Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ride or Die Chick



The campus Christian ministry I was apart of in college would occasionally host campus-wide worship services. One of our invited guest speakers announced his subject would be Jesus: Madman or Messiah. I was a bit skeptical because I didn't know where he could possibly come from with that title.  
It turned out to be a pretty tame message. He focused on how seemingly peculiar it was for Jesus to go around healing people and then say "Hey, don't tell nobody."  

But Jesus is a pretty radical and controversial dude; nothing tame about him. He told his disciples-

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26-27


Whoa, hold up now! Really Jesus, does it have to be like that Jesus?! 

To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home," Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9: 59-62
            
As I type this post, the rapper Tupac's song "Hail, Mary" is playing in my head. You know the one where he asks if you are going to ride or die? Jesus told people, if they wanted to ride with him they must first die to themselves. He must be number one in their lives even above their families. 

In the past when I read these scriptures, I would just gloss over them ready to get to the more gentle messages like "I can have the desires of my heart" but conveniently leaving off the "delight myself in the Lord." But the inconvenient truth is in order to ride with Jesus, I must die. Lord give me the grace to be a true ride or die chick.


 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pivotal Road Trips

From time to time, I invite others to share their gleaning experiences her at thegleanse. Meet my fellow Women Writing for (a) Change colleague Tammi Sharpe, self-proclaimed Outside Agitator. I agree in the warmest way possible.  She is also brave, bold, and brilliant!

Tammi Sharpe
 
            I'm sure people are asking "is she having a mid-life crisis?" Trust me if I was I would have bought the Maserati and be driving along the wine routes of Chile rather than moving to Birmingham, Al diving into the history of the U.S. Civil War and Civil Rights Movement.  I find it all quite a logical career progression. I'm on an extended road trip delving into history books and exploring historic battlefields, monuments and museums, looking for lessons from the U.S. Civil War on how communities reconcile after war and confront related human rights atrocities e.g. slavery. I've attached myself to a first-rate museum as a Human Rights Fellow testing my interest in a possible career move.  It is all related to promoting human rights, which has been a central piece of my entire career and an interest since college.
           
            Did I mention it is all self-financed? I've moved from a two-bedroom apartment into a studio that essentially resembles a dorm room with just the basics: a bed, a desk and a bookshelf.  Fancy cheeses and wines no longer fit within my budget.  Fortunately, the wine market is such that I can still afford a nice wine.  My taste for whiskey and scotch has also been downgraded from Johnny Walker Blue to Jack Daniels, appropriate for an American who has moved South, no?  I am however, missing my cheese.... but cheese aside, I feel like I'm reconnecting to me when I was twenty.

It is because I am Beat, that is, I believe in beatitude and that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son to it... Who knows, but that the universe is one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?(Kerouac at a Bandeis Forum 1958)
            
             I had dropped out of college at this point overwhelmed by the options of majors and not really clear what I wanted to do in life.  I had been working in restaurants and traveling for a year. The critical journey was a road trip via train and bus through the U.S. I was reading On the Road Again by Jack Kerouac and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  Through these two books I discovered my curiosity about the links between human nature, political theory and human rights.

Within the next generation I believe that the world's leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience. (Huxley's letter to George Orwell in 1949)
         
             I soon returned to university after this trip and my career has since evolved exposing me to the realities of civil war and political oppression.  While the horrors of refugees' experience will never allow me to be na├»ve about the foibles and the dark side of human nature, I remain an optimist like Kerouac.  At the same time I appreciate Huxley's concerns over government manipulation and am becoming more and more troubled about the "elite's" influence in the U.S.  I am not yet where I desire to be-- to write my own follow-up thoughts to those of Kerouac and Huxley-- but I'm moving in that direction.
           
            This current road trip is providing the time to more thoroughly reflect on my interests and my experiences to date. In some ways the curiosities and enthusiasm of my twenties that were overshadowed by the mundane tasks (e.g. meetings, report writing) that exist in the bureaucracies are now back in the forefront of my daily activities. Gradually I'm also finding the words that draw on my experiences and my current research to speak out on social political issues.  So while this road trip was not initiated with any sense of recapturing my youth, it is allowing me to realign my intellectual passions and my career in a way that draws on my twenties. But I now have a new goal to earn the title of being an "outside agitator" like the activists of the Civil Rights Movement. 
 
For more on my current road trip please see my blog www.journeytoreconciliation.com in particular you might like my post "Perpetual Outsider"
 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rebel

             Okay, so I felt led to share this bible study recap over a week ago but decided not to because I thought I had done enough "Christ-centered" posts lately. In my rebellion, I ended up posting nothing at all.  I know delayed compliance is still disobedience and for that I do repent.
 
             As I have stated before, the young adult bible study that I facilitate is studying The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Below is a quick overview of what we discussed in our latest examination of the 12th letter.
 
             Screwtape (demon) advises Wormwood (demon in training) to apply these tactics to keep the patient (a Christian) in their camp.
 
  • go slow with the patient as not to allow him to see that he is slipping away from God’s presence
 
  • make the patient feel that his little indiscretions are minor, trivial (no big deal, there are worse sins), and can be stopped at any time.
 
  • allow him to still participate in his Christian rituals such as attend Sunday service and take communion though not developing a true relationship with God or growing spiritually
 
  • allow the patient to enjoy the world’s so called pleasures; allow him to believe they are not hurting anyone.
 
  • keep him busy in his church duties that he hates and keep him distracted with meaningless distractions.
 
 
Commentary-
Some Christians use the scripture below as an excuse/crutch-
Romans 3:23- for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (but remember)
 
Romans 8:7-8- The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God (and)
 
1 John 1:6-  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth (also)
 
1 John 1:8-10-If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.  (but our hope is in/the good news is. . .)
 
1 John 2:1-My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
 
 
Amen
 
Is this a word in season for you?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chopped and Screwed

            

Do you know of anyone who talks a lot but really doesn't say a thing? At the end of the conversation, you still don't know anything more? Or even understand what the whole conversation was about?  
 
I've learned that's how life can turn out if I am not intentional about my thoughts and actions. It used to baffle me when my father would randomly say- "watch what you're doing, Alison," when I wasn't in the process of doing or saying anything. Now I see how it can apply to my life. It is so easy to get off track of your life's purpose and to end up further than you meant to go and stay longer than you meant to stay.
The descent can start off slow; realizing your behavior isn't beneficial to the life you want to live but brush it off as no big deal and there are worse things you could be doing. I know I've done it. You remind yourself that you are a good person and everyone makes mistakes. Besides, everyone is always commending you for how awesome you are. Of course, God knows your heart but there is also a still voice reminding you that if you know the right thing to do and don't do it, you are in rebellion. You are lying to yourself.
I am committing to stop lying to myself. It's a process. I have to fight the persistent thoughts of 'I'm grown and I can do and not do what I choose.' Now I choose to stop chopping and screwing the truth to fit my personal desires.

Have you been chopping and screwing some things in your life? 

Some believe its the nature that is given to men
He had a good gig, a wife, a kid, a decent home
One reason or another couldn't find peace at home
She asked, "Why do men always have to stray?"
He said, "I'm bad, not as bad as Eric Benet"

                                                             ~Faithful by Common








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