Friday, April 29, 2011

Rubber, Meet Road

So Heavenly minded, no Earthly good.

I'm sure I've been that person at some point in time.  I'm trying to change.  And I have been changing.  It has been said that faith without works is dead.  I'd like to change that to faith without works isn't faith at all.  Coincidently, C&C is starting a 10 week look at the book of James which is very much a rubber meets the road kind of book.

Over the last 6 months or so I have been looking for places to put my faith into action.  I have been praying a lot more and helping with worship at church but I also want to start more tangible expressions of my faith beyond the church world.  I've helped an older couple move, I've started sponsoring a foster child, and I've been donating money to a lot of worthy charities.  All that is good, but I feel like there's more in me to give.  I'm trying to figure out what that "more" is.  I know people that help others living on the streets or suffering with addictions and that is great, but it doesn't feel like that is what I am meant to do.  I'm not trying to make excuses but that kind of thing just doesn't flow out of me.  I am trying to discern what my (spiritual) gifts are and where they should be applied.  It feels like it is taking too long, but at least the ball is rolling.  Until I have things all figured out, I will continue to experiment with different opportunities and find the place where I feel I fit.

I think it is great we are going through James now.  Perfect timing.  Rubber, meet road.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Speaking of Men

Blogger Matthew said...
Well, I guess I'll just offer some thoughts over here instead;) The downside of this is that I seldom remember to keep checking a particular post for further response.

I feel like this topic is so huge and goes so deep that it's tough to know where to begin. But I will begin by saying that when we go deep enough beneathe the surface we are neither male nor female. To me, that needs to be the starting place.

If the essence of who we are is without gender and sex then what does it mean to live in a physical body as a man, woman, or intersexed individual?

I actually think that last part is quite important. If someone is born neither exclusively male or female, where is the room for them to find their gender model?

Yes, there are differences between men and women that result from genetic differences and cultural conditioning and I think part of the challenge is discerning how to be the fullest and most whole individual in the midst of our biological and cultural distinctions.

Rather than fighting against my 'maleness' in some spirit of anti-conformity or blindly embracing the limited social and cultural expectations of what it means to be male, it seems to me that the better approach is to work with my natural strengths, inclinations and abilities, in the pursuit of becoming a fuller expression of humanity.

The difference is that it's understanding and working with the qualities of myself, as an individual, not the qualities I 'should' have, as a male. We all carry a huge amount of personal and cultural baggage about who we 'should' be but it's only when we look honestly at who we are that we really begin to make some progress.

So in that sense, I really liked your lists and your recognition that the categories are indeed based on stereotypes.

What are some 'manly' and also 'not-so-manly' qualities you'd like to cultivate? Are there any 'manly' or 'not-so-manly' qualities you'd like to be rid of?

Thanks for listening and it's good to hear your thoughts!
March 26, 2011 2:34 PM

Blogger Clinton said...

I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, and on your comments, but as usual I find myself so short on time. A reply is brewing though.

Honestly, I like who I am, so I can't say there is something more I want to cultivate or be rid of at the moment. But that is why I am putting this out there. Maybe there is more to being a man than I am aware so I am seeking other opinions. There is wisdom in the counsel of many.

I also want to shed the baggage of "should be" and grow into the man God made me to be. For instance, growing up at home, as you probably know, hunting, rifles, and lots of deer carcasses were just a part of my household, just not a part of who I was or am. I don't hunt. I could never kill an animal and I can't cut up the meat either. That was the only thing I saw my dad doing that wasn't "work" though and so I must have put it into my -This is what a man does- category. However, growing up I realized that not all men hunt, and that it wasn't necessary to be a man or be me. So, that baggage is shed.

However, I do disagree with your claim that the essence of who we are is without gender. Although there are obvious physical differences and culturally conditioned roles, I don't believe those constitute the complete totality of man and woman. I think that all cultures recognize the intrinsic differences that are, not create artificial differences. It becomes a bit of a chicken or egg question. Which came first, the gender or the culture? Generally cultures look for roles with a path of least resistance. It is only the very controlled and artificial cultures of modern day that have tried to create a genderless society and those only last as long as there is top down control. Left to our own devices I think we find our own natural, intrinsic male or femaleness.

And I think that this ultimately is what you have encouraged me to do, although our thought process to reach the same conclusion is different. By working with my natural strengths, inclinations and abilities I will become a fuller expression of a man, a male, the person God created me to be.
March 27, 2011 9:53 PM

Blogger Matthew said...

Well, I'm glad I could help! Yes, I think we're coming at it from different places but coming to the same conclusion. It's encouraging to hear that you've put some time and effort into processing this stuff and that you like who you are, as a person. That's great:)

Our biological sex is a part of who we are, without a doubt, and our gender (the cultural models of our sex) are definitely influenced by that, too. What I meant is that our sex and gender are layers of who we are and that at a soul level we are nongendered and nonsexed. You're free to disagree, of course;)

As human beings, we cannot escape our sex and gender but those are only part of the whole and not anywhere near the deepest part. What are your thoughts on that?

Thanks for sharing!
March 27, 2011 10:24 PM

 Clinton said...

I definitely agree that our sex and gender is not anywhere near the deepest part of who we are. And we do seem to be coming from different directions but finding ourselves at similar conclusions. All truth belongs to God.

I find myself asking God to help me be(come) the man I was created to be. I suppose I could just as easily pray to become the person I was created to be.

However, this may be where we differ, but I think even the deepest part of who we are, our spiritual, supernatural, gooey center, contains some element of the male or femaleness we're talking about. That is to say, some of the stereotypical Male or Femaleness are stereotypes for a reason. They are generally consistent within men and women and that is because of design, not biology. I can't really prove it just as it can't really be disproven either.

Any way, no matter what, there are those differences we find ourselves with in this life which I think we all want to accept and understand, or fix if we think it is broken. For a while I thought there were things that were broken in my life which I now realize were just differences that needed to be accepted. Like I said before, the manly art of hunting is not a part of who I am, and growing up I felt like I wasn't really a man because I didn't do it but every other man I knew did. I read books and thought thoughts while most of the males I knew pimped cars, hunted things, shot things, drank and chased girls. I sat there wondering why I was different. Now I accept that I just was different and that is that. It doesn't make me less of a man, just a different man. And I am also working through the idea of adulthood. I am working at putting away childish things and living a mature (developed and full) life. That is also a part of what I consider being a man (although equally a part of being a woman).
March 27, 2011 11:00 PM

Blogger Clinton said...

Thanks for putting your thoughts up here Matthew.

Actually, I've been thinking about it and I've changed my mind. I don't think the gooey center of people has male or female or female traits but supernatural traits. Our soul, or spirit, is beyond male of female.

However, there is something powerful about the differences between sexes and how they compliment each other. More than reproduction, they are two parts of a whole. And because I see them that way, I feel that there has to be differences between them that are equally special and yet different. And those differences constitute the differences between men and women, beyond the physical.

My question for you Matt is do you see men and women as the same, just contained in different "Male" and "Female" bodies? I know of some people who do and it changes the frame of reference for the conversation slightly.
March 28, 2011 10:12 PM

Anonymous matt said...

"I don't think the gooey center of people has male or female or female traits but supernatural traits. Our soul, or spirit, is beyond male of female."

Right on;) Not only am I glad you recognize that but that you're so willing to adapt your conclusions. That kind of humility and willingness is something we all, including myself, need to continually cultivate.

I think men and women are different in many ways, for sure. It's more that the ways we are different often get confused and exaggerated out of proportion and less encompassing perspectives become quite limiting for both sides.

Part of the reality is that men and women tend to be culturally conditioned very differently (and there are some cultures where the females are conditioned to be the aggressive, violent ones!) and those are patterns we need to be aware of if we want to be free to be - as you've said - who we really are, allowing more and more of the deeper dimensions of who we are to rise to the surface and become embodied in our 'maleness' or 'femaleness' in the most authentic way.

Hope that makes sense:)

What do you think?
April 11, 2011 7:24 PM

Blogger Clinton said...

There definitely is an overlap of male and female. The books I was reading dealt mostly with the differences between male and female because the differences are what make us different. I know that sounds obvious but that was the point of the books, to emphasize what differentiates men from women. That's not a bad thing, it's just a thing.

I think now we're starting to talk about nature versus nurture which can go in many directions. One may say, like I think you are, that differences between men and women are cultural creations that wouldn't exist outside the artificial creation of the culture. (Or at the very least are amplified beyond what would manifest outside of these cultures.) That is the nurture point of view. I tend to fall on the nature side of view which says that although we are all culturally conditioned into roles that reflect maleness and femaleness, it is because there are natural differences between men and women which are recognized by the culture. A culture may nurture roles for the sexes, but the culture itself bases those roles on the very nature of maleness and femaleness.

I believe there is a spirit of adventure and desire to conquer things in men. I believe there is a desire to nurture and relate in women. I believe that these traits are part of the essence of men and women. That's not to say there is no overlap between the sexes, but predominantly that is how it is expressed. How that maleness and femaleness is expressed in each culture may differ, but the essence behind the differences is very real, and part of nature itself.

I think the culture of aggressive and violent females you are referring to is known as high school. Just kidding. Seriously though, the only ones I have ever heard of were fiction, not reality. I'd be interested to get more information on these seemingly sex reversed cultures.

Right now I believe that cultures are like water. They take the path of least resistance and nurturing the essence of what makes us men and women is easier than creating false roles that try to make us the same or try to make females the aggressors and men the relaters.

All that being said, if that is where I am at, that means being a man, or woman, for that matter, involves accepting the difference and using it nurturing it to its full potential.
April 11, 2011 8:06 PM

Blogger Clinton said...

One last quick thought. If there really is a difference between men and women, and I believe there is, nurturing only those differences does not make one a better man or woman. It would make them a stereotypical and unbalanced man or woman.

I have concluded that nurturing those gender specific traits along with all the other characteristics that men and women share, intellect, humour, artistic expression, etc..., produces the man or woman full of potential.

I believe that without God our (and my) full potential will never be reached.
April 26, 2011 2:57 PM

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Proverbs VII

If anything matters then everything matters.  Because you are important, everything you do is important.  Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, My (God's) purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again.

-William P Young in The Shack

Monday, April 25, 2011

God's Love

I realize that today is Easter so this entry may seem a little cliched because of the day it is appearing on but that is co-incidental.

Tonight I feel like I've been over whelmed by God's love.  I know it sounds like the Eastery thing to say but it is true.  I am sitting here wondering how can I help you feel this love.  My answer is, I don't know.  I don't have an answer for you.  Not really.  Seek and you will find.  That is my advice to you.

Lord, thank You for loving me.  Please help me share Your love.  Amen

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Parapraxis and Freud

Over the last week or so I've had 3 parapraxi or Freudian slips.  A Freudian slip is when a word or action differs from what was intended because, as the theory goes, the subconscious is thinking about something else and momentarily overrides the conscious.  Confused yet?  Let me explain.  Have you ever been thinking about someone and then started talking to someone else but referred to them by the name of the original person you were thinking about?  That's a pretty common example.  A Parapraxis is similar but doesn't necessarily require that a mistake is made to reveal what is going on in the subconscious.  The theory behind Rorschach tests and word association is based on the idea of overriding the conscious and getting a peak at what's going on inside your mind.

My parapraxii were quite interesting.  I don't know if I just made a random mistake or if my mind really was on other things and somehow it just popped out.

At the last C&C DL asked me how my son was.  For the record, I don't have a son.  DL had seen a picture of me with a boy I used to babysit from my days in the North.  DL had thought he was my son.  After we cleared that up I told him I don't have a son but I wished I did.  Pause...  Did I actually say that?  Yep.  I heard myself say I wished I had a son.  Where did that come from?  I don't  know, but I do know I like kids and I have been feeling a pull in that direction lately.  Maybe the so called biological clock has found me out.  Anyway, it was interesting to hear myself say I wished I was a father.  I don't know where to go with that so I'll leave it there for now.

My second incident happened while talking to my brother.  We were talking about life and God and church and things of that nature.  I'm not ready to share what popped out during that talk, but once again I surprised myself.

And my third parapraxis happened during a C&C event last night which I also found quite interesting.  I'm not sure what to make of it right now so I may never share it.

Anyway it has been quite revealing to notice these things pop out of my brain over the last week.

I'm going to go and think about them now and see how my life wraps around them...

Monday, April 11, 2011

More Prayer


Please be with those I know writing tests and finals right now.  Please help them to study, learn, cram to the best of their abilities.  Please remove the stress that seems to be so prevalent this time of year.  Please help the people I know searching for jobs find jobs that fit them perfectly.

Please help me be the best me I can be.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I'm not a huge fan of what would mostly be called "Christian" music. Some of it is ok but I find most of it is fluffy Sunday morning smiley songs. I'm sure there is a time and place for everything. One of the things that bothers me about "Christian" music is the lack of real life in the lyrics. I tend to prefer hard rock and rap and I will say this about those genres, the artists call it as they see it. Sometimes it feels as though "Christian" music is blind to much of real life. I appreciate Christian artists like Polar Boy that sing about having girlfriends or breaking up. That's just as much a part of the Christian experience as the secular world. I enjoy party songs like Rawk Fist and Fire It Up by TFK. Just because you're a Christian it doesn't mean you can't have fun. But my biggest complaint about "Christian" music is its lack of anger and spiritual warfare. Artists such as Stryper got in trouble for songs like To Hell With The Devil and P.O.D. got in trouble for Lie Down (even though many Christians never considered them a Christian band allowing them to fly under the radar). Yes, even anger is part of the Christian experience, and I want to hear about it just as much as love and rainbows.

So, without further adieu, here is Tedashii's Make War.

Please feel free to click on all the links above and turn up the volume.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Testimony

We are starting to share our testimonies in small group.  I've started thinking about my testimony because I'm coming up next.  I'm not sure what I should include.  Generally a testimony is your story of God and how it plays out in your life.  That could include a lot of things.  I'm trying to sort out what I should include.  My story isn't too fantastic.  There weren't a lot of big, bad, horrible events in my life to be overcome.  There weren't a lot of super fantastic events in my life either.  My story clips along at a brisk monotonous pace.  In some ways the uneventfulness of my life is my testimony because God has always been in the background to some extent.  I suppose I want to share a little about my social anxiety as well, just so the group has an idea of where I've come from.  We'll see how this all turns out.  I'll write it out a bit and post it here later.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Burn Out

Dear Diary,

I have been so busy, as usual.  I should probably stop writing about how busy I am because it is starting to get monotonous.  It is probably safe to assume I'm always busy and if anything changes I'll let you know.  I've been working about 50 to 60 hours a week.  Last week I went to small group on Friday, ended up watching Momma Mia and getting home at 2am.  I was up at 8am to go to PA for the weekend to see some people.  I was at a birthday party that night until 2 am.  This weekend I was at small group on Friday again, met up with a friend, then went to a welcome back party (for someone I didn't know, but she seems great), and got home again at 2am.  Awake at 7am, music practice at 10am, groceries, laundry, cleaning, going out to see a movie with people from C&C, tomorrow is church and taxes.  I'm tired just writing about it all.  I think I am burning out.  I need to pace myself better.

I have an interesting problem.  I know a lot of great people.  I am slowly getting to know them better and I hope they are slowly starting to get to know me better too.  That's not the problem.  The problem is that I am feeling burnt out.  Working 12 hours a day and then running to C&C and small group and bible studies and church and parties is exhausting to me.  I'm having a good time and I'm feeding my spirit but I do not have a lot of alone time and I really do need it.  I'm not saying I don't want to do the things I am doing I just need to find some time to be by myself and recharge my personal batteries.  This is a problem I've never had before.

Luckily, I now have 5 days off.  I really need it.  There are all the little things of life I need to do, but eventually I will have time for myself, just to do nothing, and I need that nothing time.

Lord, please give me the time to be with you and be by myself.  Please help me focus my activities on things that better my life and the lives of others around me.  Thank you.