Fruit-Booting and Reality

I used to be a fruit-booter. At least that’s what the skateboarding crowd would call my friends and me. “Fruit-booter” was a derogatory term for those who were aggressive inline skaters. Let’s be honest, as far as aggressive inline skating went I was average. There were a few rails I could slide, some decent flights of stairs I could jump off of, and had there been the plethora of skate parks then as there are now I am sure my friends and I could have at least held our own at them, though we probably would not have wowed anyone, we certainly would not have inspired any film crews to show up to see our skills. The non-skating crowd would have thought what we were doing was amazing, but among those who know the sport few would be impressed. Nonetheless we had fun, tons of it.

As I look back to those days I realize that there was something different about me then, something admirable that over time I am afraid to say I lost. There was a passion in me, that rarely have I been able to capture since. This is going to sound weird at first, but when I look back at that time skating was my ‘worldview’. How I looked at the world was entirely shaped by inline skating. When I was at the amusement park standing in lines with my friends we would look across all the rails in the cue lines and discuss the various moves that could be done within those lines. When we drove by a staircase in front of a church our natural tendency was to see if it had enough of a run up to be able to jump off of, and enough space to land. When we saw sidewalks downtown with a concrete ledge we would question whether or not it could be waxed in order grind down. The entire world of concrete looked to me as a playground with unlimited possibilities. What was simply a planter box to the common observer was to me a royale to soul grind (skating terms) waiting to happen. The stairs you trudged up to get into your office building was to me a mute 360 waiting to happen. In the middle of winter while the skates got dusty my mind was still engaged, still creating, still seeing the world around me as a place of infinite possibilities.

The point is that my skating ‘worldview’ looked at the world seeking out its possibilities, not bogged down with its rational uses. I did not care what the intent of some flight of stairs was, I looked at those stairs for possibilities! That worldview brought life to everything I could see. My friends and I could have never put a finger upon why life was so good then. However if I had the chance to talk with them all now I imagine that we would be unanimous in saying that something has changed in all of us since then, and that the change was not for the better. At some point after careers began and life became driven by goals, and tasks the world lost its magic. Hand railings became something to help us up stairs, stairs became something we used to only to change our elevation to get somewhere different. Planters became nothing more than decoration and buildings became nothing more than places of employment. This supposed maturing process that we all go through is utterly tragic. As I grew up everything became so much more rational, so much more logical, and the world that was once a magical playground when I had the skating ‘worldview’ lost its magic. The strange thing however is that the world did not change, the world never lost its color, the world never lost it, it’s still here, I have just become blind to it. The magic is not gone, I have just ceased to believe in it! I contend with you that the magic that the skating ‘worldview’ allowed me to see was real, and the only reason I could see it was because of the ‘worldview’ I held. It was not a false magic, it was real, ask my friends Nick and Matt if it was real, they will gladly confirm it. Ask the kid on skates down the street, or the skateboarder with his skinny jeans and ugly haircut if it is real, he will tell you that indeed that magic is as real as the screen you sit in front of!

Now as great as the skating ‘worldview’ was, it is limited. For instance, rain or snow could bring the skating world to a halt. When the rain or snow fell you could only dream of the world that was, or the world that was to come again once the roads became usable again. Rain was not a blessing, it was the greatest of curses, because it temporarily destroyed your world.

Maybe my four year old son’s worldview is better even than the skating worldview. We walked in our house today in the middle of the rain and he had to stop to analyze the down spout. As I looked at the spout I saw it was flowing well which meant no clogs, all was well. When Joey saw it he saw a waterfall pouring into a newly created small lake in the front yard. Like magic the rain created a whole new world to be explored, he cared not about the function of the down spout, his thought was not rational in any sense, but you cannot tell either me or him that there was not a waterfall in our front yard that was not there a few hours earlier. He is not mature enough to see the function, he only sees the form, and the form was a waterfall. His view was far more desirable then mine! Don’t tell me it is just because he has a better imagination, it has nothing to do with imagination, he was just better suited to see reality! Clear as day there was a waterfall pouring into a newly formed body of water in my front yard, there was nothing unreal about it, you could touch it, feel the cold water, splash in the puddle that had formed, it was real. It was far more real than my view that saw nothing but a formed piece of sheet metal doing its job. This is not the case of a delusional Don Quixote fighting a windmill as though it were monster; this was the case of a real waterfall at my house.

What if I told you that I fought a monster today with hundreds of eyes that feasted on dead carcasses and vomited its prey all over the place? Would you think I am mad? I am not mad, no I valiantly destroyed a common housefly, which indeed fits the description I just gave. Go ahead and tell me I am a mad dreamer, I do not mind. Tell me I am nuts for seeing myself as a valiant monster slayer enjoying the task of taking out that fly as though it was the thing I was created for. Tell me I am nuts, I don’t mind, but it is you sir, not I, that is driven mad by the annoying fly in your house. You may kill the fly and have relief, but when I kill the fly I have victory and joy. Am I being childlike? Maybe, but you cannot say that I am lost in some fable or myth because I really did kill a little monster with hundreds of eyes that feeds on carcasses and vomits its prey everywhere. My mission was real, your worldview just limits you from being able to see it!

What I am saying to you is that this world is far more rich and dare I say ‘magical’ than you are willing to see. What I am saying is here is that the valiant fly swatter, skater, and waterfall downspout gazers are more realistic than you are! They see realities that exist that you fail to see. Your rationality prevents you from seeing the world as it ACTUALLY IS.

I could go on and on. The writer sees the English language with all its grammar and syntax as a great possibility for a story. The novelist sees more than just the function of grammar, they see a deeper more real reality! The rest of us see vocabulary and rules that we need to learn.

Hopefully what I have said above has piqued your interest, at least just a little. As you look down at your keyboard what do you see? Mere keys, or is it a device that enables you create and destroy worlds, to bring healing to people’s brokenness, and to expose wickedness. The REAL possibilities at your fingertips right now are staggering. Or what of your kitchen table, is it a mere place to eat your food and have some conversation. Or is it a place where you tell war stories about slain monsters, and discovered waterfalls. Is it a place to eat and complain about the days issues, or go through a few formalities of family life, or is it a conference of warriors, and explorers? Are you catching my drift? There are ACTUAL realities that exist around your own table that your view of the world does not allow you to see!

I would contend that the only worldview that actually seeks realities beyond the mere rational form and function of everything is indeed Christianity. In the eastern religions the goal is to ultimately separate from reality, that somehow entering into a state of nothingness can one truly experience spiritual life. Transcendentalism teaches essentially that matter is bad. These worldviews would teach us to learn that the downspout doesn’t matter, and that if we can get ourselves to the point where the downspout and nothing else for that matter affects us then we will truly be free. It’s bogus! I tell you that the waterfall was enjoyable and beautiful precisely because we realized it was REAL. It was not our distance that brought pleasure, it was putting our hand under it and enjoying it!

The reason I say Christianity gives us the proper worldview is because in it we realize that all things were created by and for Christ. All of it. We also see that we are indeed co-heirs with Christ, in other words this whole world in a very real sense is ours. When we say all things are created by Him we really mean ALL, from waterfalls to wrenches, it is all the creation of God. If indeed all things are ours as co-heirs with Him then we can determine how to use them as we please. Let me give an example. If I have a wrench, I can limit it’s usage to turning bolts, or I could make it a pendulum for a clock, or I could use that flat part as a mirror to pull out my nose hairs. It’s my wrench, therefore the possible realities for that wrench are limitless. Of course we are bound by laws of God so that we would not steal the wrench, or kill someone with it, but beyond illegal usage we are unbound. So it is with the entire world!

Even evil and pain function within this worldview to make something beautiful. Evil itself was the mere nemesis which God had nailed to himself in victory! There is a cosmic throw down which Christ won on the cross. It is a really beautiful thing, him reconciling the world to himself with real flesh and blood, a real cross with real nails. The existence of evil itself proves that there is the existence of good. The tension of good and evil makes the world all the more beautiful. Without pain there is no joy of healing.

In Christianity we have a sovereign God, the author of reality, all realities, nothing has been made that was not made by him. That means that even the reality to the skater is a reality created by him. The waterfall was His waterfall, the kitchen table is his command center, the evil housefly monster is a villain created by him that I might be the valiant king of my home. Do you see it?

If you can’t see it don’t quickly dismiss it. I assure you that in the middle of downtown Toledo there is a playground that spans over a hundred acres… you might just need to be a fruit-booter to see it. Unbeliever I implore you to look at the world through the eyes of a Christian, not one of those creepy Christians, but look at the world as a world created by and for Christ, a world of intense order and beauty that contains realities you have yet to imagine! You might just see there is more to all of this than you ever imagined.


I love Mondays

I have spent almost my entire day today just thinking without an agenda. In other words my mind has been wandering randomly all day, and I am ok with that. It started this morning as I was thinking about a conversation I had last week with my cousin about the benefits of factions in the church, this thought later became a blog post over at Dead Pastor Society. Later I began to think about how most preaching both liberal and conservative typically amounts to just beating people down in order to get them to do something, and then the phrase “The beatings will continue until moral increases” came into my head and that spurred on a whole other line of thinking. Eventually I ended up watching some video about the holocaust, later listened to some teaching on the Theology of the Cross, checked facebook a few times… and now I am just sitting here writing another blog post. This is not an atypical Monday for me. In fact I always look forward to Mondays because this how they usually go. Monday is the day that I free myself up to do this sort of things, ALL DAY. Granted I do more of this at other times during the week, but for the most part I have no plans to do anything but bounce around in thought on Monday. When I get done with this post I will be picking up “Orthodoxy” by GK Chesterton and hopefully finishing the rest of it, and later I will continue reading from 2 Chronicles if time allows.

Monday is random, undisciplined, and free. In some ways it is even better than a day off.

Of course the question comes up, “Jay! How do you have time to do that?” Let’s be honest, you, reader (if you are like most people), are not as busy as you say you are. You’re just not. People ask you how life is, you say “really really busy”, but the reason you say that is because it makes you feel important, and it gives you an excuse for never calling or talking to the person you’re in the conversation with. We just are not as busy as we proclaim to be. Most of the tasks we have to do take far less time then we allot for them, and sometimes we take much longer than necessary just because it makes the task seem all the more important. Need proof? How many times has a deadline crept up on you and out of necessity you complete your task in 1/3 the time you normally take and lo it’s done just as well. Come on, be honest, you are not as busy as you say you are, and your job and your family is not as demanding as you make it out to be! (Of course there are exceptions and you may be one of them, but I bet most people reading this are sensing the truth of what I am saying.)

I don’t write any of this to condemn anyone, not at all. I write this to encourage you to free up some of your work time for random thought. You have already fought enough with employers and family and such to get everyone to believe it takes you longer to do a task than it really does, which means that you have extra time on your hands. Have fun with it! Don’t waste all of it on facebook (but waste some there), or looking through old emails. Get some books, think random thoughts, write, contemplate, do the things your mind longs to do. You will find that you are going to have so much more to talk about with people, you become more insightful, and more ready to do good creative work, all because you took time to be random.

I certainly believe we should be a disciplined people (that is why I give myself Monday and not the rest of the week.) There are tasks that we need to do, deadlines we need to meet. I only am telling you not to believe your own lies about how difficult your job is and how little time you have, because the time you take making those lies appear true is time that you could waste doing fun stuff, like writing blogs, reading books, and listening to good theology. (At least that’s what I find fun!)

I’d love to hear all your thoughts on this one.


Why I am not a "creationist"

Again I remind you that post every Monday over at Dead Pastors Society, so if you are interested in more of what you find here, head over there.

Let me say that I have a huge beef with creationism. Now listen, I certainly believe in the literal creation account of scripture, meaning that I believe in a literal 7 days, a literal flood, and a literal tower of babel, all those things I take to be absolutely true. However I am not a creationist because the doctrine that defines my system of theology is NOT creation. Now I am not opposed to “-isms”, in fact I think they are helpful. Methodism is a system of understanding scripture and ecclesiology, as is Lutheranism, Calvinism, Romanism, Arminianism, etc… There is nothing wrong with an “-ism” in that sense. Now certainly not all “-isms” are equally desirable and therein lies my problem with “creationism.”

Creationism affirms that all biblical doctrine is eventually founded in the creation, or in the first 11 books of Genesis. One of the main things you will hear a creationist say is that if you lose the book of Genesis you lose the entire bible. In other words the creationist affirms that all doctrines are ultimately founded in the creation and without the literal creation account no doctrine can stand. This is standard creationism, and I believe creationism’s emphasis is horribly misplaced.

Let me give an example. One of my best friends, who I love dearly, in the Lord is what I would call an ardent creationist. I explained to him that I believe in the literal creation account simply because Christ seems to believe in it, and Christ being resurrected is indeed proven as God in the flesh, and if God Himself affirms a literal creation then who am I to deny it. In other words my sole reason for believing the literal creation narrative is the authority of Christ proven by his resurrection. After hearing that argument my friend said, “I will definitely add that argument to my arsenal.” What I presume he meant is that he will add the resurrected Christ argument in order to serve his creation argument.

So what is wrong with his methodology? Or is there anything wrong with his idea of the adding the resurrection argument to his arsenal? YES! Listen, the resurrection IS our arsenal, it IS our argument. It is not one of many arguments used to prove a greater point. It IS the great point! It is not a sub argument that we add to prove other points of doctrine, not at all! The life, death, and resurrection of Christ IS our doctrine, and all other arguments are subservient to that doctrine. In other words, the literal creation serves to proclaim the life, death , and resurrection not vice versa. To put it more clearly, I can proclaim the Gospel without mentioning the creation. However the only way to rightly proclaim the creation is in light of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. I can proclaim the Gospel without mentioning where Cain got his wife, but I cannot proclaim the story of Cain and Abel without making a beeline to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Christ’s life death and resurrection is the primary storyline of scripture, the one which every other scripture is governed by. The bible is Christocentric, not creation-centric. Can you see my issue?

Creationism wrongly places the creation as the foundational moments of scripture. You can be a young earth creationist without being Christian. You can be an orthodox Jew and be a YEC, hell you can be an agnostic and be a YEC. There is nothing distinctly Christian about creationism, and even if the argument for creation is ultimately won in the public sphere it does nothing to guarantee Christian doctrine. If you look a Paul arguing in Acts, the reason people get bent out of shape is not his appeal to a common ancestor, they can work with that, but the reason the reject or accept Christianity is always the resurrection!

Let me make it clearer. In Christianity we see Adam’s fall in the light of the redemption Christ offers. In Christianity the reason for the fall is found in the redemption which Christ offers. The creationist sees Adam’s fall as the action that necessitates Christ’s work. In Christianity Adam was subservient to Trinity’s ultimate plan of redemption by his fall (that is not to say God caused it, a topic for another time). In creationism Christ was subservient to Adam in that Christ was required to come because of what Adam had done. In Christianity Christ necessitated Adam, and creationism Adam necessitated Christ. In Christianity Christ is Plan ‘A’ from before time, in creationism Christ is plan ‘B’ as a result of Adam’s sin.

When I see fossil records that prove creation, and archeology that proves the Pentateuch I rejoice because all these things point to validity of Christ’s plan of redemption from before time began. However Christ’s life death and resurrection are the verifiable historical events in which I place my trust. In other words I do not get near as bent out of shape by some government agenda to squash creationism as I do by churches that are denying penal substitution, even if those churches are YEC churches.

With all of that said, I do appreciate the work of groups like Answers in Genesis, and I am not at all opposed to them, no I am very much thankful for them. Nonetheless I think they err in that they present a brand of Christianity which places creation as the foundation of all doctrine, and not the life death and resurrection of Christ. I believe this is a tragic misplacement of emphasis.

Hope that one makes sense, let me know what you think.