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Oh by the way, I’m leaving now to drive 900 miles in a diaper

First of all, let’s just get it out of the way–I failed to finish my remix version of the Vatican II document. I started the second part on the next Thursday night, as was the plan, but quickly got distracted by the fact that it was becoming a five-part post, and quite frankly I just wasn’t feeling that academic. So it got put off, and then put off another week or two, and now here we are three weeks later and still no resolution or even continuation. I will make no excuses, it is what it is. I’m glad we’ve gotten that out of the way. Moving on to more important things, let’s all take a second to laugh about an astronaut driving 900 miles wearing a diaper to kidnap a fellow astronaut whom she was jealous of.

I love NASA and space exploration, and I think it’s part of our human nature to explore beyond our boundaries and see what’s beyond our backyard, what’s over the mountains, or what’s across the ocean. Space is the next frontier, pardon the cliche, and I don’t think we can help but explore it. Actually, I think it’s taking way too long for us to do it. But this is admittedly very bad PR for NASA, and I’m sure there will be some consequences for this, whether or not they’re formal ones. I just hope one psycho astronaut doesn’t do too much damage to a very worthy program. (On a side note, why is it no one is pointing out the fact that Nowak is married with children? I mean, two single astronauts fighting over a guy is one thing– a married astronaut getting this jealous over another man is another. Those poor children… I think I would put myself up for adoption.)

And come on, if you’re going to drive 900 miles while wearing diapers to try and win back your secret astronaut boyfriend, at least give yourself the best chance possible, and don’t look like this:

Even an astronaut monkey wouldn’t touch that.

Sam the rhesus monkey

Given the choice, I think I’d take the monkey.

Moving On…
Yesterday I decided to begin a new quest. This is something that’s really been a couple of months overdue, but until yesterday I just never got the inspiration to actually get up and do it. My evening event at work got canceled, meaning I actually got my whole day off yesterday as it’s supposed to be. Since I had planned on going to work in the evening and then was suddenly freed from that task, I decided it was time to go on a photoshoot. I had just recently started to look at Ken Rockwell’s photography, and decided I would give his style a try. He’s a genius with color. In fact, he even claims he doesn’t shoot subjects in his photography, because his subject is the color. His pictures are all taken with good old-fashioned skill, meaning none of his colors are faked on photoshop. If you’re good enough, patient enough, and devoted enough, you can make pictures turn out like that without cheating.

And because I live reasonably close to salt water (Chesapeake Bay), I thought I’d use the opportunity to get away from the city, outside of the chaos and the power trips, and check out a random town on the bay. There were only a few close enough for me to get to and still have daylight, so I chose Chesapeake Beach, a town of about 2,000 people just 30 miles southeast of DC. I got there hoping to find a nice pier out over the water, something scenic and ready for my sunset photography. I mean come on, the town is called Chesapeake Beach. But alas, there is actually no beach in the very illegitimately-named Chesapeake Beach, and thus no scenic pier out over the water. But I didn’t let that stop me. I managed to find a spot that I thought was photoworthy, and began to snap pictures like a pro. Unfortunately, my camera is frustratingly limited in its capabilities, and I think I basically got 100 photos worth of trash (and all of the same thing). Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great camera for your everyday photos and even artistic shots, so long as they’re in the daylight. But low-light times such as sunsets demand a lot of adjustments like long shutter times and aperture changes. And my camera, for the first second time in our relationship as camera and owner, failed me. I haven’t really spent the time to photoshop any of my pics yet, but here is what I’ve deemed the early winner:

Okay, I admit I photoshopped it a little. See that funky part on the far left? That’s where I screwed up and was too tired to fix it. Hey, I had to at least make the thing presentable.

Anyways, after the sun went down, I went to the only highly-recommended restaurant in town, Smokey Joe’s. And when you’re at a food joint on the bay, what are you most assuredly getting? Crab, of course. I opted for the crab cakes, and they were incredible. Expensive, but incredible. These things were packed with huge chunks of meat and a lot of it… I’m guessing six or seven crabs made the ultimate sacrifice for my meal last night. And let me just say that for that one fleeting hour I was completely satisfied with living on the east coast.

In my future, I see more Maryland town-hopping and much more crab eating, all in the name of good photography. Maybe someday I’ll actually take a good picture or two, and make a coffee table book. That’s the ultimate for all photographers, right? Coffee table stardom.

Mmmm, skinny boy decaf no-foam lattes.

Beyond Words

There have honestly been very few times in my life where I’ve been this happy. We can talk about my priorities later–for now I’m just enjoying this.

Photoshop Creativity

I’ve been watching Photoshop TV, a weekly video podcast by the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). It’s great for anyone wanting to get started with Photoshop or improve their Photoshopping. So since I’ve been learning a lot of wicked-sweet things to do, I’ve been starting to apply them artistically to some of my photos. I’ll post some from time to time, and you can tell me if you like them or not (I haven’t decided yet if I like this one). Click on the image to see a before and after side-by-side.

All in all it took about 35 unique ‘layers’ to create this picture. Next time, I’ll save the project at each step along the way and give you an inside look at how much detail there is in creating a picture like this.

Sheer Joy.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Part I)

I’ve been wanting to take this website to a more academic level, something that still meets my goal of inspiring thought in those of you who read this, but also meets my newer desire to write things worthy of being read. I have nothing against writing just for the heck of it–the blog revolution is a great thing if for no other reason than it became an unconscious revival in writing. But I find myself continually more and more conscious of the number of times the word “I” appears in my writing, and personally I’d like that number to dwindle. So to begin my journey towards more meaningful writing, I’m going to spend some time writing about historic worship documents. It could be nothing more than a vain attempt to disprove the perceived futility of my degree, but I like to think of it more as a way to introduce some important history to those of you who didn’t get a chance to spend hours reading old, boring documents in school.

Obviously, the fact that I studied them in school says they’re not quite as boring to me as many people might find them. Actually, they’re filled with great insight that is usually quite pertinent to the things we’re wrestling with in the present church, and when it comes to the direction of the church, we can usually get a pretty accurate heading by looking in the past and following a similar path. History in general is a really great thing, because it is a key that unlocks the understanding both of ourselves and to some degree our future. In the church, we rely heavily on history in the formation of our doctrinal beliefs. Not that history is itself a source of truth, but more that it is a ‘lens’ in which we can interpret the Bible more accurately. John Wesley is regarded as the author of The Wesleyan Quadrilateral, in which he lists Scripture as the basis of all we believe, and then lists tradition (history), experience, and reason as the different methods we use to help refine our Biblical interpretations and the corresponding doctrinal beliefs derived from those interpretations (more on interpreting the Bible in a future post… remind me). All that to say I believe it is important that not only clergy, but all Christians should have at least some basic knowledge of historical worship documents and their role in our methods of worship and doctrinal beliefs.

To begin this series, I’d like to start with what is unquestionably the most influential worship document of the 20th Century, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, more commonly referred to as Vatican II. Vatican II was a Vatican council convened under Pope John XXIII in 1963 and eventually promulgated under Pope Paul VI in 1964. This document signified huge steps forward in the thinking of the Roman Catholic church, and in many ways has had vast effects on protestant worship as well, reaching across both denominational and doctrinal lines to help push modern worship into a more effective role which celebrates Christ as the head of the church, promotes active participation in the liturgy, and helped to reinforce the priesthood of all believers. Without question the single biggest change this document brought about was the conversion of mass from Latin to the common vernacular. No longer were priests forced to perform liturgy in Latin, but in fact they were directed to perform these functions in the vernacular so that all could understand the meaning and purpose behind the mass.

You can read the Vatican II document here. It’s lengthy, and for everyone’s sanity I’ve broken the document up into multiple articles. For today, Let’s look at the Introduction and Chapters I and II. Basically I’ll be going through the document point by point in a Eugene Peterson style, extrapolating the central truths in each point and rewriting them in shorter, to-the-point explanations. I’ve added personal comments in parenthesis.

  1. We need to reform our worship to add “vigor to the Christian life of the faithful” and adapt our worship practices to make them relevant to today’s culture.
  2. The liturgy (Keep in mind all churches have a liturgy. In your church you might call it the order of service, but we all have one. Some are just much more formulated than others.) is a means for believers to express the mystery of Christ in their lives. It reminds us of the mystery of Christ, daily builds the believer in their relationship with Christ, and yet also manages to strengthen their power to preach Christ.
  3. What we say in this document you should do in your church. Some of it will even apply to protestant churches, but we don’t write rules for them, they just may happen to apply.
  4. We’re not trying to obliterate 2,000 years of history with this document. We just think in some cases we need to do things a little differently.

Chapter I – General Principles for the Reform

  1. Jesus Christ was sent by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the contrite of heart, and become the mediator between God and mankind. He was both fully human and fully divine, lived a perfect, sinless life, died to destroy our death and rose again to restore our life.
  2. Christ sent the apostles to do his work after him, namely proclaiming that Christ’s death and resurrection has freed us from Satan’s grip. The faithful are adopted into the family of God, and become “true adorers whom the Father seeks”. The faithful meet together to proclaim the paschal mystery (Christ’s death and resurrection) through eucharist, read the Scriptures, and “give thanks to God for his inexpressible gift in Christ Jesus, in praise of his glory, through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
  3. Christ is always present in the church, particularly in its liturgical celebrations. (Here comes the Roman Catholic part–remember they believe in transubstantiation.) Christ is present in, and in fact becomes the elements of the sacraments. Specifically, the cup and bread actually become Christ’s body and blood; also when a priest baptizes someone it is actually Christ who baptizes them. He is also present whenever the church prays and sings. The recipients of these sacraments are made holy because Christ has become the sacraments which are partaken. Because we believe this, the liturgy is therefore an exercise of the priestly office of Christ, and is a sacred action surpassing all others.
  4. The earthly liturgy is a taste of the liturgy that is to come in the next life.
  5. The liturgy is not the only action of the church. Evangelism is also a vital part of what the church does.
  6. That being said, the liturgy is still the “summit” of activity in the church and the fount from which the church’s power flows. It’s purpose is to build the believers up in their faith, and “to be one in holiness”. Therefore, from the liturgy, and especially the eucharist, grace is poured out as from a fountain, and is the source of the most effective way to human sanctification.
  7. In order for that to happen, however, the faithful must come in correct attitudes, and the pastors must realize and ensure that people participate actively and are fully aware of the reasons they do things within the liturgy.
  8. The liturgy is not the only component of the spiritual life, however. The faithful must also pray, both corporately and individually, and must daily take up their cross and follow Christ.
  9. We think it’s also important to emphasize personal devotions of the believer, so long as these devotions are in harmony with the teachings and doctrine of the church. It’s especially great if the devotions correlate to what we’re doing and learning in church.

Chapter II – Promotion of Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation

  1. The liturgy only truly reaches its power when those involved are actively participating in what they’re doing. Above all else, this is the desire of this reform. It should be the goal of all pastors to facilitate this active participation in the liturgy. In order for that to happen, however, the pastors themselves must first be “thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy and make themselves its teachers.”
  2. Professors must also be thoroughly trained for their work in instructing on the liturgy.
  3. Liturgy will be one of the primary courses of study in seminaries and religious academic institutions. It should be taught from the theological, historical, spiritual, pastoral, and canonical aspects (Wesleyan quadrilateral, anyone?). Also, those teaching other subjects should strive to relate their subject to this learning as much and often as possible.
  4. Those working and studying in seminaries will be given a liturgical formation in their spiritual life. They will understand and practice these liturgies, as well as devotions pertaining to them, so that seminaries will be “thoroughly permeated by the spirit of the liturgy.”
  5. Priests should seek as much understanding of the liturgy as possible, so they may share that understanding with the faithful.
  6. Pastors must zealously and patiently instruct the faithful on the meaning of the liturgy and the active participation within it. However, not everyone is the same–they should take into account age, condition, way of life, and stage of religious development when instructing on the liturgy.
  7. Radio and tv broadcasts must be marked by discretion and dignity, especially when the Mass is broadcast. The Vatican will appoint a specific overseer to help ensure this.

It’s not perfect, but not too bad for Catholics, huh? I’ll let you in on a secret: their doctrine is a lot better than protestants give them credit for! Part II to follow…

Pat Robertson

Don’t remember if I’ve said it before on the website, so I’ll reiterate. In the words of a family member of mine, Pat Robertson is an ass.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Check it: Pat Robertson

Bob Knight the winningest coach ever?

For those of you that follow the sports world, or even just listen to the sports segment during a newscast, it’s no news to you that Bob Knight is now officially the winningest basketball coach in NCAA D1 history. 880 wins netted him that title, complete with all the rights and privileges thereto. Now, I don’t particularly claim to follow basketball at all. I’m terrible at the sport, I don’t really understand the rules, let alone the strategy of the game, and just hearing about the happenings in the NBA is enough to rule out any chance I ever had at being a basketball fan. Admittedly, I feel bad that I don’t really dig basketball all that much. One of the things my dad always made sure I had growing up was a basketball hoop. He built one when we lived in Crawfordsville (IN) when I was just 6 or so. In Milford (OH) he bought the nicest one I ever owned. It quickly became not the nicest because it was nice enough all the neighborhood kids decided to play on it and ultimately break it, but it started out really nice. When we moved to Marion we got the portable kind and set it up on the street, but by then my love of baseball and wishing we had a football team had taken over any desire to shoot the rock. And in the effort of full disclosure, I should probably say that even in Milford on the nice hoop, I spent far more time throwing footballs into the basket than I did basketballs, so I guess it’s just my destiny.

Having established that basketball is not really my favorite sport, you can draw the fairly accurate conclusion that I don’t really care that much who the best college basketball coach is. If I had my choice, I’d pick Coach K because I think he’s a great guy (and I think ultimately he will break Knight’s record, but that’s off the topic). But I don’t have my choice, and instead I am faced with reconciling the fact that Bob Knight, the epitome of poor anger management, the thrower of chairs, and the strangler of necks is the best coach ever. At least sort of.
The other day I was listening to Mike and Mike in the Morning, a morning sports talk show on ESPN radio, and one of the many podcasts I “subscribe” to. As they were talking about Bob Knight and the controversial figure he is, someone pointed out that yes, he’s thrown chairs at people and strangled players and even hit police officers, but he’s never been involved in any doping or cheating scandals. He’s committed countless criminal acts in his tenure as a coach, but none of his teams have ever cheated their way to winning. And because of that, everything is okay.

.     (Additional period to emphasize the pause)

What strikes me about this whole thing is how eerily familiar it is to stories you hear floating out of churches on any given Sunday. All sorts of sinful things slide right on by a church community. It seems almost every pastor is too worried about making everyone happy and keeping their 85% “yes” votes to ever call out sin, and certainly it’s no one else’s job–I mean, that’s not kosher to tell someone you know what they’re doing and they know what they’re doing is wrong! As long as it’s not one of the big sins like adultery, homosexuality, or murder, then everyone’s fine. We put up with people throwing chairs and strangling players because hey, the team never cheats.

One of the reasons, among many, that I’m such a fan of Rob Bell is the fact the he speaks straight talk to his church. Now granted it’s a lot easier to do that to 12,000 people because you’re not singling out anyone in a crowd, but still, I love the fact he’s willing to do it. I’ve heard him say the word “unacceptable” several times while he’s speaking on stage. He holds his congregation accountable for their actions.

Call me strange, but I like to be held accountable for my actions. I wouldn’t always say that if you asked me, because for a while it’s nice to get away with whatever you want. But before long, I get tired of just doing things my way, and as much as it sucks to be called out on things, I like the Josh Morton who’s held accountable for the things he’s doing. He works harder, speaks more honestly, is conscious about where he’s looking, what he’s thinking, and what he’s saying, concentrates harder on loving people, and sleeps better at the end of the day. I believe very firmly that part of what the Holy Spirit does in our lives is just that. He holds us accountable. But I also believe that the Spirit uses other people in our lives to do that as well. Parents. Mentors. Close friends. Coaches. And pastors.

In the end, the only thing that will remain with the basketball world is the number of wins and losses in Bob Knight’s record. Yes, those of us old enough to picture that red chair flying across the court will always remember it. But in time, his legacy will narrow down to a simple statistic. Two numbers: one before the dash and one after. But our lives are the complete opposite. None of us will carry a win-loss record with us through our lives. Sure, others may try to remember them for us; there will likely always be the perception of who’s a good Christian, who’s not and who’s a .500 Christian. But our legacy doesn’t narrow down to two simple numbers. Our legacy is recorded game by game, point by point. The issue is not whether or not we were cheaters. Because in life, chair throwing is just the same as cheating. And it’s not how you finish in the end, it’s how you get there that counts.

The random thoughts inside my head

There are a lot of random things floating around inside my head. Some of them are serious, some of them aren’t. So I’ve decided to share them all with you, maybe it will inspire your own set of random thoughts.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Will Smith’s new movie is a good one. I saw it tonight, and was impressed by it. It’s not going to go down as an all-time great movie, but it was good and well worth my time tonight. I kind of felt like the director didn’t know how to play up the emotions in the movie. There are a lot of emotions that could have been elicited, but I felt like the movie moved a bit too fast through the most dramatic parts. A hard balance to find, no doubt, because there was also a time when I felt like the movie wasn’t progressing through the storyline fast enough. If they would have played with my emotions more, if they could have gotten to that tear-jerking moment in the movie, then I might have walked away saying it would be a classic. Still, I think it’s worth a trip to movie theater, especially when the movie theater is in the wealthiest part of DC and is ridiculous (read: 25 rows of stadium seating, with about 40 chairs in each row. Yup, an 800 person movie theater, complete with comfortable seating and a HUGE movie screen. $10 for a movie.$4.50 for a soda, which I opted not to get.)

The Pursuit of Happiness

The movie comes at an interesting point in my life, because I resonated with Will Smith’s character at the end of the movie. Shortly after he, against all odds, gets the job of a lifetime working for a stock brokerage, Smith narrates one final time to the audience about his childhood. How growing up he had done well in school, and shown so much promise, and had been the one who was sure to succeed. And then he wakes up in a homeless shelter one day and realizes he’s managed to fulfill none of those things that were supposed to happen to him. I think that might be my biggest fear right now. And it’s not so much that I feel incapable of succeeding. It’s that I don’t know what it is I want to succeed at. At this point in my life, the rumor is that I’m supposed to know what I want to do and how to get there. That’s what all the successful people do, they pick a dream and they work tirelessly at achieving it, right?

There are days I love the prospect of moving into a church role as an Executive Producer. I mean, I enjoy the process of planning a worship service. I can handle the administrative tasks of making budgets and meeting deadlines and all of those things. But there are days when that sounds like the last thing I want to do. Some mornings I wake up and wish I was flying for a living. Helicopters in the Navy, or commercial jets from airport to airport, or even a seaplane filled with tourists from a small island in the Caribbean. But there are days when that doesn’t sound so great, either. So my question is, how am I supposed to be the passionate, motivated guy working for his dream when I have no idea what my dream is?

Speaking of Dreams

Speaking of dreams, I have a strange record when it comes to them. Typically, I don’t have them all that often, or at least don’t remember them all that often. But when I do have them, they’re generally huge, monstrous dreams, full of vivid detail and outlandish places that are too hard to describe and not similar enough to anything real to draw comparisons. What’s really strange is the fact that often these places I dream of will randomly appear in my dreams again, many years later. A couple of nights ago, one of those places came back.

Again, it’s impossibly hard to describe the places, but this last one is an amusement park of some sort. It doesn’t feel like your typical amusement park–instead of pavement and tall fences herding you in specific directions, it’s very open. Lots of short, white fences seperate the different attractions which are in some sort of large field or meadow. The part I remember specifically has a couple of rollercoasters and a ferris wheel. The rollercoasters aren’t at all typical. One is white, and somewhat like a normal roller coaster except for the fact it does physically impossible things while you’re riding it. The other is inside, and is a mix of a haunted house with a water ride, except it’s neither scary nor wet. It’s unique. Then there’s the ferris wheel, made entirely of plastic. No steel or wood, just a plastic structure which stretches a couple of hundred feet into the sky. Of course it’s more of a ferris wheel on steroids, because it whips you around and around. Your car spins freely, and spends lots of time upside down. And to make sure you stay in, there are small ropes for everyone to hang on to. No harnesses, just ropes. It adds to the fun.

I don’t know who I spent the day there with, but I know she was blond and she was incredible.


Today at dinner, I ate with a lesbian family. Okay, I didn’t actually eat with them, but I sat across the restaurant and watched intensely. These two blond ladies quickly struck me as odd, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that it was indeed mommy and mommy taking their children out for dinner. They had a 3 year old boy and a very young baby that I never actually saw long enough to see how old or what gender. But I found myself watching intently at what exactly a family is when it consists of two moms and children. Of course, the boy didn’t really seem to know any better. That’s the way he’s grown up, and he hasn’t gotten to the point where he’s old enough to figure out his family situation isn’t normal. And I just empathized him immensely, realizing the pain he would go through of not only dealing with his peers finding out he has two moms, but also what it means to grow up without a father influence in his life. I had one for half my life, so even I don’t fully realize how terrible it will be, but I just felt awful inside. Those poor kids are doomed from the start–there’s not a chance they will ever grow up to be even remotely close to normal.

So then I began to challenge my world view with a question that I cannot answer. I haven’t decided yet if this is a question the Pharisees would ask Jesus, or Jesus would ask the Pharisees. Suppose said lesbian family begins to get involved in a church. This church doesn’t actually exist, because it would allow them to come and get involved and not push them away for being ‘sinners’. But let’s suppose it happens anyways. So this family comes and gets involved, and slowly the two begin to feel convicted of their homosexual relationship. What happens to this family? Is it better for them to break off their relationship, and splinter their children’s family even further, or is it better for them to remain a family unit and live together despite Biblical precepts which we know to speak against their relationship? It’s probably a pharisee question, which means the answer isn’t A or B, but rather C. But I don’t know what answer C is.

C is the first letter of Christmas

I would just like to go on the record as saying the Christmas holiday has grown to ridiculous proportions. I waited through five light cycles before I got my chance to turn left into the mall to get to the movie theater tonight. FIVE! Once I got into the parking garage, I narrowly avoided no less than 6 accidents from people driving 30 miles an hour through a parking garage and expecting nothing to be in their way. After I made it inside the mall, I walked shoulder to shoulder with 4 million other people who were also in the mall, all of them stopping at the Starbucks on each floor (that’s right–THREE Starbucks in one mall!). Once I got to the movies, I found a movie theater with 16 screens being manned by one person at the ticket counter. Luckily, I’m smart enough to spot the automated ticket center… yay for computers. Christians are waging this enormous war with the media and retail, claiming we’ve all lost our focus about Christmas. And we have. But I wonder if that’s made any Christians cut back on their spending and spend more time focusing on Christ.

Our culture has gotten severely sidetracked.


The rest of my random thoughts:

– Go Colts! A big win and now we’re right back at the top.

– I have a tv in my room now. I’ve returned to the land of the American.

– I forgot how much I liked geocaching until I went today, after months of hibernation.

– Grape koolaid is the best flavor.

– I’d really like to have a plastic light-up deer in my room. You know, the kind with the moving head.

That’s all for now. More later.

Thursday pushed back

In an effort to make myself live more normal hours, I’m imposing a bedtime on myself. Yup, a bedtime for a 22-year old. It’s 1am, which is much later than most people stay up, granted. But it’s also 2+ hours earlier than I’ve been staying up lately, which is just ridiculous. So 1am if I’m just chillin at home. If I’m out doing something, then later is okay.

First Thursday of the month=work instead of my normal day off, which=no post until tomorrow night.

But I will post tomorrow night.

Potty mouths

I feel like maybe stepping on some toes tonight, and since I seem to be so adept at it, I’ll give it a go. By the way, I managed to do that quite largely when I visited Chorale last week. I mentioned something about drinking, just as an example of an IWU rule which isn’t as bad as it seems–only apparently 5 or 6 people have been booted from IWU (and Chorale) because of that very thing. Looks like the reputation I built as Chaplain is safe for a while longer.

My spiritual journey has been interesting in the past few months, and particularly since I started working at a church. Of all the places I expected my belief system to be challenged, that wasn’t very high on my list. It hasn’t been so much challenged on a dogma level (the things which we must hold to if we call ourselves a Christian), and has only moderately been challenged on a doctrine level (the beliefs which seperate Lutherans from Wesleyans, and Baptists from Methodists), but it has been radically challenged on a personal values level. After growing up in the center of religious legalism, now I am in one of the more religiously liberal parts of the country. And it’s interesting.

In order for us to all be on the same page, I’m going to admit something to you. In the last two months, I’ve began using curse words on a much more frequent basis than ever before. Up until the last year of college, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I had used certain words in my life. Then the stretch for graduation came and I would guess that I doubled up on that number. In the last couple of months, I would have to keep a physical tally to know how many. I can easily point to certain influences in my work place and lay the blame, but I think it has little to do with what they say and a whole lot more to do with where they have placed their personal values. It’s no different than my housemates choosing to have a beer or wine with dinner. Both of these things are cause for being permanently removed from a church in Indiana, yet here they come without a second thought.

Which brings me to my point. What makes using curse words unacceptable? Is it a specific precept that says “don’t use &*#(, &#^, &#^*, or *#&(@”? Nope. It’s a man-made rule. Is there a specific passage that tells us having a beer with dinner is a sin? Nope. It’s a man-made concept. Originally I wanted to quote you 1 Corinthians 10:23, which is they widely used (and widely mis-used) verse about everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial. But in the next verse, Paul writes “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” Here, no one seems to really have a problem if I want a glass of wine with dinner. And really honestly, there’s nothing wrong with it. And if I’m 25 feet in the air climbing on the rails of a scissor lift and it sways more than I expected it to, enough that my body starts pumping adrenaline because I thought it was falling, and I say it scared the hell outta me, there’s nothing wrong with that. And believe me, I’m drawing from personal experience on this one.

I’m going to go out on a limb a guess that no one had a problem with accepting the fact there’s nothing wrong with consuming alcohol. While I’m out there, I’m also going to guess that most of you disagree that there’s nothing wrong with cursing. And therein lies my dilemma. Here, it’s acceptable. No one is struggling with the fact that I may curse on occasion if it’s warranted. No one is losing sleep over my choice of beverage. So let’s say that over the course of however long I live in Washington, I decide I’m going to place my personal values in such a place that I do these things on occasion. What happens when I come home?

I can only imagine some of the reactions I would get from people back home. Certainly if I ever said a bad word in front of them, I would no longer be a Christian. No Christian says those words. And in Indiana, they’re right. Christians don’t use those words. But it’s a byproduct of legalism, not of scripture. (I remember not being allowed to say the word “fart” when we were growing up. How ridiculous is that?) How do I position myself now? It is truly wonderful to be away from the bondage of legalism, believe me it is. Wesleyans should try it some time. But what happens in the different context? Do I subject myself to personal legalism just so that everyone feels happy when I come home? That doesn’t really seem right either.

To put your minds at ease, I have no intention of cursing like a sailor, or drinking like one. I’ve never been a fan of people who curse excessively, and I certainly have no desire to get to a point where I use words unconsciously. Actually to be honest, the whole reason I like using them is because, when used properly, they become a very effective tool for communication. I bet you remember that phrase I used earlier, don’t you? You wouldn’t if I had just said the lift scared me. But tangent aside, I want to wrap this up by saying that I have in no way come to any sort of clear understanding about this issue. It’s late, I’m tired, and I didn’t really feel like writing tonight. Normally when I write poorly it evidences itself by a lack of comments, but I’m hoping the subject will make up for the style.

I bid you adieu.

I was eleven words short so I needed to write something else.