Whatever dude; the Epitaph of my and the next generation (debunked) – 17/28

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When I was a youth ministry major 8 years ago I was informed that my generation and the generation afterwards would be very casual, that truth couldn’t be spelled with a capital T, that relativism and all things spiritual would be a touch-and-go matter and as long as values didn’t step on the toes of others “whatever dude” would be the mantra.

I write as one who is a follower of Christ, so if you’re from a different faith system, your input would be nice, because I don’t know your side of the coin as well as you do so please contribute by commenting. 🙂

While I do see that there’s a bit more of a liberal nature to my generation, I don’t see the concerns of my professors truly come to be. The thing is as I consider myself post-Evangelical and more in the Emergent camp than not, and my days when I self-identified as Evangelical don’t come back to haunt me (at least, not too much), the time that I was an Evangelical served me well and was a building block in my faith and not a stepping stone; that is, it helped me to where I am currently and going over a means from one side of the pond to the other, something that doesn’t get looked back upon.

So this “Whatever Dude” approach to my generation to things of God and spirituality? Not necessarily so, in fact I think that if anything my generation is doing what can be engage it more on their terms and not going by “tradition” or “we’ve always done it this way, so why change?” means. There is nothing innately wrong with tradition, but not willing to explore deeper waters and being comfortable closer to the shoreline…not quite what I thought of when Jesus described the nature of following him, or even how Dietrich Bonhoffer put it; When God calls a man [or a woman] to himself, he bids him [or her] to come and die.

Even for those in my generation who aren’t followers of Christ, I see a re-reading of religious texts and it not being read for face value either. My Muslim friends aren’t out to kill me or convert me, there’s an understanding and there’s dialogue, and it goes a lot further any day of the week than debate – whether them to me or I to them. I think my generation has a pretty good handle on talking, and even listening for that matter! I’m proud to hear the questions and conversations happening 🙂 To God be the glory in all things!

Lastly for this “whatever dude” debunked post, there’s the nature of doubting and questioning. I truly believe that doubting and questioning walks hand-in-hand with faith, because if one’s able to sum up the entirety of their belief system in an unflinching manner, that’s belief in the belief system and in many ways faith exits the scene. As a follower of Christ I can only speak on behalf of my brothers and sisters in Christ, so here’s something Jesus told his Disciples prior to him going back to Heaven; John 20:29 – Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Faith is one of those things you can’t really have a grasp on, you really can’t, but then again that’s why it’s faith. You take your life, your journey, and you take God and matters of faith in faith. I am a follower but I am a doubter and very very much a questioner, and I have faith that God will meet me where I am at, but I also have days where I doubt it. But God is bigger than me, God is bigger than my questions, my doubts, my unanswered prayers and questions…and sometimes, not all the time, I am okay with that. I am okay with a God I don’t believe in inasmuch as I have faith in.

~Nathanael~

My older writing horrifies me

I have been blogging for close to 11 years now, and even now and before the days of the internet I would write with pen and paper. Now apart from grammatical errors (comma splice was my vice), punctuation, sentence structure and all of that…I’m horrified by my writing of yore.

I recently came across some things I wrote 9 years ago; mostly prayer requests for others, prayer requests for myself, brief tidbits of thanksgiving for good weather and life, but I also wrote some things that just make me cringe.

I wrote some brief but detailed prayers against certain groups of people, against! I used prayer, the way I best know how to communicate to God…against people? What the hell Nathanael of 9 years ago?!?

I also wrote some things that border on the line of spiritual manipulation, and lust mingled with infatuation…:shudder: It is eye-opening to who I was, what I thought of God, what I thought about humanity, but here’s the clincher…

That’s who I was, I am not that guy any more, I believe and truly think that I have evolved in my ways of thought. That’s what I appreciate when it comes to writing and very much life; second chances, edits, however you want to put it sometimes God gives us the capacity to revision and restart, not from the beginning but from the ashes of where we left off.

Thanks be to God for second chances,
Nathanael

A series of unfortunate events; Sam and Don

The other day in my hometown a storm of heavy rain and fast winds came in and came out, the resulting storm lead to power being out in my house (as well as others). So I decided to get up and go for a walk, camera-in-hand of course! 🙂

I was walking up one block and there was this tree that was knocked over completely, roots and all, and as I was getting ready to photograph it a guy came out of his house. Don* started chatting to me about photography, to which he shoots with the Canon T3i, the same make and model I do, so it was a connection point. After a while he was placating and essentially kissing my butt photography, but then…he started to proselytize to me!
Now interestingly enough, I already know Don but apparently he has forgotten about me (it’s been a while since the last time we interacted, I didn’t have long hair or a ‘stache then!) but he weaved into our conversation about photography about how I am going to hell :crickets: and told me to go to a website he created (not going to drop the link, not sorry!). He didn’t share the Gospel message with me, I don’t interact with him, and yet he still feels the urge to tell me I am going to hell… I am glad I got the brunt end of his hell spiel and not someone else, Lord have mercy on Evangelicals who share of hell before they share of God’s love and grace. Writer’s note: I went to the website and it looks like it was made in 1998, a few random lightning bolt gifs and the pièce de résistance…This was your life! A Jack Chick Tract, oy vey iz mir…:-(

After I left that street I found another fully uprooted tree lying across a street in my area, that’s where I met Sam* who also was shooting photos, and with a Canon T3i no less! Sam told me if he had his way, he’d organize people of Aurora to move the debris to assist the city workers who were absolutely busy beyond belief that day, and afterwards we could all kick back and eat burgers and drink brews. I told Sam that I liked his idea a lot, it would be great to pull together and then commune with one another.

***

Now I don’t know Sam’s heart, but there was more of a pull on my heartstrings interacting with a guy who was for social justice, tangibly doing something to make a difference, than my encounter with Don who weaseled in a message of I’m going to hell despite not having a relationship let alone a friendship with me. I think that’s where followers of Christ get it wrong sometimes, we’re quick to pull the you’re-going-to-hell trigger and we’re left with a smoking gun. I usually abide by St. Francis of Assisi’s words of “preach the Gospel at all times and use words when necessary.” I live my faith out in action, in my being as well as doing, I want to love on this world so much that people will get soaked by the love of God through what I do. Love compels me to do this, God’s love to be precise, and I think that goes a lot further than telling people they’re going to hell.

~Nathanael~
*names have been changed

27/31 – My vocation (why are I here on earth)

 

My vocation (why are I here on earth)

Since I won’t be the next Valentino Balboni (former test driver for Lamborghini) I might as well be me…

My vocation, my calling, is youth ministry. God put it upon my heart in my Senior year of high school, and I have been active with different youth ministries some 9 years later. I don’t aim to reinvent the wheel when it comes to youth ministry, but I do desire to engage students in helping out others, that is social justice; to which I consider myself blessed to have had some students of mine help me out at the local soup kitchen, getting to know the homeless and poor in my hometown and feeding them has made my perspective change 180°.

I do know that some things with being a part of the Emergent church does spur me on in a different way than my Evangelical upbringing. By no means am I dropping Evangelicalism altogether, but there’s a bit of a progression, and so on the shoulders of Evangelicals I’ve become an Emergent. Instead of making “getting to Heaven” the drive for one’s actions, I hope to express and instill in students that while Heaven is part of the equation, the nature of “getting there” isn’t where I’m putting emphasis, but rather living out a life faithful to God, “on Earth as it is in Heaven”, kingdom work here and now, reconciliation and restoration, being part of the process that ushers in perfect shalom…because I think Heaven, for what it’s worth, might not be what Evangelicals have told and sold over the years, and I want to present a dynamic reality instead of a static one.

I also want to further my education by way of getting a Masters of Divinity (M. Div) in either Ireland or Scotland; I want to get some studying abroad as well as traveling abroad in my lifetime, I think this’ll help me get both in, in the proverbial killing two birds with one stone kind of way. I love learning, and I think expanding my education in the realm of what I find my calling to be will serve me well.

I also think and believe that part of my vocation is to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, not that there isn’t any overlap but there needs to be more. I have written quite a bit about that, and at the risk of beating a dead horse, I will just say this; Christians aren’t overall bad when it comes to engaging the LGBT community in a Christlike manner, I just think that we can do more. I also think about who Jesus spent his life on earth with, the ones in his day and age who were people that were marginalized, people who were looked down upon, people who were ignored…if Jesus spent his years here on Earth right now, I think he would spend a good deal of his time with the LGBT community. I think if we’re called to be like Christ as followers of Christ, stepping out in faith and building friendships and loving on the LGBT community is a very good and Godly thing to do.

I also like to write, I don’t know how that works into my vocation at this point, but down the road I might have some clarity that I don’t have at this present time.

~Nathanael~