Friday, July 30, 2010

Introversion and the church

I read an article today on the Boundless Webzine called “An Introvert Goes to Church.” At the risk of sounding cliche and vague, it resonated with me—by which I mean, I felt like I could have written this.

A few of my favorite parts:

Much of our common church life is geared toward extroverts. We're encouraged to talk openly about everything God might be doing in our lives, pray out loud for long periods of time, shout out answers to questions asked from the pulpit, get involved in many different activities, "reach out," mix 'n' mingle, and enjoy goofy games with the singles group. In many ways, the church is an extroverts' world.

I am fairly certain that even if you could give me a million years' worth of Sunday morning gatherings, I would never connect significantly with anyone in them. If I'm going to make friends and enter into church life, I have to take steps to get to know people in a smaller and more up-close environment.

Filling a role, with a specific purpose and visibility, made it far easier for me to interact with people. I am fine when I know what the point is — what I have a job to do and can interact while I'm doing it. I thrive on what I see as meaningful work — far more than I thrive on goofy games or purely social get-togethers.

Honestly, read the whole article. It includes some really good suggestions for introverts on how to really be part of the church—some suggestions which I’ve already adopted in my own relationship with my home church. For example:

Does your church have a role you could fill? Can you pour coffee, stand at the door and shake hands, sing with the worship team, man the library, help lead a Bible study? Ask where you can serve. It will help.

In fact, I have done all but one of these things, and they are the most fulfilling part of my membership in the church. In particular, I’ve been part of the praise team at my home church for several years (ever since they let me be a regular singer at about 13 years old). Two of the longtime members, a song leader and a drummer, are like uncles to me, and I’m also close to another song leader’s family.

If it weren’t for smaller situations like that—situations that are not so large they are intimidating, and situations where I know my presence has a purpose—I would feel very much outside the church.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Where did my friends go?

I was reading the 33 Things posting on Evangelical Outpost, and noticed this little infographic:

religiousswitching2

(Click to enlarge, I think.) First, I noticed the little red snakes. Then, I noticed the bigger yellow snakes. And then, I noticed the huge green snakes.

But the yellow snakes are what intrigue me. Why do so many leave evangelical churches for mainline churches or no church at all?

(I figure the Catholic snakes might just be children who grew up in Catholic schools, for whatever reason.)

MacGyver vs. Chuck Norris

I saw a “What Would MacGyver Do?” Facebook page… and I randomly thought of this question.

What would happen if MacGyver and Chuck Norris landed in the same universe?

(This is how my mind works at two A.M….)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why I don’t go to Harvard, either



Ross Douthat wrote a fascinating column for the NYT yesterday called “The Roots of White Anxiety,” in which he explored how the admissions process at elite private universities, aided by affirmative-action policies, tends to make white, working-class students a minority in those theoretically diverse student bodies.

Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”

Maybe it’s best that I didn’t bother applying to Harvard. I was president, secretary, and news reporter for several years in my local 4-H club, and was secretary for a couple years in the county 4-H Junior Leaders as well…. besides being one of the 4-H Members of the Year just into my freshman year at college.

Douthat goes on to say that this phenomenon has caused liberals and conservatives to lose touch with one another and get paranoid. (Seriously. He’s the one who brought up paranoia.) A bit of a stretch, but a plausible one, I suppose.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Boundless challenges… week one



And so much for posting digests.

The first week of the Boundless Summer Challenge was “Relationships Week.” Meaning, most of the challenges had to do with “significant others,” as if that kind of relationship constituted 9/10ths of the relationships in life.

No comment on how unimpressed I was by this beginning. But I did it anyway (mostly).

I won’t post the notes I wrote on Facebook here. Instead, a few links with a few thoughts:

  • First/second challenge involved reading 38 pages of dating advice. Really. No, I don’t agree with some of what he said. The guy advocates a courtship model, essentially, and some of it comes across as if he’s saying “this is what the Bible says, no ifs, ands or buts” though he does say that good Christians disagree on interpretations. I think he’s legalistic, but he does make good points about where dating as commonly practiced tends to fail us.
  • Third challenge was to memorize Romans 12:9-13: Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. It was great to return to Bible memorization, with meditation included. This was probably my favorite challenge.
  • Fourth challenge was to read a short Bible verse (Eph. 5:33) and the first chapter in Love and Respect (conveniently on Google Books!), plus skimming the homepage of the 5 Love Languages. Quite interesting, and on Facebook this part sparked a discussion about whether “men need respect and women need love” is leaving out the fact that women, too, need respect, and men need love as well. I can see where the author’s coming from, I think; still, I’m not sure how much I’d like a man who “loved” me but didn’t respect me. It’s hard to separate the two concepts.
  • Fifth challenge is still in progress.
  • Sixth? To select a few articles from a classic Boundless series and then make one of those “ideal husband” lists of qualities. I’d seen the articles before; thought about the list a little bit; and didn’t really gain much insight here. (Though it was nice to have this short list clearly set forth for my own future reference.) On a side note, I already disagreed with the “soul mate” philosophy. Heartily.

I haven’t even started the seventh challenge, unfortunately. And I don’t intend to tonight. I hardly got four hours of sleep last night, due to high heat, and have been moderately sarcastic all day (i.e., cranky from loss of sleep).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

“I like…”



“I like Facebook.”

“I like Blogger.”

That’s nice.

“Facebook’s utility for sharing whole packages of information, be it made of audio-visual elements, simply photos, or even short snippets of thoughts, is unmatched. In addition, the ease with which three or more users may interact over such elements is particularly striking.”

“You speak the truth; however, Facebook hardly lends itself to short-form, well-thought-out writing that is meant to be read without distractions; and its standardization prohibits any one person or organization from developing a distinctive, memorable look. Blogger permits this, and furthermore allows any reader to, well, read and comment, which Facebook at this point restricts.”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Now to fully explain my point. It seems that Facebook’s “like” button is permeating the whole world of the Internet, and this development disturbs me. Why should everything be simply “liked”? Cannot we have any concurrence or promotion, at least, if not actual evaluation of a website element’s merits?

Must the world be reduced to personal taste?

I want some argument! Must we be barred from making sound judgments on things, giving reasons for our assessments, and critiquing others’ assessments based on mutually-assumed principles? Only in this manner can we improve our understanding of the world.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The intersection of hurt, freedom, and smart business

From one of my favorite humor blogs, Indexed:

In other news, I read 38 pages of dating/relationship advice over the weekend (...) and am memorizing Romans 12:9-13 today, all as part of the Boundless Summer Challenge. I'll be posting a Facebook note tonight, theoretically, regarding the Bible passage. And, as promised, I'll try to post some excerpts of my Facebook notes here--maybe not as a digest, and probably before the week's end.

Friday, July 09, 2010

A summer challenge



One more thing for me to do this summer. Why do I do this to myself?

Hopefully because I like it and it’s good for me!

Check out that link. It’s a month-long challenge put on by the folks over at the Boundless blog, and its intent is to deepen each participant’s walk with God. Sounded like a good idea to me.

So, for the next month I’ll be posting a note a day on Facebook. Which, as you may guess, is not exactly my idea of a good time—no antipathy towards writing, just towards Facebook. But it’s part of the challenge, and the rest of it sounds like it’ll be decent so I’ll put up with that small part.

If you’re already connected with me over Facebook, feel free to read and comment on my notes! I may or may not be posting best-of compilations each week here on the blog for the benefit of those who would wish to maintain their Facebookless existence (*cough* John *cough*), but that remains to be seen, and will probably happen on Sundays.

Monday, July 05, 2010

What’s a 94-year-old to do? Paint!



As you may (or may not) be aware, I’m writing a few articles this summer for my local paper. My latest one was just published yesterday—in the Sunday paper, on July 4th, and just inside on page A3—and it was about a little old lady who’s recently decided to be an artist.

The link will only work for a couple weeks, maybe a month, before it sinks into the pay-per-view archives, but until then you can check it out.

A little tidbit that’s not in the article: She’s painted a rendition of the famous “Christ knocking on heart’s door,” and won a ribbon with her painting at her town’s festival. She gave her most recent painting, a waterfall scene, to her doctor, who plans to hang it in his lobby.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Talk about a double entendre



Consider this children’s song I heard today, while visiting the second Family Camp this year:

“I think I’m gonna throw up
I think I’m gonna throw up
I think I’m gonna throw up
My hands to the Lord.”

There’s more, too. Full video of lyrics with the music is on YouTube, of course. Slightly more commentary below it.

Really? I don’t think I’d especially want my kids scampering around my house singing that. (If I had any. Or if I babysat them.)

My mom thinks it’s cute for little kids (think kindergarten through 2nd grade). It seems to me like it’s making a mockery of praising God. Something just doesn’t feel right about this song.

Then again, I’m also not seven years old, nor am I a fan of bathroom humor.

Family vacation



…that is why I’ve been quite, quite silent on this blog.

But that will soon change!

I hope.