Thursday, March 24, 2011

It’s not just the introverts

After an intriguing conversation via Facebook comments regarding the introverted-churchgoer book I just finished, a friend of mine posted a link to a blog post reviewing a book called Deliver Us from Me-Ville. (It was not something he’d written, but it was relevant to the discussion.) Part of the post read:

I remember when Dave started his Loud Time blog, and I thought it was a cool name and idea, as an alternative to evangelical quiet time. He said something about how Christian spirituality tends to prioritize the contemplative introvert who encounters God in solitude and silence, leaving extroverts at a loss as to how to connect with God in ways that fit them.

So, while in some of the Christian circles I move in it’s de rigueur to lift your hands during corporate worship and otherwise manifest your spirituality in groups, in other Christian circles it’s more respectable to be the silent prayer warrior and hermit-like meditative person.

In other words, extroverts have their own moments of discomfort in church. And for them it also feels like whatever they’re struggling with is a requisite to being a Christian.

Here we’re finding that the very things we struggle with are those things we also perceive to be inherently edifying to one’s spirit. The problem here may be one of perception, moreso than of fact. Is it possible?

Is it just the desire to conform that makes both introverts and extroverts feel spiritually disconnected? But we should realize that it’s possible to worship in different ways and yet be at comparable levels of spiritual growth and maturity.

Now I think I’ll return to my journaling. Or sleeping… it’s late!

Monday, March 21, 2011

One last paragraph from the churchgoing introverts book

Lest my dear readers think I’m going off the deep end in my consideration of introversion and church-going, I present one final quote from Introverts in the Church:

I do not intend to create yet another target audience for a church culture that is already marinating in consumerism. We should not cater our worship services to introverts any more than we should to extroverts. There are times when introverts should feel uncomfortable in worship, though we should be cautions as to the degree of discomfort. But if we are always comfortable, our faith goes stagnant.

Introverts need to be challenged to experience God in ways that stretch us, and we need to be in situations that help us grow in love for others. Introverts may need to keep struggling through greeting times in church, because we need the constant reminder that the Christian life is never lived in isolation… Because introverts understand what it’s like to be on the outside of a community looking in, we can relate to people who are visiting our church and extend hospitality to them in non-intimidating ways.

So, no, I don’t think churches should go way too far to the other extreme and make extroverts as uncomfortable in church as some introverts now feel; nor should introverts simply quit church in a huff because we’ve been somehow slighted. (That’s not Christian forgiveness, for one thing.) In church as in life, balance is key—as is grace. We can balance our attitudes and actions and rely on Christ’s strength to stretch us and develop us into the stronger Christians we want to be.

Introverts can learn to balance our needs for people-time and solitude by imitating Christ. Jesus both preached to crowds and went off by himself to pray, right? If we imitate him in this as in other things, we can thereby learn how our unique personalities are designed to further our service to God and others.

While I may risk over-generalizing here, I’ll say that God created introverts because has things for us to do in ways only we can do it. In the same way, he has things for extroverts to do in ways only they can, so he created them in that particular way too. Whether introverted or extroverted, our calling is to follow hard after God and find what it is that each of us was created to do.

(Enough rambling. And for what it’s worth, I’m halfway convinced I was created to make my friends laugh. It beats factory work. :D )

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Introversion and church-going (parte dos)

Want to know what I do during the linguistics class in which I could almost see myself falling asleep? Well…

This past summer I linked to an article helping introverts find their place in church. Guess what? There’s a whole book about introversion and church-going, called Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh (Evangelical Outpost review here). It was on the new-books display case at my college library so I picked it up.

The paperback isn’t too big so it fits right on top of my linguistics notebook, and I read it for, oh, the first forty or so minutes of class, while the monotone professor goes over the homework. I got through over a hundred pages that way (while still participating in some of the class homework discussions). However, it’s now spring break and I can read it in more extended segments. I’ll likely finish the book tonight.

But before I forget (or get sidetracked by other parts of the book), I wanted to comment on what I just read a few minutes ago:

Some introverts decry the shallowness of contemporary worship songs and their repetitive refrains, which can feel emotionally manipulative. They say that loud music disrupts their internal dialogue with the Spirit. One member of a charismatic church lamented that when people showed emotion in worship, the pastor would proclaim "The Spirit is really moving this morning!" These kinds of churches tend to encourage spontaneous bodily responses--raising arms, kneeling, dancing--and many introverts are uncomfortable with these kinds of reactions and the attention they draw. And the more the expectation for this kind of worship grows, the more introverts consider it artificial and stifling....

For us, quiet is often the context for heartfelt worship…. We desire to escape from superficial relationships, trivial communications and the constant noise that pervade our world, and find rest in the proving depths of God’s love. We want to hear God’s voice, which comes to us more often in whispers than in triumphant shouts.

My thought: Perhaps this is why I am never quite comfortable in my Christian college’s chapel services. I once complained on this blog how uninspiring much of the music in chapel has been, and my opinion has not materially changed; and though I really do take Christianity seriously, and strive to know God more every day, I don’t think I’ve ever once so much as lifted my hands in chapel. I certainly don’t blame anyone who likes the music or loves to lift their hands, of course, but it’s not my thing….

Probably the most reassuring concept I’ve gotten from this book is that I can be an authentic Christian without all the hand-waving, emotional chapel-isms that seem to be requisite among collegians.

Now back to my linguistics class diversion. Which I recommend, by the way. Not necessarily as a linguistics class diversion; it’s perfectly appropriate to read in other classes, too. ;)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Compendium of Links #6: Rob Bell edition

I don’t usually have any sort of theme to these links, but this week I’ve had precious little time to read much—except that I’ve been kind of curious about the whole Rob Bell/universalism brouhaha surrounding his latest book, Love Wins.

Rob Bell isn’t really my type; I don’t have the patience for the artistry (so they call it) of the NOOMA videos he’s produced, and I’d rather sink my teeth into something forthright rather than postmodern (and something written rather than videotaped, for that matter). My pastors back home are no aficionados of his works, and I respect their reasons for it. But I know some big fans of his, and some of these fans are people I respect too.

So I’ve read a few links about it:

How I first heard about this controversy: from a staff member at my college. This staff member has written several posts about the whole deal in the last few days, and is definitely taking a side, as you can see. (FWIW whenever this guy speaks in chapel, he may as well be Rob Bell. He has the glasses, the clothes, the slow style, and the word choice for it.)

Then somebody read the book and disagreed with it. Tim Challies, that is. He also linked to an article called “How to have a good argument with Rob Bell,” in which the author urged Christians to respond in love, not vitriol.

Then somebody else, over at Christianity Today, noticed how odd it was that social technology and blogging on the Internet had changed the face of theological debates, taking the Rob Bell case as an example.

Finally, RELEVANT magazine published a general overview of the various permutations and related doctrines of universalism.

I haven’t yet decided if I’ll read this book. Something in me rebels at getting caught up in the latest Christian hoopla. For all I know, this controversy will be a forgotten blip on Christian radar in just a year. But I do intend to investigate some of the doctrinal issues at some point—those are of more importance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I texted in class.

Yup, for the first time today, I sent a text message smack-dab in the middle of class.

I stared at my little glowing screen on my tiny little phone, ignoring what was going on at the front of the room.

Mostly because it was an unscheduled showing of a Monty Python video.

It was supposed to illustrate some point about logic. It was a tenuous connection at best.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Compendium of Links #5

Whoops…. missed a few weeks there! One week I was gone for a friend’s birthday, and the next week it was newspaper layout plus a ton of homework (which I got done just in time to watch 1776 with a few musical-loving friends!). Man, the weeks have flown by…

And then there was this week. At least I did post something, right? But it’s been pretty busy, plus I’ve not slept very well almost every night (I got barely 3 1/2 hours last night, for no apparent reason). But this weekend has been lovely so far, including some fine weather!

And now for your sort-of-weekly dose of Sarah’s strange link collection:

Being bilingual is great for the brain – so they say, anyways. It helps your brain process & distinguish important vs. irrelevant information faster. (Yay for me!)

Oh my goodness. I love maps. The Measure of America project is fantastic—lots of data made very, very visual.

Doesn’t this look like a really fun (or maybe interesting) endurance marathon? Well, not technically a marathon—it’s only 3.1 miles—but definitely hard enough, since it includes swamps, nets, fires… it’s pretty much a macho thing. (Via Dan.)

FYE: “A Passion for Beards.” Hilarious infograph mapping the various types and combinations of facial hair elements. AND it includes a quote from one of my all-time favorite authors, G.K. Chesterton!

And now for acoustic guitar music, courtesy of a Facebook friend:

Mm mm mm. I looooove acoustic guitar. Jazz is cool too.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Yesterday was a good day.

  1. I woke up and decided to wear one of my favorite skirts. My outfit looked just right.
  2. The weather greeted me with sunshine and a slight breeze when I exited my apartment.
  3. My e-mail told me I was tentatively approved for funding for my summer internship.
  4. Someone played a cajón in chapel. That is my absolute favorite percussive instrument.
  5. My friend delivered to me some cookies I used to relish during my semester in Central America. You can only get them at certain specialty food places, so she got some for me over the weekend when she made a trip to one of those places.
  6. I did some work in the Mac lab, where a Spanish class is held, so I got to sit in on singing a couple Spanish worship songs.
  7. Broccoli cheese soup was served in the cafeteria for lunch.
  8. One of my fellow Spanish majors, with whom I'd studied in Central America, told me I made her day when I gave her a small packet of my cookies.
  9. Everyone in newspaper practicum was excited for the next issue of the student newspaper.
  10. I got a much better grade than I expected on my first honors paper this semester.