Sometimes You Wanna Go (where you have no name)

Bleep, bleep, bleep. It’s just before 5 and I’m supposed to get up and read the Word. But it’s cold and dark, and I don’t want to. Must get dressed, must leave, no time for stuff, but apparently, time to curl my eyelashes that will fall down by the end of the day anyway.

8 AM. Stumbling around in a large room, trying to find my seat. I am now a number. Writing my name on my Principles of Microeconomics Final. Making small talk with the girl next to me. “Good luck” she says. Apparently I had grown deaf, so I asked her to repeat herself like twice. What else would a stranger say before a test?

1-2. Epically failing my golf lesson. Instructor pulling out all the stops, my body unwilling to hit a small white ball squarely. He even scooped up sand and put it behind the ball, telling me to try and hit the sand in the air. You know it’s bad when they get creative.

Around 3. Mad at the world. Bitter about circumstances. Deliberating about the future. Wanting to eat away my troubles. Considering the benefits of booze. Wishing to run off to the forest and leave it all behind, self-surviving in a modest and wholesome way. Routine, modern life, boredom, ingratitude slowly killing me.

3- studying, avoiding studying, eating away some troubles. Reminding myself of the good things that are going, like my study group planned for tomorrow (lately that has been the closest I’ve had to a social life). Why should God give me stuff if I don’t even appreciate what I have, pursuing Him wholeheartedly?

Present- blogging. Need to communicate with God. Need to lay it all down. But I am afraid. I am afraid that God doesn’t want me, that I don’t belong to Him anymore, that I can’t belong to Him. Feeling trapped by circumstances. Wall between me and God. Must climb. But it’s hard. Will I fall? “Stop climbing! You’ll never get there!” They tell me. Why do I need to listen to them? My palms are sweating, but I can feel the freedom and love and peace already. It’ll be worth it.

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When God Decides to Help Out

Something I’ve always wondered about, and will never know, I suppose, is how much God directly intervenes in our lives. I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who has contemplated this. Is our success a blessing? Failure a wakeup call?

How much are we really in control? Is there a such thing as fate? If God works good through bad circumstances as part of His will, is he condoning any of the sinful actions that came before the event?

But these questions are enough to drive a person crazy. Perhaps my posts in general are a little too inquisistive.

And then, of course, the answer to every question is to trust God. But what does that really mean? Does it mean that we slack up on our efforts, hoping that God will pay the difference? Does it mean that we merely acknowledge the possibility of success or failure based on all our endeavors according to God’s perfect will? Should we leave some things up to God? My gut says yes… But these judgment calls aren’t all that easy when it comes down to it.

We are supposed to let God live through us. But again, that is a vague statement. There’s no roadmap, besides to Bible, which people have yet to find complete agreement on after centuries of interpretation. And the Bible doesn’t give step-by-step, moment by moment instructions for our particular lives.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not easy. It’s easier in the sense that we no longer have to please the world. Which is pretty hard. Climbing up socioeconomic ladders is exhausting. HIS yoke is light in comparsion. But when you’re not carrying a yoke, you’re carrying a cross. Solid wood, friends. Persecution, trials, sacrifice, it’s quite a load. At least we don’t have to go through it alone.

What should we do about all this? Why am I practicing this religion if it’s hard? Here’s what we should do:

1. Not worry about stuff. Like money, food, our job, our health, etc. Have you ever heard other people freaking out about trivial things? Is it attractive?
2. Respect and love those around us. Including ourselves.
3. Be humble.

Not an exhaustive list, but hopefully a reminder. I’ll close with that.

Why We Should Be Careful How We Help Others

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Poverty is all around us, even if we chose to ignore it. When you’re sitting in your warm car, it’s much easier to ignore the panhandlers by the intersections and continue your conversation than it is to acknowledge the human suffering going on. Poverty takes many forms and doesn’t restrict itself within borders, but forgive me for limiting the discussion, because for right now, I am going to talk about Africa.

What does a white person know about Africa, you ask? Not much- it’s not like I have ever even been there. But I have read Dambisha Moyo’s (she is an African) book Dead Aid, a treatise against “governmental” aid for African countries, which is what this discussion will be based off.

The fact that I have been mentioning Africa might have just caused a little pang of pity to vibrate on your heartstrings. That is why so much money and so many supplies have been sent there over the years. And, apparently, to little avail. Despite all this assistance from our rich governments to African ones, per capita income overall has decreased (Moyo 5). The money that is sent there, with its objectives that white people cooly dictate, is used for unintended purposes- about 85% worth (Moyo 39). And that’s not all. I wish that were all.

Sending foreign made supplies can be detrimental to the African economy because local producers will lose customers. Which means… People somewhere are losing jobs (Moyo 44). Clearly, something is wrong with that picture.

And here’s something ironic. The US government subsidizes farms, which costs money. While at the same time, we pay for aid. Sure, politicians have their reasons for it, but no one who knows about economics (I can attest to this too even as a first year economics major) will argue that more trade could really help Africa, and American consumers too (Moyo 114-115).

The flood of aid affects the value of currency, which can drive up the prices of African exports, making it hard to compete with lower world prices (Moyo 62). And this aid is not really free money. Interest must be paid, causing lots of debt. That’s something that we can understand here in the States. This debt had to be restructured (Moyo 18-19). Clearly that wasn’t a fantastic solution. Besides these concerns, there are so many others economic problems with aid that I can’t even begin to summarize without basically going over the whole book. Simplistically put, aid is starving Africa, and if you don’t believe me, read the book yourself and some intelligent counter-arguments as well, if you like.

Obviously, I’m a little uncomfortable with all of this as a Christian. As much as I would like capitalism to benefit everyone, I know that it doesn’t. Self-reliance is a nice idea, but it doesn’t always put food on the tables of well-intentioned people. The only thing is, it’s put food on more tables than its counterpart, communism.

I still believe in helping out our fellow man, not leaving our brothers at the mercy of the markets. Which aren’t terribly merciful. I still believe in missionaries, in people who help out kids who don’t have a voice and who didn’t have a chance. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to stifle the local economies of the countries we seek to help in the process. Is there a way to help out without doing more harm than good? I think so. We can spread the Word, empower, assist, and do all that in a way that respects the integrity of foreign peoples. Treating them like children isn’t going to cut it. I think there is a solution, we all just need to put our heads together. I hope to be part of that solution as soon as possible.

One way to help Africa, and probably many other regions, is through trade. But we don’t have free trade. Should we? If we did, African producers would be better off. But that begs the question- what about the American jobs that would be lost? This is a good question. I think anyone who’s been to Detroit lately will agree that Americans need jobs. But so do other people around the world.

It’s not an easy solution to an easy problem. It seems like no matter how you manipulate the situation, someone gets screwed. Why does it have to be that way? I would imagine that there’s enough money to floating around to feed everyone in the world and then some.

I’m not saying that we need equality. That is impractical and impossible, among other things. Sorry communists. But what if everyone in the world had a job and food to eat and hope for the future? What if everyone was aware of Christianity, even if they don’t believe?

Works Cited

Moyo, Dambisha. Dead Aid. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009. Print

Photo credit: andykristian.com

Lessons From A Likely Source

One good thing that has been happening recently to me is an increased interest in God’s word. I’m not quite at the point where reading the Word is my absolute favorite thing to do, better than eating donuts, but improvement is always nice.

At times, I appreciate the Word, and the lessons it offers. I am in 2 Chronicles now. But at other times, I still have my doubts. Like, why did God seem to change his mind a lot(2 Chronicles 12, 1 Chronicles 21)? Why did He have to destroy so many people? Why did He divide His own kingdom (Israel, I mean) ?

I thought I would throw these questions in just in case someone has someone has an answer. But that’s okay if no one does- God doesn’t need to justify Himself before me

But here’s the real point of this spiel. 2 Chronicles 16. Asa (a descendent of Solomon, King of Judah) decides to trust Ben-Hedad, another king, instead of the Lord, his true ally. And when he gets sick, he puts his trust in doctors. Not God, who brought his people out of Egypt and established his very throne.

Don’t I do that a lot? Don’t I think I can just eat healthier and take care of myself, and I won’t get sick? Don’t I think I can just get lots of sleep and caffeine, and my mental instability will just control itself? Don’t I often feel like self-medicating for my depression and anxiety?

Don’t I know that God doesn’t need to honor any of my efforts? That I’m mortal, perishable, subject to His will? Shouldn’t I have a little faith, at least the size of a mustard seed?

The Battle Continues- Christians Vs. Hollywood

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I don’t think that anyone who really knows me would say that I have no sense of humor. I love humor- snakiness, satire, slapstick, all of the above.

It seems like every time you turn on the TV or read anything intellectual, there are always jokes about religion. You know what I’m talking about. Sometimes, these jokes are downright blasphemous. But sometimes they seem kind of good-natured. They seem to say, “It’s okay if you actually believe that, we won’t judge, but you know it’s a little silly.” And every once in a while they seem somewhat appropriate/funny/understandable. Like what I saw today, on a recent episode of the Simpsons, when Homer was dressed up as Jesus while promoting a loan shark (get it, because of how Jesus got mad at the “money changers” in the temple), and was consequently struck by lightening. I don’t know, I thought that was funny. As close as the media will get to acknowledging the existence of God.

I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged on this topic before. But what I really want to know is, how should Christians respond to this kind of humor? And, where do you draw the line in making light of the things in the Bible? Puns, good-natured one-liners? Isn’t it wrong to ridicule the word of God beyond that (or is the Bible a 100% serious thing)? Does God himself have a good sense of humor when it comes to his own decrees?

Which brings up another topic. Forgive me for jumping around, but I think I will let those questions hang in the air while I discuss this, the matter of Christians as loud-mouthed media watchdogs. Sure, we can certainly have our opinions of what we see, we can react accordingly to what we see, and refrain from watching certain things, encouraging our friends to do the same. But do we need to write the strongly worded letters and go crazy on social media every time we see something particularly debauch? Should we try to change the culture by speaking out? Or should we accept that the world is different from us, and stop trying to impose our morals on it? Should we just let our lives speak for themselves? Why do we expect Hollywood to conform to our values? And don’t we have our own business to attend to? Or is it important that we remind ourselves and each other of what is right and wrong? Do we have something better to do than discuss how Miley Cyrus is an example of the cultural decline of America? Is there a plank between our pupils and our 3-D glasses?

 

 

 

Photo Credit: simple.wikipedia.org

 

 

 

We Are Eternity

I know that I am supposed to love my fellow man. But it’s not like I always do, I’m not even close, not even a little bit, and I really mean that, I’m not just trying to be modest and relatable while at the same time secretly believing in my own moral superiority. I certainly don’t always wish the best for everyone or pray for my enemies all the time. In a world filled with strife, misunderstanding, indifference, and isolation, it is understandable why we often don’t feel the most pure goodwill toward our neighbor.

But every once in a while, there are moments of understanding. Like today, in college, I had the privilege of talking to a few people. I know, actually talking to people, crazy, right? In an average day, I only really talk to one person. I met someone who is graduating soon, who is also a commuter and feels isolated from campus life. But at least she is graduating, so I guess it’s good for her.

And I met someone else who is also struggling with reconciling her artistic side with wanting to make a decent living.

And through reading, through listening, living- I feel like I am not alone. I feel like my crucibles, no matter how embarrassing or ugly, are not unique to me. I feel like there is hope for all of us to unite in Christ, and all we need to do is take up the challenge.

And I need to forgive myself. I need to remind myself that I will not get to heaven through my works anyway, so it is okay if I am not perfect, as long as the love of perfection is there, and as long as my heart is not [completely] filled with evil and self interest, but with gratitude towards God. People have been wondering for centuries about the true meaning of life (and the true meaning of Christmas, on a microscopic leve), but right there, that is where the true meaning of life begins.

And as a side note, I want to thank my 100 followers and anyone else who has found themselves reading my stuff. You don’t know how encouraging it is to me that people actually read this blog filled with my disjointed and repetitive thoughts.

The World Doesn’t Have to Like Me

Last night, I had a dream that I won the playwriting contest at my university, and I was really happy. Now, I’m pretty sure that it didn’t happen, because of the dream. And the fact that the play is from a Christian perspective. The world doesn’t have to like me.

I used to think that people in general hated me. Really. But I don’t believe this anymore. I think that sometimes I can be likable in a dorky way, to a certain point, but there is still something about me that makes people want to establish boundaries. The world doesn’t have to like me.

I often feel like I am not wholeheartedly committed to the service of the Lord. I fear more commitment will ruin my happiness and comfort, and I will alienate others. But I don’t have to be happy in the usual way. And if other people can’t accept who God is, then that isn’t really my fault. The world doesn’t have to like me.