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Friday, July 25, 2014

Dude, My Floor Is Dirty

I screwed up getting in my chair today. I was SO CLOSE! I was pretty mad. I'm fairly certain I said foul words. The things I usually do when something goes wrong don't seem to work anymore. I could have yelled, but I didn't know who was here, or if anyone was. So I waited it out.

No, I wasn't hurt. I reached for the cord that held my cell phone, and it looked promising, but when it fell, it bounced the other way, out of my reach. I just laughed at that; I figured that would happen.

What you need to know is that we love these little battles. Don't pity me, because the thrill of victory is as sweet as any sporting enterprise. What does one think about in a spot like that? You'd be surprised how ordinary it was. I have no great insights for you. Just that I might be getting old, and that that one pretty girl probably isn't stuck on the floor! Lucky her.

Someone asked me what I did today. I'm proud enough that I didn't want to say. You know how it is. Oh, wait, you probably don't. That's OK. Next time, when I have all the time in the world, you can join me on the floor, and I'll tell you all about it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Had A Good Time

I've been in graduate school twice. And I was set up perfectly for a good experience by the challenge of my undergraduate studies, which was a great struggle. When you have an obstacle most others don't, it's a great teacher. You learn all about how your lack of discipline made all the difference between success and failure. Other students can have a life, can coast here or there; you can't. You don't get away with laxity; there's no time.

My other great challenge was and is perfectionism. My abiding awareness that I'm barely scratching the surface could be paralyzing at times. I had to be dismissed twice from college before I could begin to change it.

When I got back, I said, "Forget this, I'm already a failure. There's no one to impress. I'm going to learn." I began to notice that the sheer force of curiosity, the love of truth and wisdom, carried me past my peers. Here's my #1 dirty little secret: Most people don't care enough about anything to stop you, if you want something. Not only is it the right thing to do, to be generous and gracious whenever possible, it'll be like burning coals to those who are seeking a lesser good for a lesser reason.

I am an idealist; it's true. When I write a paper or something, it matters. If I bother to say it, it matters to me. If you are blessed to go to graduate school, be the kind of student the university is meant to produce, not the kind it typically does.

Grab a book that has nothing to do with your studies. Read it. In general, be inquisitive. You might not be a good test-taker, as I was not; you may not be the person who lies or hides what he thinks to please others; go anyway. Jobs come and go; knowledge is real power, even if the wrong sort of people get ahead, though you know more, and care more than they do.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Commandments Are Not Burdensome

"Speak for yourself, Sparky." That's what you're thinking. And there are times even now when I feel like the worst sinner who ever breathed, because we all have our weak moments. I'm not unfamiliar with Grave Matterville. But I also know mercy. I can hardly speak it to you, I have received so much. As it is written, "And from His fullness we have received grace upon grace." That used to be just words on a page. Now...

Now I understand that every grace is a potential moment of covenant renewal, where God says, "Choose this day whom you will serve." Yet I learn each day how weak I am in my own strength, and yet, paradoxically, how it must be mine in a certain sense to be real. God is not trying to earth the gospel in the abstract; I am the arena for His praise and glory. This life.

I do not want to be reckoned righteous when I am not. That would make God a liar, though it appears to make Him merciful. Grace saves; if it doesn't, it's not grace.

Anyway, sometimes I tremble; my heart does more than the fear and trembling Paul means. I get more afraid than a pious heart should. But it no longer scares me when a priest or wise person asks, "Did you keep the commandments?" Because life with God is a friendship, not a guilt trip. If we have failed, He has never stopped loving us, but we needn't ever fear we are beyond His mercy. Because you can't get beyond it. The only real trouble is to believe you have. This is a special pride the evil one loves, because you get stuck in despair.

In His grace, there is a power that cannot be thwarted; there is Love that will not be held at bay. O Lord, I am but an unprofitable servant, but I do love You!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Is Not A Sex Blog

But this merits some serious consideration.

Never Thought Of It Quite That Way

Good point.

Tony Dungy, Reconsidered

There are two ways to understand this. One obviously is to say Dungy hates "gays," and that one person's tendencies toward certain sins gross him out more than his own. There is obviously another way, and I think it's the right one.

I read Tony's whole statement like this: "I wouldn't want the whole circus, and my lack of enthusiasm for Michael Sam's lifestyle (and your resulting attempts to villify or pity me) to be a distraction to the team."

That's why the activists created the weasel-phrase "sexual orientation" in the first place: If you can make the whole debate about accepting the person, and not about whether a particular class of actions is harmful to people in body and soul, you've won.

Don't let a bunch of foolish people intimidate you. Recognize what's going on.


Monday, July 21, 2014

We Will Add Your Theological And Biological Distinctiveness To Our Own

A certain intellectually lazy cast of mind reacts to the ecumenical moves of Pope Francis with a snide, "Yay, syncretism!" On the contrary; the person who is utterly convinced that--to borrow a phrase--"Jesus is who he says he is" can afford to be magnanimous. Can anything really stand against the love of Christ? To the soft heart and the docile will, the word of Christ is like the choicest food: it is irresistible.

There is nothing true, good, or beautiful that is not already His; the only question is whether you want others to see that for themselves, or to keep it for yourself. If that sounds like a dare, it is.

To love the Truth, we must discern Him from among pretenders; that is true. But we must also celebrate when others meet Him, or are very close to doing so.

5 More Thoughts For Today

5. True wisdom from a rap song: "We need to pray just to make it today."

4. Wisdom from Garth Brooks, or one of his cronies: "Life is not tried, it is merely survived, if you're standing outside the fire."

3. The New Evangelization, with Deon Estus and George Michael: "Heaven help me talk to strangers."

2. The secret to the spiritual life, from Kenny Loggins: "To know what it is to forgive, and be forgiven."

1. Do you think someone has called up Derek Jeter and said, "Please bring me my wine"?

5 Thoughts For Today

5. It's Cardinal Newman vs. Lionel Richie right now, and Lionel is winning.

4. "Hello," the ultimate creeper song. Yeah, you just laughed, but you know it's true.

3. Has there been a more enjoyable song that was more lyrically nonsensical than "Dancing On The Ceiling"?

2. "Ballerina Girl" is about his daughter, Nicole Richie. It's harder to see her so negatively now, isn't it?

1. Hopefully, those recordings of me singing Lionel will never be found.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Allow Me To Elaborate

It is possible to have too close an association between a political agenda, and the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. But the antidote for that is the correct anthropology of man, that corresponds to the reality that God has made. What is man? What is his end? What's his problem?

It becomes "political" when one group or another decides to deny the inherent dignity of the human person, and in that sense, it must be. What has been revealed in Christ is a totalizing reality, and He makes no apologies in that.

But of course, the good news is not a list of "don't's". The truth applied to an issue might sound like this: "Because of what God reveals about marriage and chastity, adultery and pornography are sins against it, and we should flee those things."




5 Thoughts For Today

5. Hug the clergy today.

4. I'm serious. I'm not going out today, so you have to do it for me.

3. If you're Protestant, and uncomfortable that I said, "clergy," well, a little discomfort is good for the soul.

2. Want to sweep the Dodgers? All you have to do is beat Clayton Kershaw.

1. RIP, James Garner.