Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Joy and Delight: C Is For Cookie, That's Good Enough For Me ... hey!

Sometimes all it takes is a batch of chocolate chip cookies to add a little joy and delight to the day ...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Struggle For Meaning; Why Not Have Joy?

Walking from the bus this morning I saw a crazy looking bug I've never seen before. Really dark gray and long, with a pattern on its back. There the little thing was walking, pretty as you please, right on the side of the road, like it was big.

It made me pause, and I laughed out loud as I passed it, wondering what in the world it was called. Seeing it really cracked me up. And I found the moment of noticing it and wondering where it was going delighted me. And I realized not too many grownups would indulge themselves like that. Laughing at a bug, I mean. Let alone laugh out loud like some kind of crazy person. So then I thought:

WHAT is so embarrassing about feeling joy or delight?

Why are we so dead-set to come off so incredibly COOL that we shortchange ourselves and our emotions? We get so caught up in "appearances" that we can take no pleasure in anything. Or if we do, we "only allow" ourselves to brag about hedonistic pleasures?

It so much easier to be cynical and unhappy. Sure. I know that. It's less effort. We are not involved that way. But by being not-involved we are also isolated. And that's just sad. I am tired of feeling f-ed up and sad. Tired of reveling in that.

There is fun to be had. There is joy and delight to be had, in simple things.

On the way to work, I want to laugh at the interesting bug and wonder where it's going ...

Rejection: Love Hung Out To Dry

I am no philosopher. Or theologian. I have no college degree. I just tend to mull over stuff. A lot.

I think about a lot of things, but I also try not to get depressed over them like I used to when I was a teenager. (I think part of the depression not being so bad like it used to be is because about three years ago I found I had a lot of food allergies. I eliminated the foods from my diet that were making me sick and I am doing better. So though I do get sad from time to time now, I don't fall into the debilitating funk like I used to. But that's a tangent -- I'm no doctor. I'm just saying.)

Anyway, it seems to me that Rejection fuels a lot of Pain and Anger. Deep rejection from childhood makes people insecure and liable to do stupid things. So often they try to make up for their own rejection in the worst and weirdest ways, too.

Basic politeness towards strangers goes along way. Here people will smile at you as they walk past you on the street. There is something just nice about that. It's like acknowledging we are all here, trying to deal. Living. Working to instill hope. Doing the best job we can. I think inspiring hope goes a long way.

Believing in the best of people goes a long way.

Word: Today from 1 Corinthians

I used to work with a Youth Group back in NYC. Those kids were so great and talented. There were so many that passed through our church doors at one point or another ... I used to take attendance so I could remember their names. I'm pretty sure over the years we had at least 60 different individuals in the 3 or so years I worked there. And for a church in the middle of Manhattan, that was saying a lot that they stopped by. When we met on Wednesday nights sometimes we'd talk. Sometimes we'd get pizza. Sometimes we'd have a bible study.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, we read from the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 33. "Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character."

And it sunk in. Sometimes it's a very hard choice to break away from the path that is actually eating your soul up and destroying you. Especially when it involves old friends.

But true friends also stick with you. And don't belittle you when you are growing in a way they don't understand. And when they are worried for you they flat out say so. And if you are doing something wrong they'll try to shake you out of it. Friendship involves mutual respect.

Friendship is precious. And friendship is edifying, not destructive.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Faith Vs. Reason, Emotions Vs. Automatons ...

As I get older, the less patience I have and the more patience I have. It's a funny balance, this self-control.

As a Northerner living in the South, it's been an interesting relocation. I see and have seen people in both regions of the country handle their emotions with skills, and handle them with no skills. Same with Faith. Same with Reason. I have seen it in myself, too. Live and learn. Life is a curious and beautiful thing.

Looking at Technorati -- the list of what many people are talking about on the web -- I've been curious about the arrival of several books where it seems like the authors have pitched Reason against Faith. As if they were mutually exclusive.

To be more fair, I would need to see these books in the bookstore -- but in general what little I've seen online looks like they may have decided people of faith are stupid and dangerous. (To be fair, we have given them ample bad impressions. We need to practice better faith to correct that.)

People on both sides of religion and anti-religion can be guilty of not looking upon each other with compassion. (Actually it also seems to me that Christians could in fact have MORE faith in prayer and in God's work upon the spirit, but that's a post for another day.)

But my curiosity is, if we happen to consider Faith to be not a reasonable thing ... then we are going to have to step back and say the same for emotions. After all, when handled poorly, Love can be not reasonable. Anger can be not reasonable. Passion can be not reasonable. Joy certainly can be not reasonable. So handled poorly, it is the same for Faith. And frankly, when handled poorly, it is the same for Reason. Handled poorly, then the "good judgment and good sense" of Reason also goes out the window and becomes "unreasonable".

By assuming Faith is separate and apart from Reason[able] behavior, we kinda run dangerously close to looking towards a society of no-emotion automatons as the answer. See, Faith is not only about having Faith in a God we do not directly see. We forget that Faith (Random House Websters College Dictionary c. 2000) is also having 4. a belief in anything as a code of ethics or standards of merit.

If we have no Faith -- no belief in anything -- then everyone is out for themselves. That kinda throws Reason into the toilet, doesn't it? If we have no belief in a code of ethics or standards of merit then nobody looks out for kids, or for the elderly, or for people in general. There is no mutual compassion. That's a bad place to live in.

Reason and Faith are not mutually exclusive. We really have to stop perpetuating the myth that they are. Though some people through error might separate the two, they do not have to be separated. In fact, we are Biblically advised to ask for Wisdom, if we lack it. We need Wisdom to make sound judgments. So we're back at that hairy Faith thing again.

We need that fine balance of Faith, Reason, Passion, Love, and Joy handled deftly and compassionately. Even Anger when well-handled, can be controlled to correct wrongs to make them better.

Faith and Reason can live and work together.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Justice League Unlimited

Holy smokes -- where do I even begin?

To celebrate her birthday, my best friend and her husband flew in to visit us. Dave brought with him his copy of the Justice League Unlimited Season One DVD, so we could all watch it together while we chilled out in the evenings.

WHAT a FANTASTIC CARTOON.

NOW THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT -- THIS is what cartoons and comics ought to be like!

The boy AND girl superheroes are all equally fierce and funny and great and heroic and the stories are fun, and the stories are neat -- and oh my goodness, was my heart glad to watch these episodes! I didn't even get to see all of them but did I just love the ones I did.

I enjoyed this -- and so many obscure superheroes made appearances. The Question! Black Canary. Fire and Ice. Captain Marvel. Dr. Fate! And so many, many more. How hilariously fun this was!

We are SO buying this.

Dwayne McDuffie, Bruce Timm -- and all you other creators involved -- I raise my glass and toast you. Thank you for making this show so much FUN!!