... i started wondering whether we could actually change the world. i mean, of course we could- we could change our buying habits, elect socially conscious representatives and that sort of thing, but i honestly don't believe we will be solving the greater human conflict with our efforts. the problem is not a certain type of legislation or even a certain politician; the problem is the same that it has always been.
i am the problem.
i think every concious person, every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself. i hate this more than anything. this is the hardest principle with Christian sprituality for me to deal with. the problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.
the thing i realized on the day we protested, on the day i had beers with Tony, was that it did me no good to protest america's responsibility in global poverty when i wasn't even giving money to my church, which has a terrific homeless ministry. i started feeling very much like a hypocrite.
more than my questions about the efficacy of social action were my questions about my motives. do i want social justice for the oppressed, or do i just want to be known as a socially active person? i spend 95 percent of my time thinking about myself anyway. i don't have to watch the evening news to see that the world is bad, i only have to look at myself. i am not browbeating myself here; i am only saying that true change, true life-giving God-honoring change would have to start with the individual. i was the very problem i had been protesting. i wanted to make a sign that read "I AM THE PROBLEM!"
donald miller, blue like jazz, p. 19-20

i really connect with this, especially as i've been doing my readings for my youth min mission trips class. how can i be leading these students, teaching them to serve, trying to understand my own heart for justice and expecting others to love and give and act justly when i don't even use my own money wisely, when i waste it on silly things and don't take the time to even write to my senators or the money to give to at least do what i can to end poverty or the energy to research these issues i care about? when i don't even enough to get out of my own self-centered world that revolves around my feelings, my research papers, my stresses, my worries, my joys, my desires, my agendas to talk to those i love and see how they're doing? when i'm so wrapped up in myself... i do desire change in the world, in this country, for justice, real change... and i would love to challenge students in that way, but it seems i must begin in myself... but then it is something i may begin but will never truly finish, will never truly arrive, will never be who i want to be.
how does this faith work? what is this faith truly about?


hmm... in the 70's a few days ago, snowing today.

i love my justice class, it is so good to talk about real things with people who are real... some thoughts about individualism and independence in the us, about participating in community selfhood...
is transcendence of self indeed the essence of morality? is "morality" all we have to be concerned about?... might it not be that only in a false arrangement of power we feel the need to "transcend" the self? it may well be that the self offers the appearance of separateness where human beings begin to lord it over one another, that is, where power is abused to divide humankind into persons and non-persons...
theology needs to understand that the exercise of power is a function of one's view of selfhood. as long as the self is able to bracket segments of humanity as not part of the self the power differential will wreak havoc on some members of the human family.
in the prevailing notion of selfhood in western culture, we usually have value as human beings when in some form we acquire power over others. we think of making it up the ladder of success - one way of acquiring power over others. one glorious little self is still pitted against another not so glorious self... power corrupts at the point where the weak, the poor, and the maimed are viewed as non-persons. and absolute power corrupts absolutely where everyone else is viewed as nonexistent except as foil for one's self-aggrandizement...
it is not built into the Created structure of human selfhood that one individual should lord it over another. no human being has a right to prey on the other: "even the possums and the skunks know better! even the weasels and the meadow mice have a natural regard for their own blood and kind. only the insects are low enough to do the low things people do- like those ants that swarm on poplars in the summertime, greedily husbanding little green aphids for the honeydew they secrete." it is the corruption of power that enables human beings to prey on each other. underlying the power corruption is the exclusion of the other from one's selfhood. the Jesus event acknowledges the other as part of the self, especially the marginal other. the commandment to love the other as oneself is not an invitation to love an alien other, but finally to discover the other as co-constitutive of one's self. this awareness of one's identity in corporate selfhood emerges in the church in the wrestle with the Jesus event at the ground level of Christian origins in Judaism. frederick herzog, justice church p. 40, 41, 43-44

another thought on which i'm not sure of my feelings. what do you think?
and in "God's country" christians are kept at a distance from each other. most theology exists only in the awkward gaps between denominational pains and trials. when one member suffers, we do not suffer along by a long shot. many protestant christians in the united states are increasingly retreating into a ministry to themselves. we are kept from battling in concert in the conflict of history by self-serving denominational machinery. p.14

and soon onto a weekend of beautiful worship, amazing teaching, encouragment in my passion, and best of all- lots of reunions... i'm ready for nashville!


so many thoughts, swarming my mind and i don't know where to begin to understand or even look at them clearly... thoughts about the justice church, about how our desire to appeal to society, to make sure not to offend people, in order to get a lot of people "in the door" legitimates the culture's worldview, consecrates the social order, helps to maintain the status quo, and in the end allows our faith to cease being a prophetic religion... thoughts about broken people with real hurts, who have been through abuse and oppression and discrimination and poverty and prejudice and violence and all kinds of injustice, who have real pain and real insecurities and also real desires and real dreams and real needs... overwhelming thoughts about how to do youth ministry, to teach and encourage and empower students when i can't even decide what christianity is essentially in its core or where to begin... thoughts about what the church really is and what the purpose is of "going to church" and why it is important... thoughts about the likelihood of my season of singleness going on for several more years, if not more, and how that makes me simulatenously feel both free and open and able to dance with God as He leads me as well as lonely and unlovely and like i'm missing out... thoughts about sin causing self-centeredness, disregarding my shortcomings and believing i deserve something extra, causing insensitivity and inability to empathize, inability to love, and seeing these creep into my life in my pride and my opinions and my over-confidence... and yet so many more thoughts as well

yet in a small way, i know that He will lead me and teach me and bring me through, that He is more than enough to overcome my own inadequacies and love selflessly through me as i can't do on my own.

i feel i have so much more to say and yet all i have already said is nothing.


as i've been struggling through issues of arrogance and self-centeredness these past few weeks, i've come to realize that my calling to youth ministry is even more than i ever imagined. not only is youth ministry what i am created for, where i thrive, where i am happiest and best made for, not only does youth ministry use the areas where i am best, but youth ministry is where i am at my best. some do youth ministry to serve and help, but i need youth ministry to be who God has made me to be. i need youth ministry. it pulls me out of my self-centeredness and teaches me to love like i cannot love on my own. it pulls my focus off myself and my needs and desires, my fears and inadequacies, my struggles and longings, and it brings me to focus on others, on their needs, their lives, their desires. it shows me a glimpse of how God loves, how He is able to see all of me and not just how i act, but also the things that drive me. it helps me to see the world and people through His eyes instead of my own. it gives me a worldview from His point of view rather than from my own point of view, where the world somehow always centers on me again and again. it places in me a love for these students, these middle school and high schoolers, that cannot be from myself, that overwhelms me with compassion, that excites me and breaks me, that makes me want so badly to encourage and challenge. i do youth ministry because i truly cannot do anything else. without it, i would cease to be me... how amazing this God that knows me so truly that He knows to put me where i will be at my best... and being at my best spills over to all the areas of life. it gives me the desire to be close to God, to love my neighbor, to care for my family. my heart is revealed in youth ministry.

... sigh. how can it already be november? i remember thinking october was so long ago, and now it has come and gone. come back, october! and yet, i don't feel i have wasted or lost the month... i have learned much and enjoyed it, and i am excited for this month. but somehow i always wish i could pack more into the day, into the week, into the month. i always want to grow more, love more, do more, learn more. Abba, teach me to be satisfied. teach me to just be.

november third is a beautiful day. whoever heard of november being in the 70's? glorious. i continue to be amazed at how each day brings its own new beauty, how the trees continue to become more dazzling in their changing colors, how each season has its own joys. my hope for this year is that each season is my favorite as i am in it. i long to be content in where i am, where He has put me... whether the location, the placed in life, the relationships, or the season... being satisfied, knowing He is enough... perhaps the beginning of abundant life.