Thursday, June 26, 2014

odds and ends: no, really, this one is odds and ends

See the next post for why I'm doing this, but here are several half-written posts that have been sitting in my "drafts" folder for awhile now.
Some word pairs that were going to be in a future Words on Wednesday post:
-hoard (a verb, meaning to save stuff up, usually a bit excessively) and horde (a noun meaning a group of people, usually used pejoratively to describe a mob or a dangerous, threatening group)
-prostrate (an adjective meaning lying down, prone; or a verb meaning to lie down)(which, for those of us who grew up going to too much church, immediately calls to mind "let angels prostrate fall") and prostate, which is a gland of the male reproductive system.
-seminary which is a school, usually for preparation for a career as a minister or rabbi (but not always, it is also an old-fashioned word for schools for young women) and cemetery, which is a place where people are buried.
-cavalry (a horse-mounted military unit) and Calvary (the hill where it is traditionally believed Jesus was crucified)

I've been feeling at loose ends lately. For a long time, school was my motivator--getting papers written, making decent grades, writing that damn thesis. Then I was recovering school, and then I had those classes to prepare for. But for the past couple of months, I've been adrift. Entirely too busy doing various different things, but I felt adrift, because I was just doing whatever was next on my to-do list.

So, and I hope you will be able to laugh with me about this, when Rick Warren's uber-bestselling The Purpose-Driven Life showed up on my recommendations feed at Amazon, on a whim, I thought why not? And if I'm going to do it, I might as well do it right. So I've actually been following directions. I read a chapter every morning. I started on May 1st.

I've joined the ranks of millions--for awhile there, just about everybody in our small town was in a PDL group. I hate being part of the crowd. I'm doing it ten years later than everybody else, but still it is a cliche before I even start talking about the book.

But you know, I have to confess. Even though there were times I was so mad or conflicted about what he was saying that I had to put the book down, he asks good questions, and he makes some good points. He has inspired me to think, and of course it has also helped me wade through some further layers of Dealing With My Past. Reading it was good timing. Even when I disagreed with him--and I often did--it was still good food for thought.

I realized something while reading PDL, though. I think I am done with my obsessive reading of Evangelical books. I've been doing it off and on for years now under the guise of "dealing with my past," and it occurred to me as I was reading the last 30 or 40 pages of PDL that I'm done with that. Not dealing with my past--I don't think you ever entirely get over that--but I'm done with mining Evangelical authors to get there. I think it's time to move on to reading more progressive authors, authors who can help me look forward instead of looking back. I'll let you know what I find. (And if you have any recommendations, pass them along.)

After a discussion with a friend, I've been thinking about spiritual boldness. I think it's under-appreciated.

Job is the best example. Job loses everything because of what is essentially a wager between God and Satan. He is outraged that the God he loves and trusts would treat him so badly. He sits upon his ash-heap and laments loudly, questioning God's fairness. Some of his friends join him, telling him all the standard platitudes about how God is bigger than we are, we can't understand God's design, we have to trust God no matter what. But Job is hurt and angry and he continues to pour out his frustration.

Eventually at the end, God appears to Job in a whirlwind. He tells Job basically the same thing his friends have been telling him--you are a human peon, you are nothing compared to God. But this time Job gets it. He experiences the hugeness of God and he finally understands. At the end, God rewards not the friends, but Job. God didn't want the platitudes, the easy answers given by the friends. God respects Job because Job was honest. He didn't pretend to say something he couldn't mean. He expressed his anger and his frustration, and he didn't turn away. He kept going until he understood, until he found answers that satisfied him down to his core, not just the glib theology. Even though the glib theology turned out to be pretty much the same thing as the real answer.

And Job isn't the only one. Time and again Moses stood before God and questioned his decisions or demanded that God act. David sinned hugely and yet in Psalm 51, he bares his heart before God and is forgiven. Peter stumbles and screws up and denies Jesus, but he is the cornerstone of the church.

It's clear God doesn't want us to go through our lives doing the right thing out of habit. God doesn't want robots. It isn't going to hurt God's feelings if we're honest and say exactly what we think.


  1. Actually, I think that when you are cleaning out your "hoard", the stuff that is accumulated in the basement and has gone with you on multiple moves can become a "horde", a dangerously threatening group of useless objects that do not want to be discarded. Enter the basement at your peril.

    1. HA! That is so true. I read your post about clutter clearing and completely agreed. It has to be an ongoing process, because new stuff comes in all the time, as hard as we try to keep it out.