The High-Sierra-Type-II Kind of Fun

Recently, I was asked to contribute to my company’s monthly email update (The Shrewsletter — yes, you heard that right). I prepared a much more detailed version of the trip for the benefit of my target audience (not included here) and a more creative version for the benefit of myself. That’s shown below:

There are two types of fun. Type I Fun is you at a friend’s birthday party or on a rollercoaster (depending on what kind of person you are). You love every minute of it and don’t want it to be over. Type II Fun is you walking seventeen miles and descending six thousand feet from a top of a mountain, waking up with icicles on your sleeping bag, eyeing down marmots and ground squirrels who are returning the favor by eyeing your food, sweating, complaining about the downhills and the uphills and the rain and the sleet and the sun, driving thirty six hours one-way, and battling sunburns and nausea at 12,000’.

This trip was a lot of Type II Fun. After all of this, we went back to a regular life appreciating the small things like beds and hot meals and showers. And at the end of the trip, after all of the complaints, we earned a lot of breathtaking views, had a lot of awesome conversations, traded a lot of stories, ate a lot of awesome food, met some great people, relaxed in an awesome hot spring, and got to call a couple of coworkers we had barely known before our friends.

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Christian Romantic

Is it possible to be a Christian romantic?

Good

What joy there is in purity!

What overwhelming light in right!

What knowledge of the kiss to come!

What gift of God’s, this future sight!

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Speaker for the Dead

I’ve been spending way too much time on Facebook recently. After moving in to a new house two weeks before work starts, I find myself scrolling to the most distant reaches of the Wall to see if anything interesting pops up. What I found a couple days ago surprised me. Two people I went to high school with died in the span of a week.

The Facebook community can be pretty creative sometimes. After the death of these two students, loved ones turned the profiles of the deceased into memorials, cataloging all of the fond memories everyone had for the two.

Every one of these comments was positive, pointing to some unique and good quality of the deceased. I didn’t know these people incredibly well, but my cynicism got the better of me and I couldn’t help but note that I didn’t remember them in as positive of a light as what the Facebook wall showed. Many will ask, “why is that a bad thing?” Certainly, when a person dies the gravity of the event should be balanced out by the good times we can all remember. No one wants to be made more depressed at a funeral. Or maybe their death purifies them of all the wrong things they’ve done in their past.

The title of this entry comes from the Ender’s Game series, where the main character, Ender Wiggin, destroys an entire sentient species, then publishes a document in the species’ own voice, signing his name as Speaker for the Dead. Orson Scott Card, the author of the series, explains how the idea for a Speaker for the Dead came about: “…I grew dissatisfied with the way that we use our funerals to revise the life of the dead, to give the dead a story so different from their actual life that…we edit them, we make them into a person much easier to live with than the person who actually lived.

I rejected that idea. I thought that a more appropriate funeral would be to say, honestly, what that person was and what that person did. But to me, “honesty” doesn’t mean simply saying all the unpleasant things instead of saying only the nice ones. It doesn’t even consist of averaging them out. No, to understand who a person really was, what his or her life really meant, the speaker for the dead would have to explain their self-story — what they meant to do, what they actually did, what they regretted, what they rejoiced in. That’s the story that we never know, the story that we never can know — and yet, at the time of death, it’s the only story truly worth telling.”

One thought keeps popping into my head when I think about this concept — is this at all like what judgment truly is? Should this be the right of any person, to lay bare a person’s life (after they’ve given permission)? Then I think, who has the right to edit a person’s life either by only telling others the good intentions and the good outcomes?

I don’t have any smart conclusion for this entry. Just questions that I hope can be answered.

A Godfather’s Request

I guess you could call this a call to action.

Last summer I spent in Eldoret, Kenya. At a local restaurant there called Nova, I met John Maina. John was working there as an employee. He noticed me on my Facebook and wanted to immediately show me his Facebook as well. So naturally, we became friends.

His wife was pregnant, too. The last week in town I had the opportunity to see the newborn child at John’s house.

That moment was holy.

I’m feeling humbled as I am holding this two-day old child in my arms at John’s house. That’s not it, though. John lays me out with another revelation.

His child’s name is Charles Aaron Maina.

In essence, I’ve been named this kid’s godfather.

John has recently been laid off of work and is in really dire straits. He was just kicked out of his house, too. He has been going into town every day to try and find jobs, but is having no luck.

I’m not exactly trying to pull on heartstrings, but I want you all to know what I have been feeling and hearing from him the past couple of days. He is asking me to help him out financially, and I have been doing what I can.

It is not enough, though. He is looking for about 11,600 Kenyan shillings ($134.34) to get him through the month for food, rent, power, and water. I want to get him more than that, though.

I have already sent him some money and am currently working with him on his resume, but his immediate needs must be met before focusing on the more long-term goals (i.e. his resume).

Can we rally around this, guys?

To the side you should find a PayPal link I have set up for John’s sake.

P.S. Pictures of John and his family are in the posts before this.

Committment

Vague title, right? I wrote this in hopes of expanding it past my initial thoughts, but really only one thing has been on my mind as of late — what happens when you want to have a girl friend instead of a girlfriend? What happens when all of the perfectly reasonable reasons you have built up to justify returning to a friendship after dating a girl fall by your feet like some one-ply toilet paper poncho in gale-force winds?

I haven’t found an answer yet, but here are some thoughts on it:

She might have a few things to work out. Important things. A seeming sloth in pursuing God, a problem with alcohol, an angry streak, etc. The issue is, I am not perfect either. In fact, I am really not perfect. And my only rebuttal to this inevitably frustrating reality is that at least I am addressing my faults. The sad thing is, even this isn’t true. I don’t even pursue God like I should. Even less than a respectable amount, whatever that is.

So that being said, have I really justified a relationship, or a friendship? I really don’t have the answer to any of these questions.

Sorry about that.

SCIENCE, FAITH, AND CORINTH

1 Corinthians 3:5-10. This is perhaps the most important verse in the argument for the coexistence of faith and science. I know this is not a normally considered field for this particular verse. Most read this verse and think about the “steps” involved in evangelism and bringing a person to Christ, but today in service, I was thinking something different.

The apostles are “watering” and “planting” in this passage, carrying out the necessities of growth, but something else is going on.

God is doing the growing.

This is huge. God is actually making the plant grow. The apostles are the “how”. God is the “why”. He is the overarching theme of this gardening metaphor. He is what makes everything work together.

If we apply this theory to the idea of the creation of the earth, it might just work out. A great pastor once said (and I am paraphrasing here): “Sometimes we are presented with two ideas that seem to be in conflict, and no matter what we do, we cannot seem to reconcile them.

It is kind of like looking at a marker.

Viewing it from one of its sides (views the world in terms of science), one sees a rectangle. If viewed from the cap side (views the world in terms of faith), it appears as a circle. When we ask which of the two the marker is (rectangle or circle), he just responds with ‘yes’. ”

Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps the two cannot be wed well, but maybe we have just been so compartmentalized for so long we just cannot wrap our brains (or hearts around it). Maybe we can acknowledge our limited, two-dimensional understanding and know God sees the bigger picture.

Beautiful People

Our pastor began his teaching with “I don’t know where this will end up.” People who make these comments are humble or completely true — Rob, our pastor, was the latter tonight. The discussion jumped from verse to verse in the fifth chapter of Acts, one moment focusing on the push-and-pull of the population when seeing and hearing the believers [(13) No one else dared join them (believers), even though they were highly regarded by the people. (14) Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.], the next defining the role Gamaliel played in saving the disciples from death by the High Priests of the Sanhedrin (vv.34-41). To compound on all of this, I had consumed more than four rolls prior to going to our Thursday Night service, and the starch overload was making my eyelids droop. I caught snippets of interesting information, but a warm room, lack of activity, and a full stomach make for an inattentive mind.

I snapped to attention when the tears began to fall.

Rob certainly had no idea that he was going to be crying in front of twenty or thirty college students. I had no idea he would cry, no idea that he would open up his heart and expose it and all its bloody parts for all to see. He spoke of his child, spoke of how she had been sick for years and that only now had she been diagnosed with an appropriate disorder and treated correctly. His tone and tears spoke of anger and doubt that God would ever do something good with all of this, but his words and another part of his soul said that God saves. That God’s purpose is ultimate. He was crying, he was sniffing back snot, and then he was silent. The whole room was. Someone went to get him a handkerchief.

Someone from the back of the room said, “It’s all right, Rob.”

He replied, “I know.”

A video was played of a woman I used to pray with my Freshman year. She was beautiful in both soul and in mind. She told us in the video that she had gone on a missions trip to Zambia and come back with a lethal form of malaria. She told us she was supposed to die in three to four days after symptoms began to show.

She didn’t die.

Instead, she was left with a chronic migraine. I could tell, even in the video, that her brain was not working the way it used to, too. She used to come to prayer in the early mornings, sharing some story of her own or of some childhood tale. Something that would always, always add depth to our prayers. This migraine fostered in that woman an intimate understanding of God’s gift. Through tears of her own on the video, she said, “Every morning I wake up, I am reminded of grace.”

That’s when I realized: I am surrounded by beautiful people.