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May 29, 2013

Double-Minded Culture

One of the hardest things that my generation of pastors will be facing is the double-mindedness of our culture.  With the rampant relativism, people tend to look at truth as mere putty in our hands that we can shape and mold as we see fit with no real permanent form of its own.  I don't mean this to be antagonistic, but in today's society, critical thinking is becoming a lost art.  There has been a lot of discussion over the years on George Orwell's book, 1984, and how much it seems to be a prophetic book that is coming more true with every day.  One concept in there I see running rampant in today's relativism is the idea of "doublethink."

If you've never read 1984 before, doublethink is defined as the acceptance of two mutually contradicting beliefs as correct.  An amusing example of this would be the Dufflepuds in C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  When their leader says something they are quick to agree with him and say how smart he is, but when Lucy disagrees with him they are quick to also agree with her and say how wise she is.  Truth is nothing but what is "right" at the moment.  In our culture, we can even further to say truth is whatever "feels right" at the moment.

If you do not know anything about relativism, it is the current standard of today by which banners of "toleration" and "coexistence" are flown.  Their motto is, "What you believe is right for you and what I believe is right for me."  That is, unless you believe in an absolute truth.  Then you're just wrong.  The problem with flying the banner of relativism is by stating, "There is no absolute truth," you are stating an absolute truth.  A bit contradictory, don't you think?

So why is relativism so appealing?  Relativism frees us from the obligations and social responsibilities of our beliefs.  It allows us to say, "I would never do it, but it's okay for them," or "I don't need to defend my beliefs because what I believe is right for me and what you believe is right for you."  What fascinates me is the fact that relativism itself parallels in a society with the obsession of evidence and proof.  How often have you heard the phrase, "I don't believe in God because there is no evidence for Him."  Yet, with relativism there is no debate and no argument.  No evidence is necessary and I don't need to reevaluate my beliefs and opinions based off of external evidence or arguments because they are mine and so they are right for me.

Furthermore, champions of relativism would have no way of condemning hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, or the KKK, or Skinheads, or Nazis.  After all, "What they believe is right for them."  To condemn them is to say there is some moral ground on which we stand, some standard outside of ourselves by which we judge, and some absolute truth to which humanity is held accountable.  Yet argument and reason is not going to get through to the relative generation.  What will get through to them, and what our challenge is as pastors of the relative generation, is to share with them personal experience.  After all, that's what relativism is all about.

We need to some way share with this generation the personal, loving God.  We need to expose them to the Father in heaven, who knows the number of hairs on their head, who loves them despite everything they have done, and who welcomes them with opened arms.  However, our job does not just end there.  Jesus's parables about lost sheep, lost coins, and a prodigal son does not end with the account of finding the lost, but with bringing the lost back into the fold.  The church has a great, long history that is rich and plentiful, full of fellowship and liturgy.  It is our connection to the Church through space and time that makes us part of the church. Personal experience is the lead to bring back the lost, but it isn't until we connect them to the communion of saints that the task is complete.  This is how we win back the relative generation, and this is our task as pastors of this age.

May 15, 2013

6 months pregnant

I'm officially six months pregnant, as in the full six months, and I still can tie my shoes. Last weekend, I even walked a 5k (3.1 miles for those of you who aren't metric savvy). Although I set no speed records, I did finish and it was a wonderful feeling.

Baby continues to be healthy and active. I have lots of happy dancing feet pounding my tummy throughout the day. However, I am in no place to complain. Baby is active, which is a good sign. Baby is healthy, based on all the tests that the doctor can run. Baby is growing. I am healthy and not experiencing any of those "pregnancy side effects." While I am more careful, I can still be as active as I want to be. I have a great excuse to eat lots of healthy foods. Bottom line, there is no cause for concern. As long as everything continues as it has been going for the past six months, there's also no reason to believe that Baby will be born dangerously prematurely.

Timothy and I are very thankful to have been blessed as we have with Baby and a healthy pregnancy.

May 5, 2013

To Atlanta and Back

We got back late last night from our trip to Atlanta.  We left Thusday night to head down to her brother's graduation.  We drove most of the night and arrived by 7:00 in the morning and had a small breakfast.  Marie's brother was busy so we headed off to Olympic Park, the sight where they hosted the 1996 Olympics.  We walked through the park for a bit and then went to the World of Coke.  We went through the museums and then had a lot of free Coke-a-Cola product samples.  After that we went to our hotel, checked in, and crashed.  We were able to sleep a couple of hours before Marie's parents arrived.  After they got there we went with them out to dinner and stuffed ourselves on Mexican.  Once we were done with that we finally met up with Aaron to get tickets for graduation.

Graduation was long, but we got to watch Aaron walk and receive his masters in Mechanical Engeneering!  And after that we went back to the hotel, had a couple drinks, and then decided that we needed some Chinese and stuffed ourselves again.  Not long after we decided it was time to go to bed.  Besides, Marie and I were exhausted.  In the morning we went down to the lobby with Marie's parents and spent a couple of hours talking and having coffee.  After the 'designated time,' we met up with Aaron again and we decided to go to Ikea.  Marie and I had never been before, and let me tell you it was an experience.  Before we headed out we decided to stuff our faces yet again at Taco Mac's.  It was pretty good.  But, as all good things, it had to come to an end.  So Marie and I got back on the road and headed back home.  It was a long weekend, but it was good to see family that we don't get to see often!

May 1, 2013

May 1: Call Day

There's a lot of excitement and anticipation at the Seminary today. Second year students are receiving their vicarage placements at 3:00 p.m. and concluding students are receiving their first calls at 7:00 p.m. Needless to say, those who attended classes today were not focused on the material. Timothy and I continue to remain separate from this anticipation (after all, it is 365 days until we receive a vicarage placement, but who's counting?). The day couldn't be better: sunny with a high of 85 degrees. Families are everywhere on campus.

We're excited for all of our friends receiving calls and vicarage placements, specifically our friends Hunter and Elizabeth from Alaska. They will be receiving a vicarage placement, most likely not in St. Louis. They are thrilled to have an opportunity to be traveling (something a native Alaskan doesn't have much chance to do). They will also be getting a break from the stressors that they have found in St. Louis through the Seminary. Although we will be sad to see them go, we are beyond thrilled for them!

That's one of the hard things about Call Day. We will not see the students receiving calls and vicarage placements after they move this summer (unless we go to visit). When the current second years return from vicarage, we will be leaving on our own vicarage adventure. When we return, they will be graduating and entering first calls. It's a bittersweet time, in the midst of all the excitement.