Friday, March 5, 2010
Never put my words in a vacuum. They would die as surely as an oak tree in a vacuum.
My thoughts, my heart, my passions grow out of 1983 New York City seed, nurtured by Asian-American values and enervated by Western Evangelical Christianity.
I am not Martin Luther. I am not John Calvin, John Frame, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards. I am a Johnny Appleseed scattering hard work and determination everywhere I go. My theological viewpoints are a reaction and a movement away from many, many things I learned as a Christian. Some things remain the same: the high view of Scripture, the 5 points, the 5 solas. Some things are very different. You've been reading them 3 to 4 times a week on this blog.
Why do I write so much about hard work, determination, effort, guts, intuition, intelligence and intensity? Why do I so highly prize these things and never write about humility, meekness and gentleness? It's not because I think they're useless -- they're not -- it's because I think we've lost some things and I want to return things to their proper balance. I think of the many prayer meetings that I've sat on. Why is it that people who pray and then live by the principles of hard work and determination get what they pray for and the people who pray and then expect things to magically happen rarely get it? It can't be coincidence that the latter group says "I guess it wasn't God's will." more often. I go where people don't want to go. I name the things people don't want to name. I ascribe responsibility when everyone wants to cover up.
I have no doubt that I go too far in my writing. I find it maddeningly difficult to be fair and equitable when I have a keyboard or piece of paper in front of me. To be honest, there are a great number of things that I'm grateful for, a number of things I acquired through no personal merit. I was born healthy. I grew up with a Renaiisance man father who gifted me with his mind and curiosity, and even more than that, his presence. His philosophy is to never stop learning or growing. No coincidence I hold these values in my heart higher than so many others. My mother gifted me with charisma and showmanship. How could I have merited these things before I was born? So yes, I want to acknowledge that God blesses and God takes away, or in some cases, has never given at all.
But where do we go from there? I get sick to my stomach when I look at people squandering their gifts trying to entertain themselves. I get impossibly angry when people claim they have no gift to give. Have any of them considered seizing a gift with their own two hands? English is the second language I learned. I'm contemplating picking up a fourth. I used to be 120 lbs. heavier. Now I have my eyes locked on a half Ironman. I used to suck at math. Now I can factor quadratics and do derivatives in my head. I was afraid to speak up, to write, to ask girls out, to try and wear fashionable clothes. Life really used to suck. But I changed. And I did it because goddamnit, I wanted it and no one was going to stop me from getting it.
I'm reacting against a lazy mysticism by being an aggressive activist. By venturing out into the unknown, I'm making a statement about xenophobia, clannishness and ignorance. I talk about the wonderful ability we have to control many of our actions, to restrain our appetites to a large degree and to set a direction for our lives in direct opposition to the whining and caterwauling of so many who style themselves New Puritans and ape the Apostle "I do the things I don't want to and don't do the things I do!" For many of these people, I see a distinct lack of effort and an extremely narrow methodology. Without a willingness to experiment, can they really say they're trying their best? Sometimes it seems like they're hoping to fail so that everything can stay the same.
Let's use a common example. Struggling with pornography? What's their answer? More prayer! More accountability! More books! If this isn't the answer, even more! Or else pathologize it. They simply have a disease. Because we've tried all the things that "experts" have said and they didn't work, they must simply be sick.
Shut. Your. Lazy. Mouth.
If you tried everything the experts told you and nothing worked, then try something else. How badly do you want your goal? A nation-wide study of athletes were asked this question "If you were able to take a pill that gave you an gold medal at the Olympics but would kill you in 5 years, would you take it?" The answer was overwhelmingly, OVERWHELMINGLY, yes. It's more than steroids. Do you see all those ridiculous necklaces that baseball players sometimes wear? It's because they believe that the aura of the titanium will make them better players. Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game because he was convinced it made him the great player he was. Jorge Posada and Vladimir Guerrero pee on their hands because they think it makes their skin better than gloves. Many of these things have no scientific basis and are borderline witchcraft --in fact Ozzie Guillen engages in Santeria rituals involving animal sacrifice-- in the slim hope of improving. How desperately do you want it? If you only want it enough to look like you're trying, how can you pray with a clean conscience? Oh God, grant me purity, but only enough so that I don't have to do anything difficult!
Reaction. In reality, there's little I disagree with on a factual basis with the people I level polemics against. They won't say that nothing changes. I won't say that everything can change. The expression and practice is what I'm interested in. I love God but how many more songs are going to use sky, rain, mountain, sea, forest imagery mixed with a hodge-podge of awesome, majestic, mighty, worship tossed in? I'm sick of it! But I have to realize, it's only sickening to me because I've been overwhelmed by it. I certainly supported them when it seemed daring and radical to use instruments like drums and guitars in worship, but that era is long since past. Once the revolutionary becomes the norm, it's time for a new revolution.
This is the Japanese kaizen philosophy, the dialectical view of history, the Jay-Z view of progress.
Brave, new minds of the world, revolt!