I’m Available (Well, not like THAT)….or….Join me in welcoming what Kirsten affectionately refers to as “Vacation Robert”

As of 9pm last night I’m on Spring Break. I’m not in college anymore, and I’m sure not in grade school, but working in a school has at least a few significant "perks," and this is one of them. I don’t go back to work until, ironically, Tax Day, which this year is April 16. So, let us begin said "vacation" with a few "top 5" lists, a la John Cusack in several of his more memorable films.
 
Top 5 Things I hope to do over the next week-and-a-couple-days, in no particular order:
 
  1. Read at least 2, no make that 3, books.
  2. Catalogue my books to make them available to others who want to borrow/have them.
  3. In the spirit of #2- "simplify" my life as much as possible, by ridding myself of various material possessions that weigh me down, hold me back, and generally keep me from following Jesus as well as I might. This "purge" (not "Surge") will include, to start: a tv, dvd player, various assorted cds, books, and other media, etc. Perhaps the most important part of this will occur at midnight tomorrow, when our satellite-powered TV’s throughout the house go dark. We’ll keep one TV (the other two belong to Kirsten’s mom) and will still watch what we can on "regular TV," at least until the government mandated and FCC enforced "forced obsolescence" takes effect in approximately 2 years, but the hope obviously is that we will be free to read more, be outside more, build community more, spend meaningful time together as a family more, etc.
  4. Following #2 and #3, I hope to make it down to South St. Ministries at least once in the next week or so, in part to give away some of the stuff listed above, but perhaps also to help out, volunteer, etc.
  5. I have 9 batting cage tokens for the Recreation facility up the street left over from last year, and, weather permitting (the cold and snow returned just in time for my alleged "Spring" break), I hope to use them all.

The above list contains things I can mostly do on my own, but the title of this post says I’m available for the next 11 days; so this list contains things I’d love to do with others:

  1. Have breakfast/lunch/dinner with friend(s). Historically, I’m big on going out for breakfast, but hey- any meal will do. So call me up!
  2. See a movie! It’s been a while, and I know there are at least a couple at the dollar theatre that I’m interested in (Letters from Iwo Jima, and The Pursuit of Happyness).
  3. Related to #1 (particularly the "lunch" category), I’d like to help folks observe the little-known "Take Your (Robert) To Work Day." For some of my new friends (you know who you are), this could work well. I’d show up a little before lunch-time, you could show me around your cubicle, clinic, whatever, and then we could go grab a bite to eat. This will go a long way towards de-mystifying the professions of some of you, who, for all I could know, could really be super-secret Soviet spies, operating under such a deep cover that the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union sounds like so much disinformation and American propaganda. Of course, there’s that pesky little bit about not having heard from your contact in such a long time, but that just makes your cover all the more effective. In any case, perhaps showing me around your workplace and having lunch will help to bring you up to speed, so to speak.
  4. Exercise! I had the distinct privilege of playing ultimate frisbee last Friday for close to 2 hours. At several points I wondered if my own personal end was near, but even so, it felt good to run and play and play the foil for my friends’ dreams of athletic conquest. At this point, if you’re in better shape than I am, which is likely, I’m pretty good for getting "poster-ized" by you. Of course, my favorite sport to play is still basketball; so if you’re willing, let’s go! I’ll happily be the Patrick Ewing to your spectacular MJ (I’m a big Jordan fan and hoops junkie, well- relatively speaking. Anyway, I just watched the clip that is linked in the line above, and with the slow-mo, the music, the ballet-like quality of MJ’s unbelievable athleticism and fearless play- well, I was nearly moved to tears, seriously), though I’d be willing to try raquetball, cricket, croquet, anything.
  5. Related to #4 from the first list above, I’d like to get out there and serve somebody, be it via a Habitat project, hanging out at South St. Ministries, whatever.

Well, if the above doesn’t make it clear, I’m available and willing for just about anything that involves spending time with friends new and old. So let’s hang out….

Half-awake ramblings of a half-awake “Christian”

At the moment I’m struggling mightily with that demon known as post-lunch, full-bellied fatigue. As we wrestle, I would say that the outcome of our battle is very much in doubt. Will I succumb to slumber or lapse into lethargy? Alliterative allusions aside, who is the real “demon” here; I mean, after all, what right do I have to be “full-bellied?” Alas, I will yet labor, and be glad that I have the Cranberries to keep me company and be my muse. In fact (taking workplace boredom/procrastination to new heights), the rest of this post will take the form of a topical representation of each of the 12 tracks from their 1993 album “Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?

 

I Still Do want to “be the Church.” I want to follow Jesus with fellow sojourners who are willing to live a life of radical (but “ordinary”) discipleship. The dream of living such an abundant, full life is one of the few things that can get me truly excited anymore.

 

Dreams, of course, at this point seem to be the substance of this full life that I yearn for, though I continue to hope for more. In the meantime I have resolved not to begrudge the dreams. Naturally, of the dreamers and visionaries of Joel 2:28, I still hope to be counted among those who are young enough to have visions, though I’m sure there is a hint of the dreamer in me too. After all, it takes imagination to live “between the times.”

 

Sunday was an awesome day. Aside from whatever else was happening, I had a chance to go out and hear Shane Claiborne speak. I’ve blogged about him repeatedly in this space; so I won’t rehash all that here. Suffice it to say that his talk, and especially the question and answer period afterwards, was appropriately inspiring. It may be in fact that hindsight will show that his talk was just the impetus needed to compel me into new places in my journey with Jesus.

 

Did I mention I was Pretty tired? Do I really have to, given the unorthodox nature of this post?

 

I’m starting to think that there is at least a possibility that I am oh so slowly Waltzing Back to a place in my life where I can say with much more confidence that Jesus actually is Lord. There are depths of obedience as a family that Kirsten and I are beginning to undertake anew that have me very excited. I’m talking about stuff like living simply- including getting rid of cable/satellite TV and working at the same time- obviously- quite a bit harder to get rid of debt, etc. All of this is good and right for its own sake, but also inasmuch as it paves the way for us to one day live “in community” again. As I said recently, when Jesus comes along and says “follow me,” I don’t want there to be much interfering with our ability to get up and go.  

 

To the degree that all of this upsets some folks or insults their sensibilities, I am quite simply Not Sorry. I won’t apologize for doing my best to live as if I have only one Lord, however much I may fail along the way, however incomplete my obedience or shallow my love is.

 

Yet my apathy and bitterness still Linger on, don’t they? I am- and have good reason to be- fairly jaded. So I must confess my unbelief while claiming belief- not as an accomplished fact, of course, but rather in response to the vision of God’s kingdom come- most especially in me.

 

I Wanted to find the moneychanger’s tables the other night at the venue where Shane spoke, but there weren’t any- and I’m no Jesus. Notice I called it a “venue,” not a “church” or “church building” or anything like that? The place seriously looks like a small mall or large recreation center. Because I know that the Church is a people, not a place, and because I’m not ready to assume that all would-be suburban-dwelling Christ-followers are actually misguided Mammon-worshippers, I trust that there are occasions when the church actually does inhabit that building. Even so, I couldn’t help but think that Shane’s appearance in that space wasn’t entirely dissimilar to Gandhi, for example, showing up to talk to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

 

So obviously I guess I Still Can’t say that I’ve worked out all my “issues” with the American “church”…or what passes for it these days. But then again, I think that makes me prophetic, not maladjusted- or maybe it does make me maladjusted, but then (echoing Shane) if you’re not having trouble adjusting to the Contemporary “Christian” Consumer Complex, something’s wrong.

 

I Will Always remember Shane’s utterance of the wisdom from his book, paraphrased here as I’m remembering it at the moment: “If we lose a generation for Jesus it won’t be because we didn’t wow them with our light shows (referring to part of the visual effects during the worship service that evening). It will be because we didn’t challenge them with the truth of the (radical call of the) gospel.”

 

Echoing the response given during the “talk-back” time during my first sermon to Circle of Hope, How, then, shall we live?

 

Well, you can Put Me Down as one who has said before and will continue to say that our only hope for really doing it- for really having a life together as ordinary radicals who are unashamedly following Jesus before all others- is together. That is, we need each other. We need each other in order to fully embody the image of God. We need each other to learn how to love. We need each other to bear each other’s burdens and work at taking on the yoke of Jesus. We need each other to live creatively in such a way that we are not beholden to the mandates of consumer culture. We need each other to see Jesus- to be Jesus’ hands and feet. We need each other to discover our gifts and use them, perhaps even to know who we are.

 

As always, there will be more on this later…