I’ve been told from time-to-time, again just yesterday, that talking with me is like playing leapfrog – meaning that I tend to jump from one thing to the thing, from topic to topic. I’ve been told I should be on Ritalin because I can’t seem to focus for long on one thing. I’ve always said – as a justification? – that I’ve developed a keen ability to free-associate, or something like that. I also say that I am constantly trying to find and figure out the connections between seemingly unrelated things. I do believe that I am a generalist and finding linkages and connections is frankly very important to me. It drives me nuts, as well as my closer friends because I tend to process out loud.
??Truth be told, I do need to figure out a way to stay on topic a little better than I now do. So, I’m going to try – in a rambling, generalist kind of way. One of the ways I’m going to try is by writing some short pieces about experiences in my life that add up to who I am now. An experience I had a couple days ago with a couple clergy over the development of a new ministry that would require me to give up a lot and put myself into a situation that is more akin to living as an early 20’s college student rather than a professional person nearing 50. A newly minted priest-to-be, now deacon, in our threesome made a couple comments that I could have misinterpreted (I tend to think not, however, even in my own assumption), that I found personally annoying. To me, they sounded condescending and presumptuous. He did not know me at all, yet… Likewise, and this is where I near hypocrisy, my own presumption could be getting in my way of seeing things clearly.??
Anyway, I thought it might be good for me to detail an overview of some of my early experiences – if just for my own sense of personal history. This is overview #1 – The Introduction. I have no idea where to begin. Perhaps all this will be under an umbrella of “challenge.” I sense that as a society we are no longer particularly keen on be personally challenged. Challenge is difficult, particularly when the zeitgeist demands that we have to feel good about ourselves, always. Being challenged is often very uncomfortable and in the short run not particularly “feel-good” inducing. In addition, too often being challenging is considered by the guardians of multiculturalism and identity-based Realpolitik to be an affront to diversity. If we challenge such things as attitudes, behaviors, morals, spiritualities, religious beliefs, political ideologies of people belong to certain groups (of any kind in the favor with the guardians), then we are attacking the very person-hood or self-identity of the individual or the legitimacy of the group. I find this absurd, but that’s why I don’t fit in particularly well. After spending twenty years in higher education and six years as a clergyman in the Episcopal Church, the driving force to capitulate to the “parity line” is profoundly strong.
??The challenges of life change. Right now – being forced to look for another ministry position in an institution that is very challenging. Right now – the way I’m feeling (feelings being quite fickle), the future looks like the diminishment of my life rather than a good, forward momentum. Right now, a real heartfelt loneliness (I’ve great friends, but they just aren’t the same of the one with whom I share life and love).
If one would consider the “normal” life of an average late-forties American male, as difficult as that prospect is in such a profoundly varied culture and diverse population, I don’t fit it politically, socially, or politically. Materially, while I don’t have nearly as much “stuff” as an average American male in his late 40’s, I do have more than an average 20-something. This affects (or is it effects?) what I can and cannot reasonably do without having to divest myself of nearly all that I posses. At this point in my life and considering the amount of money I will conceivably make in the near future, I cannot afford to do that with an expectation that I will have to repurchase such items in the future. I’m considering a new ministry position, and it seems I may have to do such a thing – thus the feeling of “diminishment.”
??Some may accuse me of snobbery of elitism when I say I don’t want to live in that kind of situation or setting or in that run down apartment. Well, too bad. That “too bad” attitude comes from what I have willingly sacrificed over my life, and particularly in my early adult life after college that continues to impact my life even now. Someone who doesn’t know me of my life may easily assume such attitudes. I particularly get annoyed when someone makes that kind of assumption about me and knows nothing of my life.
?Challenge back then:
When I finished college, I remained in Bowling Green because at the time I wanted to continue working in campus ministry. Campus ministry had a tremendous impact on my life. My senior year, I and a couple other students began a new campus ministry-like group on the campus of Bowling Green State University out of an Assembly of God church that was not even two years old. In that short time, the church had grown to around two hundred regular attendees. We realized that the growth of the various campus ministry groups on campus was not a result of non-Christians or lapsed Christians coming into the groups, but just a shuffling around of those who were already fairly committed Christians. We also noticed that the various groups on campus, and there were around 20 (if I remember correctly), rarely had anything to do with each other. If anything, there was an antagonism between many of the groups due to theological and even political differences in understanding and action. We wanted to form a group that helped bring together Christians from all of the different groups. ?
In the end, we didn’t want to just start another campus ministry like all the others, but something different, something unique, something that didn’t exist to perpetuate a specific theological vain of thought or understanding, but a ministry that was creative enough and open enough to figure out ways to help bring unity and understanding among Christians that still allowed for the great diversity of opinion and practice among the various groups. Frankly, we believed that the differences were good and helpful because they enable us wrestle with issues of faith and life that was not possible if we only stayed among our own. ?
We decided on the name, Dunamis Outreach, because we liked the implications of Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The challenge of creating something new, hopefully honestly new, was daunting to us as 21 year old with little real experience of life. Yet, we didn’t know any better; we didn’t know that is “couldn’t be done;” we didn’t know that other people had lost vision and their ability to dream what could be – and be willing to go after the vision and the dream; we didn’t know that we really needed to think about our retirement portfolio and to live on virtually nothing was a prudent way to live. We just did it, whatever it took to do it, and had fun all along the way.?
Enough for now. I could save this as a “draft,” but when I do that I never come back to the draft. So, just publish and since I’m really doing this for me, banish the concern about what others think.