Monday, January 22, 2007

brussels sprouts, but not homework

i'm supposed to be doing homework right now. i didn't get enough done today, and there is so much to do. i think in a couple of weeks things will calm down a little, but right now all my classes are kind of pressing in on me. so i'm sitting here writing instead.

i came home from kickboxing and i was trying to get my computer mouse to work. but it's not. so i worked on that for like 30 minutes. i thought about cooking something for dinner (or the 2nd half of dinner, b/c i had a small sandwich before kickboxing). so i put some brussels sprouts on the stove. but the first water i put on i forgot about & just left boiling there til it was almost all evaporated. so the sprouts are still on the stove.

and why on earth am i writing about these things anyway? i have nothing i really wanted to say. i just wanted to tell someone that i'm procrastinating, i guess.

i just got the brilliant idea to work on a different class than the one i worked on all day. switching it up might be more interesting. so i'm going to try to do that. wish me luck.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

moments of clarity

so after i left Urbana, i was really thinking that i need to try to actively reach out to students next year. and i still really think that. but it's not next year yet.

through a couple of different conversations, my eyes are finally open to all the people who are around me right now, in my life at school. prior to now, i didn't really know anyone at my school well, except for the few i car-pooled with. but a real sense of community is forming now that we've got the campuses all straightened out, and i'm actually seeing some people in more than one class. so i'm really excited about it. i'm actually in a position to have more than one spiritual friendship, and that jazzes me like nothing else.

so in the midst of all my crazy research & studying (and there is a ton of that this semester), i'm going to be praying that God will bless my new friends and help me to see where he is already working in their lives.

and there are only 12 weeks to go until law school ends for me... woohoo!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

a big question

many people are talking about the processness of evangelism. they speak of the need to have intentional, spiritual friendships, where we become a part of the process, and sometimes guide the seeker toward encountering God. (see, e.g. Rick Richardson, Reimagining Evangelism (2006); Fred Peatross, Evangelism is Another Animal--Not the One We Thought, no. 97 Next-Wave Ezine (Jan. 2007), available at this site.

but here is a question that we are not yet asking--how do we (the church) equip a post-modern person to be such a friend and sometimes guide? those of us who are older, who grew up in the modern sunday school classes--we got a big-picture view of the story. we got the details of all the little stories. we have often had bible college or seminary training. we can do the work of translating these fundamental truths to make sense to younger, more post-modern thinkers.

donald miller is a prime example. he has a spectacular, innate ability to tell the story in a relevant, poetic, story-like way. rob bell is another example of a great communicator of these truths.

but as i sat in a group of college students who were listening to donald miller speak, i looked around the room. the students were in awe--here was the gospel story, again relevant to their lives. but these same students had no clue how to speak the same poetry into the lives of their peers.

donald miller, rob bell, and probably many more of the emerging voices have recieved much training--modern training, even. i would venture to guess that they are avid readers, and always avid thinkers.


in a world of podcasts and instant messages, how is the next generation going to be equipped to put words around the truths that they've experienced?

i think the answer must come in the form of relationship, community. but what will that look like? and is anyone out there talking about this? more importantly, is anyone living it?

the good news is that the bible comes in story form, and the poetry that hits home today seems closer to the bible's culture than our old modern culture. so there must be a way. i pray that the Spirit will help us to find it.

and i intend to spend the next few years praying about it and living it and seeking his answer.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

third-culture kids

i read a book about "third-culture kids" over the time i was at Urbana. a "third-culture" kid is one who spent a substantial amount of her developmental years living outside the home culture of her parents. the third culture is the culture that is created from the high mobility and the cultural adaptation that exists for these families.

it was a really good book for me. it kind of named a lot of the issues or personality traits that i have seen in myself. it talks about the strengths and weaknesses that develop in the kids who grow up under these circumstances. it gave me additional language to describe my experience to others, which is always a good thing.

one thing that i discovered though is that i have a lot of unresolved grief--grief that i actually didn't experience. the book talked about "hidden losses," which are the losses that you don't even realize, so you can't grieve them. things like the sights, the smells, the different living experiences. then of course, there are the obvious losses of people & relationships that happens anytime you move away--especially where there was not the communication & technology advances that we have now (skype, IM, etc).

and i really don't think i grieved that much about the losses i felt at all. i think part of it was because i thought the work my parents were doing was so important that i didn't give myself permission to grieve. i guess that's pretty common among MK's especially.

so this actually explains why i feel things so deeply--sometimes i react with greater grief in a given situation than that situation actually calls for, because i'm making up for grief i didn't feel before. and i can't do things like watch movies about the Holocaust or visit a garbage dump community in Mexico because i know i can't handle feeling the pain of other peoples' situations. and when i lose a relationship now, at least for a time i feel all the losses that i ever had all over again.

so i'm not really sure where to go from here. there were some good suggestions in the book about just naming all the things/people that you lost so that you're aware of them. so that seems like a good place to start. but if nothing else, it's nice to understand what's going on.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

social consciousness

another thing that i was thinking about this week at Urbana is the whole idea of living as though i am aware of the oppression in this world.

our country is so materialistic and consumeristic, that we believe that we are owed material comfort. and it is so easily available to us--all we have to do is go to the store and buy whatever we need. there is almost nothing that is unavailable because of cost or scarcity.

and this availability to us is built on the exploitation of people and resources in other nations.

this is a difficult thing. because in some places, sweatshops, though they require a lot of hours, pay much better and provide much better working environments than people could get elsewhere in that country. so i have always strongly believed that the answer to this kind of oppression is not to simply get rid of these places altogether. boycotting the products made there also does not appear to be the best solution. but i'm not sure what else to do--how do i live like it matters to me that these people are working where they're working in conditions that would never be acceptable to me? i don't know. but as i become more knowledgeable about the culture in which i live, i believe that i must think about this issue and live in response to it--somehow. it is that kind of principled living that is going to lend authenticity to the message of the gospel.

and what about money? at Urbana college students gave around $1.25 million to the cause of missions. unbelievable. we have so much expendable cash that put together, really can make a huge difference in the lives of people around the world. i am convinced that simple living is another essential value. and i know that i live more simply than most people here, but i still have too much. i spend my money too easily on my own comfort and entertainment when there is much that could be done with it elsewhere. but where is the line that allows me to use my money to keep myself sane (by doing artistic things, relaxing, etc)? it is true that if i want to be able to give to others i have to protect my own mental health by giving myself these kinds of outlets. but what about all the people who live in horrible conditions and do not have those options? i don't know.

i just come away knowing that i have to think about it. i have to take the time to make principled decisions instead of just accepting the fact that this is the way things are. i don't have to buy a new house, a new car, or new clothes. i can make choices. i guess i just want them to be informed and intelligent. i don't want to settle for what is easy and comes naturally, because a lot of times that's not really the best thing.