My primary Writing.com blog.
Logocentric (adj). Regarding words and language as a fundamental expression of an external reality (especially applied as a negative term to traditional Western thought by postmodernist critics).|
Sometimes I just write whatever I feel like. Other times I respond to prompts, many taken from the following places:
"The Soundtrackers Group"
"Blogging Circle of Friends "
"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
"Take up Your Cross"
Thanks for stopping by!
|"Take up Your Cross" | May 25, 2023
How important do you think it is for a Christian to attend physical church? Why?
I think church attendance is critical for Christians, although I'm not sure I'd say "physical church" is a hard requirement. The whole point of the New Testament is to communicate the life and death (and resurrection of Jesus) which did away with all of the prior laws in the Old Testament about precisely when and where and how you're supposed to relate to God. So attending a physical church is no longer a theological requirement for Christian belief.
Additionally, if you look at the way people were forced to do church during the pandemic of the past few years, churches have adapted or developed technologies to reach those for whom in-person church attendance isn't possible. You can now watch church services live online, or watch/listen to them after the fact via podcasts, YouTube, etc. There are apps available for your smartphone that will add additional content to your Bible reading experience, or that can provide daily devotionals or prayer guides. There are more Christian communities than ever which you can join through your job, neighborhood, friend group, or any of a hundred different online social networks.
All that said, the Christian faith is a relational one. It's built on the concept of community and service to others. So if someone is pursuing their Christian faith by themselves, focusing only on their personal journey and not in the larger context of some kind of community... well, then they're just plain doing it wrong (either that, or I'm seriously misinterpreting some key passages in the Bible!).
It's critical for Christians to be a part of a Christian community, but gone are the days where Christian community is only built around a physical house of worship. That is, unquestionably, still the most common and popular way for Christians to gather in community these days, but it's definitely not the only way to participate in a community.
"Take up Your Cross" | May 27, 2023
How would you feel about a society where The Bible and Christianity were banned and you were put in jail for the rest of your life, tortured, or killed for having a Bible or practicing Christianity? (Did you know there are places right now in the world where this is a fact of life?)
The Christian faith started out as a faith where you'd be run out of town, put in jail, tortured, or killed for practicing it. That fact that so many Christians find it surprising that there are still places in the world where Christianity is not just a relatively minor religion, but even seen as something of a dangerous countercultural movement in some circles speaks, sadly, to how few Christians understand the history of their own faith.
On the one hand, I would certainly be more anxious and uncertain about living in a place where I wasn't free to practice my faith, and where I had to worry about something bad happening to me if anyone found out. I think anyone who claims they'd feel otherwise would probably be lying. On the other hand, I've known some people who have lived these situations and they have incredible stories of faith and how God has shown up.
When I was first sorting out my, I had regular meetings with a pastor friend of mine. I had been attending church regularly for a while... long enough to know people who had incredible stories about the way that God has shown up in their lives... and I told the pastor that I didn't have any personal experience with that. I've never seen God show up in a miraculous or surprising way; I've never heard him speak clearly to me. His response?
"That's because you haven't needed him to. Meaningful interactions with God don't happen inside your comfort zone."
That sentiment has stuck with me all these years later. I have to constantly remind myself that as a straight, cisgender, middle class white dude living in an affluent California city, I'm probably not going to get a lot of one-on-one time with the big guy unless I'm stepping out in faith and meeting God where he is. That's the lifelong challenge for all Christians, I suppose... to know when to step out in faith and put ourselves in a situation where we need God to show up for us.
The thing I worry about most with Christians (myself included) is how often we choose the safety and security of the comfort zone over a better relationship with Him. For those Christians who don't have the luxury of having a comfort zone nearby, I have a feeling God shows up for them in tangible ways a little more often.
|"Blogging Circle of Friends " | Day 3741
Whether it was the one who taught you a valuable skill, encouraged you to strive for better, or simply put a band-aid on your grazed knee, there must be at least one teacher you’ll always remember. Tell us about it.
I've been lucky enough to have a number of memorable teachers over the years. My fifth grade teacher really encouraged me to explore my interest in writing. My sixth grade teacher was the first one that really made learning fun, sparking my interest in fantasy and science fiction, as well as music of all genres. My seventh grade history teacher taught a mechanical drawing class that introduced me to my passion for architecture. I had a number of college professors who really inspired me in their various areas of specialty.
But the teacher that immediately comes to mind when I think about who taught me a valuable skill, and made me strive for better, it was my eleventh grade AP English Language & Composition class. Up until that point, I had always been a decent student, but not particularly motivated to excel. I reliably pulled mostly A's and a few B's with a minimum of studying or effort.
The AP English Language & Composition class graded in-class timed essays on a scale of one to five (five being the best and indicative of college-level writing). The first essay I wrote, I was one of only a handful of kids in the class who got a four. I continued to get fours consistently, which was the highest grade in a class that also included our eventual class valedictorian and salutatorian. Then, one day about a month into the semester, the teacher gave me a one on an essay that I was pretty sure I had nailed. When I went to ask him why he gave my essay the lowest score possible, he replied matter-of-factly:
"Because it's bullshit."
I was shocked. Not just because my teacher used swear words, but because he saw through my half-assed efforts and was willing to call me out on them, even when they were good enough to be at the top of the class. He went on to say that he figured out I was phoning it in, and that he was going to keep grading my essays on effort instead of using the AP grading rubric until I stopped "fucking around" and actually started living up to my potential. I had never had a teacher hold me accountable like that before.
It took me a few weeks of really trying, getting ones and twos and threes on my essays... but every time I got an essay back, my teacher would include some insightful feedback, pushing me to think more critically about the prompt, and to be more specific, succinct, and eloquent with how I expressed myself. Right before the holidays, as the first semester was coming to a close, I got a five on one of my essays; the first one in the class to earn one, and the first student in any AP English class to earn a five in the first semester.
I spent the rest of the year continuing to refine my writing and critical thinking skills, and I really have him to thank for not just being the writer I am today, but also seeing some potential in me. I probably would have just ended up coasting through life with a "slightly above average is good enough" attitude if he hadn't come along and knocked some sense into me.
|"Take up Your Cross" | Prompt ▼
It's hardly an original choice, but my favorite Christian author is C.S. Lewis. The way he thinks about religion and faith is fascinating and still relevant today. And while I like a whole lot of his books, my favorite is probably The Screwtape Letters (followed closely by Mere Christianity). The Screwtape Letters is just such a disturbing, thought-provoking book... I still revisit it frequently and think about it frequently. If you're not familiar, it's an epistolary between a junior demon (Wormwood) and a senior demon (Screwtape) where the latter gives the younger demon advice on how to best corrupt humans and turn them away from God. And, um, it's pretty spot on.
Fun fact... C.S. Lewis' original dedication in The Screwtape Letters is to J.R.R. Tolkien! They were contemporaries who often met up to discuss writing and religion.
But C.S. Lewis is a pretty predictable choice, so I'm going to try to pick some other contemporary Christian authors as well just to round this blog entry out.
John Mark Comer is probably one of my favorites because he tackles popular modern-day issues like depression, the pace of the world, finding peace, etc. I absolutely loved The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and really enjoyed Garden City. I actually have Live No Lies on my bookshelf as one of my next reads.
Francis Chan is another great author who is on the forefront of the movement to get away from the idea of big, corporate church and go back to the roots of the faith. Crazy Love and Forgotten God were both great, and I also have his new Letters to the Church on my bookshelf.
I haven't really read many of his books, but I love listening to N.T. Wright's podcast where he answers questions about the faith. He's one of the world's most preeminent living biblical scholars and his thoughts are always fascinating. The couple of books of his I've read have been pretty dry, but I'm actually thinking about getting some of his Bible commentaries to supplement my regular Bible reading.
I've read several other Christian authors over the years, but these are the ones that I come back to over and over again.
|WDC 48-Hour Challenge: Media Prompt | Prompt ▼
I really love this song... less so after the pandemic, but still do.
The music video is fantastic. The idea of enlisting significant others and parents to surprise the bride or groom (or both) at a wedding with a live performance by one of the most popular bands of the past twenty years is a really inspired idea. And more than that, it looks like everyone's having a genuinely great time. There's even an accompanying video documentary where the band talks about everything that went into making this video and all the coordination it took for them to run all over Los Angeles in one day trying to capture all of these different wedding experiences.
The reason why I enjoy this song and video a little less than I used to is because it was one of our go-to videos during the early days of the pandemic, when we were stuck in a tiny two-bedroom apartment all day with our two kids, afraid to go outside. We would often watch fun, uplifting music videos on YouTube, and this was one of the videos that frequently featured in the rotation. So much so, that even years later, it still comes up from time to time in the "My Mix" music playlist that YouTube compiles of all of my account's most-watched music videos.
I still think it's a great song and a great video. I still watch it from time to time and it always makes me smile. But these days it also reminds me of how hard that first year of COVID was, and I get the tiniest bit claustrophobic when I think back to those days.
|To qualify for my Watch List every month, the following has to be something that I've watched that's new to me. It doesn't necessarily have to be a current show, but it can't be reruns or rewatches of something I've already seen. So if I'm including it in this list, it means this month is the first time I've watched it. I'll put "DNF" (Did Not Finish) next to anything that I stopped watching and have no immediate plans to finish.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
The Diplomat (Season 1)
Jack Ryan (Season 3)
The Mandalorian (Season 3)
Poker Face (Season 1)
On the movie side of things, I tried to mix it up and watch a few "classics" that I don't remember actually ever seeing all the way through... in the 1980s and 1990s I was just a kid so I missed a lot of the "grown-up" movies of that era. I caught up on a bunch of them as part of the curriculum in film school or just in my own movie watching over the years, but I definitely have plenty of blank spaces. I know that I'd seen scenes of Casino, Goodfellas, and The Untouchables over the years but I'm not sure I ever actually sat down and watched them straight through. I enjoyed all three of them (although a Casino / Goodfellas was a bit much and I'm good on mafia movies for a while). I also really liked Violent Night which was a fun and irreverent holiday movie from last year... and Rio 2 was a watch with the kids one weekend and I know we saw the original before, but this one didn't seem too familiar to me.
On the television front, I really liked everything I watched. Poker Face was really great (albeit a little slow in the middle, where the overarching story of Charlie getting pursued by a casino thug just kind of disappeared for multiple episodes), and I think The Mandalorian really redeemed itself after the painfully slow Book of Boba Fett side quest. The third season of Jack Ryan was really solid, and I loved watching Keri Russell in The Diplomat, which was full of political intrigue. My wife thought it was too slow but I was into it.
TOP PICK: Poker Face