In or Out?

So how do you be in the world and not of it? What does that mean? I have the feeling very few people in the church have any clue what this means. I don’t think it means you can check out from mainstream culture. I don’t think it’s a ticket to say hey, I live here, but I don’t interact with this sinful world. I think it means we’re supposed to be in the world, interacting with the world, but not stooping to the sin of the world. What’s the difference? One definition is content to reside in a ghetto of Christianity. They listen to Christian music, read Christian books, watch Christian movies. They turn to Christian alternatives to anything the secular world provides. It’s a way of being in the world, not of the world, a way that certainly keeps you safe from the sins of the world. It’s also a way of living that keeps you safe from ever having to love someone in the real world. I don’t quite understand the people who are so immersed in their Christian culture that they can’t relate to real people who live in the real world outside of the church. I was one of those people once. I related fairly well to people at school and I had a decent impact. People knew I was a Christian. And that’s about it. I rarely took the time to actually hang out with people from school and relate to them. Instead I hung up with my youth group friends. Perhaps that fortified my faith and allowed me to keep believing in God. Perhaps it also kept me from really relating to a lot of my school friends and being able to tell them what Christianity was all about. I think the church today is not nearly as effective as it could be simply because of this issue. Christians have chosen to not relate to the mainstream world and have thus removed their voice from society. I’m not saying the church isn’t effective right now. I’m a fine example of a bubble believing Christian. I practiced bubble Christianity for a number of years. Sometimes I wonder if God’s really in this bubble like we want to think. My impression is that he won’t fit in our bubble. He’s out there, and that’s where he expects us to be. Jesus ate with the tax collectors and sinners, not at the church potluck.

He also probably knows how to use paragraphs better than me.


Some days I am so curious. There are things I want to do. Things I want to try. I have big dreams. Visions and dreams of what could happen, what might be. Sometimes I wish I didn’t dream so big. Sometimes I wish I could take a step closer to my dreams. Sometimes I wish I could be like everybody else. Sometimes I wish I could change the world. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t say ‘I’ so much. Sometimes I wish someone would answer my call, that I wouldn’t be a prophet wandering alone in the desert. Sometimes I wish I had a dollar to spare. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day. Sometimes I wish there more hours in the day I could call my own. Sometimes I realize there’s not enough time and there’s too many dreams. Most of the time I don

Easter vs. Easter

Does it strike anyone else as odd that the religious holiday of Easter is so completely disconnected from the retail holiday of Easter? On one hand you’ve got candy, eggs, and bunnies, and on the other hand you’ve got an empty tomb and a resurrected Savior. There’s not a whole lot of connection. At least for Christmas you’ve got God’s gift to the world and a fat guy who gives gifts to all the world. It’s a slim connection, but it sort of makes sense. But rabbits and empty tombs really don’t relate.

And at Christmas you at least find nativity scenes in stores. They do actually acknowledge that Christmas is about more than Santa Claus. But at Easter they don’t sell little models of empty tombs. The stores really don’t acknowledge that part of Easter. Which means Easter is completely about dyeing eggs and eating candy. The mall and the grocery store close so we can stay home and find our hidden eggs. It’s really kind of weird.

It’s interesting that the church has become so irrelevant to our society today.

Riots in Cincinnati

Tonight I heard about the riots in Cincinnati for the first time. I feel rather disconnected that I didn’t hear about them before–which is odd considering I check three or four different news sites on a daily basis. I watched the footage on the news tonight and it was like some movie or footage from the 1960s on one of those PBS documentaries.

People screaming, the crowds reeling, the blood flowing. The angry mobs, the powerless leaders, the armored men fighting back the crowd. An innocent man killed.

Maybe not so innocent, but the parallels are still there.

Racial incidents drive me nuts. Nobody has any good answers. You can tell the kind of people you’re with by the way they react to news reports. Which side do they come down on, what kind of comments do they make? It’s very telling of a person’s racial attitudes.

So the black man is running from the white cop, he turns and reaches for something, possibly a weapon. Pop. The white officer fires in self-defense, fearing the worst. The unarmed black man drops to the ground, shot dead. It’s not a very good situation for anyone involved.

What causes a man to run from a cop like that? What causes a cop to fear the first and start pulling the trigger? And couldn’t the cop aim for a leg or a shoulder–or is that too much to ask in the heat of the moment? And why would a hunted man make a movement that could be seen as threatening when he’s facing a cop with a gun? Why have 15 people been killed by the Cincinnati police since 1995? 15 black people? 15 black males? Apparently white guys aren’t dangerous. Are African American males really that dangerous? Are they all gun-toting thugs that deserve to be gunned down in self-defense? Or is this just a senseless stereotype that is continually perpetuated?

It’s perpetuated every time a parent tells you not to go to that part of town. It’s perpetuated every time you watch the news and someone makes a comment about those people. You wonder where racism comes from? It comes from the innocent comments that go unquestioned and serve to perpetuate the stereotypes.

Will it ever end? No, I don’t think so. We’re only human.

The Right to Vote

It’s odd how entirely separated we are from people hurting across the globe. I’ve never thought about how lucky we are to have a stable society. I’ve been reading a book about Zimbabwe and the land invasions that occurred last year. Due to a combination of my ignorance and a lack of news coverage I don’t have a clue what’s going on there now. But the book I’m reading details the atrocities that happened and how a corrupt government encouraged anarchy for its own gain. We laugh at the election of 2000 and everything that went wrong. In Zimbabwe the election of 2000 was full of violence, cheating, and extortion. People were told who to vote for and were promised civil war if they didn’t vote for the right party. It wasn’t a democratic election, it was a dictatorship operating behind puppet democracy.

What saddens me the most is how little we care. At about the same time the citizens of Zimbabwe were literally clubbed over the head with campaign promises, we were whining about the soaring cost of gasoline, wondering how we could afford to keep our gas guzzling vehicles running. It’s sad when compassion ends at national boundaries.


Why is it so difficult to care about the environment? You’d think we’d realize that protecting our natural resources and keeping the planet from going belly up would be important. But I guess it’s not that surprising. Do you have any idea how dislocated the average the American is from nature? Not only do we spend most of our time treading on asphalt or concrete (or at best a harsh, one-species dominated ecosystem–the closest thing to a dead ecosystem–your lawn) but we’re completely disconnected from the food chain. Most people probably think the food chain is a long line of people at the grocery store. We buy so much packaged, frozen, precooked, processed food it just as well be pre-eaten. Why don’t we just get calorie injections and forgo the whole eating thing altogether?

And they all said goodnight.

If I was a rock star when I was 17, if I made the cover of Rollingstone, if I toured the world in a big shiny bus, it’d be a messed up world with flowers in the air and buttons in your hair. I walked down the street today with my hands in my pockets and “It’s a Beautiful Day” streamin’ through my head like cerebral radio. I saw the steeple of Hamline University rising above the old brick apartments on the corner and I wondered if the green copper steeple just floated there northeast of the corner of Minnehaha and Snelling like a wild dream. The sun shone like it hasn’t shone in a season or two and I saw the grass, the pale, dead, yellow grass trying to breathe in the fresh spring air again. I laughed and jaywalked across the street to buy a pop. The lady at the cashier said it’s so nice all the people are out on their bikes and stuff. I said it’s a beautiful day and she didn’t answer and I couldn’t figure out if she was talking to me or the guy next to the ATM who couldn’t seem to remember his PIN number. 5309. That’s what he should have tried.

Poetry is flowing words on a page that you can’t understand no matter how hard you try until suddenly they flow from your fingertips and you think you have a slippery little grasp on the world at hand. That’s why I hate poetry.

So I shoved my hands in my pockets and walked home along the sidewalk, smiling at the gayly painted house for sale, it’s blue-green paint with yellow trim making it look like a candyland home. And I smiled, looked back at the hip coffee shop with the crazy mural wall and the upstairs apartment and I wondered who lives there and if they knew I wanted to capture the world in the lens of camera or the catch of a phrase.

And they all said goodnight.


Change. Is it really the one constant in life? It’s kind of depressing that way. Theologically I realize there are other constants, but when you’re talking day to day life those theological constants don’t seem very tangible, which is a shame. It always happens when you’re getting comfortable, too. Just when you think you like things, they change on you. Perhaps it’s the cynic in me, but I blame everything on the cynic. It’s a rather cynical approach, don’t you think?

Sometimes I just wish things wouldn’t change so much. I’m not ready. I’m never ready.

Old Man at a Rock Show

I am an old man. Last night my wife and I went to a concert. The opening band played loud, hardrock, praise music. They sucked. Especially since they only played the current most popular praise songs, and played them poorly. Wife and I sat on the floor in the back of the concert, resting our heads on our jackets and talking about our days, completely ignoring the hardrock worship. We weren’t there for the opening band anyway. In high school I would have been in the midst of the crowd with my hands in the air.

When the main act finally started, we stood up to watch the show, and I realized we were standing well apart from the main crowd of people near a group of middle-aged parents who were dancing. Their children were no where to be seen, most likely death by embarrassment, a mercy killing.

I hung my head and realized I’m 21 years old and married. I am completely uncool.