The Type E Person

The Type E Person

cheese puff backgroundI have a weakness for Cheetos. I admit it. I think about them in the grocery aisle. Sometimes I hide them in my pantry when others come snacking. I notice if anyone’s eaten more than his or her fair share. I’m a Cheetos aficionado, but it’s not a dangerous obsession. Yet.

Far more perilous are the mindsets that remain hidden and “run” my life. What’s insidious about these deeply held ideas is that they’re good things—things woven into the fabric of what it means to follow Jesus. It sounds like this…

“Do all the good you can…by all the means you can…in all the ways you can…in all the places you can…to all the people you can…as long as ever you can.”   —John Wesley

I embraced that sort of mantra down to the core of my being—even as a young girl— because it seemed good and right and true. But application is everything.

photo-4Just a few days ago, I realized that the only Beatles song I ever purchased was Eleanor Rigby. It struck me. What a sad song, about sad people, living sad lives.

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?

All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”

I cared. I worried. I tried to help and serve the marginalized, the rejected, the lonely, the troubled ones, the brokenhearted, the welfare mom, the elderly, the homeless, the kid in my high school who was persecuted for being a narc.

Drunk woman with glassI can remember weeping at frat parties in college because so many kids were destroying themselves with alcohol, drugs and promiscuity. Crazy I know. Who does that? This acute awareness of others felt like wearing high-definition glasses. I saw too much.

Go the extra mile.Over the years, my “do-all-you-can” thinking was reinforced through Scripture, preaching, books, and even trusted people I admired. The title of Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost For His Highest, just about summed it up.

The enemy is treacherous, because he will take good things and make them more important than God, while convincing you that it’s all for God.

So The One who loves me had to paint a dramatic picture of what was happening to me. Continue reading

The Predicament of “Otherness”

The Predicament of “Otherness”

Years ago, a Harvard sociology professor spoke on the subject of “taming barbarians.” He maintained that across many diverse cultures and throughout time, the future and stability of every civilization depended on it. Barbarians were defined as boys and men, ages 15-25.

Barbarians, he said, tend to live for self-serving, short-term goals. Girls and women—as child-bearers—are fundamentally more interested in building the future. And so the taming force for guys comes down to whether or not they form committed relationships—through marriage and parenting.

However, in modern times (read: birth control and promiscuity) many young women are short-term-goalers too. Just think how many sitcoms and reality shows depict 20 to 30-somethings acting like junior high kids—cheating, lying, backstabbing, and hooking up. A & E’s Crazy Hearts: Nashville premiered last night offering just that.

And so marriage and family structures are at risk on more than one front. Committed relationships are the glue in all societies, and the lack of them brings instability and downfall. History is fraught with examples.

Maybe you’re offended by this professor’s analysis. I tend to agree with him, though I don’t see it as a gender issue—rather a human condition.

In our carnal nature, we’d like everything to be centered around our life, with others fitting in accordingly. We want control of the channel-changer. We secretly turn the thermostat up or down to our liking. Movies like The Stepford Wives (1975) and the recently released film called, Her (2013), explore the idea of spouses and lovers created as an extension of ourselves. We want the world to be “personalized” for us.

Google, Amazon, and Siri are constantly forming their sense of what we want, echoing our desires back to us. Pandora will make a radio station just for you. Writer, Cass Sunstein, says that this kind of thing is a form of modern slavery. Similar to Huxley’s Brave New World, “people have lots of fun, but their lives lack meaning or genuine connection.” Their desire for pleasure is both “seductive and soul-destroying.”

Basically, we’d like to eliminate the wildcard of another’s “otherness.”Continue reading

A Word on Presumption

A Word on Presumption

Vernon was a 22-year-old, born-again Christian when he fell in love with a pastor’s daughter. While praying for divine guidance, he supposedly found his Bible open at Isaiah 34 and noted that verse 16 promised, “none shall be without (their) mate, for the mouth of the Lord has commanded…” Convinced it was a direct message from God, he approached the pastor about his daughter. The pastor expelled him from the church. His daughter was only 15, and some say Vernon got her pregnant.

Vernon’s own mother was 15 and unmarried when he was born. He never knew his father. He lived under his mother’s violent alcoholic boyfriend. Later she dumped Vernon on his grandmother. At age 8, he was allegedly gang-raped by older boys. In school, kids nicknamed him “Mister Retardo,” because he had dyslexia. He dropped out of high school to avoid persecution. It’s not hard to understand how Vernon’s start in life left him vulnerable as a man.

Eventually he changed his name. His new name meant “Cyrus the Great,” in Persian. He came to believe he was God’s own prophet and usurped a Christian religious community with his message. Surprisingly, he taught a lot from the Bible. He also took many wives…Continue reading