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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.

Blondes

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.

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.

It’s time for an update, and a question

Wow… a lot has happened since last time I sat down to write something. I think most of you know already, but here’s the scoop for those that don’t, and the details for those that already do.

Yesterday I finally moved closer to work. It was a long process finding the right place, but I eventually found a great place in a stellar location. So I’m now officially a resident of Arlington, VA. I’m a mere 12 minutes from work, only 200 yards from a Metro station, and less than 5 miles from the Pentagon. It’s pretty crazy. The downside to all of it is the fact that I had to move away from Nate and Maria. Even though I’ve been working at the church for a couple of months now, Nate and I still got to hang out a lot, even if it was me going into his office and distracting him on my days off. It does indeed suck to move away from one of my greatest friends ever, but we are at least close enough that I can still make the trip up once in a while. It really doesn’t even feel like that long of a drive since I’ve been doing it several times a week for several weeks. But it’s not the same as being neighbors.

Work seems to be going well, and we’re gearing up for the Holiday push. After my crazy work week at the beginning of the month, things have slowed down a little bit and I’ve been able to recover some of that time with a couple of extra days off. I’m actually at the end of a 4-day stretch right now. Last week I did lighting for Charlie Hall, who is one of the big touring worship artists right now. I don’t think he’s quite a household name yet, but his music is becoming increasingly popular, and the best part about it is most of it is very theological and meaningful. I’m also looking forward to the end of this week, because it means a week off for me to come home and see family and friends. I’ll be home for a couple of days, and then I’ll be down to see family at my Uncle Jesse’s down in KY. I haven’t seen a lot of family recently, including Grandma, so it will be really great to see them all. I’m also looking forward to seeing people at IWU. There are several people I really, really miss from there. Great friends.

And in an effort of full disclosure, I also had my first accident of my driving career. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to talk about it, but it was a fairly minor thing, and God definitely protected me and my truck. I was turning left, and this guy was not turning right as his turn signal indicated. We didn’t hit extremely hard, and thankfully almost the entire impact happened on my front left tire. I had a small panel between the tire and the door dented in, and that was it. He had some front end cosmetic damage–it looked to me like he’ll need a new fender, hood, and grill. There didn’t appear to be any mechanical damage to either car. It definitely sucked for both of us, and I felt bad because the gentleman had just bought his car the day before. Did I mention his car was a Mercedes? Yup, a Mercedes (but not brand new, just new to him).

So on to my question for the week. I’ve been considering life a lot the past six months or so. It’s been interesting for me to actually move away from family and friends and begin to live life as an individual. Getting my first place by myself, starting my first real job, moving away from my family for the first real time. Part of what I’ve been going through is the whole family withdrawal thing that most people go through when they first move to college. Since I never really moved away, now for the first time I’m going through all those feelings. Up until now, I’ve had Nate to hang with, and besides being the only reason I moved out here, he’s also the only reason I maintained my sanity living out here where I know no one else. So now I’m out on my own. Sure, I’m living in a house with other guys who I think will become friends over time, but it’s still going to be hard for a while. So I’ve been asking myself, “Why do we move away from the people we love and out on our own all in the name of a job?”

Obviously we can’t live at home our whole lives, and if I was still in Marion I would be living in my own place. But why is it that it feels so necessary to chase a career first? My friend Josh Cash is a great example. He despises the idea of being away from home. Given his choice, he’d be in Bluffton, IN right now. But he’s in a great position at a church in Atlanta, and already feels like he’ll be there for a long time. I could probably have stayed home and found a livable job in Marion, or even in Indy (this breaks down a little because I originally moved out here because Nate lived out here, but stay with me). And now I’ve got a really great job that is a blessing, and I’ve moved away from everyone and everything I know to work it. Why? During Survivor tonight, one of the “tribes” won a reward challenge and got to experience a feast with an indigenous culture to the Cook Islands (they’re several hundred miles due south of Hawaii). It struck me at how simple these people’s lives were, and yet the things that are most important to them–family, honor, respect, loyalty–are the things that seem to be the first to go in our American culture.

I’m not planning on going back home and living in a hut anytime soon, but it just makes me think. My life is full of technology and advancement. My whole job revolves around those things. Yet at the end of the day, I have to wonder.

On a brighter note, I had the most fantastic experience today while I was out exploring my new hometown. I stumbled upon a little hair salon, and being in need of a haircut, I decided to try it out and see what happened. I ended up meeting Mailynn, a Vietnamese woman who moved to America when she was thirteen, and heard her whole life story during the haircut. I don’t think I can fully recreate the experience that I had today, but it does give me hope that I will enjoy living out here. There’s so much culture and so much diversity, that maybe if I can get past myself, I will learn a lot from a lot of people that I least expect it from.

Okay that’s it for now. Come visit me in the capital! I’ll take you to all the cool places, and give you all the insider tips on hanging out, and it’ll be fun! Yay tourism!

I’ll make it up to you

No writing this week. I’m in the middle of a 70+ hour work marathon. From Wednesday to Monday (that’s six straight days). Six straight isn’t all that bad by itself, but here’s the kicker–of the six days, four will be longer than 12 hours. One will be about 10. Sunday I get a break, it should only be an 8 hour day.

After two days: 25.4 hours, not including 6 hours of driving. Yay salary.
I’ll write two next week to make it up to you. I’ve got one in the works on excellence vs. perfection, and after a long meeting today I’m beginning to work on one about church volunteers. Expect them in that order next week, maybe late Tuesday and then Friday.

Peace.

Eternal Sunshine of the Housing Boom

Tonight I went over to Nate and Maria’s and watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It came out in 2004, but with my track record of seeing about 1.6 movies per year in theaters, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that I’m just now getting around to it. It’s a romantic comedy starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, and some other less famous people. Basically Carrey and Winslet’s characters, Joel and Clementine, fall in love, then out of love, and then they both decide to have the memories of each other erased. 95% of the movie happens during the erasing of Joel’s mind, when he discovers things really weren’t so bad, and he tries desperately to awake during the procedure and stop it before all his memories are gone. I can’t say a whole lot more than that without giving away the twists in the plot, because I want those of you who haven’t seen it to see it. (Be warned it’s rated R because some writer lacked enough vocabulary to avoid multiple F-words.)

I can tell you that I enjoyed two particular things about this movie. For one, it was weird but not in a bad way. It’s one of those flicks that leaves you in a weird mood when you’re done; you can’t help but just sit there and think about it for a few minutes. Even now I’m still considering all the depth and meaning that was in it, or at least trying to decide if there really was depth and meaning in it. To me, a movie that evokes such strong emotion is pure art. You can criticize and dislike it all you want, but the most brilliant cinematography in the world, if devoid of that emotion, is just another movie. Why do we like poetry, painting, and music? Because it evokes emotions. It brings up something unexpected. There is some intangible which smacks us in the heart, and helps us discover a little bit of humanity which we’ve lost in the hustle and hurry of modern life. There is no doubt in my mind God gave us art for these reasons, and I’m thankful for it. (That is not to say that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is divinely inspired. I’m just saying I liked it.)

Second, I enjoyed the movie because, for once in my life, I figured out the ending of the movie really early on and got to watch almost the whole thing with that knowledge. I’m always jealous of people, and I think it’s mostly women, who get ten minutes into something and already know what the ending is going to be. Props here to my mother, who is most definitely one of those people. But tonight, I had that “OH!” moment early on, and enjoyed every second of the remaining 90 minutes as I watched with delight. And it’s a good twist, I liked it.

In the completely unrelated happening of the week, the futility of my housing search seems to have no end. Today I looked at what originally was a very promising prospect. A basement room in a townhouse, with private bathroom, for $590/month including all utilities. It even had a personal washer/dryer in the closet, and was only about 15 minutes from the church. It sounded like it could be a winner–until I got there. I was met by a pile of building materials in the foyer, and an improvised bedroom to my immediate left. Ahead was the room in question: about 10′ x 10′, and laid out in a way that no furniture would ever comfortably fit in it. I would have about enough room for my bed and one of my bedroom dressers, but not both. My existence in that room would be cramped, and helplessly messy all the time because I’d have all my crap there with no room to put it. A peak through the outside window revealed 12″ tall grass with junk strewn throughout the tiny yard. I thought I was trying to move OUT of West Virginia.
Upstairs fared little better, as I was greeted by primer-painted walls and filthy carpeting. The living floor, which has kitchen and living room, screamed bachelor pad with every ounce of its existence. The most visible features of the whole floor was the huge car stereo in the living room, and the washer/dryer crammed into the kitchen. I ventured upstairs only briefly, before I had seen quite enough to make my decision. On the way out, I noticed the amount of beer bottles in the trash, and was pretty convinced I’d decided correctly. This room may be listed on the church message board, but I have the strange feeling that none of the other tenants actually found it through that avenue.

Earlier I had traded a couple emails with a guy who was in a similar situation, needing an affordable room and wanting to live with Christian housemates. I thought at first there was potential that connection might amount to something, but as quickly as it came, he vanished into internet oblivion. I came to find out he had found what he was looking for. Good for him.

So now I move on again. My latest search of the church message board has produced two new possibilities, and both of them sound somewhat promising as well. One is for a basement apartment being advertised as a huge amount of space. Bedroom, full bath, kitchenette, private entrance, and lots of storage space. It’s near George Mason U, and would be probably 20 minutes from the church. Lots of space probably equals lots of money, but I’ll nonetheless check it out. The second listing interests me. It’s a large townhouse being shared by 5 Christian guys who are looking for a 6th. A decent sized bedroom, but a shared bathroom. The guy made it clear they were looking for a good Christian to fill the room, but also want someone easygoing who knows how to have fun. It’s $595 plus 1/6 utilities, but it’s also in Arlington which means close access to the city and driving against rush hour traffic. They’re having an open house of sorts Saturday, so I’ll be checking it out before work in the afternoon. It definitely sounds interesting.

Some of you may be wondering how I can talk about renting a bedroom for $600/month and thinking it’s a good deal, but trust me, it is. Remember the words “housing boom” in the title? In the last ten years or so, housing has appreciated to double its value. Many of the people who have lived here for 15 years or longer are living in a $300,000 house that they paid $150,000 for. Single bedroom apartments generally start in the $750/month area and go up from there. In a perfect world, I’d be trying desperately to find a house I can afford to start buying. But in the world that is Metro DC, it’s just no possible. Maybe in 8 or 9 months, if I have some friends willing to do it, I’ll buy a place and become a landlord myself.

It’s a crazy life here. I’m not honestly sure I’m entirely up for it. Suddenly the slow, small city, Indiana feel isn’t as bad as it was 6 months ago. But I am determined not to dwell on the past, so I’ll move on. I’ll learn to enjoy living in the city, averaging 12 mph in traffic, and being forced to share a house when I’d rather be buying one. Things are going very well at my job, I’m learning a lot, and I know I’m in the right place.

And I think knowing that makes up for everything else.

Must be confident, love dogs

Confidence has never really been a strong suit of mine. My mom would immediately claim that comes from her, but regardless of where it comes from or why I lack it, the fact is I’ve lived the majority of my life scared to take a risk, comfortable playing second fiddle or being wingman. Even when I evaluate my role in most of the friendships I’ve had in the past, I’ve always been in a fabulous cast, as the supporting actor. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that role–some people are just born to naturally lead the pack and steal the show. But being wingman doesn’t mean you should be any less capable or confident. You just play that role socially; a role which is vital in any group of friends.

Social comparisons aside, though, there’s something intangible about a man who lives his life with confidence. Some of the greatest icons of recent history have been men who weren’t afraid of themselves. Regardless of how you feel about FDR as a politician, you have to admit it takes some serious balls to lead a nation which has historically devoured weaknesses like, say, the inability to walk because of polio. Jackie Robinson was confident enough in his abilities that he dared to play baseball outside the negro leagues, and he became one of the most revered athletes in history because of it.
In the world I find myself in today, there’s little room for insecurity. If you sell yourself short, you end up standing in the road wondering what happened while the bus rumbles down the road in front of you. Back home, and I think more specifically while you’re a student, that same mentality doesn’t exist. Yes, there are always the top students who prove themselves early and often, but typically speaking if you work at it long enough, eventually someone will give you recognition for what you do. You’re paying to be there, so it’s not like there’s a boss breathing down your neck to be more productive, or a colleague vying for the same promotion as you. In the real world, you get one chance to make yourself look better than the next guy.

I can recall a whole lot of times, just since I graduated in April, when I’ve sold myself short for whatever reason. Honestly, part of it comes from an immature understanding of humility. Growing up, my concept of humility was doing just that–selling yourself short, or not owning up to your full potential. What kind of terrible sin it was to actually accept the fact you were the best at something, or you had unique talent at something! A good Christian doesn’t take compliments. If someone tells you that you did a great job, deny it and just say, ‘Oh it was okay,’ or ‘It was nothing, really.” It also stems from my self-esteem problems and feelings of inadequacy. For whatever reason, I’ve always been exceptionally sensitive to what I perceive other people think or feel about me. It doesn’t even matter if that perception is right or not, if I’m feeling that they think I suck at something, well then I must suck at it.

What is that?! Humility is dissing yourself? Not being confident in your abilities?

One thing I’ve always admired about Spencer Lloyd, a friend and longtime Chorale roommate, is the confidence he has in himself. I mean, he has confidence in himself to a fault. But the guy is not afraid to be talented at something, or to feel like he’s talented at something. He steps up to every challenge, and gives it his best. And for better or worse, you have to respect the guy for not being afraid to try.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from the great Nelson Mandela, who said,

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we powerful beyond all measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

How amazing is that quote for a person who struggles like I do? There are a lot of things that I’m talented at. I’m a good writer. I learn remarkably quickly, even if I’m just watching someone and not actually doing the work myself. I’m a great listener, and am pretty good at facilitating discussion in a group, even though typically all I’m doing is just asking the right questions. I’m a pretty decent musician. And if I had a better work ethic, there’s about 1000 things I could be good at if I worked at it. I mean, there are very few things I feel like I couldn’t do well given the practice and time to learn. So why don’t I live with that confidence?
I remember writing a while ago about how I felt like I never went through a rite of passage–I never had that moment where you shed your childhood and accept the manhood that comes with growing up. At the time, I was looking for some specific event to do it. I thought maybe if I took a trip somewhere, or did some specific thing, it would serve as my rite. And maybe there still will be a specific event that will happen. But I think more likely that rite of passage has something to do with not fearing the person God created me to be, and instead embracing that. I’m not sure how it happens, but I realize it needs to, and I want to begin the process of changing.

I’m just not sure exactly how.

How life is different in DC

Okay, I don’t actually know how life is different in DC because I don’t actually live there. And technically I work in Northern Virginia (which will be henceforth known as NOVA), not the District. But still, if you’re going to classify me, that’s where you would have to put me.

I gave serious consideration to the standard ‘write on current events’ post, mainly for two reasons: One, they’re easy to write about. You just pick something and then state your opinions, usually laced with truthiness but not based in it, and all is well. And two, there’s a lot to say about the world right now, what with schools becoming battlefields, North Korea alienating itself from the world, and all the political turmoil which is building towards election day. But while I think you like to hear my thoughts on those things, I think you’re more interested in just hearing about my life. So I’ll give it to you as best I can.

There are lots of good things about living in DC. For one, I’m working in a job that I like. I don’t love it–that is to say it’s not necessarily the ideal job that I would craft given the opportunity–but it’s great, and is certainly an amzing place for me to start with out of college. Actually, I look at it a lot like I’m still in school. The atmosphere is a little more intense; you have to actually bring something to the table here, which is great because I became really adept at doing what was necessary to just ‘slide by’ in school, so being pushed is a nice thing. As things are right now, I’m also looking to be here for 2 or 3 years, which is also pretty similar to me being in grad school. Of course, that could change either way, so I’m not exactly making plans for 2009 yet.

I say it’s not the ideal job because, well, it’s not. I don’t particularly care for the fact I’m in such a professional role, and have absolutely nothing to do with the pastoral side of working in a church. Not that I expect to be preaching sermons anytime in the near future, but I have always enjoyed being involved in the creative & planning aspects of church services, and I do miss that involvement. Especially now that I’m in a place that makes an effort to involve people, try new things, and stay out of the routine. So when I do eventually leave here I’d like to go to a place where I’ll be more involved in those kind of things (or to Hollywood or Broadway, so I can win Tonys and Emmys).

I don’t like being out here by (almost) myself. Right now, the Lails, and specifically Nate, are all I have out here, and when I move closer to work, I’ll be giving up the ability to call Nate and hang out at a moment’s notice. And I will certainly miss that. Having one of your very best friends around is such a valuable thing… Nate’s the only reason I’ve keep my sanity all this time, being out here by my lonesome. Score one for the people who got married, I guess. Having a constant companion sounds like a nice thing.

Speaking of marriage, I can say that I do very much appreciate my status as a single person. It’s not nearly as uncommon as northen Indiana would have you believe, and I like the fact that I can pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want. I mean, I still expect and hope to get married in the next few years, but really I’m quite content being single so long as I can maintain a social life. I just have been sucking at maintaining a social life, because all people do in West Virginia is get drunk. And alcohol is too expensive to spend my time getting drunk. (That was a joke… I haven’t the desire either.)

I’ve had to grow up and become responsible, which kind of sucks. I’ve spent boatloads of money on things like rent, groceries, and car repairs, and almost nothing on fun things, cool things, or impractical things. There was a time in my life when I expected to buy one big-ticket, high-tech gadget every year; you know, something to keep the inner child alive. Now it seems that money is better spent by not spending it at all. Saving so I can make trips home whenever possible, planning for a deposit of an extra month’s rent, and even cutting out of my paycheck in order to fund health insurance, retirement funds, and school bills. Man, do I miss that college ‘half-responsibility’ mode. Just in case anyone’s wondering, I did diversify my portfolio, so don’t worry. It’s a very aggressive allocation, because I’m trying to retire by 32.

Hey, you gotta have something to hope for.