About Me

Phoenix, AZ, United States

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reflecting on This Christmas Passed

Winter break has been filled with travel, a week with my wife in Seattle, then an overnight run to Vegas, finally ending with a fly fishing expedition in the White Mountains. Needless to say, I've seen a variety of landscapes in a short amount of time ranging from the deserts to the bustling city emerging out of a peninsula, to the mountains with its trout filled streams and of course, the glittery City of sin.  As a result, my schedule has been anything but regular.  Upon my return home, it took me some time to remember what winter was like or should be like in Arizona and now as I begin to settle in, to recover that familiarity, I find that 2012 is just beyond reach.  

Christmas was for the most part pleasant but I think that means there was a great deal missing.  It gets increasingly more difficult to celebrate Christmas when it is all about hanging out with family, good times, presents and food.  To make matters worse, I find myself going along with the flow, wanting Christmas to be little more than a culmination of these banalities. As the Christmas tunes sing their last notes, and we begrudginly take down our decorations, stuffing them in boxes in which they no longer fit, I find a deep hollowness as cold as winter that is easy to suppress but difficult to ignore entirely.  How strange a feeling, to be filled with food and drink but profoundly empty.

I did realize something about Christmas this season that I hadn't in previous ones.  I have for a number of years struggled with trying to recover the "magic" of the holiday.  Most of you will probably relate to that overwhelming feeling of warmth and mystery that Christmas provided for you as a child.  And if you're like me, then you lament the fact that at some point between the threshold separating childhood and early adulthood, this experience of Christmas  disappeared, never to return again.  Well, I have missed that feeling for years and have tried in vain to recover it.  I have heard many a parent talking about finding something similar, as they experience the holidays vicariously through their children but it isn't quite the same, so they tell me.  So in past years I have tried to find the right tree, the right decorations, or listen to more Christmas music and the like, but I always end up disappointed.  After years of this nonsense, it finally struck me this year that perhaps what I have been trying so hard to again find isn't worth recovering in the first place.  I realize that I might sound like a heartless scrooge at the moment, but hear me out. 

There is a verse in scripture that has always resonated with me.  Paul in his letter to the Corinthians  writes, "When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I became a man I put off childish ways..." (1 Cor 13:11).  When I was a child, I loved Christmas because it meant that I would get gifts and lots of food and desserts and get to see sparkly lights everywhere.  It meant that school was out for a couple of weeks and I could play without having to worry about homework or exams.  And I felt a sense of security being with my family in our home as if nothing could happen to us.  But I am starting to think that all of this is merely jejune thinking.  Life is not a matter of bodily pleasures, nor is it about food and drink or presents, or false senses of security.  Thinking as a child of course may be acceptable for children, but even here I think if we are good parents, we strive progressively to nurture and reform their cognitive habits. But it is utterly unbecoming to think like a child when you are an adult because it means you haven't quite grown up or matured.  Of course, you can refuse to grow up like Peter Pan and I think this is precisely what Michael Jackson attempted to do, but there was always something tragically sad about the unhealthy life of the king of pop.

I think that for good reason we do not often depend on the dispositions of children to guide the important decisions in our lives.  Sagacious parents who want to raise healthy kids will not leave it to their eight year olds to determine how to manage the household budget, or come up with the grocery list, or choose the best educational curriculum or institution.  Similarly, I wouldn't rely on the judgments of a child to tell me about the meaning of a fine piece of literature, art or music.  At times children may exhibit precociousness and we might heed such advice but this is only because it resembles the thoughts of a mature adult. And so it seems to me that perhaps I shouldn't let the child in me define the meaning of such a cosmically significant occasion such as Christmas and that if I do, I do so to my own peril.

Here's to striving towards a more meaningful holiday next year and leaving my childhood where it belongs, in the past.  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finishing Strong And Rightly

Obviously, I have changed the look of my blog. After years of that old, dusty, rather monochromatic layout I thought it was time for a change. I even added one of those Ipod music players with some of the songs I often find myself listening to these days.

I am at school to complete a full day of reading, thinking, and hopefully writing.

By Saturday, this campus becomes a ghost town and I can go for long stretches of time without running into so much as a shadow of another.  As I write this, I am sitting outside in an obscure part of the school (as the library does not open for another twenty minutes or so).  It is lukewarm outside, silent, and empty and I feel at ease, truly a rare sentiment for me these days.

I have been fighting some persistent blues lately in addition to chronic heartburn (which is totally an old person's ailment). I'm sure there's an interesting metaphorical connection between heartburn and my heaviness of soul but for now, I lack the patience to draw it out.
"I was born in an abundance of inherited sadness..." - Ryan Adams
I've been hearing rumors of Fall (possibly the shortest, most beautiful season in the Southwest) for the last three weeks, but it's been persistently warm lately and I'm losing patience.  Truth be told, the climate hasn't been horrible in recent days, but this summer seemed unusually long for me and I don't like anything resembling it.

School has been difficult because I just feel so uninspired, as if I have nothing new or original to say. I find myself almost in perfunctory manner reading, memorizing (and often forgetting) a lot of things that others have said, but I find it rather difficult to make any sort of contribution, which is a problem if one wants to make it as a professional philosopher. Seriously, many of these philosophers are just REALLY bright; I don't think it necessarily makes them correct in all or even some of their beliefs, but a clever, incisive, and creative bunch they certainly are more than any other group of persons I have encountered by far.

I continue to waiver in terms of what it is that I want to do with my life.  I think I tend to feel this way whenever the going gets tough.

This morning I began reading a journal article on an epistemological view called "Fallibilism."  And as I peeled back the title page and began journeying through the first few lines, I was full of excitement.  One word naturally followed another as did line after line and page after page, flowing like an uninterrupted river.  It was effortless, and exhilirating and my mind was flooded by interesting thoughts.  This is how I feel often when I begin reading either a book or an article.  But then as the day wears on, things inevitably slow down and it get's laborious and my mind grows weary. I then have to start policing my attention to keep it from wandering, often having to reread entire paragraphs at which point I start to seriously entertain the idea of calling it quits.  And so it is with so many of my endeavors and so it is with life.  We set out on a journey, a road trip, a career path, a goal with great excitement at its onset.  Like a bat out of hell we leave the stables but then we encounter bumps and thistles, and grow tiresome and when the scenery hasn't changed for hours we begin to wonder why we left home or started out in the first place.  But it seems to me that hurrying through the first few pages of an article is of little merit in itself. Really, anyone can do that.  Armed with idealism and adrenaline most runners start the marathon just fine.  But the real race is long and difficult and the winner must cross not only the starting line, but the finish too.

I know I started talking about what to do with my life with regards to a career, but really this is all analogous to something more important; it is actually in part, the message found in the parable of the sower.

Sometimes I fear that I will wind up like those seeds that fell along the rocks, which with great enthusiasm received the word initially, but failed to be rooted and thus, as the troubles of this life came, fell away.  That is to say, they failed to finish what they with great zeal began.  I think it is easy to think of "receiving the word initially" as pertaining to an obviously short period of time like a day or a month or even a few years, but it seems to me that anything short of "finishing the race" might qualify.  What if I've been sitting on the rocks for a decade?

I am also reminded of the following, "what should it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?" Upon hearing such, I have most often thought of those persons that are obviously from the "get-go" after riches, or fame or what have you over and above seeking the Kingdom of God.  But I think that doesn't do justice to the rhetorical question.  What about the person that starts with a sprint, but at some point gets distracted along the way and ends up unawares, on the wrong path?  Perhaps such a person might even persist right through to the end, quite possibly being the first to break the finish line only to find himself having run a different race altogether, thereby also being disqualified (along with the seeds on the rock).  How pathetic a sight that would be. To exert a lifetime of effort all for naught. To have finished the wrong race.

In either case we find that there are more ways to fall than there are to stand up straight.  The race is long and difficult, the path is narrow and straight but it is the only one that leads to life.

Dear Self,

You often worry so much about "not making it" to the end of something like your semester, or your graduate program or your career path, or whatever, but these are in comparison, the least of your concerns.  You have foremost to make it to the end of this spiritual journey and it is one heck of a ride; it is going to be arduous and will take everything you have and more.  But take heart, for He is with you even to the end of the age and His grace is sufficient. 


Friday, September 23, 2011

All You Need is Love?

In my epistemology seminar last night we discussed a couple articles by a famous philosopher of epistemology, Jim Pryor (NYU) who writes against a particular kind of skepticism about the external world. One of my fellow students made a joke last night that we should agree with Pryor in what appeared to be a stalemate of a dialogue because at least he was featured in Esquire magazine wearing a $2K suit. My curiosity getting the better of me, I looked him up this morning and sure enough there was the NYU professor, one of many in a photo gallery titled, "The Meaning of Life Meets Winter Style" which included a number of "academics" and "religious leaders" playing dress up for the camera and sharing some words of "wisdom". Among the participants was Jay Bakker (the son of Jim and Tammy Faye). What he said stood out to me:
"It's all about compassion for each other. A lot of times, people are too busy arguing over what their theology is or what their politics are or their sexuality is, and they miss out on all the good stuff in life. All the connecting with other people and loving them for who they are, not for who we want them to be."
Even before my encounter with this electronic edition of Esquire, I have heard many a believer criticizing Jim Bakker. This is because he has been for some years an advocate for homosexuality and gay marriage at the same time being an evangelical pastor. If his quote is any indication of his general philosophy then it isn't at all surprising to me that he is quite liberal in his account of Christianity.

The thing that gets me is that I know a number of Christians that would agree with Jim Bakker's sentiments here. I have heard these words almost verbatim among a number of my fellow believers, usually intended as a criticism against my views about what faith in Christ consists of. So then why do these same persons find Bakker's sympathy for homosexuality offensive? That part is quite vexing to me...

If you think Christianity is summed up in being accepting and compassionate to others (in the rather unqualified way that Bakker seems to intend), then you should certainly extend this inclusiveness to those of a different sexual orientation than you. Otherwise you will have to get caught up in one of those nasty theological and political (and ultimately philosophical) debates. The problem of course is that it wouldn't make sense to stop at this issue (that is, stop at criticizing or arguing over homosexuality). Rather if you are being consistent, any and all issues of a "theological and political" nature should be off limits for fear of "not getting along." But then imagine what such an account of the Christian faith might amount to. By "loving people for who they are" (in contrast to asking them to change) the straight and narrow path will be replaced by to something akin to a five lane autobahn which may seem liberating at first, but will in the end render the Christian worldview utterly unrecognizable and thereby emptying the cross of any intelligibility.

Now I can imagine some of my well intending friends saying that homosexuality is explicitly spoken against in scripture and so they have grounds for rejecting Bakker's specific position on homosexuality while adopting his general philosophy of inclusiveness. Such a view would mean that whatever is explicitly stated in scripture is non negotiable (i.e., this constitutes the core of the faith) while all the other issues which have divided believers are not worth arguing over.

But this is hardly an improvement. For one thing a great number of "orthodox" Christian doctrines are not explicitly stated in scripture. For instance the doctrine of the trinity, the dual nature of Christ, the rulings against the practice of polygamy among others. If you think that Christianity consists solely of express statements in scripture then you will have to do away with such ideas. After all, each of these has historically been the topic of much controversy (see Arianism, and Docetism, Christian Polygamy), that is, they have been the source of great debate, schism and worse. Furthermore, there are homosexual "believers" that simply claim that any part of the bible condemning homosexuality isn't actually the "word of God." The acute difficultly this brings to the surface is this: if you think only what is explicitly stated in scripture is what makes up the Christian faith, then how do you know what should belong in the canon and what should be excluded (i.e., how do you know that the canonization of scripture wasn't arbitrary) in the first place.

Obviously to say that the bible tells you what should be included in it would be a very unsatisfactory response on pain of circularity. The persons that compiled the books of the bible did not have the bible to go off of...

A few more notes on Bakker's quote:

1) Bakker says it's all about compassion. I have heard something to this effect quite often. In fact, Christ is said to exemplify compassion if anything. As I previously noted, the problem is that this sort of notion is far too vague and presupposes that we all have a univocal view about what it means to extend compassion. I used to work with the homeless population in town, and some of them honestly just wanted money to buy meth and preferred this to the food and water we were offering. Now there are some persons (of questionable intelligence) that believe that compassion should move one to acquiesce to such absurd requests (that is, to buy such persons drugs) while others would find it simply egregious to feed such a destructive habit. So saying, "it's all about compassion" isn't very helpful by itself; we need to get clearer on what we mean by "compassionate".

But now notice that only as we begin to define what compassion means, then disagreements inevitably arise. We start to learn that we don't share a single view about what it means to be compassionate much less how to apply this principle in various circumstances. Rather we find that we have conflicting accounts. In light of these disagreements we can appeal to another vague notion e.g., we might say, well since we don't agree on compassion, let's say it's all about love but then the same issue arises of course. What does it mean to "love?" And aren't there mutually exclusive views about love out there? Otherwise, people tend to act like there are not differences: that is, agree to disagree but then this is to make light of the disagreement and I think this doesn't make much sense. I say this because if you simply ignore that there are differences or diminish them by saying that the disagreements do not matter, then I question how much the original principle in question matters in the first place. To illustrate, imagine that I get one of my papers back with two grades on it. It has a red 'A' and then right next to it a equally red 'F'. Now if I simply shrug my shoulders at this event, then I probably didn't care for the meaning of either of the grades in the first place. If this is so, then the original philosophy of Bakker (that one should be compassionate) is a vacuous one. 

2) "A lot of times, people are too busy arguing over what their theology is or what their politics are or their sexuality is, and they miss out on all the good stuff in life."

It is true that arguing over some things is just not worth the cost of air. We could argue about the best burger joint in the world, but that likely won't get anywhere, and perhaps such a discussion is misguided because it plays fast and loose with what we mean by "the best burger joint". It might actually be that when we assert that "Five Guys is the best" we actually mean something closer to, "Five Guys is most pleasing to me" in which case we are speaking of our subjective states and so the argument should be diffusible. In any event, I am admitting that some arguments don't make much sense because they are either wrongly formed or not so important). What isn't so obvious is that political, social and theological arguments (at least the ones that I hear most commonly) are equally so empty. They aren't just about one's own inner states (like in the case of what flavor of ice cream most pleases me), rather they are (either directly or indirectly) about when life begins, what it means to be a moral person, and even what the nature of God is and what it isn't. And perhaps within this category of what I hold to be substantial discussions, we could include the question of what it means to be compassionate both per se and in application. Now it is important to distinguish between how in fact people go about arguing and the principle that we should debate these matters. I have a suspicion that part of what inspires this Jim Bakker kind of disdain for debate is that when such discussions occur, they don't often go very well. But this fact should only get us to revise our approach and work on improving rather than abandoning the discussion altogether, which would only be to throw the baby out with the bath water.

3) "All the connecting with other people and loving them for who they are, not for who we want them to be."

Again, "love" is a lot like "compassion" in that there isn't a single view on what love is and what it looks like to love another. For instance, if I told you to love Hitler, what would that mean to you? He wants to exterminate an entire population of people. So should your "love" for him mean you help him in his endeavors? Should you be there aiding his development of the concentration camps and flipping the switch to the gas chambers? Or should your love for him rather move you to resist him in his committing of the atrocious plans? Shouldn't you want to change him rather than accept him as he is?

There is also the problem that Bakker's philosophy (again in its unqualified form) is self-undermining, but I don't think I need to spell that out...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

Summer is officially upon us and I hear monsoon season is just around the corner. Phoenicians are trained from an early age to respond to complaints about the summer heat here, they respond "its a dry heat" but come late July it gets hot and humid which is pretty miserable and makes you question what is so dry about it. I have just arrived to the school library to do some "research" which basically involves reading philosophy books and articles. I've been working on some stuff on Free will and Divine Foreknowledge and have been posting about it in my other blog (Getting Metaphysical).

I feel melancholic this morning and I feel it deeply.

I have for the most part wasted my summer. I have looked for jobs with no luck, been house shopping, doing some research, but mostly I have gotten lazy and this is really bothering me now. I can only hope to make the most of what days I have left.

I have been thinking about what it means to "make the most of every opportunity" as the apostle Paul admonishes us to do in his letter to the Ephesians. This command is followed by, "knowing that the days are evil" which seems to give us a good context within which we are to understand the first part of the passage. It reminds me that we are in a spiritual war between good and evil, and that what it means to make the most of every opportunity should be defined in light of this fact. But I find that it is (at least in one sense) quite difficult to live as though there is such a weighty conflict happening all around us. There is something about being a middle class American in the 21st century that seems to make any such reality a mere after-thought. Sure things are not perfect here, and we have had our tragedies and will continue to, but for the most part I find myself feeling pretty safe in this world. On my drive here I was listening to the radio program which was interrupted briefly to give a traffic report. There was trendy, upbeat music in the background and the narrator had apparently had plenty of coffee this morning. He proudly and optimistically reported closures and accidents at this and that intersection and whimsically reported a fatality on one of the major highways, and without a hint of remorse his segment was gone with zooming sound effects and all. And I know that it isn't the correct context to express remorse since people just want to hear about what impediments might possibly be in their way to work and the best alternate routes so I am not criticizing him or the program itself. Still it got me thinking that I have the propensity to abstract tragedy even though in reality is it all around and so I wonder why this is the case. Maybe I am deaf and blind...

Here I am, a somewhat average, American twenty-something striving as always to maintain and improve my "quality of life". Wanting to remain as comfortable as possible and often dabbling in decadence when "comfortable" grows into boredom. I want nice clothes, richly exotic and aesthetically pleasing food and drink, devices to entertain me and so on.... vanity, vanity a mere chasing after the wind... What about the wars going on? Well sure, there is the stuff going on in Libya, and in Afghanistan and in parts of Africa, the drug wars in Mexico... but again I can abstract it. I can remain blind and deaf towards it. You know it took me a long time to get beyond a very superficial reading of scripture, of course, I still have my moments and quite frequently at that but I've had some improvement. In any event, when I began altering my approach it was pretty incredible. I have been reading Confessions by St. Augustine who had a similar experience during his coming to the Lord: he had been reading scripture one way (as a literalist) all his life and it was his being taught to approach it a bit more thoughtfully that played a significant role in his leaving the Manichees. I say all this to say that I often find myself reading the events in this life superficially, living not by faith, but by sight. I take things at face value and so life seems pretty serene. Sure there are wars and rumors of wars, but I see them on my t.v. set and can turn them off whenever I please. I can go days without reading the news or listening to the radio if I so please. The problem is that when all is said and done, I keep going back to this deep entrenched belief that I have that appearance = reality.

You see, I keep missing the stuff that is beneath the ostensible. I should be asking, why the heck are there wars in Libya in the first place? Why is there conflict at all? And I should be realizing that there is a spiritual war that underwrites the physical ones. This spiritual war isn't fundamentally between north and south, democracy and communism, democrats vs. republicans, or even Christianity vs. Islam but between belief and unbelief, light and darkness, good and evil. And it is happening within myself such that "the good I want to do, I don't do, and that which I hate I keep doing". I only see this at moments when I am willing to go beyond the way things appear but such times are few and far between.

In Genesis, Eve was said to be enticed by the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When I was a kid I used to think that the fruit (in my mind a shiny, red apple) itself did something to Adam and Eve, like it had magical juice or something to "open" her eyes. Of course, the fruit itself isn't the significant part, it is the act of disobedience and perhaps behind the disobedience is an ignorance that is culpable. Anyway, it is written:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. - Genesis 3:6
Among other things, I think she (and Adam) ought to have known that wisdom isn't gained by consuming some shiny object. The nature of knowledge isn't such. Perhaps in the Matrix, you can sort of download info. but knowledge in the real world is a very different thing. And they heard the Tempter's promise which was likely very seductive and then turned to this pretty little shiny thing and then the first couple fell. Again among other things, they failed to look beyond the surface to what could have been quite obvious (had they been thoughtful in the least), namely, that physical sustenance is distinct in kind from spiritual sustenance and that knowledge doesn't come apart from the fear of the Lord, nor does it come directly from eating something aesthetically pleasing.

So here I am separated from my parents (Adam and Eve), by thousands of miles and thousands of years, but the same old struggle. The reason I feel so comfortable and safe is because I look around and see that things seem for the most part A-Ok. At the moment my eyes see a fine variety of desert trees swaying softly in the wind, they tower over the verdant fields shimmering from the morning dew. The summer sun glitters beneath me in a shallow pool as the waves dance lazily along and birds flirt with one another carelessly as bright yellow flowers open their buds to drink in the day. Idyllic, still, all is well. And I live in prosperity, a modern day Rome full of splendor and arguably the most powerful military that ever was. Modern medicine continues to promise us cures and to help our bodies look younger and live forever. Sure we're in the middle of an economic crisis, but it is hard to tell. Restaurants and shopping malls are bustling, and as Independence day stands just around the corner, people will be firing up the grill, swimming, drinking, eating to excess and being merry as if nothing is happening...

"People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all." Luke 17:27
But all of this is appearance, it is illusory, because it isn't the whole story. I live as though if only my temporal needs were met, I would be fine and this due to the fact that I take things at face value and am mollified by what is pleasing to the eye after all, I am my father's son.

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
I once wrote about how vague the saying "Carpe diem" is. It just isn't super informative because I don't know what it means to "seize the day". It all seems to depend on what you're after. If I want to be a circus juggler, then seizing the day will mean doing everything I can to improve my juggling, joining the circus and the like. If I want to avoid the circus (maybe I have an irrational fear of bearded ladies) then it will look quite different. Paul I think is exhorting us to sieze the day with respect to the invisible war between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, it is the only way I can begin to make sense of the life he led.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Finding myself in Numbers

Often I find myself struggling with my place in life. While most all of my friends seem to move along at a "normal" pace, I feel as though I am always thirty minutes late to the show... ok maybe its more like a decade late. Of course this is a struggle for me because at the end of the day I seem to fear man rather than fearing God. I have bought into the lie that life is about having a certain amount of money in the bank (just enough not to worry = an endless supply), a respectable job (a tenured track position at a University), an advanced degree (3 letters following my name please), and the number of proverbial pats on the back I can get (as many as possible). I ought to consider it all rubbish and long to share in his sufferings, but mud pies, mud pies, that is what wets my appetite. I don't really see these things for what they are and this is the problem. In part, I believe that my picture-"perfect" future could not even begin to bring me joy but rather would be only distraction and then in part, like a dog returning to its vomit, I keep accepting the same old b.s. that there are greener pastures just on the other side of the fence.

The other day, a friend of mine asked me what I thought the point of the book of Numbers was and I didn't have a ready answer; since that time I have been thinking some about it. The book opens with the Israelites in their second year of the Exodus from Egypt. It is God bringing his people from the old way (of captivity) to the new way of life, but of course there is a large chasm between the two and this is the sojourn. At the beginning of Numbers, we find the Israelites are at the foot of Mt. Sinai and in we know from having read Leviticus that they have received all the guidelines and laws from God about how they should live. Numbers traces their pilgrimage from Mt. Sinai to the land flowing with milk and honey which should have only been an 11 day or so trek but in actuality takes nearly 40 years. Constantly throughout the book they fall short of seeking the Lord and following his ways and thus they do everything but trust in him. It is titled "Numbers" because God requires I think, two censuses: one at the beginning of the epoch and another towards the end and we see that rather than being fruitful and multiplying, they have decreased substantially in number by the second count of heads; this is because so many have perished in the desert. Still, God is steadfast and is faithful to complete the work that He has started. Eventually as a people, they get to the land, even though an entire generation has passed away (save two faithful men). This book seems to be about the journey of one's faith and what it looks like to go from being an enemy of God to realizing eternal life and particularly about all that stuff in between which looks ugly and is so often frustrating to the point of wanting to throw in the towel. That is, as we live out what is an admixture of faith and unbelief, it feels at times like we are just running circles. Numbers is a narrative about God in his awesome mercy breaking our stiff necks so that we may turn our eyes from evil and fix them upon the author and finisher of our faith.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I almost changed my blog template, but at the last minute couldn't get myself to do it. I'm not sure why. I mean I haven't posted anything in ages and almost as seldom have I written anything that wasn't assigned. I hope to change that though; I really would like to begin blogging again even semi regularly, but no promises. So anyway, regarding the template, I find myself attached to the picture of the empty road that bends into the unknown; I am of course still on this journey and it continues to provide me with plenty of surprises...

Today I was reading the book of Isaiah and I came across some interesting passages that I thought I wanted to remember which is what has prompted me to blog. The first of such scriptures is found in chapter 42, beginning in verse 16 it reads,
"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth..."
What powerful imagery.

Often I respond obstinately when I have to learn something new (at least when the new direction implies my old way was insufficient). And what about a blind person who has had their sight restored? How radical that change must be. I once watched a documentary about one such case where a blind person upon having their sight restored (she was not blind from birth), had to, in a real way "relearn" to function with her revived modality. Such persons tend to find their walking, moving and balance being affected and they find their newly realized sight to be cognitively overwhelming; talk about an acid trip.

I too have been relearning to see again, a process I anticipate perpetuating for a very long time. And it has been difficult to say the least. I have in effect left the faith of my youth because there was nothing in it worth keeping. Thus for the last two years or so I have been walking through all new terrain, with new instruments that feel clumsy in my hands and new guides (who's voices I don't always recognize). I have been trying to catch new wine but often finding remnants of my old wineskin that are just not fit for the job. Following a downpour, I show up to the Father with a dribbling old decantur and a few droplets of liquid. In light of such shortcomings, I find myself tempted to run back to what was once so familiar and comfortable to me, and I grumble about how things were 'once upon a time' better and wonder why I was ever led out, led out of Egypt. Was I led out in the desert to die? I often wonder...

It is likely that most folks will be able relate to something of this sort, since change is all around us. Often we have to readjust to our surroundings, to new methods and the like and I don't know what your journey is about or what changes have entered your neighborhood. I don't think that all such change is inherently good (nor is it itself bad) and so perhaps your discomfort is some indication that you should return home because the way you're headed is a dead end; but I don't know your story. I do know that on better days I have been convinced that my new found journey is the better way (even though it seems often so straight and narrow) and that there really is nothing left for me in the past but a great deal of immaturity and selfishness. On worse days I feel not up to the task, as if I was called to it by mistake, as if I do not quite belong. But I guess that is the point. I am in fact an impostor, left to myself. I feel humbled at the moment which has been happening quite often lately and I realize at least for the moment, that I have been brought to the desert not to perish but to be tested and humbled just as those who have gone before me (Deuteronomy 8:16).

I hope and pray for patience during the tumult native to this stage of the journey both in my life as well as in my dealings with others who may also be learning how to see for the first time.