Thursday, June 30, 2005

Is "worship" self-focused . . .

I read of the lives and societies of those more than 1,000 years ago (e.g. people in the Bible, Plato, Egyptian history, etc.). I read of "worship" (what the Bible often calls "idolatry") and have come to a newer perspective for me.

The gods worshiped for most of all time (pretty much until the advent of the Greek pantheon) have been gods of human need. Sun gods, rain gods, crop gods, earth gods, cattle gods, local business gods (the god of carpentry, the god of tents, etc.), the gods of countries. With the occasional, male-hormone driven gods (Aphrodite, etc.). Ask males who let themselves consider sex constantly and one will find them saying Aphrodite is also a need-based god!

When God repeats over and over in the Old Testament, "I am God, have none others beside me. . . YHWH our God is ONE . . . etc." I wonder what He is contrasting Himself with?

I wonder if I have focused more on the temples and sacrifices rather than the gods themselves. Is the God of the Bible saying, "Worship Me" or is He actually saying, "Trust Me"? His "competitors" are sustenance gods.

So in the Old Testament when God says, "Don't work on the 7th day" to an agricultural society (not to mention the 7th YEAR off, too!), is He not saying, "Trust ME"?

I was told that money or a car or anything else that takes my admiration, time, money, etc. could probably be labeled an "idol" -- anything that received my worship or sacrifice. But maybe that's not it. Maybe it's that I was relying on my friendships to make my life good-enough. For me, lack of friendships was "dying." My idol wasn't my "friends" as much as it was my friendships. Others may have relied on their very nice cars, but only because they trusted the car to bring them what they NEEDED.

So maybe "worship" should NOT be described as "worth-ship." Maybe it's much more self-focused than that. Maybe it's about who or what I'm going to trust to sustain me! Money, job, promotion, less-and-less debt, web of friendships, sex, control of my now (or future or past), control of my kids (or wife or friends or superiors or subordinates or customers), retirement savings, public esteem. Not because I deem them such "worth" but because I trust them to sustain and/or protect me from harm.

If you've made it this far, what do you think? Is worship about ascribing worth or about dependence? Or something else?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

If this were my last post, I'd say this.

Just finished watching October Sky. But what I now write is about what every movie is really about -- to me. This is what I see every time I see a movie, read a book, listen to a song, hear my kids talk and laugh, find someone' s story . . . This is why I cry almost every week, if not more. This is what I see. I think this is what I am made to see by God, but I am not sure.

The way it is supposed to be.

Where people are free to be what they love to be. Where people love seeing others free to be. Where people stand in awe of others and often of themselves. A kind of, "Can you believe you ( or I or they) did / get to do ________!!" Awe that I am allowed to, awe that I am encouraged to, awe that I am wanted to do what I am wanting to do. But more.

"BEING who I am." That you and I get to live out who we ARE; our activities and decisions flow out of our essence, our "who I am on the inside," our "the me that I see," and technically, "the me that I was Made to be."

As I have written previous, a place where power is FOR others. Where leaders are leaders because they are the ones who use power to provide for and better the world of others (because that's what they were Made for!), not because of objectified, worthless standards that fall so short of even the stated values and visions of the whole.

A place where a coal-miner's son is encouraged to build rockets, where the son knows that his dad really is his hero (even before the typical story line conflict-then-resolution-unto-understanding), and where death no longer robs experiences nor is necessary for us to see the value of life. [Where death is no more, but that is not for me at this time. I hate death with all that is within me. It is the team effort of evil.] A place where people live life to the full and are overwhelmed at the privilege - no matter their personal circumstances. A place where people laugh at themselves quickly, or at least eventually.

A place where people choose to trust a good God who says live in connection and love with Him and others - connections that become as vital as food and water. I think of that common "trust exercise" of standing on a 4' podium, closing one's eyes, crossing one's arms, and falling back into the "crowd" below who is responsible for catching the one falling. Relationships that put even vital parts of life in the hands of another so as to communicate Love and Trust and Value and Commitment and Connection and even Friendship.

This is no pie-in-the-sky existence, however. A place like this would be rampant with disagreements (what else would happen when people are free to be, think, and do what is within them!!). But equally rampant with dialogue. Rampant with, "yah, I guess it's not that important." Or just judges who decide on what is best for the community, not just individuals.

I see this everywhere. I see it in, "There is no 'I' in 'Team.'" I see it in the song, "We are family." I see it in most every statement about synergy and groups doing more than the individuals ("sum is greater than the parts"). I see it in hero stories. I see it in October Sky, self-realization stories, and even Bruce Almighty. I see it in most every teacher (the one's that care). I see it in those I have been privileged to walk life with - some friends, some family, some strangers, some homeless. And Tara, herself.

It is what drives me into the next job. It is what drives me at work as I deal with co-workers, bosses, clients, and vendors.

I see this world through my tears for I know this is possible. Here. Now. This planet, this lifetime. I see it lived out often these days in my family. I see it sometimes with those I am connected with outside my family. I see it in the hearts/minds/visions of writers and directors. I see it in Jesus: both in the Bible and in my relationship with Him.

I learned it from Him (for this is all quite un-natural, actually, to an angry, quick-tempered, power-grabbing, cynical U.S. male). He did it with me, He has done it with others, and I know He wants others to do this with still more.

If you read this post, please do this.


Post Script - June 30, 2005

Home for the living of the body, home for the health of the soul. It is home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Perfect Leadership is Possible with one, easy step

Lead FOR others. That's it.

Ok, some more. "Power corrupts, Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely." Why? What is "corrupt" anyway?

My answer: selfishness. Direct, personal gain or indirect advantage (or gain). I have asked the question that I heard elsewhere, "Is a benevolent dictator the ultimate form of government?" I suspect that the wording gives away my stance - yes. IF the power is used for the good of the community, then the power is good. If the power is used against or even indifferent to the community, it is corrupt.

"But no King or Queen will ever lead for the people all the time. Plus they don't know what all the people need - they're isolated."

So what DOES a dictator listen to, respond to? News? Threats? Opportunities? If a dictator can choose what impacts or directs the use of Power, then it would make sense for said dictator to develop systems that collect what's going on in the life of the people, no? For example, Jason Fisher's dad works at a church where once a month they have everyone who can come to a "prayer meeting." BUT . . . there are note-takers in the small groups who are praying. Not to collect "gossip" but rather to collect what is going on in the lives of the people. THESE VERY NOTES are used, as far as I understand, to bound the use of power. In other words, power is used Intentionally, it is used For the people, it is bound by the Lives of those for whom the power is to be used. This leadership group (same holds for individuals) specifically set in place channels of communication so that they can know, really Know, the people they are leading.

But our government and our churches have become habitually "higher than." Politicians have convinced themselves they are "servants of the public" by thinking for us (?). I heard NOTHING of how their constituents felt about Senate filibuster issues - just some Democrat/Republican (aren't there other parties, by the way?!?) rhetoric.

The Bible says, "Where there is not leadership/vision, the people fall." So we pastors are responsible for the vision of the people. WHAT!!!! Am I now to be excited that people don't "follow" pastors much (e.g. see how consistent peoples lives are with what is espoused from a pulpit and the corresponding value statements)?

Paul says that elders can be evaluated on how they parent - something like, "They'll lead in an organization like they do in their homes." I love my wife and kids. I really want to use all of my power for their benefit. Sometimes they don't like it, but I do not think that they wonder if I am going to be selfish with my power, if I am going to use it for selfish gain.

Or maybe I'm deluding myself.

So, is the "good king" of folklore fantasy or an option?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"Never say 'Good-bye'"

Why do people have such a hard time saying, "good-bye"?

I am one for whom the show "24 Hours" was written. Semi-Sci-Fi, action, suspense, intrigue, guns & technology, etc. I actually enjoy the fact that it's not real - that it could only be kind'of real at best. That's why I was a little surprised at the last episode this season. In a 100% fictitious world, created by the creators/writers, they STILL could not figure out how to say, "good-bye." What happens when the main character has to stop his own heart, get revived, sneak out of headquarters, and move to Canada, all to prevent the Chinese from capturing him? His best friend says, "Hey Jack. . . take care of yourself."


The honestly can't write a better good-bye?!? So then I really started paying attention to this perhaps U.S. phenomenon. Sure enough, it's everywhere. People cannot say good-bye without acknowledging the next time-of-connection (e.g. see you tomorrow, see you next week, see you soon, see ya'). Or even the "I'll call you" or "I'll catch up with you" - no idea if much less when this will happen, but it's vital that some kind of next-action is taken.

Then there is death, perhaps the most focused "good-bye." And seemingly the most difficult. Take away the finality of death, the changes that occur in one's schedule and life. Just knowing what to say: as one is dying as well as once someone is dead. I wonder if some of the difficulty is because we never really say "good-bye" during daily living.

I think back on times when I have said "good-bye" to someone I was never going to see again. Kind'of like death, but social convention requires that I say it to someone who can respond back to me!!

I am choosing to learn how to say, or perhaps even moreso, be comfortable with "good-bye." I'm going to learn how to sincerely say the words without reservation nor qualification. I'm going to accept that there is a breaking, that this breaking is natural, and I'm going to live as if the break might be permanent - all subsequent reconnections, then, are to be celebrated and enjoyed.

But why do people in the Western World have such a hard time saying "the words"?