October 9, 2005

Part II: A Nicer Place to Live

I would like to propose an alternative to debate: discussion.

With this, I clearly mark myself as a postmodern Christian. I think that “debating” someone (aka “winning” by “proving” your point) is pointless – never once have I seen anyone leave a debate having changed their mind about the issue, from either side. The only way it works is if that person actively looked for the debate to see if the beliefs they held were correct (say, for example, Lee Strobel). In which case, the debate is no longer a debate: it is a discussion, a place where both sides of the issue come to the table to honestly and non-hostily present their opinions and, over time, come to an understanding. This does not mean they will agree.

And that is the solution. Simple, elegant, and somehow, impossible for anyone with any grain of humanity within them. Now why is that?

As it turns out, people don’t like to be humble, and that’s what this requires: humility. People are stupid, as a general rule (and yes, I include myself in that broad, sweeping statement), and stupid things don’t tend to learn too quickly, especially stupid things that don’t think they’re stupid, i.e. the human race. I mean, come on, I’m writing about it, and yet I still probably don’t do much of it at all. I’m sure that, because of the rather amusing laws of probability, I might occasionally stumble into a humble moment (and I’m pretty sure this isn’t one of them), but it’s rare.

Anyway, so the idea is to talk about things with the humility to know that you’re probably not quite right, and that you should listen to the other person who is also probably not quite right. And so we’ll end up with a lot of people who are probably not quite right, but it makes for a much nicer place to live. At least, I think it would …

October 5, 2005

Broken Earth

I was raised in a Presbyterian church. Small place, average age of 60 or so, organ, choir in robes, the works. And so last night was this rather interesting time for me, and I found myself back to my calvinist origins having a proper chat with God - feeling entirely inadequate.

The reason? I was planning out my worship set for the coming month. We just finished with our weekend for October and I, being a good planner (and realizing I have but three more services to plan before we leave for Melbourne), planned out all three services so I'd know what brass parts I have to write and can knock them off while I've got all this free time.

[side note: currently I'm essentially unemployed, which really sucks. I arrived at these circumstances against my will through channels that had nothing to do with me, but with my employer, who decided 40 hours was too many and cut me back to 4-10 per week. So factor that frustration into this, and add to that the fact that I cannot seem to find another job at this time of the year.]

Anyway, so I have all this free time. But last night I found myself head-in-hands on my desk, near tears, pleading with God to show me what in the world He's got planned for these next three worship sets: my plans, in my mind, were wholly inadequate. And it got me thinking about our position as human beings in the face of a God the size of the one who Is: what are we but dirt? What are we but the depraved pond scum on the bottom of God's boots?

I stared at the worship sets I was writing wondering why I bothered. Nobody is going to understand the significance of these songs anyway, or nobody will care, or it'll be too much of a performance for people to worship, blah blah blah. And so my mind began spiraling downwards into the doldrums, my depravity quite obvious to my broken mind.

And it's true, right? We're but shadows and dust, as it were, in light of God's purity, His holiness, His righteousness. And yet somehow, to my calvinist-raised mind, this didn't help. I've known Calvinists who were comforted by that, though I'm not sure how. Maybe it was self-pity gone wrong, I dunno.

But as I'm wallowing, I started listening to Crowder's new CD again to try and find a different song, and this is what I found:

"A certain sign of grace is this:
From the broken earth, flowers come up,
Pushing through the dirt."

I almost cried - for I am that broken earth, and despite my uncleanliness, my Lord has seen fit to use my feeble efforts to produce flowers of staggering beauty. Not because of my efforts, but in spite of them. He's that good.