Splashing around in theology.

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Location: Ottawa, Canada

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

Sunday, May 28, 2006

22 Years [and a day!]

I have only thought of it now, but yesterday was the anniversary of a significant event in my life. My spirit-versary, the anniversary of the evening when I “accepted Jesus into my heart as Lord and Savior!”
Whoa! Whoa!
Don’t change the channel folks!
Let me explain!
No… you have not all of a sudden been re-routed to Pat Robertson’s 700-Club or the nearest Benny Hinn charade-fest!
I am being serious here though. On the evening of May 27th, 1984, I heard the Gospel message being preached and I bowed my head, raised my hand, and prayed the prayer. If you think that I am going to make light of that decision, well, I am not.
But at the same time, I am going to take a look at it from the perspective of 22 years later. [Well, 22 years and one day!]
For some readers, the term “accepting Jesus” is a term denoting nothing more than a bunch of religious chicanery, double-speak, or outright nonsense. For some others, there are no connotations that come to mind. The phrase is void of all meaning. For others, it may even constitute blasphemy. Typically though, there are few of us that have not heard the phrase “born-again Christian” at one time or another. You yourself either are one or know someone who claims to be one, am I right?
Well, inasmuch as no one has ever knocked on my door and asked me to hand over my membership card, I still am a born-again Christian myself.
But am I? I mean, really?
Well, if I were put on the Hotseat [wherever this is]… if I were interviewed by the Orthodox Christian…. Interviewer-Guy… probably, fairly soon into it, a big buzzer would sound and the floor would open up underneath me!
I would fail the standard quiz.
Because I have changed in my opinion [my assessment] of a lot of fundamental doctrinal points. [I’ve talked about this before, on godpuddle, so I will not go on about it again].

To the steadfastly orthodox, [in any of the big-three Western religions, really] change [deviation] is not seen as some sort of umm… beneficial option.
In other words, focusing on Christianity, when looking at what it typically MEANS to say “I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior” it may be best to begin with what it does NOT mean.
On the day that one becomes a “born-again Christian” one is NOT saying:
“Today I begin an open-ended spiritual quest wherein I will be allowed to embrace all that resonates most soundly with my own inner being, and will encompass that which most fully enhances my evolving understanding of truth and harmony.”
Quite the opposite is the case, in fact. [Again, what you are about to read is my own personal opinion, not an actual established creed].
But typically, when one accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s personal savior, what one is saying is:
“Today I begin a boundaried spiritual journey that puts an end to any previous or future spiritual mystery, for Jesus Christ is now my Savior which is to say my All in All, and I shall seek to conform the questions found in my inner being to the answers provided in the Bible, to the exclusion of other spiritual truths that may be available elsewhere.”

Essentially, this is what being a born-again Christian is.
Finding a big huge ANSWER.
Not asking a big huge QUESTION.

The effect of such a decision can be profound, and radically life-changing, as was the case in my own life. This is why I do not belittle it, in any way. Finding big-huge answers can sometimes be the very thing one needs.
And really, there is no religion that does not acknowledge “need" even if expressed as “desire” in its devotee, its adherent, its follower.
Such a decision can contain within it, immense power. Mind-boggling power.
Martyr-making power!
It can be, as with other faith-based decisions one may make, something that only intensifies [grows, builds] as time goes on.
Then again, it may wane.
It may waver, undulate. For most people it most certainly does this.
With time, it may fall away altogether.
With others, it may mutate. Change.

This is what it has done, with me. This last thing.
It has changed.

I wonder sometimes if the catalyst for change [religious change] isn’t plain old insatiable inquisitiveness. The return of the questioning aspect.
What I am wondering, nowadays, is how it is that some people can live the next 100 years of their life, never asking another single question regarding their initial faith-experience. I’m not saying that there is something inherently wrong about living this way.
I am just wondering how it happens.
I am just saying that any faith… any religion that requires us to quit asking questions…. and I mean ANY questions… that religion cannot be my religion.

So…. cut to the chase…. WHAT AM I nowadays, 22 years later?
Am I a person denying my initial faith experience?
Not at all.
Faith-wise, I do not regret a moment of the last 22 years. All of it is a harmonious part of who I am today.
Am I still a born-again Christian?
My answer to that would be….. WHO CARES?

What I am most concerned about nowadays is whether my inner being is at odds with my outer being.
Do I believe what I believe because I believe it, or because I am supposed to believe it? [This is merely another way of asking if what I believe about spirituality and “God” is congruent with the most honest and deepest levels of my inner being.]
This is what I see now, as being of utmost importance.

Someone: “My friend, you could be very content in your inner being and be totally wrong about your overall spiritual state.”
Me: “Perhaps, but that’s for me to worry about. Not you.”

Back then, 22 years-and-a-day ago, the most important word for me was “salvation.”
Nowadays, [and I am not exaggerating] I think it should be a non-word.
Because I can’t know who is saved [even if it’s me] without also knowing who isn’t.


A Clear-Thinking Gen-X'er!

I am still recovering this morning from a day of being radically sunburned, chopping wood for a friend. And with friends. It was fun, but exhausting.
I came back home only to fall down onto my bed like a split log.
This morning I happened upon a really neat clip of a girl by the name of LaDonna Witmer, [shown here] speaking her mind on matters religious... and identity in general.
It was my Sunday church service.
I hope you like it, too. [Click]

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wise Words

A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.
-- Carl Sagan

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Heaven Club

Note: The following blog was previously posted on the Award-Winning blogsite called Bookpuddle©.

The Heaven Club!
One of the things I love most about weekends is that I can sleep in like crazy. Like a tranquilized rhino, on Saturdays and Sundays I just stay in bed until I totally don’t want to.
Then, when I finally do get out of bed, I flick on the TV and there will be back-to-back re-run episodes of one of my favorite shows of all time.
Will & Grace.
Few sitcoms make me actually laugh out loud. Will & Grace is one of them.
I just think that the premise of the show is so good, the writing is so witty, and the actors are so fabulous.
This morning…. well, early afternoon, I just roared! [Like a rhino].

Scene: Jack and Grace were in the kitchen where Grace was preparing supper for Will and Karen, who would soon be returning from a gruelling day of legal work.
Jack is so impressed with Grace’s preparations.
He turns to her and says, “You know Grace. You’re so nice. If you weren’t Jewish, you’d go to heaven.”
During the live audience’s uproar of laughter [and mine too], Grace quits stirring the bowl of whatever-it-is. And then, perfectly timed, she says, “Thanks Jack. And if you weren’t gay, you’d go there too!”
LOUDER laughter, as Jack nods and has that “touche” look on his face.

Why does that scene so work?
Why is it so funny?

Well, I think that it is so hilarious because it plays right into the absurdity of the notion that we can KNOW [or think that we know] who it is that will or will not go to heaven!
When all the while we simply cannot possibly know such a thing!
Believe me when I say that I know there are people… zillions of them in fact, who think that they DO know exactly the groundrules for membership in The Heaven Club.
In other words, they know that if a person does not hold to a particular precise belief system, this fact alone guarantees that the Gate will be shut to them, later on.
I would not at all dispute that we can BELIEVE this.
But I would totally argue that we can not KNOW this.
I would tend to say that we cannot even possibly know this for ourselves, much less apply it to the future disposition of other people.
And you know what is funny?
There are people who, hearing me say the above, would conclude that such a personal statement ensures that I myself will not make it in!
Because surety is Rule #1.
And that statement hacks it to shreds.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wise Words

God can do anything. Except change Himself into a rock with no powers, then change Himself back again, because then He would never have been a real rock.

-- 8-year old Madeleine McCarthy, in Ann-Marie MacDonald’s The Way The Crow Flies --

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Meeting Manji

Today I finally purchased this one book I have been ogling and flipping through for a long while now.
It’s called The Trouble With Islam Today. Perhaps yesterday’s movie [see previous blog] inspired me to look into it a bit closer today. The book is incredible, and the author [shown here] fascinating as all get out.

Irshad Manji.

She’s been dubbed, “Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare.” She takes that as a compliment.
[I have a hunch that Monsieur Osama has a few nightmares worse than any involving Irshad Manji though…!]
I am just amazed at how fearlessly outspoken Manji is! I am only partway into the book but it seems there is nothing about the Quran or Islam in general that is going to escape criticism of one kind or another. And she is so witty about it, while maintaining a deadly seriousness. One of the things that I find so interesting, is that Manji retains her faith. In other words, she is a Muslim…. but not in a conventional sense. No, she calls herself a Muslim Refusenik.
She makes me think of me.
I call myself a “Christian” still. Yet I am extremely critical of so many aspects of conventional Christianity. Perhaps I am a Christian Refusenik, and I know it not!

One thing, early on in the book, is very worthy of note.
Manji answers the question implied in the title…. she says, “The trouble with Islam today is…..” [I pause… so that you all can say it with me, before even reading on…. come on now, if you’ve been reading this blogpage for any time at all, you will know what she is going to say………]
Manji says that the trouble with Islam today is... “that literalism is going mainstream, worldwide.” [p.3].
There it is again. Literalism.

If someone were to ask me what the biggest trouble with Christianity is today…. I would say the very same thing, for starters.
It’s going mainstream, worldwide.

The Tom Harpur lecture I attended recently was no different. When asked why he calls himself “an uncomfortable Christian” Harpur replied that it was because he is grieved about “the large pond, or lake, or slough of literalism into which Christianity has fallen and cannot extricate itself from.”
I so agree.
[Interestingly, at this same lecture, Harpur directly referred to two authors who should be read in a far greater measure than they are currently being read. One was the iconic Harold Bloom. The other was Irshad Manji]!

In my own outlining of what I call The Three Pillars, my first point is this very thing, concerning literalism.
1) The thoroughgoing literal interpretation of Scripture. That’s got to go.

I am excited about this book.
The next chapter I am about to read is entitled “When Did We Stop Thinking?”
I ask myself this question every day, and endeavor to make it apply to myself as little as possible!

Meet Manji, here.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

United 93

I went to this movie today.
How would I describe it?
Probably the word “important” is the first word that would come to mind.
And important is an understatement. It’s a movie I think that everyone should see.
I know that there are those who feel that United 93: The Movie is a gross exploitation of a horrid event. A theatre-izing of something so tragic it should be left alone.
Why though?
Is it because someone will make money from the movie? Is that it?
Is that why we should leave it alone, and not try to put it on the screen?
Or is it because it was about something in which real people were involved… in other words, because it is based upon an actual event so tragic that it is offensive to even think about what happened on Sept.11th, 2001? [It should be noted that the movie was made in the full support of the families of those onboard that fateful morning.]
Is it [any objection to the very existence of the movie] based upon the idea that portraying it like this, on the big screen, cannot possibly relate what actually went on, and to do it in this almost docu-drama type fashion [falsely] implies that this is pretty much exactly what occurred? Hence, because of unavoidable innacuracy and possible misrepresentation, we should leave it alone?
Would we say the same thing then, of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List?
No one got all upset about the possible inaccuracies of say, James Cameron’s Titanic, even though the film is also based on a very real tragedy. Are these two examples irrelevant because they were not ever claiming to be docu-drama? Is it because the events are so distant in time?
Is Sept.11th still too fresh then, is that it?

Director Paul Greengrass does a tremendous job of taking us through the events of United Flight 93, dovetailing in real time the confusion ensuing as Air Traffic Controllers and Military Command Centers struggle to make sense of what is happening.
To say “you are really there” would be wrong.
Only the people that were there, were there.
But I would say that I think it is about as close as we can get and still be alive afterwards.
In the last portions of the movie I was crying.
And then I was the last person to leave the theatre.

I have never in my lifetime heard such reverent silence, at the end of a movie.

I went to see United 93 based upon several outstanding reviews, along with reccomendations from a couple of friends. Plus, I will admit, I went to see the movie because of my own interest in trying to get within a million miles of grasping how or why something like this event happened in the first place.
In this last sense, the movie did, I think, portray in an “important” way, the true nature [as I see it, and understand it] of why Sept.11th, 2001, happened.
To some, this [what I am about to say] may seem like an insanely stupid oversimplification, but I am going to say it anyway.
The catastrophic human events of Sept.11th, 2001 were a result of certain people being so certain of their religious beliefs that they felt entirely justified in destroying not only themselves, but other people as well.

Click to see more.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wise Words

Heresy is another word for freedom of thought.
-- Graham Greene

Monday, May 08, 2006

Giftings Revisited: HUNCH vs. PUNCH!

Regarding my Saturday blog entitled “Giftings” I received some great comments that I would like to sort of respond to.
Anyone who is reading this current blog and has not read the previous one, I would encourage you to do so now.

In response to that blog posting, Cold Molasses [who happens to be a personal friend of mine… no less than one of the Ents, as it were…] said the following:

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"?

He raises some really good issues.
I will start with the last paragraph, and answer the questions.
What drives my “hunch” factor, and secondly, what it is based upon, is mostly feelings. I guess that is what I mean by using the word “hunch.” Also, it is why I prefaced my comments at the time with the proviso:
My belief that God “gifts” us, is a belief that I hold in faith.
There is no tangible reason I should believe this.
Really, I am being sincere, there is no tangible reason I should believe that God “gifts” us. A lot of my feelings on the subject are based upon my own acknowledgment of personal giftings, followed by the question that I ask myself, “Where do they come from?”
If I go with the genetic answer, or even that of early childhood conditioning, I am always struck with how different I am [in my giftings and general temperament] when compared to any of my four siblings. When it comes to it, we all of us might as well be from different planets.
[I would venture to say that any parent with more than one kid can vouch for the fact that they often wonder if the Milkman really did slip one past the goalie somehow! No?]
Is there a thought process that I work through to come up with my “hunch” regarding giftings?
Not really.
Being totally honest here. It is [I admit] one of those things I am somewhat CHOOSING to believe.
In my blog, I went on to say, in a sort of hyperbolic way… All of this blog, and not only this one, but all of the previous ones…..is a hunch!
In a one-on-one conversation with my friend [the writer of the comments, the asker of the questions] he implied that if this is the case… if all of my blogs on godpuddle ultimately constitute sort of a “hunch”…. an “opinion” [if you will]… then this fact [or admission maybe is the better word] sort of nullifies the PUNCH of what it is I am saying.
In other words I have violated a standard of consistency.
I tend to disagree.
The reason I disagree is because when we are discussing theology, really there is never any point where a final conclusion is much more than a hunch or a deeply felt decision that is fraught with all mannner of subjectivity and personal opinion. What are we to say? “I base my beliefs on……. the Bible?”
Well…… is that not…. a HUNCH?
None of my previous blogs have been ex cathedra statements about anything that could be construed as ULTIMATE TRUTH.
Rather, what the blogs on godpuddle are intended to convey is an element of questioning that is too often [in my opinion] lacking in most theological discussion.
What I am saying here, in a roundabout way, is that for me to posit anything as being objectively true [as true and applicable to you, dear reader, as it is to me] it is necessary for me to appeal to something beyond myself [as in God, or Scripture or the authority of the Church or its representatives]…. and this is something I will no longer do.
I have done it, yes. But I will no longer do it.

And so, what I mean to say is that even in my former blog, entitled “The Hand Of God” where [yes] I am proposing that God does not directly intervene [interfere] with the affairs of our lives anywhere near to the extent that we attribute His involvement…. even my stating of such a thing is based upon a “hunch”. My feeling about the issue at hand.
It is then up to each reader to ask themselves how this [and not only that one, but all of these blogs] measure up to their own “hunches” about things [theological principles].
In the end…. all we have are our hunches.
Anyone who declares something about God as being unequivocably TRUE, is in danger of SEVERE WRONGNESS.
The answers are out of reach.
But the questions are not!

This is why [in my blog] I qualify even my own statement about beileving IN God, by making sure that readers understand that I am declaring Him to be, “the indescribable, indefinable, ineffable, God.”
Even in ascribing those three words to Him, I am declaring that I believe in Him, based upon a “hunch.”

So, moving on to the topic of “interference”…. or, more specifically, my apparent contention that there is no incongruency involved in believing that God “gifts” us, yet does not seem to “intervene” in our lives.
Firstly, I think this is a very valid issue to explore further. I see where the question is coming from. I admit, it does seem that I am either schizophrenic, or high on benzene!
However, I would point to the analogous situation of my belief that God is the creator of the world, yet He seems to not interfere with our potential to destroy it.
For instance, if I believe that God created the world [which I do, based again, upon a hunch when it really comes down to it], does this mean that I [ipso facto] believe that He sustains it?
Not in my way of looking at it anyway.
What I mean by this can be illustrated by the fact that my belief that God created the ozone layer around the earth does not necessarily mean that I believe He will protect it from the fluorocarbons and carbon monoxide that are currently intent upon destroying it!
No. I believe that He does not intervene, as such.
I believe we could literally fry ourselves to death with UV rays because of our love of hairspray!
Similarly though, if God “gifts” us, as human beings, with the gift of having propensities and abilities that not only make us unique but allow us the potential of living valuable and fulfilled lives… do I necessarily believe that He is “forcing us” [as another respondent said] to REALIZE these giftings?
But the respondent [rantandroar] went on to suggest that if we, in fact, do not fulfill these giftings, then this implies that God is deliberately “frustrating” our lives.
I disagree again.
I do not see it that way. I would say that WE are the ones who are frustrating our lives.
God gives… but His only other option is to NOT GIVE. Which would be the better thing?
If I give my nephew the bike he always wanted for his birthday, and, instead of riding it, he throws it off a cliff…. I think it is pretty much a waste of time to go on and on about the deficient intentions of the gift-giver.
In my own life, I am profoundly aware that to the extent that I have not realized [actualized] my giftings it has always been an aspect of my own fear or [I’ll say it]…. STUPIDITY that has thwarted my degree of fulfillment.
If I have not followed my bliss or been able to follow my bliss, the reason lies at my own doorstep.
Never has it been God [granted, my conception of God] who has tripped me or thrown something in my way. Again, even this is a personal opinion. [Hunch].
Someone else may feel that it is “God” that has kept them from realizing goals, but I will never believe that this person is travelling down any sort of Transcendent Highway I myself want to be on!
Another respondent [who does not appear on these pages, does not write to my blog but writes to me personally] suggested that the reason I feel the way that I do about this issue has everything to do with my own experience in life, regarding “giftings.”
With that I agree.
I myself am a textbook case of unrealized potential.
A prototype of personal failure, in many ways.
But I can honestly say that I am not bitter about it. I am saddened, but not bitter. Bitterness requires external projection. [What is known as “blame.’] You can only be bitter towards something, while sadness is more inward.
Sadness means I can be honest about something that is less than it ought to be, while remaining thankful and utterly grateful for what might have been, and what still could be.
And in this sense, external blame [or projected frustration… the fist shaken in some direction] is non-existent!
And having said this, it is for all of us to come to terms with the way we “feel” in regard to our current levels of “life-fulfillment.”
The great psychologist Abraham Maslow would have called it “self-actualization.”
Joseph Campbell called it “following your bliss.”
What I find difficult to deny is that every person is unique, and has giftings that transcend our rational explanations as to why these giftings, these abilities, should exist as they do.
To go back to the “creation” motif… I would say the same about my belief that God is the designer of the human body.
I believe He is.
But... not all people are healthy.
He does not intervene as much as we would like to think He does. But [it is my "hunch"] that only God can come up with the design of the body, even if He chooses to let evolution be His wheelbarrow.
Thing is, if I smoke cigarettes and live on a diet of wieners and other foms of lard-cylinders, I am probably going to be gasping for air a lot sooner than the non-smoking vegan-jogger over yonder.
And yet, that guy may keel over long before I do!
I may be around to toss my sixteen millionth cigarette butt into his grave and walk right on over to the nearest hot-dog vendor for a juicy bratwurst!
I find that there is often very little observable correlation between what OUGHT to happen to us, and what in fact, DOES happen to us! In this sense, what God intends for us may never, in fact, be realized. I have a hunch that the greater majority of people never experience it. Never live to their full potential. Never truly follow their bliss. And whether they do or not [in my opinion] has very little to do with God's direct up-to-the-minute intervention in their lives.

The questions that have been raised by not only these two readers regarding this blog, but other readers, regarding other blogs, are the very reason that I write what I do on this page.
*** May the above, this response of mine, never be construed as an ANSWER.***
But just some further hunching about my hunches.


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.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wise Words

The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less.
-- Arthur Miller (1915 – 2005) --

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