elsewhere.
And to the extent that we succeed in doing this, we enjoy life.
In turn, we are one with God. Harmonious.

When a NASA scientist launches a mission, is he [or she] doing what God has gifted them to do? Only they themself can answer that question. Maybe that person comes home afterwards, and feels more fulfillled in writing a poem about the sunset that day. Only they themself know what is truer to their inner being. To their inner bliss.
When Mick Jagger swings his hips on stage in front of 50,000 screaming fans, is he doing what God placed him on this earth to do? Only he [Mick Jagger] is able to answer that!
When a cab-driver goes home at night after navigating a thousand streets, does he know that he did what God put him on this earth to do? To deliver ten drunk people home safely? Only he [the cab-driver] knows this.
When a cable TV installer solves a crucial problem for a client, putting a TV where a TV was previously thought impossible….. is he or she doing what they were put on this earth to do?
I don’t know.
Only THEY know!
All I know is, I could not do it. I would have drilled holes in every wrong part of every wrong wall, till the entire house could drain spaghetti! So this other guy, the cable-guy is “gifted” in ways that I am not! It’s quite obvious.
“Well, he did not get an ultimate fix out of it!” says the Devils' Advocate.
Well…. then [I believe] he is obligated to find out where his ultimate fix comes from, and go there, after work…. because this is what God has called him to! This…. this thing, this other thing is why he is here, among us!
Find it.
Do it!
It is thy bliss!
Follow thy bliss!

Any time we can look at someone else, and recognize something in them that goes beyond what we ourselves could do, we are recognizing God’s unique gifting in them.
This means that when I am at a Sheryl Crow concert and I see her playing guitar in a way that I could never play it, and singing a song that I could never sing, and she wrote it in a way that I never could have written it… then, in all of these aspects of actuality, I should acknowledge God’s gifting in her.

I could say so much more, along these lines.
But I won’t.
Suffice it to say that what I believe the verse in Romans [above] is telling us [rather unequivocably] is that once God gives us these gifts, He does not take them back.
He does not charge us for them for being overdue, in their non-usage.
This is good news.
I’ve got gifts.
You’ve got gifts.
They come from God, and God’s not interested in taking them back.
He does not need them.
So……. use them.
Follow thy bliss.
Would that someone preached this to me, when I still had my custom-built Milestone drumset.



Blogger Cold Molasses said...


I struggle with your blog entry. Not because I don't share this belief. No, moreso because I struggle with the logic of it in the context of your other postings. Now, it doesn't need to be logical, so don't get me wrong. It's fine for you to believe whatever you believe. My challenge, though, is understanding the "hunch" factor.

Let me explain my curiousity. In other posts, you talk about God not being a hands-on God (if I can refer to it as that)...you know, not (usually at least) interfering in our lives directly. So I struggle with your premise that now God has directly impacted EACH of our lives in the MOST INTIMATE way...by defining for us what our gifting (or bliss) is...which will, to a large degree, influence our happiness and contentedness for all our lives.

Again, this is not a criticism but moreso raises a question I'd like to explore more with you. And that question is...what drives your "hunch" factor? What is the basis for the "hunch"? Is there a thought process you go through along with the "hunch" factor or is it solely a "hunch"?

Just curious...maybe we can discuss over coffee!

5/07/2006 2:03 PM  
Blogger cipriano said...

Cold Molasses.
It was great to have coffee with you and the other Ents this evening.
These questions are so good, so relevant, that I want to address them in an entirely separate blog rather than here in the comments section, as soon as I have some time to do so.

5/07/2006 9:45 PM  
Blogger RantandRoar said...

I have a hunch you where in another world when you penned this thought. As argued last night, if god has given us talents or gifts, then is god not interfering directly in the lives of humans by forcing us to decide to use them or not? (Example: the man who has a real talent to play the drums but is not in a band or ever gets to really even play them casually, let alone for a living. This person is probably going to feel frustrated that the drugery of work to make a living overshadows the natural yearning to play the drums in a great band to make a living that way.) So in my pathetic example, the person's life is very directly interfered with if god has given these talents and like CM says, you have opinioned that god does not interfer with us earthlings.

So, I must seriously question your hunch. I must say that if you are to stick with the original hunch of non-interference, than giftings would be more likely a cause of genetics, surroundings, era, etc.

As you can see I am a little less diplomatic than CM, but then it's a gift!

5/08/2006 5:52 AM  
Blogger sanyavich said...

Good Lord Jack,
Now you know I love you but I have so many issues with this blog and yet it raises many important questions in my own mind which must be answered. I personally think you should rethink the whole thing. I know I have rethought it about 3 times since I read it.
I think my biggest problem with the whole thing is that it feels like an article written by jerry falwell(or whatever his name is)I can here your background in theology and its style of reasoning. My god man I almost went into a protective coma.
I think I know where you're coming from. I think the most important part is the idea of "vocation" and what it can mean to a persons life if and when they find that vocation.
I think the "god given gift" does not exist and quite frankly I am surprised you buy in.
As far as my vocation/giftings go I have not really found any unless you consider screwing up my friends religious beliefs a gift.

5/08/2006 7:38 PM  
Anonymous patricia said...

Hmmm... interesting point of view.

Being an agnostic, I can't really accept that my gifts are 'God-given'. I don't know where they came from. I'm just very thankful I have them. And as I get older, I am more and more thankful every day, and try and do the best that I can with these gifts.

When I am feeling low about my creative career, or doubtful, my Anglican church-going mother always likes to tell me the parable of the Talents. I do enjoy it, and it helps me to put things in perspective.

But in the end, I much prefer Joseph Cambpell's take on the whole thing. More to my liking.

5/22/2006 6:08 PM  

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