Archive for August, 2007

Friday Night Date Place – The Right to be Picky

I’ve mentioned before that I have a lot of female friends. One of the reasons for that is because I have legitimately cultivated friendships with people of the opposite sex. True friendships, not “people I haven’t slept with … yet”. During the course of the friendships, sometimes we may have had to have a variation of the DTR talk. As their friend, I have had one simple “rule”: find a person who will love you as much and treat you as well as I do.

Sure, I get the occasional complaint that I set too high a standard. Actually, that’s a shame, because if a friend loves you and treats you better than your Significant Other, then you really ought to examine what you look for in an S.O. and/or why you settle in your relationships. I shouldn’t have to hear things like “I’m pickier than I have any right to be.” Any right to be? Wrong. You have the right to be picky.

We’ve constructed a false self, where we are defined by what we do, by what we have, and by what people think about us. It’s like we are all trapped by these false ideas of ourselves. These false selves, these false ways that we see ourselves, start developing when we’re young: how our families shape us, how we let our friends define us. We derive our self-worth from what we do; we’re of value because of how we behave or what we have.Too often, we’ve bought into several lies about ourselves. “I’m not pretty enough.” “I’m not smart enough.” “I’m not funny enough.” “I’m not worth loving.”

Truth is, we are eikons of God, created in God’s image, created to relate to God, to relate to others; created with inherent worth and dignity. In other words, you deserve to be loved. You deserve to be respected and esteemed. You deserve to be picky.

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OMG!

We’ve been going through The Lord’s Prayer lately and I got stuck on the first line: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” (Matthew 6:9). Which means I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea lately and what exactly the idea behind this means.

Alongside the idea of what it means to “fear the Lord” is respecting His name/title. The idea isn’t something brand new to us and how we live. We know there are lines we shouldn’t cross, especially depending on who we’re dealing with and the title/office they may hold. It’s analogous to many of us having employers that we also call friends. We may have a more casual relationship, but there are lines we don’t cross out of respect. For others, it may be similar to relationships with our parents when we get to that friendship point. They still have the authority, title, office of parent that demands honor. For me, I have two close friends who are also my pastors.

“I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” –Exodus 3:14

The name of the Lord. Yahweh. The “I AM”. He defines His name for us: “Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”” (Exodus 34:5-7)

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” –Exodus 20:7

All of the pontificating about cussing (in part one and part two) aside, taking the Lord’s name in vain is an entirely different issue. Names have power. To call someone by name is to assume a more intimate relationship with them (thus part of my issue with kids calling me by my first name). A name can define one’s character and attributes, who He is and what He is like.

The words still ring in my head: “hallowed be your name.” Treat the name as holy, meaning set apart. Honor it, exalt it. Magnify it. Glorify it. To do anything less is to profane it and we profane so easily. To profane is to take that which is high and trample it underfoot. To trivialize it (like when we swear, especially falsely, by his name, Lev 19:12, Matthew 5:33-37).

We like to hide from the exalted, from thinking too highly of things. It’s easier to be petty and trivial. Long gone are the days when His name was considered so sacred that to write it, the instrument used to write it out was destroyed. Boils down to how casual we are with “high things.” We forget that we enter into dangerous territory when dealing with the wholly other and it points to our loss of reverence. At the same time, we have to balance that fear against the reality of the intimate territory, Him personally concerned with me, that a relationship with Him means.

We are careless and casual with our speech, unaware of what we evoke with our words. I keep saying “we”, but this is more a simple reminder to myself.

***ADDENDUM***
I wanted to add this comment I received from my friend, Rob Rolfingsmeyer:

Hallowed be thy name, a Rob perspective:

Remember that the Hebrews in the Older Covenant had a great respect for the Name of G-d. The tetragrammaton was hardly ever used, just in case it was said wrong or said out of place. The equivalant would be to me referring to your wife constantly with the b-word or (God forbid) the c-word. Whereas nowadays, I wouldn’t take much offense to my friends calling me a bitch every once in awhile, I definitely would take it to heart and want to whup some ass if someone called my wife that. The name usually denotes the character of the person referred to. And just like w/ Roman names, if someone of a lower class than you called you by your Praenomen, you would take offense because it is not their place to call you such a thing.

Words have power, then as they do now. Names were the greatest sort of power, just think of Jacob asking for the name of the “angel” who wrestled with him. If the angel had given him his name, then Jacob would have been on an equal footing with the angel or worse, would have had “power” over him. These are just some of the reasons why the Hebrews were so uptight about using the Name of God. Heshem was usually good enough. It’s like referring to someone as “that dude” or “that guy”. You don’t want to offend the person you are talking about by f-ing up their name.

When Jesus is saying that God’s name is hallowed, he is speaking truth. The very name of God holds power in it, and the thing that should be even more frightening is the fact that God is allowing people to be friends with him by revealing his name. Even saying Heshem is a big step. It’s like Abba is a big step. God is your friend and cohort and you can even have his name. But the thing with “hallowed” is that you better not “fraggle” with it. You need to understand that in this relationship there needs to be a healthy respect going on. It is a reminder that he is above everything and before everything and you need to respect that and keep that in the forefront of your brain. Prayer is a conversation so show your respect for who God is to you first and foremost before you move on.

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Interview with Publisher Kim Stewart

Every now and then, I just run across items that intrigue me. The other day I ran across P.O.W.E.R. Magazine. I liked the idea that “God has a destiny in mind for you, and it is bigger than you can ever imagine. Stepping into that destiny begins with Prayer, Obedience, and Worship and letting Him use you for the Edification of His people, bringing about a Rebirth … thus the International P.O.W.E.R. acronym.” So I thought that I would ask its Publisher, Kim Stewart, a few questions.

Tell me a little bit about P.O.W.E.R. Magazine.

International P.O.W.E.R.’s mission is to “Compel People To Come To Christ”, encourage family values and overall personal development. We are not packaged like many traditional Christian magazines because our focus is on the un-churched and the un-saved. We hope to feature cover stories on celebrities like Tony Dungy and Angela Bassett who are not ashamed to tell people about the “Good News About Jesus Christ” In hopes that people, who admire these personalities, will read about how they give the God the Glory and perhaps do a self examination of their walk with the Lord. And at some point say “What must I do to be saved”?

What lead you to start your own magazine?

Once I relocated back to Indianapolis, from Atlanta, I was disturbed to fine that many of my old acquaintances living lives of quiet desperation. Living in the same condition they were in when I left. The communities that I was raised in did not appear to be progressing. However, other communities seemed to be flourishing. So I believed that if their was some form of a magazine could address their needs and show them the steps needed to transform themselves from the inside out, then perhaps a change for the better could take place in their individual lives – leading to a change through out the city, the state, this country and all over the world.

What unique voice do you hope to add to the magazine scene?

Unlike most publishers, I am not in the magazine business as much as I am in the people business. Therefore, I hope to provide a voice for those who don’t have a platform to express themselves as well as a large readership that will enable us to move in great numbers towards solving problems that plague all communities. For example, healthcare certainly does not have a color, yet it has a price tag. If we are able to use our database to bring about change for all people then our unique voice will have been heard.

What has your own spiritual journey been like?

We don’t have time for that testimony yet, but it is coming soon. I will sum it up however like this. I should have been dead a long time ago. I have done every type of un-Godly thing there is, yet God has continued to have mercy on me and save me from myself. In my case I really don’t believe God cares one way or the other if I publish a magazine. I have a testimony and he didn’t bring me out of it to not share it with anyone. Truthfully, I believe that he has allowed me to manage P.O.W.E.R. (I say manage because it’s his magazine like all things. His money, His house, His car etc., and he is loving us enough to let us manage some of His things), as a way to get me in shape for the real task at hand and that is to do Christian Motivational Speaking.

If you had to leave someone with one message, what would it be?

Christ died on the cross to save us from the penalty of sin. He exchanged His life for our life In His death he also freed us from many of the chains that we are bound to; divorce, drugs, homosexuality, etc. But the scripture that immediately came to my heart II Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

[If you are interested in P.O.W.E.R. Magazine, click here.]

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Twenty Years So Soon

The Northwest High School Class of 1987 Reunion.

It’s been twenty years since that four year rite of passage that we call the high school experience and I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to see them. I was the youngest graduate in our class due to me skipping a few grades which only gave me more incentive to keep my head down. So generally, I kept to myself. Sorta.

(L-R: Amy Majeske (Bird), me, Tina Hardymon, Jon Harp*)

I wasn’t the nerd, the jock, the cheerleader, or part of the fringe crowds. I found that if you were your own particular brand of weird and were comfortable with it, folks either left you alone or accepted you. Still, I had a mild curiosity to see what happened to the bullies of the day, the old cliques, the old “we will grow old together/a love like ours will never die” romances (most of whom apparently ended a few weeks after graduation).

Buoyed on waves of nostalgia, I chose to attend the reunion (and convinced my best friend* to go – man was not meant to suffer alone). Here’s what you need to know about our graduating class: we started the year at around 400 students but just under 200 actually made it to May. So it’s no wonder folks want to cheer at graduations. In the time since, far too many have been killed or incarcerated. There’s no point in complaining about how it was organized. I apply the same rule I use when folks come to me complaining about something I’ve put together: what did you do to help out? Since I pretty much sat back and watched it unfold, I’ve got no room to complain.

Though a strange and wondrous time, high school always did have its little quirks. For our first couple years, we were prone to race riots just prior to major breaks. In fact, I was worried that our reunion would break down like our lunchtime cafeteria typically did: split right down the middle along racial lines. Luckily, a lot has changed in twenty years.
(The Reunited Northwest High School Class of 1987)

If nothing else, we’ve managed to undo the unfortunate mistakes of 80s hairstyles, from the Flock of Seagulls look to the mullet/porn mustache combo to Jheri curls. (Luckily, there are no pictures floating around of me where I’d have to live down either a Kid ‘N Play or a DeBarge phase of hair.)

There was no great angst moment. No cathartic epiphany about my place in society or the universe. No mid-life crisis panic attacks. Just me connecting with folks whom I had lost touch with. However, allow me to tell you that there is not enough alcohol to get me on the dance floor 80s tunes. (Though at one point I was left wondering “why is my wife going down the Soul Train line?”).

Yeah, it was a bit of a ghetto reunion (and, yeah, I fixed a to go plate of food), but it was OUR ghetto reunion. In a lot of ways it reflected much of what our class was about: more than a little disorganized, loud, fun, and quick to just solve problems by getting on the dance floor.

Though, all told, I remember why I skipped my prom.

*Dear Jon: if you’re going to blog about your one-time crushes, maybe you ought to check and see if they’re going to your reunion. Cause the Internet is a big place and folks love to Google themselves.

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Story, Memory, and Reconciliation

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA — Maurice Broaddus, father of two biracial
children, reflects on the stories that comprise his children’s mixed
heritage and how such stories could lead toward reconciliation
between the races, in today’s issue of The Storyteller and the
Listener Online.

You can read the full graphics version of the essay here.

(A text-only version is available here.)

While I’m plugging things, J.C. Hay has a story, Brothers, up on Pseudopod. By a convergence of coincidence, it is read by another friend of ours, Richard Dansky. Go listen to a great story read greatly.

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Gen Con 2007 Report

It’s that time of year when hordes of the devoted make their annual pilgrimage to nerd Mecca, that is, my very own Indianapolis and Gen Con. Now, before you’re too quick to make fun, during this madness we call preseason football, it’s ironic how Colts fans painted in blue can look at fantasy fans dressed as elves and think “some folks just take things too far.” Though there may be a hierarchy of nerds, fan devotion shows that they have a passion for something, though admittedly, some DO take things too far (thus why fans sometimes scare me).

This was my first Gen Con. Considering how many conventions I go to in a year, you’d think I’d actually attend the huge one in my own back yard. Already, Gen Con is Indianapolis’ third-largest convention, bringing nearly 27,000 people and $25.3 million to Downtown hotels, restaurants and shops. Gen Con stepped up to the challenge of replacing the E3 convention and is becoming a key stop in the multi-billion dollar videogame industry. Part trade show, part fan con, it has a strong writer’s track (after all, someone has to write the games and tie-ins. Plus, it’s always good to learn the politics in the writing game, the secret ins and outs of various companies).

(These pics courtesy of J.C. Hay)

[Mee aaand Mister, Mister (William) Jones] [J.C. Hay and William Horton]

That’s the business part of the con and I got a ton of it done. Special shout outs to my friends I don’t get to see nearly often enough: Lucien Soulban, J.C. Hay, Jesse Scoble, Tim Waggoner and Matt Forbeck. (The rest of the pics courtesty of Sheryl Hugill)
As for fans, yes, for some folks these kinds of cons are a way of life. It’s the rare place where a Star Wars ring tone goes off and a dozen folks check their phone. It’s where people can get together and filk in peace. Where else can you overhear conversations about orcs and werewolves? It’s for people who use web cams and Skype to run Hollow Earth Expedition – you know, exactly what Al Gore had in mind when he invented the Internet.

Gen Con is for game enthusiasts of all stripes: video, board, role-playing (including the live action (LARP) variety), and cards. And the multitude of folks in costumes: from Storm Troopers to Ghostbusters to Silent Bob to Jack Sparrow.
However, I don’t care how stylish you are dressed, you ain’t pimpin’ in elf ears.

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Membership has its privileges

You ever walk into the middle of a conversation that you can tell has been had often before? This is going to be one of those conversations and rather than re-hash old territory, let’s start fresh. There are some words, phrases, disparaging remarks that are off limits. Let’s be grown-ups: of course there are words one group can use that another/an outside group can’t. Don’t start crying “how come they get to?” to me. Seriously, the “he did it first” mess doesn’t fly with me when it comes from my five year old.

(Continued on Intake in “Membership has its priveleges”)

Should some folks not use some words then for the sake of consistency and modeling? Maybe.
There are certainly some words I’d prefer we’d simply get rid of, however, until then

(And allow me to reiterate: membership also has its costs. Funny how folks want the “privileges” without having to pay the price of admission).

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Friday Night Date Place – Dating Divorcees

“Is it okay to date someone who has been divorced?” You’d be stunned how often I get this question. Or, maybe you wouldn’t be. We live in an age of divorce, where one out of two marriages end in divorce, Christian and non-Christian alike. So many folks find themselves single again or dating prospects who have been divorced.

I’m not going to hash out a theology on divorce – why re-invent the wheel? Here are a few articles that I found helpful:

The Importance of a Clearly Defined Position

Four Evangelical Views on Divorce and Remarriage

A Brief Development of the Reformed Perspective

Pastoral Applications of the Reformed Position

Dating divorcees I basically just wanted to know the answer to a couple of questions:

1. What were the circumstances of the divorce? Adultery, abuse, abandonment – it’s hard to hold someone into account for the actions of another, don’t you think? Now, if I hear things like “my spouse no longer fulfilled my needs” or “we fell out of love;” well that’s going to make me more cautious.

2. How do they feel about the divorce? Did they fight to stay married? Were they repentant (if circumstances dictate/warrant it)? Basically, I want to know if they take marriage seriously. However, I understand circumstances beyond our control.

3. What sort of baggage is there? Hmm, perhaps there’s a better way to phrase this, but it doesn’t matter since only the first two questions are “make or break” sort of questions (and most folks carry baggage into a relationship). I’m just getting at what are the other relationships I’d be getting into (the ex still around, children, etc.).

“Is it okay?” I guess that’s up to you and what you have on your list. I know some hard core folks with a “no divorced people” dating policy. There’s something about that stance that smacks of judgment and an unforgiving spirit – but maybe it’s just me. I do know that marriage is hard and has many pitfalls. It strikes me as unloving to see someone who has been bruised by life, point to their bruises, and go “you’re automatically defective. Next please.” Maybe they should be asking if it’s okay to date you?

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Like I really Care What People Think

Okay, I was talked into doing this. Think of it as a game to see how well you (think you) know me.

The Johari Window was invented by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the 1950s as a model for mapping personality awareness. By describing yourself from a fixed list of adjectives, then asking your friends and colleagues to describe you from the same list, a grid of overlap and difference can be built up.

Here’s my Johari Window.

The Nohari Window is a challenging inversion of the Johari Window, using antonyms of the original words. By describing your failings from a fixed list of adjectives, then asking your friends and colleagues to describe you from the same list, a grid of perceived and unrecognized weaknesses can be explored.

Here’s my Nohari Window.

This will be interesting (read: an exercise in self-absorption).

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The Thrill is Gone

Everyone is scared of something.

So, after my family’s most recent excursion to Holiday World, I see no reason why I should have to endure the taunts of my so-called friends and family. Three things you all need to understand:

(Continued on Intake in “The Thrill is Gone)

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