A New Look, A New Title

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to take a moment to let you know why the new name and why the new look.  I have come to realize that I need to make this blog more of a personal blog than a blog that is associated with a particular organization.  Please as you read this understand that this blog is intended to be me sharing my life, thoughts, and observations in order that your life might be somehow infected by it. 

As far as swimming in circles goes, when I lost many parts of my right side in high school I struggled with swimming straight for a long time until my body adapted to the change.  Many times in life I feel as though I am still doing that.  I hope you all continue to enjoy my blog with its new look.

Everyone, and I Mean Everyone is Religious

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Whenever I hear people say things like “religion is the opiate for the masses”, or “religion is dead”, or “religion is for suckers” I have to laugh and cry at the same time.  As the title of my blog states everyone is religious.   We all have a framework for our lives that dictates our decisions and even our reality.  Religion is not simply about acknowledging that there is a god, religion is the point of view that we have chosen to give our life direction.  Believing there is a god is one of those frameworks, but it is not religion itself.  

The two questions that follow that statement are “do you believe me?” and “what is my religion?”  If you don’t believe me first look up the definition and see if I am right.  Then after determining that I am right (many people struggle with this because they know me) you can move on to the next question.  What is my religion?  I have found that the framework that I have chosen to live life by needs to be one that gives me life.  If that framework is wrapped around a traditions, buildings, or practices that are culturally bound then I need a new framework.  If the framework does not speak truth to me about who I am and why I am here then I need a new framework.  If the framework I choose leaves me with no hope for the future, then I need a new framework.  If that framework does not teach me how to lovingly relate to the world around me then I need a new framework.  

Moving Forward, And Back, And Forward, And Back,……..

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There was a day in my not so distant past that I thought to myself that I had a great idea about how to solve a problem at the last church that I worked at.  Everyone loved my idea and I was allowed to move forward with my idea.  One year later I was out of a job because of my great idea.  I remember a day in my past in which I felt the tremendous urge to stand up and speak but I knew that I needed to keep my mouth shut.  I remember a day in my past in which I felt a tremendous desire to crawl into a corner and not be seen but I knew that I needed to stand up and speak.

Life has not been a movement in one direction for me.  Today I learn to keep my mouth shut, tomorrow I learn that I need to speak up.  Today I learn that I need to control my spending, tomorrow I learn that I need to take some risks.  Today I learn that I need to read more, tomorrow I learn that I need to act more.  As someone that has been asked to lead in various organizations over the last 15 years I have discovered the lesson in all of this is not one or the other, it is having the discernment to know which one is appropriate for each situation.  So here is the motto for the next 50 years of my life:

“Wisdom: What Bart learns when he has exhausted his stupidity”

 

Funny Perspective

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I was a mountain biker once, I would like to think I will be again.  Four young children and seminary have kept me off the trails for the last year, but I will return.  During this previous life I was mountain biking in the coastal mountains above McMinnville, OR and I ran into a fellow biker.  We started a conversation and he noticed my artificial leg.  He told me a great story about growing up.  He lived in the country and his father has an artificial leg which the son never thought was abnormal, this was his dad.  The first day of school he got out of the car on a fine late summer morning and observed something that he never expected.  None of the other fathers that he saw had artificial legs.  This man that I was talking to said it blew his mind to find out that what is abnormal to us was normal to him.  

That sent my brain down a path that included the memory of my son handing me my leg because he knew that I needed to put it on to go play.  Many of us live our lives doing the unusual without knowing that it is unusual.  Like the people that needed to be told when they came to Wyoming what a cattle guard was.  People in Wyoming could not believe the outsiders did not know.  I would guess that we make somewhere in the neighborhood of several hundred assumptions about life based on our experiences that may not be shared by others, I know I do.  I remember the amount of assumptions that I made when I saw a man without a leg when I was a child.  Today I would have to throw them all away because none of those assumptions fit me at all.  

Honoring the background of those that are around me is a constant work of reminding myself about how often I have stepped into the alien role in my life and been the one that wants to be understood.

So How Do I Contact You Again?

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When I started my career students did not have cell phones for the most part.  The students that did were the ones that had parents that wanted to be able to contact them.  A couple of years later everyone had cell phones and we had to start talking about phone etiquette.  At that time calling people or emailing them was appropriate, I would get pretty good retention on email.

About 5 years ago I was talking to my high school ministries director while I was driving in my car about a mission trip coming up.  He was maintaining, while I was talking to him, a text conversation with one of the girls in the youth ministry.  He said the most interesting things.  He said “you know, if I called her she would not answer.  If I text her I can have an entire conversation.”  Texting was about convenience, I can respond when I want to, and I could consider my response.  At that time, I would facebook people information about what is going on because texting large amounts of info was difficult and people were not checking their email anymore, or they were constantly getting new email accounts.

Today I am totally lost.  I finally got a smart phone awhile back thinking that would help me to be able to email and facebook people on the fly thereby creating better communication.  Well now people are not responding to any one particular method of communication.  I read a Luann cartoon the other day that summed it up so well.  Some people love to communicate via facebook, some via twitter, some via email, some via text, and some actually want a phone call.  20 years ago (only 20) the method was phone call and… actually going by and visiting people.  Today there are so many ways to communicate that people order their communication like they order their coffee “I like it the way I like it”.

Finally I am left to wonder if my communication plan is not working is it because I have done something to offend someone, am I picking the wrong communication method, or did the communication method that I use actually offend someone.  So if you read this blog please know that I went back to my cell phone last week partly because I realized that I had no chance of keeping up.  Its weird, I have not missed that smart phone at all.

The Cartoon Based on the Toy based on the Movie based on the Comic….

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So Let me get this straight.  Many years ago a man created a comic book character.  That character became popular so that man created more characters each with their own story and their own world.  Then for the sake of boosting sales, that person (or that persons successor) decided to take those characters, each with their own story, and put them together to form something called “The Justice League”.

Now from their we progress a few years, and a couple of television shows were made, then a movie or two was made.  Based on the success of these movies they made a cartoon.  Then based on the success of the cartoon they decided it was time to launch a lego version of the cartoon/comic book character.  Now that we have seen the success of the lego’s and the cartoons and the movie, they have taken the next step to make cartoon movie of the lego comic book character.  How far away from reality have I traveled at this point.

So here is the summation the end product is a movie based on a toy that is based on a cartoon that is based on a comic book.  I wish I could successfully find a lesson in all of this.

Shoe Obsessions, Sword Fighting, and Minnie Mouse

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So let me get this straight:  My daughter was socially conditioned to like Minnie Mouse over Mickey, pink over blue, shoes over cars.  Okay the last one seems just quirky, but my daughter loves to pick out shoes.  She is 16 months old and she will see shoes in a store and grab them and start putting them on.  Women and shoes, that one might be culturally conditioned, but 16 months seems really early.

My sons love sword fights, wrestling, building things and destroying things.  Honestly my daughter loves wrestling, if the boys are jumping on dad, so is she.  This is not a posting just to talk about my children, although I love to do that.  I feel as though something is being stolen from all of us and I am not sure how so many of us have been so flippant about letting it go, its our identity.

Think about this: secularism tells us that our identity is defined by our relationship to the world around us.  That means that who we are is only defined by the influence of the world and the people around us.  My only value is to be found by how society and culture has shaped me.  From that stand point I would say it would be sinful to allow anyone to tell my children who they are before they can determine that themselves, why would I try to tell anyone who they are?

There is another viewpoint however.  This viewpoint states that who I am is not determined by how the world shapes me and defines me.  Who I am has value no matter what society says about me.  Who I am is not just a random mixture of chemicals that have formed and only takes shape when the other random mixture of chemicals around me give it value.

I choose the latter, not because its better, but because it is true.  Okay I am also choosing it because it is better.  If evolutionary science and secular humanism were correct who cares if my daughter has a shoe fetish or a Minnie Mouse obsession.  That is the trick of secular humanism, it says that we shouldn’t influence anybodies search for identity, but at the same time it does not really give us a good reason why it matters.