Weathered Well Together

This is a special place to be…

You know your marriage has weathered well when love brings you to the place where you bear the other’s sharp word or dark mood, knowing as you do that these raw places cover a weary or wounded soul and require tenderness, not scorn or assault. Forgiveness is given, easily, before it’s ever asked, the scuffle brushed away, no more bother than a stray piece of lint.

via winncollier.com.

… and it takes time.

It takes understanding over the long haul.

It takes listening first, second and third more often than not.

I confess, it means I should mute the TV or turn it off to keep traveling towards this space in the journey together.

We went to Greenville, SC last Friday, just the two of us. We walked. We ate wonderful food. We saw Falls Park and all the upgrades around the Downtown area.

Mostly, I enjoyed that we were there together. The walking, the words, the silence – all coming through as part of the long haul kind of  life we’re living out together.

Warning: Don’t Read This…

My life has taken some weird, cool, controversial turns religiously, philosophically, theologically…

As I explained in A New Kind of Christianity, and as I explain even more energetically in my upcoming book (Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?), I don’t think the way forward is taking out or throwing away deeply held Christian beliefs. Rather, I think we need better understandings of those beliefs.

via Q & R: Sin? – Brian McLaren.

… and when I saw this note and promise of a new book from Brian McLaren, I was juiced to kick all that up a tad.

Faith and belief are so much bigger than I think we give credit for in our lives and in the lives of others. Over the past twenty years or so now, folks like McLaren, Rob Bell, John Piper, Louie Giglio, Phylis Tickle, Tony Jones, and so on and so on have challenged me and my beliefs. They’ve questioned me while giving me foundations to build on. They’ve encouraged me while ripping out chunks of hardened-heart.

We’ve got it too easy in lots of respects. Church doctrine tells us what to believe as men and women before us have done their own wrestling – so now do and believe the way we’ve nailed it down. Don’t ask questions – doubt and uncertainty are hard, but our beliefs are rock solid. Stand for this so you won’t fall for anything different.

That’s a generality, and I hate going there. But it’s true – in the midst of church life there’s very little room for question or disagreement. There’s no time for thinking things out and making them our own. The faith passed down is already good enough, and it’s a slap against the establishment to attempt to go our own narrow way.

All of that to say that I’m looking forward to the new book to come, and I look forward to wrestling with angels in order to lay hold of real and meaningful blessing.

“Love Wins”

Saw this today on Twitter and Facebook. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a full on theological heresy take shape. Thought I had cleaned up my stream from most of that. Not complaining, I love a good discussion – just let it be one where we learn from each other, ok? Not worth it if we end up burning one of us at the stake.

Pre-ordered here (amazon-affiliate link). I’m looking forward to more stretching.

journey on

I need to “make the switch”. No, not the digital signal TV switch – I think we are good on that front. My blogging has become more spotty and less consistent the past few months, and paying for Typepad doesn’t make so much sense anymore. I’ve pulled the blog from their hosts so hopefully I won’t lose the world when it stops outright.

I like how the freebie WordPress site allows some of the same flexibility while still being, did I mention?, free. So I’ll set up shop here got the time being and see what comes of this switch over the summer.

I’ll add links to the old sites soon, and will probably let Typepad keep my money the next month or so. If both of you will change you URLs and feeds so we don’t lose each other, that would be swell.

Thanks for joining in on the journey. Pack light, and someone remember to bring the creamer.

Once more into the breach…

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;

But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.

Henry V (5.3.44-51) [ht: About.com]

Img_4996There are just some times when it’s better to keep my mouth shut. It started with a twitter post on "once saved, always saved" – innocuous enough, but I thought the twitterer was actually looking for responses. I replied, others chimed in, but not the original tweeter. That should’ve been my first omen, seeing that someone was posting a question just for the sake of posting, sending a link with no room for comment just for the sake of getting free web hits. But the back and forth twits, short 140-character statements, that ensued with others caused the rift that I’m feeling now. From my perspective, the impasse was mostly syntax and supposition – but increasingly, I think I was seen as the antagonist asking someone to move off their rock of faith.

That was Thursday, and on Friday I was left unconnected, unable to respond twitteringly to my friend after our conversation. In each making our respective stands, you could say, something cracked. The strand of whatever was holding the relationship together was severed – and I’ve got to say that there’s a deep sadness in me that something like this has happened again, that it’s had to happen once more. And that’s the thing. This isn’t meant to put down the other person here, because I don’t think this is a "wrong" thing – we need to be able to draw boundaries like that sometimes, and I’m okay with it. But isn’t there a better way sometimes, a path that leads to better relationship and understanding rather than cutting the cord? I really hope there’s a reconnect in the future. But from past experience, I know that’s a long shot unless something radical happens on the inside. The folks I’ve "cut cords with" have not come back, nor I to them, and I can’t help but feel that we ourselves and the world at large is the worse for it in some way.

"They will know you by our love one for another" means more than our cordial buddy-ness on Sunday mornings passing in the church foyer, or on discussion boards, or in the blogs and coffeeshops and Christian bookstores of our lives. It means giving the time and space – and, to be honest, it means earning the time and the space – in each other’s lives to make our stands, to seek understanding, to give the benefit of my doubt and look for a way for both of us to grow, not just prove myself "right".

In the end this time, once again I’m left with the feeling that I wasn’t worth the time or the heart to work out the differences. It wasn’t worth it to let me disagree agreeably, and it was better to cut ties altogether. Instead of opening ourselves to what might have been a better thing, I’m left alone to wonder what went wrong. And I still want to give that same benefit of the doubt that wasn’t afforded to me. It wasn’t a close friendship, wasn’t culturally or socially like making an enemy – but it feels like a rip nonetheless, because the possibility of a friendship growing over time now seems like such an improbability.

Sometimes I keep my mouth shut for the damage it can do. Sometimes my twittering brings destruction upon the world.

Pointing Fingers at the Moon

Moon Jim, why should people listen to you about love?

I start each day as a beginner. Anything I say about Love on this site is likely just scratching the surface. A Buddhist friend recently cautioned me that when I point to the moon, not to confuse my finger for the moon. In other words, whatever I say about God or Love is a finger pointing to these realities but not the realities themselves. Truly knowing God or Love is something deeply personal and spiritual; it’s not simply a matter of passing along information and concepts.

[interview with Jim Palmer – photo by vygnyo]