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Wednesday Miscellany

I’m sitting here on a grey, rainy Wednesday morning thinking that it’s high time I wrote something here.  It’s been over five days of silence on this blog, which, if the social media experts are to be believed, is a virtual eternity fraught with all kinds of weighty perils.  I am surely running the risk that readers will look elsewhere, that traffic will decline, that my “brand” will suffer, that I will fail to “build upon momentum” or any number of other hazards that come with blogging too infrequently.

So, right.  Time to write.   There are certainly no shortage of potential topics.

I could write about the numerous video clips that have trickled into my inbox over the last little while—videos produced by cool people in cool cities, people full of passion and brimming with confident declarations about “what God is doing” in and through them and their awesome ministries and church plants, etc…. I could, with, ahem, great humility and theological nuance, comment upon how I have never felt so confident in proclaiming “what God is doing” in my city/town… This could be followed by painting a picture of my own very different ministry context and assumptions, accompanied by the not-so-subtle hint that my approach is surely more pious and probably preferred by God…

I could reflect upon an article I came across this morning about the (increasing?) prevalence of clergy burnout/anger/depression… I could talk about the challenges that come in dealing with difficult comments, managing unreasonable or unarticulated expectations, and in generally representing an institution that many people increasingly care very little for or see little relevance in…

I could rehearse our worship theme from last Sunday… I could talk about Exodus 32:7-14, about the question of whether or how God or God’s mode of interacting with the world changes over time, about whether or not Moses was shaming God into acting in more God-like ways, about the general theme of negotiating with God, forcing God’s hand, etc….

I could talk about the recent release of the wildly popular video game Grand Theft Auto, about the culture of violence that this celebrates and inflames, about our obsession with evil and depravity in popular culture, about whether or not there is any redeeming value in being familiar with games like this, or with the massively popular television shows and films that tend to traffic in the darkest parts of who we are as human beings… I could conclude this with a (mostly self-righteous) plea for the embrace of more redemptive and life-giving narratives and pursuits…

I could make some hay out of Québec premier Pauline Marois’s proposed secular charter, with the banning of religious symbols from the public square.  I could talk about who gets to decide upon the narratives that will be foisted upon the public, and how we decide.  I could contrast the Québec secular charter’s explicit banning of religion from public life with the nice, tolerant multicultural Canada’s implicit banning of religion by reducing all religions to little more than curious cultural artifacts, effectively enfeebling them by relegating them to the realm of “things we are allowed to believe in our private lives that are allowed to contribute to the cultural mosaic that we want to define Canada, but aren’t allowed to go much beyond that.”  I could probe just how different the explicit banning of religion proposed by Ms. Marois is from the implicit banning (or reframing) of religion that seems to be our default national policy, and whether or not this should even matter to followers of Jesus…

I could write a feel good post about a recent conversation with my son who wanted to know what the difference between Christians and Mennonites was… I could explore the relevance (or lack thereof) of denominations in a post-Christian world… I could pen a few moving paragraphs about my aspirations for the faith that I would like my son to inherit, a faith unencumbered by the endless divisions that have accrued over the years, a faith single-minded in its devotion to the way of Jesus, even as it acknowledges the religio-cultural lenses that we all approach questions of faith through…

Or, it could be time for another technology rant… I could (proudly, but not too proudly) discuss my recent decision to radically reduce the amount of data that comes into my phone in an attempt to bring some sanity to my life, about the importance of making small efforts to refuse to allow our habits to be dictated to us by the tools that we use…

I could write about any of these things and others, too.  Indeed, I started to write a handful of the above posts, but the words either wouldn’t come, or just seemed like the same tired, worn out words that I’ve used before.  I was usually bored with myself by about the third sentence.  Is this what writers block feels like?  Is it just the accumulated weight of a frenetic fall schedule manifesting itself in my weary synapses?  Is it time for a blogging sabbatical?  Whatever the case may be, it’s weird.  Words don’t usually prove to be so stubborn with me.

Each of the above topics is interesting (at least to me), perhaps even worth writing about, regardless of whether it’s all been done before or not.  But not today.  Today, I’m simply watching the rain fall down.  I’m watching the little rivulets make their way across the parking lot, watching the grass suddenly look greener, looking at the suddenly less grimy vehicles drive by, listening to the gentle drip outside my window…

I’m watching and I’m listening and I’m wishing that the sorrows, pains, anxieties, worries, dysfunctions, betrayals, and unanswered questions that thrust themselves upon us each week could be washed away so cleanly, so easily…  I wish all it took was a good hard rain to wash away the dirt of our lives.  But that’s probably another partially-written post for another time.

Back to the rain.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. mike #

    The Serenity Prayer

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.
    Amen.

    –Reinhold Niebuhr

    September 19, 2013
    • Thanks for this, Mike.

      September 19, 2013
  2. mike #

    I’ve noticed something of a melancholy aire in your post’s of late, Ryan…and I love it. Some of your recent essay’s seem to reflect the dawning of a bitter-sweet Reality that has been (is being) tempered by real life,and I for one appreciate the honesty. The “triumphant” style message of the religious spin Doctors doesn’t resonate well with those of us on the Front Lines of Life. Besides,this is not our world, we seek another.

    September 20, 2013
    • I have never been a very “triumphant” person in general, or follower of Jesus in particular. It just doesn’t seem to fit with the world I live in and the stories that I witness/participate in. I sometimes worry that this disposition makes me ill-suited for my station in life—especially when I gather the scraps and fragments and assumptions that I encounter daily about what a pastor is or should be. I guess I sort of figure that if people are looking for more triumphant fare, there are no shortage of options out there.

      Whatever else it might mean to be a person of faith, though, I am convinced that living honestly before God and others is part of it. This is equally true of the bad and the good of our world. People who are wired like me could, perhaps, use a bit of a push toward celebrating in addition to lamenting the nature of reality :).

      September 20, 2013
      • mike #

        …….point well made 🙂

        September 20, 2013

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