Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pause

Taking a break from the relative seriousness of my blog...below is an example of what I sometimes do when I'm really annoyed at something. Enjoy.

EMDS: Eventual Myspace Devolution Syndrome

Derived from a recent observational study researched via repeated Internet networking and communication exposure. Symptoms may include the following:
  • Repeated and unnecessary use of punctuation and/or capitalization (ex. OMG! Where you been?! I can't BELIEVE you haven't commented back YET!!!!)
  • Intentional and unintentional misspelling and/or abbreviation of common words and phrases (ex. jk, lol, ttyl, omg, hehe, holla, gurl, hawt, sexi)
  • Insertion of aforementioned items into each sentence of online communication (ex. OMGSH lol holla at ya gurl lol hehe ttyl! lol)
  • Insertion of aforementioned items into verbal communication
  • Lack of valid meaning in majority of communication attempts

Outside contact with intelligent communicators (ICs) also may reveal symptoms. These symptoms may include the following:

  • Increased annoyance level and/or blood pressure of ICs
  • IC bewilderment and/or amusement at lack of valid meaning
  • Mental breakdown and devolution of IC into similar symptoms exhibited by the aformentioned subjects

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Distraction: Part 1

Images flickered on the screen as they huddled together in anticipation. I wanted to see what all the commotion was about, so I joined them for the season premiere of their favorite show. It was remarkably acted, the cinematography was good, the music was incredible and the character development from the previous season was woven in nicely. At the end, he told her he loved her. They all swooned, screaming and laughing in sheer excitement. My stomach churned. I was confused.

But...he's married. I thought, then spoke it aloud. They shushed me repeatedly as I protested. They didn't want to come out of their engrossment with the story and the characters. Apparently such an occurence was commonplace.

"You just don't know the background from last season," I was told. I don't care, I thought. Doesn't having a ring on your finger or taking a vow mean something anymore? I asked a few of them later on if they truly knew someone in the same situation in real life, would they be reacting the same way? I highly doubt it.

What is it about the entertainment world that so easily pulls us in? I find that my fellow humans thrive on vicarious thrills. We got to great lengths to seek them out. We stand in long lines at amusement parks for a 2-minute ride on a roller coaster. Our justification: "It's the biggest, fastest, newest, tallest..." The list goes on. We take hours out of our lives to watch our favorite shows. And our reasoning? "I just have to know what happens next." We sleep outside ticket vendors in the freezing cold just to get decent seats at our favorite band's concert, deeming it worthy because there is some magical quality to that singer or those band members.

Please do not misunderstand me. I believe there are healthy ways to enjoy entertainment. I myself have partaken in all the things I mentioned (except maybe for sleeping outside...that's where I draw the line.) But too often what drives us is that we want to be distracted. If we've lived for any length of time on the face of this planet, we've more than likely seen the incredible evil of which man is capable. We have experienced heartbreak, sorrow, desperation, emptiness, loneliness, disappointment, bitterness, anger and scores of other negative emotions. Somewhere along the line (or perhaps it's been all along), we have subsituted distraction for true healing. It often seems we (myself included) would rather live in someone else's world than face our own.

But I've come to realize something very important. Distraction breeds mediocrity, and mediocrity often leads to relativity. Our lives fall apart at the seams because we allow so many things to fill them, but when it finally comes crashing down, it leaves us emptier than when we began. What does it leave us with but images of people who don't exist, rushes of adrenaline that quickly subside, music that always fades and heads left spinning with a false reality?

Friends...brothers and sisters...there is so much more to life than living it vicariously through the next big thing. If we are to live wholeheartedly for our God, how can we do it if we refuse to weed out the distractions that come at us daily? I myself am am just as guilty as any in this. I am just as broken, sinful and distracted as any other person. But as I've often heard, there is beauty in the brokeness.

...to be continued...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Eyes

“I have three eyes,” he said, his Thai roots evident in his speech. “Two here.” He pointed to his eyes. “Do you know where the third one is?” My friends and I responded with puzzled looks. He pointed to his forehead. “In here. My mind is my third eye.”

I’d never thought of it that way. That seemed to be the theme of the night. My Labor Day weekend trip to Oklahoma City, unassuming as it seemed, had already gone headlong into becoming a quite significant experience.

He was a wiry Asian man in his fifties named Nick, though he insisted on being referred to as “Crazy Nick” or “Psycho Nick.” He was both the owner and sole employee a quaint, but popular, Thai restaurant. He was awake for 20 hours a day, then slept for only four.

Throughout the night, we learned many things about Crazy Nick. He told us he was a Buddhist, but also a universalist. He believed in all gods, including our own. He referred several times to Mary, God and Jesus in our conversation. He told us he spent at least an hour in meditation each night. He insisted that his wisdom came from within, but that he also recognized that he was stained with sin. My heart was moved with compassion for this man.

God…help him to hear You in all of this. Somehow, get through to him. Help him to realize that You are the one true God, I prayed silently. After a few hours of eating and talking with Crazy Nick, we bid him farewell. Driving away, we shared in our frustration that it was one thing to tell an atheist about Jesus, but an entirely different challenge to converse with a universalist about Him.

It made me grateful to know the truth, but deeply sad to know he didn’t, though he’d heard it several times from our mouths. But we also recognized that we could not dismiss all of what Crazy Nick was saying just because his beliefs were jumbled. He provoked me to think.

I am reminded of how often I am guilty of having my third eye blind. My mind is clouded with distractions and I stumble from task to task, trying to stay on top of the letters and numbers that fill the pages my day planner. But in a sad sort of way, I realize I have largely allowed those letters and numbers to become my life. I hardly think outside the parameters of my own comfortable existence.

As a counter to all of this, I see God effecting quite a bit of change in my life as of late. Just when I seem to get comfortable with something, He moves me up and out. I started to adjust to life in Nashville, and then it was time to leave. I started to feel I had a handle on life at home again, and then it was time to go back to school. I thought that I would always live in the quieter tower dorms on my campus, and I got placed as a chaplain in an ultra-social freshman dorm.

Here I am, my head spinning slightly from all the changes, realizing that life unfolds each day. It isn’t something I can figure out ahead of time. Believe me, I’ve tried and failed repeatedly. It is up to me to embrace it and the people that come with it. So far, so good. The best part is that God gives me grace and peace and the people I need each day to learn and grow and make it through.