Thursday, May 26, 2005

Why I don't want to be the Schwab

One of my new favorite shows is ESPN's "Stump the Schwab." I sit on my couch amazed at the huge amounts of sports trivia that he has hidden in his head. 3 people who have taken tests and are quite knowledgible about sports challenge him every show, and usually they are the ones who are left sitting there looking like they don't know who the Yankees are.
I like to think of myself as a person who knows a thing or two about sports trivia, and I do know alot of useless information. But I would not stand up to the Schwab's knee if we were stood side by side, he is just amazing.
But as smart as he is, and as much sports trivia that he contains in his head. He still is not a true sports figure. When you look at the Schwab all you see is a fat man who wears throw back jerseys. He looks as athletic as a pregnant woman. His job is to sit behind a deak and learn as much as he can about sports, but that does not make him an jock. In fact it makes him a stat boy.
I guess that resembles the person who knows the Bible but it doesn't have an impact on his or her life. Look at countless people who can quote large portions of the Bible, but they don't have a relationship with God. Yeah they know about God, but they don't know God. They can describe God, but they don't know from experience.
Yeah Schwab is an entertaining guy, but if i had my choice and he had his choice, we'd rather be the guys on the court.

Statues not in stone

I realize that I one day will be dust in the ground. But I want something that I do to be lifelong. I have never been anything amazing, mostly I am overlooked and average. But one day I would like to be remembered. I don't think that this is so strange, I don't know very many people who want to be forgotten. To compensate for this, people try and create humungeous things to be remembered by.

The ancient peoples of our world did the same thing; they built huge monuments to be remembered by. While I realize that many were built to different gods and the like, but they are what we remember them by. Babylon is known for the hanging towers. The Greeks are known for their temples. The Romans made huge aquaducts. The Egyptians figured out how to make Pyramids. But of all these ancient cultures the one who has no major monuments has had the biggest effect on civilization.

That's right the children of Abraham have had the biggest impact on the world. We have no physical evidence that Abraham lived on earth. The only writings that we have about his life were written at least 500 years after he lived, and they said that he lived his life in a tent. While it may seem that he lived an insignificant life, his actions have drastically changed the course of human events.

Christianity, Judism, and Islam all claim to have Abraham as their ancestor. These three religions have effected most of the known world, and outside of China and Southeast Asia, I can't think of a Region of the world where these arent' the primary religion. So you could say that Abraham was the most influential person in the history of the world.

Paul says that Abraham was justified by faith. There was nothing that he did to deserve God's merrit and because he had faith, and he acted on that faith he became the father of many nations. This is an amazing proposition. Now I don't believe that if I have faith in God, one day my descendents will rule the world. But I believe that if I have faith in God I will be taken care of.

So I guess I don't need a statue or a complex aquaduct to be remembered by. I think I'll be ok if am remembered as a guy who trusted God with his life. And God blessed him for that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Something isn't right in my head...

I have grown up in institutions that have been fundamentalistists. This means that the churches and schools has taken a very strong moral stance on many issues of the surrounding culture. This position is seen by many as a very separates stance. Fundamentalists don't dance, or drink, or smoke; in fact these actions are considered sinful. And growing up, this has been my philosophy on life.

I believe that this is a very safe position to be in, but it can lead very quickly into legalism. Too often fundamentalist camps have pulled away from the world, leaving it to it's "vices." Forming Christian schools, Christian radio stations, Christian hang out places, where they sell Christian coffee.

Fundamentalists have sat down and established actions that are sins, and stamped them into the minds of every child in the churches. and white: no and's, if's, or buts. Growing up I was indoctrinated (if you will) about the different sins and what I needed to do to avoid falling into their grasp.

As I began to mature, the rules seemed to be a burden to my life. They were cramping my style. I only followed the rules because it was what I had been taught my whole life, and not because I wanted to. So I would follow them, mostly because I couldn't prove the feeling deep inside me that wouldn't let me buy into rules just for the sake of rules. This lead to me breaking some of the rules, because they had no meaning to me other than it's what I had been taught, and not something I necessarily believed.

I still struggle with this feeling of not totally accepting the rules side of the deal. And I think that this is the reason that many of the young adults today struggle with church. They feel that the church is only giving them half the truth. We know that this Christian thing is right for us, but the whole idea that the Christian life is set out before is in black and white instantly makes us uneasy.

I guess the only thing that I wonder about is what is the point of living a moral life. Donald Miller in his book "Searching for God knows what" suggests morality is a private thing between man and God. Which to me is kinda an awkward proposition as earlier in his book, he talked about man being meant to live in community with each other. But I think he makes a good point, we don't live by the rules to impress anybody but God. What will impressing them do? Get us brownie points in the person most likely to succeed category when we graduate. So I think maybe that has something to do with the issue.

I have also heard the argument that God created us and set up rules for our own good. And not following the rules will lead us down roads bad for us. I totally agree with that statement. God created us and so He has the right to say what we can and cannot do. BUT what are the rules laid out before us? God can demand anything of me He deems necessary, but are the rules so Black and White as I grew up thinking?

Sorry I have been rambling on and on for a while now. I still hold onto following the rules. Not as tightly as I have before, but I live a life that I consider "by the book." I guess I have typed this all as a platform to help start the process in my life (and yours if some of this bothers you too) of how I am supposed to live out life. So if you want to leave a comment please do. If you wanna IM me and talk there, cool! Or if you want to forget all about this conversation please do! But I hope that in some way you'll be drawn closer to the love and grace of God!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Band of Brothers

I am a HUGE Band of Brothers fan. For those of you who do not know, Band of Brothers is an HBO series (10 episodes) that walks through the events of World War II with Easy Company, 2 division of the 506 PIR of the 101st (or something like that). If that went over your head, these guys were pretty much just a group of soldiers who Parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, took part in the liberation of Holland, held Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge, and took Hitler's residence in the Alps. So they were a group of elite soldiers who saw a lot of fighting in the war.

The first thing that I noticed when I began to watch these movies, is how realistic they are. The combat is very realistic, and the man in me is loving every minute of it. Then I began to notice that I was becoming very attached to these soldiers, I hated the episodes where my heroes get wounded and I was devastated when they got the Big One.
Now I don't want to sound like a huge fan of war and death, but these guys have captivated my interest. What does it take to be able to go through what they went through? How does a man watch his friends get blown up and still be able to have the want to live?
I think that the beauty of these movies is that fact that the emphasis is not on the fighting, that's just there because it is a war film. The emphasis is on the relationships that these men have developed with each other. These guys even busted out of hospitals all throughout the war to make sure that their friends wouldn't be fighting the enemy without their help. There was such a tight camaraderie among the men that it seemed they would go through Hell for each other.
Last night, I was watching the NBA, and Stephen Jackson of the Pacers (I'm not dogging the Pacers) was being questioned about an argument he had with one of the assistant coaches. He was upset that people were questioning his loyalty to his team, and he was upset that people were judging him. Then he referred to the infamous night in Detroit when he ran in the stands and started fighting the fans, to help Ron Artest. Not to criticize any of the actions that happened that night, but that's not going war, that's a riot.
A few years ago the same thing happened with the Detroit Tigers. They were playing a game against the White Sox and during the course of the game there was two bench clearing brawls. It seemed that like half of the Tigers were suspended, but the reactions were not what I thought they would be. The players were not upset with the suspensions, I think that they realized that there was no way around those. But they were upset at the players who didn't come out and fight with them. Instead of nasty comments about the commissioner, they were making comments about the players who were still on the bench.
Why is it that players will risk large amounts of money for their teammates (Stephen Jackson said he lost $2 million)? Why did the soldiers in WWII leave the hospital to go back into combat and risk their lives? And why do I feel excited when I see and hear stories about these things?
The answer to these questions, I believe, is that we as humans are meant to be in a community. We need to know that when I go through life, I am not alone. People will sacrifice a whole lot of things to be a part of something. When you look a people who are depressed and people who take their lives, isolation seems to be a big part of the reason; not physical isolation, but mental and spiritual isolation. It seems we are at our lowest when we are alone.
I think that's why I like Band of Brothers, not for the cool war actions shots, but because it shows man at his finest.