Friday, May 21, 2010

Musical goodness

Here's a sampling of some music I've discovered over the last year or so:

His voice might take some getting used to, but Lovedrug is really good music.

Passion Pit's another relatively recent discovery I've fallen in love with. This is probably my favorite of their songs off of Manners.

Timber Timbre's pretty amazing stuff, too. Very reminiscent of Dylan.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Pull yourself up by your bootstraps"

I'd be hard-pressed to find a phrase I hate more than this one. Its meaning is simple: you have the power to improve your situation if you just man up and do it. On the surface, this appears to be good advice. But:
  • It implies that the person to whom the phrase is directed is at fault for being downtrodden.
  • It implies that we are completely in charge of our destiny. As James tells us, though, "You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? It is a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (4:13). And Proverbs, in many places, warns us about the plans of men versus the plans of God.
  • It fails to understand the complexities of the causes of poverty and the power of growing up in a poverty culture. Just as those who use the phrase usually have grown up in WASP culture with its emphasis on work ethic and merit, those to whom they usually direct this phrase have grown up with a completely different set of values that needs to be overcome or changed before they can even begin to find their bootstraps.
  • It fails to understand grace or give credit to God for their own situation. God "owns the cattle on a thousand hills," meaning He owns our bank accounts, jobs, and all our possessions. And just as quickly (or slowly) as they are granted to us, He can take them away. So while in one sense, by working hard one gets certain benefits, in reality, it's God's grace that enables us to work, and God's grace that gives us possessions as a result of that hard work. No amount of bootstrap pulling will advance us in material goods and stature without the will of God to grant that we advance.
  • It fails to see that our world is sinful, and the world's systems and societies are sinful, and often the wrong or undeserving people are rewarded. Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard one yanks on the bootstraps, because somebody keeps pushing you down as soon as you start to get up.
  • It fails to see that advancement in this world is not necessarily a good goal to have.
We don't live in a meritocracy, as much as we like to think we do. People are rewarded or punished based on who they know, how much money they have, what neighborhood they live in or school they go to. Yes, we like to think of our country as the "land of opportunity," and maybe it is more than others. But that doesn't change the fact that some people have longer bootstraps and others have shorter ones. And it certainly doesn't change the fact that it's God who directs the paths of every life, and it's by His grace that we possess anything. So let's please kill this phrase, because to a Christian it really has no meaning.

On reflection

There's something worth writing about every day.

I fancy myself a writer, even though I don't have anything finished, let alone published. I suppose you could say that I have several stories finished, though until I see them published, I still consider them to be in revision. And it's probably because I consider them to still be in revision that I have made no attempts to get them published.

But that's beside the point. What I'm trying to say is that I'm convinced the discipline of writing is important, not simply because I like to writer and aspire to be a writer, but because it's through writing that my thoughts solidify and change me.

Writing is my means of reflection. When I hear a good sermon, read a good book, watch a good movie, read the Word, I am far more likely to retain the truths within each of those if I write about them. The same goes for experiences: the choices I make and the events I witness, the places I go and the people I meet and interact with, I ought to be just as reflective about.

For what is sanctification about, if not reflecting on one's relationship and need for God and then making the changes necessary to become more like Him? If I live without stopping to think, without considering carefully all the things God has put in my path to make me more like Him, then what good am I, and what good are they doing me?

So I fully support the discipline of reflection: whether that be through writing, or through thinking aloud, or through prayer, or any combination of those things. I believe it's an essential part of our growing in maturity in our faith - can we really become more like Jesus if we don't spend time thinking about the life He's given us to do just that? Each day the goal is to become more like Him. If we go through each day without some thought as to how we can better represent Him, how we can give more of ourselves over to Him, then what good are we? We are not living as we ought.

My encouragement then to you, and perhaps more importantly to myself, is to make reflection a key component to your walk of faith. Let yourself be changed and shaped through deep consideration of what God is doing in your life. Don't allow yourself to get busy with the cares of the world so much that you miss the whole point of why we're here in the first place.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New layout

It's come time to change.

Why? I don't really know. I'm not one for changing my blog layout like an outfit - as anyone knows, I've kept the last design for at least 4 years, and before that, my old blog which I accidentally deleted had the same general template for years as well.

But with the prevalence now of blog templates being offered online for free - and their increasing attractiveness over the old Blogger stand-bys, I really couldn't see a reason to hold on to the old one for sentimental reasons.

And I like this one a lot. I think it fits in well with the "Wayfarer" theme.

So welcome to my new home.