Too Mutch

...a safe place to dance with ideas, play with theology, and re-create a life implicated by God

Monday, May 22, 2006

Life or Leisure?

On a night when the world gathers in cities across the globe for the International HIV/AIDS Candlelight Memorial;
On a night when the world pauses...
Pauses to remember those that have lost their lives and their futures;
On a night where we gather to HOPE together that there would be another way;
On a cool night @ Rosa Park Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, I wonder...

Where is everyone?
Where are all the people that care about the world?
Where are those that are afflicted with HIV?
Where are the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones?
Where is the church?

And then I realize,
On this night, the Pistons were playing game seven of the East Semifinals.
And I can't help but wonder how many people purposely ordered their day so they could catch the game;
And how many did NOT order their day to come to the memorial.

It comes down to this: Life or Leisure? Too often, my actions demonstrate that leisure has a higher value than life. I'd rather watch basketball or a romantic comedy than see lives saved. How is that possible?

If only I could love others as I love myself...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The DeFranza Baby--Baby!

Welcome to our world Lórien Shannon DeFranza! This beautiful child was born to our beautiful friends (Megan and Andrew) this past Thursday. And if you like to read onto circumstances and signs (and I know I do), then what we are looking at is the next in the line of impressive academic stock. Little Lórien waited until merely a few hours after Megan's last final of the semester to begin her journey into this world. Super timing!

Andrew, who doesn't do the best in hospitals, apparently needed an epidural of his own!

Props for Blogging

Last Thursday and Friday I went through the Lifeplanning process with leadership guru Dan Webster of Authentic Leadership. It was a great day and a half of talking ALL ABOUT ME!

Dan tells a story about a leadership event he went to with one of these Tony Robbins-type motivational speakers down by the river! As most of those go, you have to sift through the junk for a couple of pearls. What Dan learned at this one event not only impressed him, but it came as a great surprise.

The speaker said he took a staff of about 50 people that he was working with and had them all write down on a piece of paper 10 things they'd like to achieve in the next 6 months. Once written, they were put in envelopes, marked with their name, and handed in. No copy to take home. No report. Some time around 6 months later he returns with their envelopes. Before handing them out, he asks the group (who have not had any follow up) how many of the goals they think they accomplished. Well, not being able to even remember very many of them, the majority of people guess somewhere right around 2--that's it--2 goals achieved out of 10. The actual results? He claims time and time again that this experiment finds that the majority of folks will have met somewhere around 7 of their goals. He claims there is power merely in writing them down and never even coming back to them.

Well, if he is correct, then blogging has found more support as a spiritual discipline of sorts. When we create, write, and put ourselves "out there" into the blog-o-sphere, we are accountabilifying ourselves (that according to George W). So, over the next couple of weeks, I hope to be able to share some of the things I discovered through the LifePlanning process. In addition, I'll put some of my stated goals out here. Feel free to comment along the way. But please, be gentle.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More than a Seminary Grad

In the VH-1 special presentation of "Back to the 80's: Christian Edition" one of the highlights might be Josh McDowell's book More Than a Carpenter. The primary goal of this book is to convince us that Jesus was more than a carpentar...more than a good guy...more than a moral teacher...etc. McDowell sets out to give us the necessary evidence to convince us of Jesus' DIVINITY.

With the events of my life over the last few months, I'm thinking of a manuscript for those of us that have been full-time professional pastors / reverends / priests: More than a Seminary Grad. It would really be a similar type of a book, with one interesting twist. While McDowell tries to convince us of Jesus' Divinity, I see a need to convince the world of my HUMANITY.

The primary degree offered by seminaries is the M.Div. Yep, if you put in the time at one of Christendom's seminaries, you can be a Master of Divinity. I don't even think Harry Potter gets the equivalent of that degree after 7 years at Hogwarts. What I think is funny about the title of this degree is that it is missing an "s". All the other graduating students from seminary get a Master' Christian Education or Theology or Biblical Languages. The get a Master's, while I become a Master...of Divinity.

Well, thanks to the events of the last few months, I'm realizing that I'm more than a seminary grad. And it is a GOOD thing. For several weeks, I had no job with plenty of time to blog. As of late, I've come across some work (hence, less blogging). It's been really good for me. It has nothing to do with my Divinity. It's all about my humanity. In fact, it is nearly a role-reversal with Jesus. While he went from carpenter to master of divinity, I've gone from the divinity side of things to the carpentry side. Nearly. I've been working for a general contractor. He does most of the carpentry, but hey, I had to start somewhere!

So, what good does this experience really accomplish. Well, for starters, it is solidifying IN REAL LIFE what I would have played lip service to before. There is NOT a qualitative difference between the pastor and the lay person. There isn't ANY reason why I should be asked to pray before all the important meals. I know loads of people who are more eloquent and engaging in prayer than I am (Sojourner and spouse). There's nothing "extra special" about me going to visit someone in the hospital just because I'm a Master of Divinity. Lots of people have more compassion and better empathy than I do (Edie "double barrels" Finnell).

There is dimming line between the pastorate and the "regular" Christians. And that is a good thing. I have a friend whose name rhymes with Burt. He is an accomplished man of business. He works in the business world, but he and I and others around us are becoming convinced that the title "business world" is part of a false paradigm. There aren't different worlds. And someone who is accomplished and gifted with a Master's in Business Administration can be more than a businessman. And this friend of mine is. He is a pastor and counselor to many. He (and I) haven't given up what we are good at. Rather, we are finding it. Yes, maybe in creative ways we didn't ways that we had not ways that are frustrating and confusing. BUT--we are finding our way to be eikons/reflections/representatives of God in his world.

Are you? What are you more than?