"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

Our Big, Fat Tuesday Party

Posted in Day-To-Day, Friends, Photography, Theological by matt on Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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Did you know there’s a whole calendar designed to help Christians follow Jesus more passionately?! I didn’t.

I’m only just discovering how beautiful it can be to track with this schedule—mostly thanks to our teammates here. In all honesty, when they proposed a Mardi Gras party, I was a little uncertain.

Having seen Bourban St. first-hand just a couple days after Mardi Gras’ end, the day doesn’t have very good connotations for me. I still remember tip-toing around vomit and asking a mime for directions away from the stank.

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But, originally, Fat Tuesday was about penitence and preparation for Lent, a special time for prayer, fasting, repentance, and charity—all things I need in my life!

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So on Tuesday night we got together and ate extremely well; then we played and laughed and prayed and posed riddles until, finally, we cleaned everything up in silence and went home without a word.

This whimsy happened a week ago (you see how long it takes me to edit pictures and write up a post), but I’m hoping to carry some of the challenges of Fat Tuesday on into Lent.

I’m trying to re-ask myself questions like who do I really believe Jesus is? What does he want me to do and be? And what needs to change so I can move more deeply into his life?

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What about you? Any sharable stories from Lent, Advent, or some other part of the Christian calendar? Any thoughts or encouragements you could give a noob? I’d love to hear from you.

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Alan Jacobs On the Pleasure of Reading

Posted in Theological, Videos By Others by matt on Friday, April 20, 2012

My friend Ross Parker recently posted this on his blog, and I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d share it with you.

VIDEO: “The Incarnation” by Odd Thomas

Posted in Theological, Videos, Videos By Others by matt on Saturday, December 24, 2011

NT Wright on Blogging/Social Media

Posted in Social Media, Theological, Videos By Others by matt on Saturday, August 20, 2011

Some excellent thoughts on blogging from a writer and theologian I respect.

I thought his point about the reclusive and potentially dehumanizing nature of a computer screen was especially telling.

I spend a lot of time working on a computer doing PLC stuff and, while I consider all of that work to be an important part of my role in God’s mission, I never want my time across from a screen to supersede my time across from real flesh-and-blood. This is a great reminder of that!

This video was shot by Bill Kinnon.

Passing Time

Posted in Day-To-Day, Philosophical, Theological by matt on Monday, May 31, 2010

There’s a story I love about a conversation between Alexander the Great and a man he called a “gymnosophist” (meaning wise, naked man). The conquerer arrives at the Indus river (now in Pakistan) with his army and finds the gymnosophist sitting buck-naked and staring up at the sky.

Alexander: “What are you doing?”

Gymnosophist: “I’m experiencing nothingness. What are you doing?”

Alexander: “I’m conquering the world.”

And they both laughed, thinking the other person foolish.

Gymnosophist: “Why is he conquering the world? It’s pointless.”

Alexander: “Why is he just sitting around doing nothing? It’s a waste of a life.”

These are the kinds of East-meets-West collision stories that have made me rethink the phrase, “time well-spent.” The two men had very different perspectives on life that were a direct result of the stories they told themselves, and that dictated how they spent their time.

So which is the right story? Which one was wasting his time?

In our transitions and travels between Thailand and America, I’ve found there’s a lot more to adapting in a new culture than just jet-lag (kind of a no-brainer, right?).

In Thailand it felt like we had all the time in the world. We were busy, for sure, but it didn’t feel that way. Everything was mai-pen-rai (the Thai equivalent of “hakuna matata”) and no worries.

It was frustrating because, to us, it looked like laziness, but we came around to it over time.

But now that we’re back in America it’s a totally different feel. You’d be lucky to score eye-contact with someone, much less spend unscheduled quality time with them. It makes me think of the Kenyan proverb, “All westerners have watches, no westerners have time.” We’re addicted to the busy feel. We are, in a sense, conquerers.

It’s been frustrating because it looks too hectic, but we’ll come around in time.

So, for me, this begs a lot of questions: how are the differing viewpoints on life and time reconciled? Are they? Is there a right or wrong here? Should we be “conquering the world” or “experiencing nothing?”

At what point am I staying too busy, pursuing efficiency and accomplishment at all costs? When am I slacking, wasting my own time and the time of others?

Or maybe it depends on the person. Maybe God just made some conquerers and others…naked ponderers? I’m not sure, but I do know that God made work and rest to be a part of our lives and that there’s a mandate on us to work and rest well (though the gymnosophist wasn’t exactly resting, you get my point).

The Bible has been helpful here – particularly passages in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes about work and the meaning of life, as well as the story about Martha in Luke 10. I’ll keep reading and processing all this! I thought I should post some profound resolution, but I’m just not there yet. It may be too much of a balancing act to ever ‘arrive’…

How about you? What are some things that have helped you with what you consider time well-spent? Any advice for me?