Monday, October 29, 2007

everybody needs a scapegoat

this speaks volumes.
i do NOT believe that most people who are sincerely living out their beliefs realize that they need someone to be their scapegoat ... but as this song hilariously points out, we all do it.
i'll tell you mine if you tell me yours ...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

i guess i'm not sure what it means

i met with a really nice couple earlier this week. good people. trying to follow god. visiting journey ifc and wanting to know what we're about. we had a good long talk about life, faith, journey, what's happening with them, what we journeyers are about. we talked for nearly three hours - and i felt god in it.
they had asked specifically about what journey's beliefs are about homosexuality. i talked about how at journey all people are children of god, period. and all people are welcome, period. if there is someone who's in a pattern in their life that's not healthy, we are teaching all the time about how god is in all things - so, look at your life. really look at it. all of it. and then say, Okay, is this healthy for me? what's in this that i can learn from? where do i choose to go? is this something i need support around? 12 steps? men's group? women's group? bible study? discussion group? small group? volunteer to help at journey? feed homeless people? find a good therapist? learn more ways to pray and connect to god? all of these are ways to get at, and deal with, patterns in our lives that aren't healthy - like sexual promiscuity. unhealthy patterns of drinking, or eating, or drug use, or pornography, or spending money, or not spending money. rage. victimhood.
i realized later that night that i hadn't actually "answered" their question - i had gone into how we at journey deal with our shit, our beauty, all of who we are, with god in the middle of it. that's what i think jesus invited people into. but they had wanted an answer to whether journey condemns homosexuality as a way to live. i emailed and told them that no, in fact, we don't. i have read the scriptures at length and don't see that homosexuality is a "sin" at all. american greed is a sin. america's preoccupation with violence is a sin. america's treatment of those in prison, and the poor, and the ugly or unintelligent or outsider - that's a sin. but the way god designs people to love each other? as long as it's between consenting adults - and that's true of heterosexuals as well - and done in a committed and loving and learning relationship, we don't see that it's anything we need to change in anyone. everyone is a beloved child of god.
(they had asked, when i talked about that general principle, whether if someone were an adulterer or a child molester, even though - they acknowledged this - that person is to be loved and welcomed, would journey not say that that behavior was wrong? i said, the real question is, what is the behavior/pattern in your life about? first, accept that you're the beloved of god. love god. be loved by god. then, look at your life. what's working - not, what feels good, but, what is really making you more and more healthy, more and more loving, more and more real? and any negative, hurtful behavior? jesus says, I invite you to change that.)
they emailed back a very respectful and sweet answer, which was, how much they appreciated our time together, and how they will pray for and support journey, and they're glad we're here doing our thing for god, but that's a decisive issue for them, so they'll keep looking for the right church. they were very loving and very principled, and i really respect that.
here's my question, not to this couple, but to the world:
why is this a deciding issue?
i mean, i'm just not sure i get it. why is this that big a deal? do people make decisions about a church based on whether it's greed-obsessed? or success-obsessed? or whether the leaders are contentious and mean?
is whether a church tells homosexuals that the way they feel love toward another adult all that important?
i honestly have come to a place where i just don't see it. i really don't.
i think - and i do not mean this as disrespect for this couple and other people like them, who are genuine and humble in their convictions - i think we're completely missing the point. it's a symptom, not the thing itself. is it about whether that church accepts the bible as literal vs. figurative? in which case, is that about whether the world is careening out of control because people who aren't holding on to something solid are causing people to lose what's most important? in which case, is that about fear - a model that says if someone doesn't enforce the rules, we'll all go down in flames and the bad people and forces will take over?

it's just not an issue for me anymore - like, at all. i have no interest in it whatsoever. i want to be with people as they deal with the real barriers to love in their lives - rage, violence, greed, selfishness, obsession with money or control, self-abnegation and condemnation, shame ... when those things are being healed (and jesus was a healer, not condemning ... except toward systems that excluded and shamed the outsiders), the kingdom of god is present.
soft on "sin"? absolutely not. the opposite. i fight it with all i am.
i guess it's an issue of what we believe "sin" is.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Darth Vader Blues

really. you have to watch this.

let's try another picture ... it's me and bette!!!

actually, this one is much better.

no, seriously. these are my celebrity look-alikes

i noticed a picture of jesus and jennifer connelly together. she's a beautiful woman. but it turns out that there's a website that can take your picture and show you which celebrities look most like you. the program said that the celebrity who looks most like jesus is jennifer connelly.

i put my official picture they took at the austin american-statesman when i did an essay for them some months ago. check out the handsome mofos that look like that picture of me.

ummmm ... how do i even begin to respond to that?
now, granted, i'm not sure that mug shot really looks much like me unless i'm smiling nicely for a camera. which i never do. but still.
although, i do like the range - from o henry to telly savalas to maharishi mahesh yogi? (and by the way, everyone laughs about my unruly mess of hair - and i look like telly savalas?) i have to, and i do, respect that.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ghost of Corporate Future

listen to this song.
this is the gospel.

the conversation

bob blogged about a conversation about how to be different kind of church together, a conference held last night here in austin. i'm pissed off because i'd've loved to have been there and heard it.

i was at the cedar park high school football game last night, watching and cheering, waiting until halftime when my daughter's drill team performed an awesome (as always) kick routine. that was where i chose to be. it was good.

but i really believe that the ongoing conversation about what is emerging in how to follow jesus, how to be christians, how to be together and also be distinct, how to be open to what is happening and also be faithful to what we feel inside - i really do believe that the conversation is important. it's not about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin; it's people genuinely trying to get a sense of what's happening, what god is doing, what the spirit is telling us, and what our parts are in that unfolding.

it is a very exciting time to be a jesus person.
i'm glad it's happening.
thanks john r. and thanks bob for the report.

ps and, yeah, there's always the problem of people getting into this being the new fad. and of people getting caught up in the excitement and climbing the ladder in the new organization. and of people deciding they're right and the thing before them was Just Wrong.

those can be divisive and destructive developments. but i still think it's worth risking that - and accepting that it will happen - to help birth the thing the spirit is doing.
not that the spirit couldn't do it anyway ... but i like helping ...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Taylor Mali on what teachers make

you totally need to watch this. this man speaks not only for the teachers, but for anyone who loves, and works, to make the world different and better.


do you ever feel like this?


Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

the truth in this music will set you free or just get something in your head to start making weird noises

i would worry that everybody is into the cool stuff before i find out, but i have (almost, nearly) accepted that you get there when you get there and i just got there.

iron and wine

this man, sam beam, lives in central texas and makes beautiful and strange and haunting and sweet and sad and gently loving and heartbreaking music. it has gotten into some places deep in my head, behind and beyond the front part where the reasons are.

here's some data.


so i changed my googlebloggerorwhateveritis name. i am no longer revrin rick; now i am journeyingrick. there's a reason.

i honestly don't think of myself as a "reverend" - it's an antiquated term that echoes the separation between laity and clergy. when i started google/blogger some years ago, i used "revrin" because it was a way to deflate the self-importance of that term, to let readers and friends know that i don't take it seriously, and to remind myself.

but i don't even think of myself as a revrin anymore. i see myself as on a journey.

at first i thought, I don't want to use "journey" in my name - because it's not about the faith community i'm part of.

this moment, 6:55 a.m. on thursday, october 18th, 2007, in my Man Cave in my garage at my house in cedar park texas in the northern hemisphere of the western hemisphere of planet earth ... is only a moment in space and time, and it's only a part of my story, and The Story, and everything and all things are in this moment, and this moment is already over - it's 6:57 now - and everything is connected and who i am in this moment is very different from who i was a year ago or a decade ago or 40 years ago, and who knows what i will be a year from now, or five, or ten, or forty? and so everything i am is passing. and yet like a river i am always moving, always changing, and yet always myself.
i am many things, and one thing, and all things. you are, too. and ultimately there is no separation between you and me and all things seen and unseen.

i am journeying. and i am rick.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

i just saw this on another blog.

fate decides who enters your life and you decide who stays

i realize this may be something everyone already has read or heard, but i hadn't. is the sacrament of confession and pardon

Thursday, October 11, 2007

one more, and then i got to go get the van oil checked

this is chairman mao

this is chairman mao, simpsonized, only as a girl, with the burger king outfit on.
i have no idea why i think that's so funny, but i do.

simpsonized world

everyone is doing the simpsonized pics of themselves.
send yours! i'll put all my pals on.

and, for fun, here's george clooney:

to new jersey and back to texas

madison, new jersey is beautiful. here's their train station.
here's the main building at drew university, where i did my doctoral work.
here's what the rest of the area looks like

it's a freakin' norman rockwell painting.

so, i went for 3 days this week to go advise/help/work with doctoral students who are doing their projects and dissertations over the next year and a half. they are brave and great. they are from south carolina, las vegas, new jersey, canada, pennsylvania - all over. and i had a blast.

except driving through newark, new jersey, to and from the airport. i'm sure newark has beautiful places in it, but it wasn't pretty where i was. and the enterprise car rental facility was off-site from the newark airport, which is a total pain in the ass.
this is what houses in the part of newark i drove through looked like:

i stayed at the college of saint elizabeth, where we had our meetings, just down the street from drew u. we were in the xavier center, which is a conference center/convent/meeting hall/dorm. my room had no a/c, bare walls except for a gold crucifix, a desk fan, a desk lamp, a little chair, a big chair, an open window, no bathroom, a single bed, a chest-of-drawers, a mirror. a little closet. it was truly odd. we drewids ate with about sixty nuns. it was extremely quiet. across from the front door is the convent cemetary, where dozens of nuns are buried. it was ... quiet.
i felt quite out of place. so i'd get in my rent car and turn up very loud music and drive to starbux to compensate.
i know, why would a spiritual giant like me not drink in the silence and peace? because sometimes that much silence and peace is just too hard for me to take. and i missed my home and family.
after about 9 hours on planes, i walked into the beautiful austin airport and heard alt-country music playing and folks laughing (people in the newark airport don't laugh) and just breathed in home.
the part of new jersey i was in is truly beautiful.
but it ain't AUSTIN TEXAS.

Monday, October 8, 2007

simpsonize me

this is me, simpsonized, courtesy of simpsonize me. saw gordon's pic and cracked up. had to have one myself. actually it's two of me - based on two different pictures i uploaded to their site. (one hairy, one a little more kempt. [is that a word? as in, the opposite of unkempt?])

ps i drew a cartoon strip for the school paper when i was in college. the main character looked like me - but he was much thinner and more angular than this me. what a difference 25 years makes ...

Much Madness

my goodness! i haven't posted since last wednesday.
well, my wife's parents came for the weekend, to see my daughter's drill team friday night, and then hang out saturday, and then come to journey sunday morning. so thursday was clean the house day. and i've felt completely behind on my to-do lists at work and i hate that. so that's where I'VE been the last five days.
yesterday at jifc was really wonderful. lots of people. and lots of soul and Spirit. the "lots of people" part isn't the point; we journeyers have always said that it's not a question of how many of us there are; we don't count; we don't have growth goals or plans. but when the Spirit is on, and lots of people are there all up in it, it rocks. it's like a big feast and the more people there are celebrating and getting some good food and drink, the better.

what? no growth goals? that's insane!
i don't mean to be arrogant or snide. i am aware of the voices in my own head.

emily dickinson knew what it felt like for people to think you're crazy, just because you do things differently.
okay, e.d., do your thing:

Much Madness is divinest Sense -
To a discerning Eye -
Much Sense, the starkest Madness -
'Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail -
Assent, and you are Sane -
Demur, you're straightway dangerous -
And handled with a Chain

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

about being present in it

so, i mentioned that it hit me - powerfully - last week that the calling that god has given to journey ifc is something to do with Pain.

i've been thinking and praying.

i don't think our calling is to fix anything. put emotional/spiritual bandaids on. give easy answers. i don't even think our job is to try to make people's pain go away. pain is a great teacher. it's at the heart of the human experience. (i hate to say that because people have said things like that as cop-outs or easy answers. no. that's NOT what i'm saying.) it's not about fixing it ... it's about being present in it.

i think our calling has to do with
  • being with people in their pain and joy, with no agenda, no planned outcome.
  • if they want tools to better understand their pain - and understand themselves - humbly provide those tools
  • don't try to make pain go away; know that the pain is transformed when we let god in
  • stand up as a community against systems that enslave and dehumanize people
  • learn from the people we are trying to love and be with
  • remember that god is mysterious and we only see one part of the picture
  • fight like hell for what is about love

so what's on your list of things that are just good?

leave comments and let's see what y'all think.

so far, in response to my post on some things are just good, we've had:

a few more votes for justin timberlake
timberwolves football (two of us have daughters in a high school with timberwolves as mascot)
a favorite author

i'll add

sitting in the journey warehouse living room
my son's and daughter's laughter
my wife picking on me and tickling me
having the guts not to put something off


Monday, October 1, 2007

there are some things that are just good.

some people call them guilty pleasures. i'm against shame, so i'll call it something else.
some people call them indulgences. that suggests gluttony, sickness, etc., so that's out.
some people try to deny them and say they never do such things. that's just fear.
embrace what gives you joy. not pleasure - those things can be unhealthy.
i mean, something that just makes your soul feel right and makes life better.

i have many. horseback riding. fishing. yard work. watching movies with my family. drawing. writing. watching the sun come up. the cool air of fall. my wife and son and daughter and wonderful friends. pancakes. rock n roll. reading a great book. sitting by a fire. cold beer.

and ... i like justin timberlake.
sings in lots of different styles. dances funky. plays guitar, keyboards. handsome. influenced by old-school soul. interesting, well-written, well-produced pop music. and there isn't much well-written, well-produced pop music. i don't care that he's a teen idol, or what ridiculously hot actress he happens to be dating. i just think he's a good musician.

i know, i know ... to paraphrase paul rudd and seth rogen in the 40 year-old virgin, "d'you know how i know you're gay? you like justin timberlake." yeah well. my gay friends rock, so, whatever. all i know is, i like justin timberlake.

join us. resistance is futile.