I Blog Therefore I Am

Q: Hi, I’m not trying to be rude by any means, but it seems to me that blogs are mostly self-centered in nature. Not yours in particular, but blogs in general. They (and Facebook statuses, twitter, etc.) are based on the premise that someone has something important to share that everyone else wants to hear. I think blogs in particular show this because they generally are a place to express your philosophy on the word. I’m not saying you are in this camp but my question is- why do you write a blog?

A: First off, I loved this question and secondly, I am entrenched in the camp of people who believe what they have to say should be shared. My blog is literally based off the idea that someone out there has a question they would like me to answer, and it sports photographs I had someone take of me specifically so I could look cool online. Please trust that I do not believe to be fooling anyone, I’m as self-centered as every other blogger/twitterer/Facebooker out here. It’s something we all have in common due to the vulnerable nature of writing, there needs to be a level of confidence before posting and often comes hand-in-hand with a pride in our own knowledge. All that being said, I do appreciate your respectful phrasing in asking your question.

So, why do I write a blog? I believe someday I want to be a writer. Not just a blogger, a writer. I have dreams and aspirations of a day when I truly will have original content meaningful enough to be shared with the masses in print. When that day comes I wish to have the skills already in place to write well. This is how blogging fits in, I currently do not have the time or energy to come up with said original content, but still need a platform to practice writing and to find topics people enjoy reading. All of this is in preparation of the day when lightning strikes and an idea is formed in my head that was not there previously.

A secondary reason for blogging would have to be due to my preferred communication style. I enjoy the written word because it allows me to view my thoughts before sharing them. It is easier to express my ideas on a topic when I can form the words around it and edit the piece until it says what I believe to be appropriate. Speaking can be a challenge to me because I believe the words we use carry weight and I never want to burden someone with unnecessary or thoughtless words. With the weight of the spoken word on the forefront of my mind, I appreciate the freedom I find in the written word. It allows for me to process and view and edit my words before I send them out which gives me more confidence in what I am saying.

Thirdly, and lastly, writing is more permanent. Spoken words can be forgotten at the drop of a hat, but a written word has the ability to be rediscovered. This blog is already a sort of time capsule of my thoughts and conviction on different topics such as the Word. This can be an extremely helpful tool as I grow and mature in all matters as it allows me to go back and see how and why I felt a certain way about a given topic. I reserve the right to change as I grow, but this blog will have these words regardless. There is a certain mix of comfort and uneasiness with the idea of permanence, comfort in they will always be available for further reflection, uneasiness because the written word carries just as much weight (if not more) as the spoken word. Inevitably I will place my proverbial foot in my mouth when blogging but the hope those times will be few and far between. I also hope those instances will be humble reminders to be careful with my words.

Thanks for the fabulous questions everybody! I know I have not been as diligent in blogging as promised, but I hope to turn it around and at least get one solid blog out per week and on lucky weeks two blogs. Please feel free to keep the questions coming, I could use some easy questions so I can continue to update my easy answer page if anyone out there is up for it. Thanks for reading, and for next week: Religiosity to Keep Up Appearances.

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Interview questions

Q. We’re playing Truth or Consequence. It lands on me. You get to ask me one Truth question. What would you ask? The “me” in this question can be any one of the following, though you must specify before answering. 1. Me 2. Uriah 3. Jesus 4. Wormwood

A. I’m going to give you a deal since you have waited so patiently for me to answer, I’m going to give you my questions to all four options. However, because the tables are turned and now I get to ask the questions, you the readers get to try to answer them in the comments!

1. Me (as in my readers because I never publish who the author of the questions are): How often do you enjoy your favorite blogs to be updated and on what days of the week?

2. Uriah (as in the guy from the Bible who was married to Bathsheba before David had him killed in the army): Did you have any idea what was going on between David and Bathsheba, and if you did would you have done anything different?

3. Jesus (as in the savior of my soul?): How do you love people so much and how can I love like that?

4. Wormwood (as in the demon being mentored in C.S. Lewis Screwtape Letters): Do you remember what life was like before you fell and became a demon?

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Did Someone Say “Adventure”?

Q. You’re young. You’re not tied down. Thought about picking up and going somewhere to work or serve for a couple years? You know, an adventure?

A. Short answer: Hells yeah! I’ve looked into being an overseas missionary; peace core; moving to a completely random town; going back to college somewhere over the rainbow.

The reason I haven’t? I don’t need to go somewhere to have an adventure. Everything that makes me happy is right here. I have a job where I help people, it’s challenging, and I work with fabulous people. My family is here and they provide the best kind of support I could hope for. I have friends who care, a roommate who is responsible and amazing. It’s not perfect but it’s everything I’ve asked God for. Why would I leave that? Adventures typically provide insight into who we are and help us grow in areas where we are weak, I consider myself extremely fortunate because I have all that right where I’m at. Moving would be an adventure and I may pick up and move far away someday, but when I do it will be because it was time to move, not just because “I can”.

For later: Surprise interview questions! (also, I’m in desperate need of questions and would love for my inbox to be flooded with questions, so go click on the questions page and hit me up!)

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Youtube Scandal

Q: I’ve got a good question for your readers that they may or may not be aware of: What are your feelings about Alexandra Wallace, recent infamous YouTube star who posted a rant directed towards Asians? The forceful backlash? Have you experienced seeing a lot of Asians talking on their cell phones in libraries? Video in question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNuyDZevKrU

My favorite response video *caution there is an extremely catchy song*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulEMWj3sVA

A. Privileged people sometimes have a hard time knowing when to be quiet. One of the biggest crimes our generation commits is when we open our beautifully polished lips and express a sentiment as if everyone should hear the literal crap that is coming out of our mouths. With social media running rampant we are constantly believing every thought we have should be shared with a collective group of people in an effort to have our views affirmed by the masses. Since we have the ability to speak to the masses why wouldn’t we try to gain confirmation and support from them? It feels good to know people are out there and listening. Even as I blog this, it is nice to know I have friends and family and support from random readers.  Unfortunately for Alexandra she forgot how the pendulum can just as easily swing from support and admonition to disgust and loathing. Equally humbling is how these feelings can be just as passionate from both sides of the pendulum. One day she was fabulous and a young YouTube star, and now she is leaving college because she has alienated herself from a large population of people.

As we have all seen from Avenue Q, Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist sometimes. So why the sudden backlash? How many times have you, the readers, seen an asian talking on their phone in a library? Honestly, I can’t think of a single time that has happened to me. I see white people doing it all the time. Regardless of race, it is annoying when people are so blatantly rude in public places. The backlash experienced by Alexandra was due to several factors, 1. she overestimated how many of her viewers would agree with her, 2. she mistook differences in how the culture respects family with being dependent on family for basic needs and 3. she is not nearly as funny as she hoped to be. Typically when you see famous comedians making racial jokes they make them about themselves and their own culture, and if they pick on another culture they do so with an understanding of their culture and emphasize something in it. They do not make fun of them for something that is actually really awesome about their culture.

On a completely different note: I am walking at the end of this month for March for Babies, and I would love to get some donations to sponsor me! For those of you who are unfamiliar, March for Babies is a part of the March of Dimes program and all the proceeds go towards helping babies come into this world healthy. They support mothers by educating them on how to care for their body as they grow a whole other person, they help fund hospitals to get equipment that can save a baby’s life if they are born under special circumstances, and they help new parents pay for medical care for special needs birth. It’s pretty amazing and I would really appreciate any support you might be able to give. Any amount helps! To donate today or just to learn more go here: http://www.marchforbabies.org/jillsolt

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Much ado About Fate- The Adjustment Bureau

Q. As a theologian, what do you think about the movie “The Adjustment Bureau”? Fate or Free Will?
Watch the trailer *Spoilers below*

A.  A new couple goes on their first date and they watch a romantic comedy starring beautiful actors who despite all the odds end up together breathless and happy. This new couple watches the movie and love it because they would like to think their own story will end up similarly. After 10 years of being together our same couple has a date night and goes to another romantic comedy, different movie, same story, same breathless happy ending. This time when our couple leaves they love it because they understand having to overcome the odds and can appreciate the tenacity the on-screen couple felt towards one another. This time they also feel a silent longing they still had the same fire the new couple showed and miss the fireworks from the beginning of their relationship.  Fast forward 40 more years, same couple, same scenario. Romantic comedy, ridiculous circumstances, fabulous happy ending and everyone is winded from the “surprise” these two people actually ended up together at the end of the film.  Only now almost 50 years later they leave the theater hand in hand and laugh. They still enjoyed the film but at this stage in their relationship they have a depth to their relationship younger couples could only dream of and they have tasted what true lasting love really is. Because of their knowledge they leave knowing the movie on the screen only captured a few of the more entertaining bits, but really has no idea what love is actually like.

When I watched “The Adujustment Bureau” I enjoyed the movie for what it was created to be, entertaining. I felt similarly to how the old couple felt with the understanding of how the movie really did not understand what my God is like or how predestination works. While I am by no means an expert on predestination, this is not my first dance with the idea either. We hear it all the time, but has the truth sunk in yet? Hollywood is a valuable tool that shows us a version of reality that will entice people to watch it. Movies regarding the question of fate or free will are no exception to this rule.

The movie did a fabulous job of depicting a reality where angels follow people around to ensure they spill their coffee at the right time, make a specific speech at a crucial junction in their lives, and freeze conscientiousness so they can manually go into our brains and change our minds for us. The reality depicted on screen showed us what life would be like with a “chairman” (this character is meant to depict God) who chooses to force his plan on the world through angels and by forcing us to choose certain things. As a movie consumer I liked the movie and agree to the point of, if I were to live in that reality that is how it would play out. The problem is I don’t live in that reality.

The reality I live in has a creator who’s plan is much larger than whether or not I spill my coffee at the right time. The “Chairman” in our world only has to speak a word for something to happen. His angels, while capable of spilling my coffee, typically do more important things like tell Mary she will have a child that will revolutionize the world. His angels will pour bowls of his wrath on mankind in the end days. His angels stand before His throne worshipping Him, all the time.

As for “the plan” I am of the persuasion that it will be fulfilled through the Church (universal church, meaning believers everywhere throughout time and history). I get that from the idea when Jesus is praying before going to the cross and He asks for us to love one another and to be united in that love (John 17). I get that idea when I read Paul’s prayers throughout his epistles continuously asking for us to be strengthened together so all of us may have wisdom in regards to God’s love (Eph 3:14-20). The idea that the church are His people and He will see them succeed is found throughout, an old testament example is one that many christians use today, Jeremiah 29: 13, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ” plans to prosper you you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” This was spoken to the Israelites in exile and is followed up in chapter 31 with a promise of a new covenant with Israel and Judah, when God himself will write His law on their hearts and the entire nation will know Him. This applies to every christian when it is reiterated in Hebrews 10 when we are being reminded that Jesus’ sacrifice was for all people and all sins. He has finished His work and sits down at the right side of the Father.

The “plan” was to save humanity from itself by the giving of a perfect sacrifice and it was accomplished on the cross. When we start thinking that the plan is to make sure we spill coffee on ourselves at just the right moment we have forgotten the entire point of the plan. Regardless of fate or freewill I can type this in assurance that His plan is already accomplished. The only question is what do you plan to do with that knowledge?

For Thursday: a youtube scandal!

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Love Wins: Too Bad I Don’t Know What Love Is

Q. What do you think about the hype of Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins, specifically the suspicion that the book (yet unreleased) will advocate universalism?  (video) http://www.livestream.com/lovewins see also http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/03/01/universalism-as-a-lure-the-emerging-case-of-rob-bell/

A.  What the hell do we as Christians do with Rob Bell? After reading a review from Kevin DeYoung (who has read the book which became available March 15th, the review is a 20 page PDF form and can be found here) I’m afraid to say there is no question about  it’s pro-universalism content anymore. His review is extremely thorough and eloquent while making his case against universalism and Rob Bell’s new book well. Even a few days after the  launch it sits at the #3 bestseller list on Amazon due to the controversy surrounding it. His marketing team has done a fabulous job insuring it sell out quickly. Just watch the video you posted in your question, or watch the video he posted directly. The brilliant part of this is how he has opened the market up for all sorts of people to buy it just so they can disagree with it and others who just want to read what all the hubbub is about. If there is one thing people love its controversy, the drama. Universalism will be dragged into the spotlight with Bell as the poster-child and every conservative will be up in arms for it.

As for the universalism he preaches to the masses, I can not agree with it. Lately I have been reading a blog by Richard Beck in a series he’s writing titled Musings on Universalism and his opening blog resonated with me in a way many other religious blogs have not. He builds his case for universalism on the problem of pain, not the problem of hell, but of pain. His ending statement is a summary of a universalism that appeals to my emotions deeper than many of my well-meaning Bible professors did.

Innocent suffering is the open wound of life and the real task of faith and theology is “to make it possible for us to survive, to go on living, with this open wound.”
Now here’s the deal.
You either get that, or you don’t.
And if you don’t, well, I’m sure you’re a very nice and devout person. But you’ll never understand why I believe in universalism.

Essentially when we understand the pain people suffer, we understand where universalists are coming from. We may not agree with them, but we comprehend the need to come up with a solution that involves a happy ending. Well, Richard Beck, I get that. The reason I ultimately can not accept it as my own theology is found in Job 42. After Job has lost everything, after being rebuked by his wife, his friends, and a young man who is standing by listening, he finally hears from God in a whirlwind. God reminds Job just who He is, and who Job is, and after hearing this Job replies:

“I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job was a good man and in the end he doesn’t get an answer to his questions like “why do bad things happen to good people?” and “do people really go to hell?” What he got was a reality check from his Maker. The same Maker who is the ultimate Judge of every man, woman, and child (Rev. 20:11-15) while still being at the same time the ultimate essence of  love (1 John 4). This is a concept I have heard of but have yet to see. I will however take my cue from Job and respond in humility. If seeing God is all the answer we need to these questions, then I will be, “patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” and with others I will “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:12 & 15). I will not demand answers, I will not deny the Word of God, and I will not take an easy out.

So, how does love win?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

We all need saving. All of us. We can’t do it by ourselves, so He did it for us. We’re all terrible people, yet the perfect illustrator of love made a way for us to be with Him. That is a love I do not understand. I don’t know what love is, but I do know it saved me. I do know, it can save you. Rob Bell did get one thing right: Love Wins.

Please help keep this blog going and send me your questions!

For next Thursday: Much ado About Fate- The Adjustment Bureau movie review

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What would you change in the world if you could change anything?

Q. What would you change in the world if you could change anything?

A. This question immediately brought to mind the song “If I Could Change the World” by the one and only Eric Clapton. If you have not heard this song, you need to. The entire song is about his love for this woman and how he would change it so she felt just as strongly for him as he does for her. Sappy romance songs by fabulous guitarists are like bread and butter to me.  What I love the most is how he chooses one person to change because his priority is to be loved as much as he already loves. Would I choose the same thing? Some days I would. Today, I would not. Today, I don’t think I would change anything.

There are a lot of things in this world I do not agree with and am not happy about, and things in this world that are worth changing. Things like violence, greed, selfishness, loneliness, natural disasters, all of these things are worth changing. Because I believe all these things will be restored to an even better condition than I could wish for I would leave those wishes for someone actually capable of doing it. For now, here, today, part of what our society needs is to be able to find peace and contentment with all of these terrible things going on. It is a struggle which proves to provide a steady character and nature which is something to be desired in everyone. World peace is a desire worthy to seek after, but will only happen when all individuals are dedicated to it. Dedication typically comes with time and effort, not in an instant. The good things in this world are worth fighting for and even more so they are worth the time it takes. Time is in limited quantities on this earth and has a positive correlation to how valuable something is.  To change something for the better in an instant is to devalue the very thing you’re fighting for. If I may refer again to Clapton’s song, I do want a man eventually who wants me that much, but it would mean all the world for him to prove it instead of magically wishing it. If you like  you can think of this blog as a cop-out answer, but this is my answer: I would change nothing.

Let’s keep the questions rolling, I only have a few left to answer!

For Monday: Love Wins: Too Bad I Don’t Know What Love Is. A look at the up and coming book by Rob Bell.

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