What’s Love Got To Do With It?

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This year has been a year of change. I graduated from Social Work School. I became a substance abuse therapist as I ended my hope of returning to vocational ministry. I embarked on a journey towards whole body health in preparation of the end of my “young adult” years. I became a father. I celebrated the 10 year anniversary of me finishing my undergrad studies and embarking on a life changing adventure in Kenya. I look back on these past 10-years and am amazed at where I find myself.

I have not always been the best at reflection and healthy processing. My natural state is to push through the moment or risk getting bound by reflection and mired in a melancholy state of being. In this state I do not really do much of anything but regret, hope, pine, and have the occasional moment of clarity. There has been a common theme in my life that has come to my attention, the search for identity.

I have been on a quest to discover who and what I am for as long as I can remember. I am not sure if I had any solid identity growing up. I can remember ebbing and flowing amongst my friends and contemporaries likes and dislikes. I was a very impressionable youth that most aptly played parts over lived life. I tried to fit in and be affirmed by damn near anyone. As an adult I am not sure this was a bad thing. As a youth it led to a series of heartaches and many bad decisions in my quest to identify with others and find a place in this world.

In the last 10-years I have discovered my place in this world and am recently becoming comfortable with it. I have chased myself in seminary and sought to get answers in answering a call. I chased identity in a bottle and found myself struggling to understand my destructive side. I have come to grips with my battle with food and moving through the unglamorous addition to food. I have found and lost an identity as a minister. This may have been the most painful of lessons for me to learn in the past 10-years.

I discovered a depth of love that I have never known in my partner, friend, and love, Mere. I found a piece of me in marriage that I adore. And it has been this love that has delivered me to my most human of identities, fatherhood.

I have only been a father for 5 and a half months. Yet, I have dreamed of this identity for decades. In middle school I dreamed of being a husband and father. It has always been a matrix to which I have measured myself; the dream to which I lost myself in the most. Now that I am a father I dream different dreams.

I stare into my sons eyes and see my life reflected in him. I want so much for him. I want him to be compassionate, caring, and loving. All of these things I hope to model for him to learn. I want him to be happy and learn early on that happiness is an inside job and that who he is today is wonderful. That he is fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s Image. I want to spare him the ills I suffered for being a chubby kid. I want him to avoid the painful humiliation of poverty. I want him to speak truth in a way that is peaceful and full of truth. I want him to appreciate the beauty of life and wander more than he searches this world for the thin places.

I would love it if he played First Base for The Los Angeles Dodgers. I would settle if he never played football or grew up. I want him to never forget that I love him dearly and that those hushed whispers of dawn were in fact my hungry heart willing my love around him. I want him to know his smile makes a bad day good and that I am proud to be his father. I want him to know that if I ever depart this moral coil early, that I will do all that is possible to watch him from afar.

My search for identity has not ceased. The shame, guilt, or woe of who and what I am, is no longer the sharp pain it was. Rather, those emotions are the currency to which I paid for travel to this place of fatherhood and I regret none of it.

I hold my son in my arms and reflect on the pride my parents had in holding me in their arms. I see the painful struggles of poverty that eventually split my parents. I see the joy in their eyes as they watch me hold my son with tears caressing their cheeks and pride illuminating theirs smiles. The hurt of my youth is not trivialized as much as it is put in to perspective. I have always been loved, even when I did not feel it nor had the ability to realize it. The search for identity was about finding a place to be loved. I had that love all along. The one thing I want my son to know is that I loved him before he was born.

I loved him when I was lost amongst the living trying to awaken to love. I loved him as he grew in his mother’s belly. I dreamed of his face as I felt his internal kicks for liberation. And now that I see him that love continues to grow. I love myself because I was a party in loving him to life. And if he doesn’t play for The Dodgers let it be anybody but the Yankees or Giants.

Strange Flowers & Transformative Goals

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I first arrived in Kenya dark in to the night.  I landed at the national airport, with all of its hustle and bustle, and was quickly driven to a convent where I would stay for the next month.  I awoke to a garden of strange flowers and a lingering feeling of, “What have I done?”

 

It had not set in that I was indeed in Kenya.  I carried this feeling in to my first experience, staying with a host family.  I was warmly welcomed in to the home.  Fresh green beans were being snapped at the table by a kind, grandmotherly woman as another woman read a Bible.  I was delivered to a room where I was invited to rest.  I feel asleep and did not wake up until morning.

 

Black faces greeted me everywhere I went.  A sea of Kenyan beauty welcomed me and invited me in to various adventures.  My host sisters took me along to the public pool, then to a chip shop, and finally we went to a football match.  All the while my heart pattered with fear that someone would discover my secret.

 

At the football match a near riot broke out and police upon horseback flung long tree branch switches at the crowd to ward them off.  Those with tickets sought shelter inside the stoic concrete structure and waited for the Harambee Stars to appear.

 

I stood out in the crowd.  A lily-white face trying not to fear.  A privileged, white, American holding on to the supremacy embedded in his national origin.  I bit my lip as a group of “Banga Boys” poked and prodded me with questions and assumptions.  I felt nervous as I was asked about random strangers that I was supposed to know.  I sweated, as I was held accountable for the actions of our President and his growing “War on Terror.”  I prayed that no one would find out about my secret.

 

I had hoped to bring God with me to Kenya and be a part of building a better nation there.  I had hoped to make restitution to those I had judged, hated, and condemned due to the color of their skin.  I had hoped that I might find peace and forgiveness for the actions of my past.

 

I was in the upper sections of a World Cup qualifying match, watching Kenya play Malawi.  With every taunt, rib, and goal I wrestled with myself.  I talked with God.  I nervously talked with my host sisters.  I dreamed of home.  I mourned who I was.  As the game went to full time I got up and walked with the crowd.  I left who I was there in that seat and was now searching for who I was to become.  I knew then that things could never be the same.

Tener una Coca-Cola y una Sonrisa.

hecho en mexico

 

Have you ever had a feeling that you could not describe?

 

Something moves you to indescribable heights.  You have experienced it before.  It is like an old friend that you talked long in to the night with way back when.  Y’all moved on.  Distance clouded you.  You never forgot about them.  Maybe you looked them up from time to time but convinced yourself to not bother too much time has passed.  One day y’all connect and it is like no time has passed at all.  You make promises to stay in touch.  You do well for a few months.  Life gets busy.  Things pile up.  You are stressed.  Y’all lose touch again.

 

Hope is like that for me.

 

Deep down inside I am an eternal optimist.  I do in fact believe that in the end of my life I will be able to look upon it and witness much more good than bad.  The hope I hold on too is easily shaken.  Like my old friend when the going is good I am all in.  When the tough gets going it becomes a little harder for me to stay in touch.

 

This semester has been very tough.  I wrestle with my place in the church.  I am frustrated and angry about my experience as a minister.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  I am thankful to be able to attend social work school.  I delight in the education I am obtaining.  This semester my health lapsed and it has been harder for me to do what I normally do.  I can’t seem to get enough rest and my stress levels are taxing.

 

I am nearing the end of the semester.  With the prospect of a summer internship and no classes for 13 weeks I am hopeful for the future.  I am worried about the now.  I have failed at being present in my daily life.  My spiritual life suffers.  My physical exercise has banished.  My health waivers.  My hope has been very low lately.

 

I went to the stop to get dinner this evening.  I passed the case with Mexican Cokes inside.  I love these things!  I can’t have them due to my diabetes.  My wife can have them.  I grab 2 and put them in my cart and remind myself to not forget them.

 

I walked around the store talking pictures of saints, candles, and cookie jars.  I wander through the aisles pondering what is calling out dinner.  I started thinking about all the work I have to do.  I wrestled with the thought of me not being good enough or smart enough to do doctoral work.  I started in the negative self-talk.  I got real bummed.

 

I went to check out and had to wait about 10 minutes in line.  When I got there I unloaded my groceries and paid for them.  As I put my bags in the cart to leave I noticed the Cokes in the cart still.  I grabbed them and informed the clerk that I intended to pay for them and forgot to.

 

The man behind me, whose groceries are now being processed, says, “May I buy them for you?”

 

I was floored.  My first thought was to deny his request.  He’s a stranger.  It’s only a couple of dollars.  But I obliged his request.  He smiles and the clerk smiled.  All down the line folks started to smile.  I shook this mans hand and thanked him for the kind gesture.

 

I left that store and made dinner.  I am now remembering all the good times me and my pal Hope have had over the years.  I ought to call her more often.

Have I lost the ability to hear the Pips?

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It is Good Friday of Holy Week. I am not feeling all that holy or good. I have not been able to sleep all that much this week. It’s been restless sleep and the inability to relax. I feel like I am dropping the balls I’ve been juggling the last few months one by one.

 

This morning I got up at around 4:40 AM after having gone to bed around 12:30 AM. I tried to nap around noon but could not. So I prowled like a panther around OKC looking for something to do.

 

I went to the mall to look for a new pair of shorts. The mall was crazy busy. I left and went to go to Old Navy. I realized that I haven’t fit the Old Navy demographics for at least 7 years. In the hunt for something to do time flew by and by the time I decided to go to a movie any of the movies I would go see for this time were already deep in to their screening.

 

I bought a ticket for “Spring Breakers” without knowing anything about it. I thought it was a raunchy, teen coming of age flick in the vein of One Crazy Summer or the 83 Spring Break. I grab my popcorn and soda and find a seat in the farthest left corner. I like to be away from folks in a movie. Crowds bother me.

 

There were only 3-4 folks in the theater with me, all of us male. All of us white. I was the youngest by 30 years. I was not so creepy until the movie started.

 

Within the first 60 seconds of the film we were bombarded with a parade of topless women in sexually suggestive situations being doused with alcohol by young men sporting board shorts. Then it cut to these same young women, still topless, eating popsicles and giggling as they fondled each other, seemingly testing their sexuality for the sake of pleasing the cheering mass of board shorted young men.

 

I fought with myself wither to leave or not. I reached out to twitter and began a running commentary of what was going on in the movie. I kept hoping for redemption to arrive. There was a character that went to a fungelical church led by an ex-biker type male pastor.

 

The film follows the antics of 4 collage friends that feel trapped and boarded by their surroundings. They long to be liberated from their average middle-class, Caucasian, university backgrounds and to taste the danger in leaving it all behind. Three of the women use drugs. I would use abused drugs if there were greater evidence that the habits portrayed in the events of the film were more representative of their daily lifestyles.

 

They do not have the financial means to leave where they are and go to Florida like everyone else at the university they attend. They ramp up the drug use and playful explore the abandoned university world around them. Then they get loaded and decided to rob a fast food restaurant to get money to go to Florida and have the spring break experience they dream of.

 

In a very violent act three of the ladies (the “good” one that goes to church doesn’t participate) don ski masks and rob the store. This empowers them greatly and they in their drug educed fever play hip-hop in the background and get pumped up. They get on a bus to Florida, ready to party!

 

There they get caught up with some shady folks and end up in jail. A local drug dealer sees them in court and decides to bail them out. He begins to groom them. They party together. The drug dealer (played by James Franco) introduced them to the local underground scene.

 

It gets real bad real quick. Soon 2 of the friends are in a relationship with the drug dealer and they commit crimes with him and eventually do really crazy stuff. The movie if filmed with massive amounts of flashbacks and cut scene. It is sort of confusing and didn’t really make sense until the very end. Then I saw the director, Harmony Korine.

 

Harmony is best known for his efforts with Kids and Gummo. He is bizarre and surreal. He once followed Macaulay Culkin around NYC shooting strange photos and publishing them in a poem books with oddly spaced and scattered verses. This film was strange, dark, and absurd.

 

It also struck a nerve with me. It was an interesting look at American Exceptionalism and the excess of consumption as it travels through these shifting sands of economic, political, and generational angst. It was a stark reminder at the bleak world view so many recent college grads face. The search for real community and a place to grow resonated with me deeply.

 

I found myself judging the 4 friends experience as foolish, selfish, dangerous, and fueled by privilege. I began to wonder if my critique would be the same if the film revolved around male characters in an era more familiar to me. Did the gender and empowered exploration of identity and orientation challenge my liberal leanings? Did the setting of 2012 American Florida hit too close to home and disable my ability to suspended reality and allow me to face the injustice in my own ways?

 

I suspect both of these questions would reveal that I did have difficulty with these powerful wildly exploring female characters and that I am romantically holding on to my youthful context as exceptional and to be the lynchpin of understanding as positive solutions are explored to understand these changing times. In short, I realized I am The Man.

 

Around the time I realized I was judging these woman harshly the movie shifted gears and hyped us up with the introduction of Franco’s character. He was far easier to dislike and relate too.

 

What was the lesson in this film? I am not sure there is one. I have spent the last 5 hours searching my soul, heart, and mind as to why this film dislodged me so deeply. I am captivated by the loneliness and isolation of these women in the midst of what many of us would deem “normal.” I wonder where I went wrong and when did I stop listening to this generation. I swore I would not do this to them. How long have I treated them as I have been treated?

 

I still listen to the Pips but I have lost the ability to hear the Pips.

Shocked & Awed!

Yesterday was not a crazy day at all. I ran 9 miles in preparation for this Sunday’s race. I felt really good about it. I could have run another 4 miles, so I am feeling confident. I am practicing the Zen Meditation and am really enjoying it.

The day has been a welcome relief from the crazy that seems to have inhabited the last 6 months. I have been pummeled with “bad news” one after the other. It has been a learning period like no other that I have had in my life.

I have been reframed, refashioned, and renewed. It is been tough but I am thankful for the renewing of my mind and the reboot to my body. I have had a lot of time to devote to my self and the healing, processing, and reflecting I have not had time to do in my life.

I have grown. I have changed. I have reclaimed much of what I discovered about myself while in Kenya. I have awakened a deep spirituality inside me. I have mourned. I have celebrated. In it all I have been.

All of this makes yesterday all the more awe-inspiring. I was centering myself to attend my first church meeting with Trinity PC (the call I start on May 01). Then around 4:00 PM I checked my email to see if I got anything from the church and noticed an email from OU.

I opened the email and read it. I read it again. I asked Mere to read it again. I asked her what she read. She said, “Well, it says you got in.” It said I got in to the University of Oklahoma’s  Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work. I got in to the school I had hoped for.

I was admitted to the part-time class. It’ll take me 3 years rather than 2 to finish this degree. I am floored. I am in awe. I am shocked. I cannot believe it. I wanted to pray about it and sleep on it before I said anything.

I am thankful for this. I am not sure how we will pay for it but I am sure God will forge some way. We have been at this together for some time now. I appreciate the journey you all have been on with me. I am thankful for the kind words, the prayers, the encouragement, the affirmation, the ass kicks, and the love you all have showered me with these last 6 months particularly.

Dawn has broken and the sun is shining after the rain storms. The birds are singing. The cats on the prowl. Thanks be to God. Thanks be to God.

I’m wondering how it feels for you?

One of my favorite movies is “Once.” Even better is its soundtrack. I have listened to this album countless times. I am always moved by its beauty and hunger in the midst of complex emotions.

I would like to think I am a person comprised of complex emotions and a dynamic zeal for life. I would also like to imagine myself as a debonair, game playing sort of fella but that is utter fantasy.

I am who I am. I am not surprised that my heart visits the song “Say It To Me Now” again and again. I have been very stressed out these last few months. I am entering my fifth month of unemployment. Being unemployed has forced me in to conversations and realities that have been very difficult. I have had to fully redefine who and what I am in light of this call upon my life.

The very fabric I fashioned my masculinity from has been torn and the role I have been trained in since birth, the provider, has fallen away. The adopted and learned roles of spiritual director and minister have faced uncertainty at best and have encountered indigestible doubt at worst.

I listened to the words to this song again,

Scratching at the surface now
And I’m trying hard to work it out
And so much has gone misunderstood
This mystery only leads to doubt
And I’m looking for a sign
In this dark uneasy time

So if you have something to say
Say it to me now

And I’m not trying to pass the buck
I’m just trying to get a better look
And I’m wondering how it feels for you
Now that the shoe is on the other foot
And I didn’t understand
When you reached down to take my hand

And if you have something to say
You’d better say it now

Cause this is what you’ve waited for
A chance to even up the score
And as these shadows fall on me now
I will somehow
Cause I’m clearing up this wreckage Lord
And there’s more than you’ve ever seen before

So if you have something to say
Say it to me now

 

I have found myself bartering with God. If you do/allow/give/provide X I will do/not do/be better at Y. Come on God you got to give a little to get a little. And God knows I have little to give. The days following my departure from my last call were some of the darkest days of my life.

I read, “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross, to compare notes and hopeful awaken from my torment. It did not help me. I was an inconsolable mess. I made plans. I schemed. Nothing I tried offered relief from the crisis of the soul I was in.

I joked about it. I did all I could do but embrace it. I begged God for a way out, a way forward. I got nothing for months. I worked out. I have spent an average of 10-15 hours a week at the gym.

I tried volunteering with limited success. I wrote a little. I created a lot of art. I still asked God for answers.

With hope on the horizon I pray that whatever God is going to say that it be said now. I am beyond weary. I am beyond begging. I am beyond doubt. I am not sure I have any more depth to travel with or on. I dare not give up God. What would I be left with but a fool’s prize?

I love the ending of “Once” because it is a hard and real ending to a complex human problem. There is no neat, nice bow to wrap up the story. Some times life is suffering and the momentary glimpses of grace and love are worth it. Some time those momentary glimpses of grace fuel that insatiable appetite for more and we are never satisfied.

If I have learned anything in this process it would be that life is not a road map to be traveled in strict guidelines. Some days you will need to follow the map, some days you will be better to go off the map and travel by sight, and some days your vehicle will break down or the road you want to travel will be closed and there will always be a detour offered.

It may be time for me to accept the detour and be ok with the human condition that prompts the human ending.

I am burning with envy

My cousin Jimmy sent me a link to this…

I loved the Hulkster as a kid. I still hold a great admiration of this living legend. I used to watch wraslin’ every weekend with my family. It was our thing. My dad would cook burgers or hot dogs and we would watch JYD, Hulk, Tito, Coco, Macho Man, Big John, Piper, The Animal, Andre, Bundy, Moraco, Hercules, Funk, The Dragon, Superfly, The Snake, Dibiasi, Rude, Beefcake, and Volkoff battle for square circle dominance.

I remember the match when Hulk Hogan broke the Iron Sheik’s ultimate move, the Camel Clutch.

This match changed my life. I wanted to be a real American. These words filtered through my ears to my heart.

I am a real American, Fight for the rights of every man,
I am a real American, fight for what’s right, fight for your life!

When it comes crashing down, and it hurts inside,
ya’ gotta take a stand, it don’t help to hide,
Well, you hurt my friends, and you hurt my pride,
I gotta be a man; I can’t let it slide,
I am a real American, Fight for the rights of every man,
I am a real American, fight for what’s right, fight for your life!

I feel strong about right and wrong,
And I don’t take trouble for very long,
I got something deep inside of me, and courage is the thing that keeps us free,
I am a real American, Fight for the rights of every man,
I am a real American, fight for what’s right, fight for your life!

Well you hurt my friends, and you hurt my pride,
I gotta be a man; I can’t let it slide,
I am a real American, Fight for the rights of every man,
I am a real American, fight for what’s right, fight for your life!
I am a real American, Fight for the rights of every man,
I am a real American, fight for what’s right, fight for your life!

Even this day when I see the Hulkster I am reminded of that adolescent idealism. I still want to fight for the underdog. I still cannot let oppression go unchallenged. I still loyal to those I love.
Now I expand the scope of those I love. I seek to lessen the suffering by my direct hand and by the things I should do and do not. I pray that I am filled with courage, strengthen, and joy to be a Kingdom Builder. Hulkster told me to say my prayers and eat my vitamins. I do and I pray that I never cease fighting.

I sign off burning with envy that Jimmy got to be in the shadow of the Hulkster.

The Outsiders?!?

“You can’t win. You know that, don’t you? It doesn’t matter if you whip us, you’ll still be where you were before, at the bottom. And we’ll still be the lucky ones at the top with all the breaks. It doesn’t matter. Greasers will still be Greasers and Socs will still be Socs. It doesn’t matter.” These words uttered in the film “The Outsiders” capture my feelings at the moment. I wonder if this is the festering attitude in the church these days.
We fight each other for orthodox supremacy. We assert that our opinions mirror the call for Christ. We separates ourselves into self identified “us” and “them”. We line up as if to wield our bodies at each other in an ecclesial game of Red Rover.
WTFWJD? I ponder this often these days. I look at the horizon of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) and wonder, WTFWJD? I feel very strongly that the exclusion of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) members of the church in all areas of service in the PCUSA is a tragic injustice. I have little compassion for the “opposition” and view them in dehumanizing ways.
I am angered that it is an issue at all. I see this issue tied up in money, power, and property. I am sad that I look at this issue with competitive eyes. We must win! Then I hear, “You can’t win. You know that, don’t you?”
Deep down, I fear that I do think this. The real issue is not one of win, lose, or draw. It is a matter of “us” and “them”. The PCUSA is sharply divided in many areas over this issue, with each side digging in their heels to fight the other.
What happens if one side definitively wins? What happens to the other folks? Do they quietly retreat to the opposite corner and receive a reassuring you’ll do better next time? Do they victoriously wrap themselves with a flag and stand on the top turn buckle? The worst part of all of this mess is that we are missing the call of Christ in loving each other.
We fight and as we do we paint the face of the “opposition” as demonic and unchristian. We seek to attack and remove them as far as we can from the divine mandate and holy canon. It is easier to believe someone wrong if you cannot love them or see them as Christ sees them.
The PCUSA has sought with great care and deep compassion to endeavor together towards the gospel message of transformation and radical reaction to the pervading systems of this world. We seek to honor and up hold all voices present and heed the warning of human pride.
Where have we failed? This is not as important as how do we show grace. No matter the solution to this current roe in the church, mercy must be a part of it. Not a mercy bucket, but a mercy tanker. Mercy must flow from all available sources into the assembly.
We must pray with and for each other. We must answer the radical call to love. We must release our preconceived notions of who “us” and “them” symbolize. Mercy must be a part of this dialogue!
Today’s daily lectionary gives us this from the Gospel according to Matthew, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today (chapter 6:25-34).”
“Do not worry about your life…” Mercy must be present in this absence of worry. “It doesn’t matter if you whip us, you’ll still be where you were before, at the bottom. And we’ll still be the lucky ones at the top with all the breaks. It doesn’t matter. Greasers will still be Greasers and Socs will still be Socs. It doesn’t matter.” It doesn’t matter who wins. We are still sinners in a sinful place looking for salvation.
No one but Jesus has the market on salvation. You, me, no one gets to make up the rules on how that salvation is accessed. There is no right or wrong, no Jew or Greek, no free or slave, no greaser or soc, no us or them. We separate ourselves from the presence of God as we fight each other upholding justice and commanding restoration of our rightful place.
I feel very strongly that justice is being with held from our GLBT brothers and sisters. I also feel that we need to walk in mercy and grace as we seek resolution to this injustice. We need to return to the humanity of the people that this issue entails.
Us, they, and them are real people with breath, divine love, and stories. Mercy includes effort and investment. God’s mercy involves the death of Gods Son, Jesus Christ. We are all Greasers pointing fingers at the Socs. We all claim to be the lucky ones (the elect) with all the breaks. In the end only God determines the Socs and the Greasers. Where does your trust lie? In what does your trust lie? Only mercy, grace, and forgiveness will whip you and bring you from the outside.

We don’t need no…

There is this movie “Maxed Out”. It is about the current and growing problem of debt in America. It turns out that the American dream includes debt so great that one losses hope.

Thursday Senate passed a package of tax breaks and other steps designed to help businesses and homeowners weather the housing crisis. The problem is that this is largely a break for builders and folks that prey on foreclosing properties. This bill will not help the average person faced with the loss of their home.

So the Senate gets together to pass legislation that protects the nation from this impending recession. Only it shields the rich and deepens the poor. Seriously folks, WTF?

When will the average person get a break? Where is the middle class we so proudly honor once a year? Where are our inaliable rights to exist and shed this oppressive cog-like machine we call a country?

The tyranny knows no color. You just have to have green. What does this say about the church?

We at the PC (USA) are in the midst of a slow death rattle with sparks of hope. I do not think that we are unique to any religious organization in America. We all are in hard times.

I write this at the end of a three year long journey into ministry. I am faced with a financial reality that hurts beyond words. Looking into the eyes of someone you love and hearing, “it will take 35 years to pay off your loans”, hurts. It hurts deeply. It shakes the Sovereignty of God in ones life. It clouds all sense of right, wrong, just, and unjust action. This kind of hurt reveals “the face of the other”.

I have witnessed oppression. I have been a part of oppression. I have been oppressed.

I ponder the emotional state of our nation as we beg, plead, and barrow our way into the American dream. What have we given up for these conveniences? With a sad heart I urn for yesterday when America was truly hopeful.

We are surrounded with dreams, wishes, hopes, and imagination. In this sordid world can these dreams exist?

Where is the hope for the young couple that scrimped and saved to buy a modest house? They are a success story of the American dream. They are now being removed from their dream with no place to go. They will be marked for financial ruin. Where is their hope?

Can the church bloated with bull shit polity and self indulgent dialog reach out and walk with them? They could and they should, but will they?

What will we say against this continued plight? Who will speak for “them”? I am tired of the lame ass excuses for us not living into who Christ has called us to be. If we really believed what the gospel said we would dissolve every asset this denomination has and give it to the poor. Now we want to argue over who gets to hold on to power.

I have never want Jesus to come back more than I want Jesus to return today. I ache right now. I have a deep and seething anger for what we are letting this community become. We are cogs in a machine. We are not far away from that shite in The Matrix.

So I ponder how my life became so devalued and where is this freedom that I have studied here in seminary. For all the beauty and grace available in Jesus Christ it will not pat down my loans. It will not save those folks homes from foreclosure. It will not cease those bill collectors’ calls. It will most certainly not save this nation from destroying itself. Where is the sovereignty of God in this?

What do we do? How does the church seek to reconcile the current realities of poverty, brokenness, debt, and consumption with the gospel message? We must seriously contend with this matter. We have to pull our heads from the sand and march in protest, and shout out against the financial slavery that exists in this country.

You are not a machine. You are not a number. You are fearfully and wonderfully made…

God move in this place of hurt. Be present in the hearts of the afflicted. Provide for us now in our time of need that which is needed. Erase the excess of our want. Open our hearts to others. Let us burden our lives with the community of sorrow. Grant us peace and clarity to move in rebellion of the broken ways of this world. Let us be freed from the captive mentality. Liberate our minds. Bind us together in you. In Jesus’ fetter breaking name. Amen

The skinny

I am taking a break. I need to get some shit together. I am taking this opportunity to reflect on my future. I having been contemplating for sometime the actions of a fast paced, hyper world. I want to slow down and simplify my comings and goings.

I have not been able to sleep well for a long time. When I was in Indonesia I had no ready access to high speed internet, 500 channels of entertainment, or the numerous mind numbing activities that I have here. I must change something.

I have decided to remove as much energy consumption from my daily diet as I can. I hope to walk more, use public transport, eat less calories and locally. I am limiting my computer usage to checking email for a half an hour every other day and for use of paper writing.

With the free time I am seeking to begin a local ministry with some like minded folks. We want to start a clean needle exchange or clean needle kit ministry to addicts in the area. With the hope of forming relationships that will lead to recovery for all involved.

This is my prayer until the morning of the 23rd of March…

Mighty King Jesus, I retract in spirit with You into the desert; teach us how to fight the triple ambition of the flesh, pride, and materialism. You are the true Bread of Eternal Life, appease our hunger. Beloved Creator, open our hearts to the voice of Your Word and free us from the original darkness that shadows our vision. Restore our sight that we may look upon your Son who calls us to repentance and a change of heart. Renew our eagerness to work for you in building a better world, so that creation may hear your gospel of peace and justice and respond with humility, to love mercy, and to act justly.

In the transcending name of Christ, Jesus

Amen

see y’all on Easter.