Monday, February 09, 2009

Twenty-five Fascinating Facts...

Fifth Week after the Epiphany

... about me. Yep, finally did it.
  1. I cook a mean lasagna, but I hardly ever do it because I want to make three at a time, and decide that lasagna is somehow too expensive.

  2. Except for the two month period that I lost it in my backpack, I wear my name tag at work all the time. You think it’s because I want to be helpful, but it’s really because I’m terribly narcissistic and think everybody should know my name.

  3. One of my most surreal moments working at the bookstore was explaining to management that middle-aged Baptist women buy Beth Moore books, and that therefore we should stock them. Also, emo kids buy eyeliner, gamers have minty green skin, and the Pope is Catholic.

  4. I take that back – the most surreal moments probably involved the ugly guy who was angry we didn’t have more/any books on “tantric sex” (sir, I don’t know what either of those things are, frankly), or the woman who demanded that Chris draw her a map to Barnes and Noble.

  5. I really enjoy Science Fiction. Can’t stand Star Wars. I fell asleep in the cinema when I tried to watch the big re-releases in high school. I did watch a pirated copy of Episode I when I was in Kosovo, however. Couldn’t really follow it.

  6. I love horror novels, especially short stories. I can’t stand anything in the Fantasy genre.

  7. I’m an introvert, specifically an INTJ: the “jerk” type in the Myers-Briggs. I know what I know, and I know what I don’t know. I also know what you don’t know, which can make it really bad.

  8. If I like a particular food, I could eat it for at least 7 meals in a particular week. I also chew each bite 32 times.

  9. I once threatened to physically fight a roommate over a hygiene concern (no, not my hygiene). He moved out the next day.

  10. I reject much of institutionalized Christianity, but sadly, I usually accept the really unpopular bits, and condemn the parts that most people really like. That’s okay, though. It’s really bad for them.

  11. I have no independent taste in music or films. I watch, listen to, and generally enjoy whatever my friends tell me.

  12. I get really nervous that I might end a sentence with a preposition… in public.

  13. I’m rarely capable of hiding my emotional state. Especially when I think I’m playing things cool, people can read me like a book. It took me forever to discover this; Jim just told me one day, “I would love to play poker with you. You don’t have any unexpressed emotions.”

  14. There are a few people in my life, that regardless of their faults, I would defend them in almost any situation: “Really? He buried a guy in cement after knocking over a liquor store? Hm. He must have had a good reason.”

  15. My housemates and I rescued an old cat from the Humane Society in Summer 2007. The cat follows me around constantly and cries if I come home late. He meows constantly and annoys the piss out of all of us, but I can’t help but delight in a little critter that thinks about me all the time – could you? So much for my tough guy image. Ahem.

  16. Every few months, somebody sits me down to (re)explain the concept of “tact,” and explains how it might be useful in a particular situation – sometimes with diagrams. I always respond with wide eyes and a smile, and vigorous nods of my head, but never have a clue what they’re talking about.

  17. I was in a college play.

  18. No man ever loved a dead woman like I love Flannery O’Connor.

  19. I believe that much of the grave error in American religion stems from asking the wrong questions.

  20. The broader I smile at you when you talk, the wronger you must be.

  21. The people I trust the least are the people I never hear say “I’m sorry” to anyone.

  22. I have no problems beginning twenty-five sentences in a row with the word “I.” I could have a problem, I think.

  23. I was within a week of buying an engagement ring, once.

  24. I broke my neck and my back during my senior year of college.

  25. Sometimes I think my primary “ministry” to some people is to be an enacted parable of judgment. Demonstration to follow, so stay tuned.

Friday, February 06, 2009

That Thing I Do Every Day

So I’m a campus minister these days. I catalog media, teach research methods, and talk about grace and judgment.* It’s pretty sweet, I won’t lie. So here’s my philosophy and practice of Christian ministry for the first year:
  1. Know and love these people well

  2. build a culture of prayer
Since I set foot on campus again in June, I’ve led the Daily Office nearly every weekday. Often I pray alone** but usually one or two other students will join me.

The Daily Office is shorthand for the Christian practice of “fixed-hour prayer.” Office means work. At various times in the day, Christians stop to attend to the presence of the Lord, read Scripture, pray portions of the Psalter, and to offer prayers for the sake of themselves, and others. Each of these regular services is called “an office.” There are three elements to this culture I’m trying to build – all of which are typically given lip service by the Evangelical culture, but not often practiced:
  1. Praying the Scripture. Not having, constructing, or sharing options about the Bible. Not deciding what it “means.” Not contriving “applications” to the “real world.” This is about taking seriously the idea that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God by actually listening for the voice of God in the text. This is not about reading the Bible to “get something out of it,” but rather to spend time with the Lord simply for its own sake.

  2. Praying with others. I would surely like to see all Christians raising up holy hands for the sake of the world in the privacy of their “prayer closets,”*** but this practice is only one aspect of Christian prayer. Christians pray together. I meet a lot of disciples who can’t or won’t pray audibly in the presence of others – that tells me that we really need to spend time learning to pray. That’s just fine, because God intends to teach us how through the Scriptures and the ancient practices of his Church.

  3. Regular prayer. Our Master calls us to discipline ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom. One of the most basic ways for disciples to do this is by making the time for regular common prayer. We don’t pray just when we feel like it, and certainly not just because we feel like it. We are called to live lives steeped in Scripture, and to join in Christ’s priesthood offering prayers for the world because this is the stuff of God’s intention for our lives. Not because we feel like it, or even because we want to “grow spiritually,” but because we seek to be faithful to the one who loves us so very much, and intends to heal broken people through our ministries.
That’s my agenda for Year One. More shall be added for Year Two (it's not like I'm going to quit the first two points of the agenda, after all). Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

Oh yeah - and feel free to join me for prayers any week day in the Campus Ministries Lounge at 4:30. We usually pray for 15-20 minutes.

*I’m also a library tech, hence the cataloging and judgment bits.

**Mind you, one never really prays “alone,” since we offer our praises to the Father, with Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and this along with the whole Communion of Saints.

***This phrase alludes to Jesus’ caution against making public prayers for the sake of impressing others with one’s eloquence or piety. He told them to go to their “closets.”