Morning musing 4.24.16

Early morning musing 4.24.16

I’m thinking of writing for my eyes only an ongoing narrative called “What Bothers The F*** Out Of Me” or WBTFOUM for short.

Now while it might appear to be over the top, after all I’m using a variant of the “F Word” in the title, it’s a strong word because I have strong reactions to some things; such as social injustice, food deserts, racism, grace and forgiveness being withheld on my part, responding out of fear and not love, mental health stigma internal and external, et al.

All of the things that bother me in this life mainly pertain to human behavior, and not the human in and of himself/herself. Which I think is good, because I can work through reaction and respond with action.

I don’t see human beings as issues, their own or imposed, we all have faults and cracks. Yet this is how the light gets in (as so elegantly sung by Leonard Cohen in Anthem), and so I want to expose my cracks and be illuminated.

I have cracks, I have faults, I have an inner darkness, I have fear of true intimacy. But I have a desire for the light to expose all of me, I want to be seen for who I am and not some cheap imitation that’s “socially accepted” and that’s it.

I was made for more than that,
You were made more than that ☺

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

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Everyday I’m journalin’ (or at least trying to)

Lately I’ve been trying to get into the habit of writing in my journal, wireless blogging as it were!  I do like blogging, don’t get me wrong, but I think it’s healthy to unplug and just write for my sake more than for a larger audience. Yes, not everything that I think about and write about makes it here, some of it is more for-my-eyes-only, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Welp, off to do some writing!

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

There’s no place for bad theology

Occasionally my students will ask me religious / God questions, as I’m known by way of my BEing that I am a follower of Christ. I take all their questions in stride, more often than not I will answer their questions with even more questions.

However the questions gravitate sometimes to something dark, something more personal than not. It is evident in some of the questions that my students ask me about God and matters concerning God that they’ve been sold that God loves them with conditions. I have also addressed questions concerning the love of God, which sadly someone of my students believe God doesn’t love certain people.

When I address the question concerning God’s love for them I let them know why they think that, quite often they believe it’s what they do that earns God’s love, and if what they’ve done or what they are doing now isn’t good then God doesn’t love them. I do what I can to encourage them to do good, for themselves and for others, but I bring to light that there’s nothing we can do to make God love us more or make God love us less. God’s love remains the same whether we make good choices or bad choices, but that shouldn’t deter us to do the right thing when we need to.

When I address matters about God not loving certain people, I usually get several things about this question:
1. So often it’s someone in their own lives, past or present.
2. It’s something they may have heard often, at home or at church.
3. The moral highroad is taken. That they of course are loved by God, but x person isn’t.

Depending on how heated the conversation is, because sometimes it is and sometimes it’s a matter-of-fact statement made, I usually say the following;

There’s no place for bad theology

I let it be known that some views of God are really destructive, especially when marginalization and exclusion takes place. I bring it back home to them if they’re having issues with my thoughts, I bring up would they like to be the ones perceived as being unloved by God? It’s amazing how quickly NO is the given answer, and sometimes “but…” is followed with a rebuttal in tow, but that is rarely the case.

I have been affected others by bad theology in my life, I have also been the victim of bad theology, and I realize the ripples it has caused on my soul and for those who have been a victim to my bad theology I am truly sorry.
If you’ve been a perpetrator or victim of bad theology, it’s never too late to make a difference in the lives of others by sowing seeds of good theology. How does one go about sowing these seeds, I like the following acronym called THINK;

Sometimes…
A lot of the time…
ALL the time, we need to THINK about what we’re putting out to others and unto ourselves. It can be a laborious process, but I think (see what I did there?) with practice it’ll become habitual.

So be an agent of change,
be a THINKer,
and as Rob Bell so eloquently put it; “everyone should be everything they’re here to be.”

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

Theological arguments [are no longer part of my framework]

I was raised to believe that you have to know what you believe in order to believe.

I was raised to think that the answers mattered, and if one was lacking answers you better out those answers QUICK, or else (although I never found out what the “or else” scenario presented, “back sliding” perhaps?)

And I was good at learning about God, about the bible, about church history, et al. I could present sound arguments as to why I believed what I believed, and consequently I built this wall around myself- whether it was to keep myself in or others out, I think the answer to this is yes.

I knew the songs, I knew the bible verses, I was the Babe Ruth of bible baseball (questions ranged from easy / single to hard / home run).

The thing is, at that time in my life I equated knowing with believing, and thus my faith was secure as I thought it had to be.

But the funny thing is,
life happened.

Life happened to me in general, but the more definitive marks on my mortal coil were and have been the friendships and relationships I have invested my time and energy into. As my bro Ben says; “it’s not about stepping out of your comfort zone, it’s about expanding it” and I realize that’s what did it for me.

I also realized that arguments, and a “locking down” of one’s beliefs to assert what you believe can be a futile endeavor. Sure you can speak of God, but you can’t speak on God’s behalf. If anything, the more you learn about God the less you know (a beautiful paradox I find to be true). Mere words are drops of water in the ocean, no one has an upper hand in the God market.

I realize that when people are faced with new twists and turns in life, we can either resist or embrace what comes our way, mainly people who are different than ourselves. Living in our day and age, I don’t think it is possible to be completely closed off from whomever is the “other”, and so we will face the crossroads of resist/embrace.

So what does this look like to my system of faith? I’d say that when it comes to matters of God, theology, and everything in between, I hold it all with open hands. I am adaptable, I allow myself to be challenged, I allow myself to think for myself, I allow questions and doubts to swim about in my mind, I allow myself to take things in and leave things out.
Admittedly I’ve been accused of changing my mind and perspective on a variety of things, and I’m not worried in the slightest because I hold to the notion that the close I am in touch with my humanity and divinity, the humanity and divinity of others, the closer I am to God. “Closer” but nowhere close, and still I partake in learning and doing what I can to be the best possible follower of Christ I can be.

We as the human race are all trying to get through this life together, so please be kind and be loving to each other in this journey.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

2015 was a good year

I think the highlight of my year is that I have started the preliminary work required  is that I’m going back to school next year to get my Master’s degree.

This is exciting, and I am thankful to God for having a roomie who has been the impetus to me finally moving in this direction. You see, what I want to do in life requires a few more 8 x 11 pieces of paper to signify that: 1. I can be paid more 2. I know more 3. I can handle more 4. I have the qualifications to counsel others. This is how it’s done and so I shall as well.

***

Another highlight to my year was another year spent counter-protesting the protesters at Chicago Pride, heck I ran into Jesus 🙂

I am proud to be an ally, and I’m proud of the progress made in our country when it comes to marriage equality. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, but I know God will meet me where I am at.

***

Another highlight of my year was spending time with my family and rekindling some relationships with certain family members. While I am taking a break from some of my family members, I am more than confident that I’m getting to where I need to be to engage them healthily and holistically.

***

Another highlight of my year was crossing the 1 year mark with my company. I love what I do, and yes some weeks the 40 I put in feels like 80, but I take it all in stride and make the most of it. Change is gradual, and sometimes it seems non-existent, but I keep striving and pushing to make things better for my students.

***

I am looking forward to 2016, it will be the best one yet! 🙂

~Nathanael~

Writing as a spiritual exercise; day 4 of Ramadan

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I was able to make it to pre dawn breakfast! I had a breakfast of fresh strawberries and two poached eggs. I ate them and thank God for them, and then I went back to bed for another two hours.

I decided that morning but I wanted to go to a local church I haven’t been to before; for the experience, for life in community, and also as part of my church incognito project.

Church was very good, I went to a Church Of The Brethren, and I will be writing about that in a day or two. What struck me about the church I attended was their vocalization about the shooting at the church in Charleston, and about racially motivated violence in the USA. One of the men in the service read off a letter written by the General Secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger, the head of their denomination, and it was a beautiful letter of solidarity and support for the AME Church in Charleston (click here to read it).

I was partially inspired by this letter to take the time to be intentional in writing letters to my parents as I haven’t communicated with them for a while. So when church was over I made my way back to my apartment, and I started writing. I went over several rough drafts, ever wanted to capture everything for the most part without coming across as redundant. As I was writing by hand I realized how much I had to say and wanted to say, I wouldn’t say I was long winded, but I think I said enough this time around.
It was truly cathartic and and its own right, freeing. When I was done writing, I promptly dropped off my letters at my parents house.

So with all that being said, writing was my keyword on the 4th day of Ramadan. Thanks me to God, The Great Writer, who writes on our hearts and our minds dreams desires goals and aspirations. May we be inspired by what is written on our hearts and our minds and change the world for good!

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

Church Incognito: In the beginning…

Because of a change in my work schedule, I now have a traditional Saturday and Sunday weekend. So I have decided that I will help out with my church’s youth group on Saturdays and visit different churches in my area on Sundays.

I am undertaking this task because I like diversity in community, that is, the more we might appear in our differences the more we are actually the same. I’ve grown up in the church and there are some traditions of faith that are unfamiliar to me, and so it is my intention to engage in said traditions of faith both in showing up, but also by interacting with those who attend if I am able to do so.
I have no guidelines as to what places I will attend, but I will allow the Holy Spirit to prompt and guide me in finding God in church (building) and Church (the people). I will be honest and sincere with others. I will listen, take notes, and BE and perhaps even DO with others. I will have fun. I will listen with open ears and an open heart. I will be dutiful in writing about my experiences here.

Onward and upward!
~Nathanael~