Sunday, July 6, 2008


From time to time I write; from time to time, the writing is poetry; from time to time, the poetry is what I call name poems. These are poems based on a person name that brings out the meaning of the name that I see in the person’s life. It’s a reminder of who they are. It can be prophetic or reflective. It depends. Well, it’s strange because I gave all the four FYP’s one as parting gifts, and I tell you the truth, I have never seen people so overjoyed in utter shock and amazement. “How did you know this about me?” “How did you know to write this?” I kept saying I don’t know. I don’t know. In usual Christianese manner I am asked if I prayed over it or about it.

If you’re not a Christian or not a charismatic Christian, let me help you a bit. Christians often feel that if you know something about someone without it being said that God has done that or if you’ve done something very powerful that you had to have been filled with the Spirit at that moment. Let me give you an example. I wrote a song for a Christmas concert at my church. The choir was doing a concert and did not have enough material. So I was to fill it up with two more songs—one of which was me accompanying a really great singer, Katie. The other I wrote. Now when people heard the song, they thought it was powerful not just the words but the music. The first question I was asked—“Did you just sit down at the piano and just pray-play it out instantly?” I said no. I actually didn’t devote much time to it as I was busy with things, but the first line of the melody of the chorus came to me in the car while driving (as I usually compose while driving or learn songs while driving). But NOTHING else came for weeks (I don’t like to force songs). But it was not Thursday and the concert was Saturday, so I sat down and worked something out, but I was not done. I did a little again on Friday before the dress rehearsal, but I was not happy. And so I went into the Saturday concert actually feeling that I was going to change the song later after the weekend was over, not knowing or realizing it would be considered good.

I said something like that. So I kept the song as is, never changed it, and I recorded it sometime ago. This has to do with Christian’s concept of truth. Many of us do not know any other truth accept the Bible, etc. So if it’s not in the Bible or if Jesus didn’t say it’s not truth. This, of course, creates a problem (Rob Bell notes this in his book “Velvet Elvis”) when young people go to university and learn all sorts of things (biology, geology, astronomy, etc.) that do not fit with the worldview they were taught as a kid in a Bible-based community—all sorts of new knowledge. At the point, Rob Bell thinks, many of them turn away from God in college because of this (I’m assuming he’s not counting freedom/legalistic reasons for such). What he notes is true and is one of the big reasons for such a turn away from God. What’s the problem? They were taught a God that is not big enough to embrace the truth everywhere. (I have a friend named Bonnie who is quite excellent at claiming truth wherever she sees it. She lets science say what it says and if it’s true [or proven which is difficult] it’s true [or proven]. She does the exact same thing with faith. You should ask for her e-mail for questions)

The God that Christ claimed (give me a moment, I’m getting there) was called the Truth. And this is the truth wherever it is found. So if someone says the building blocks of matter are called atoms and they have protons and neutrons and electrons, Christ followers are to take that in as divinely created. It’s still sacred and divine though not in the Bible because God created and it is Truth (Jesus) or at least accepted truth today. So we don’t follow Jesus because he came to start the RIGHT correct religion. On the contrary, he didn’t come to start a religion. We follow him because we believe the way he taught to live is the best, truest way to live. In this way, I see glimpses of God in many people and places.

Going back to these picture-name-poem, the girls saw truth in the words of the poem about themselves, so they thought “it must be from God.” Now given what I just said, I don’t dispute it or argue against, I just think it’s funny that in their minds this equates to me having laboriously prayed hours over each of their lives before writing. The thing is if I’m really in God (in Christ) as they are taught, then everything I do is in Him. And truth can come out anywhere. In other word, I don’t have to have been spirit-possessed or heard God’s voice, I can use simple emotional intelligence (even spiritual intelligence) to tell me things about them and because it’s truth it still belongs to God.

I’m not going that deep into this as usually such thoughts are reserved for writing projects, but I wanted to share a bit of a project I’m working on because it related to what happened this week with these gifts for these 4 friends. They were amazed. On the other end, sometimes people are not impressed at all. I gave one to a girl that I felt strongly that I should give one to. She is not a Christian. I was not present when she received it but I did get a facebook message which was sweet. The tone is missing so it’s hard to tell but she is displaying it prominently in her room to see it everyday.

But I’ve never had a response like these four girls. Perhaps I’m walking more in my design. Anyway, I loved giving to them or blessing (I hate saying that as it sounds condescending) them because I know that when you input into their lives you were touching the world: one will combine theatre with theology in the UK, one dreams to do nursing in Mozambique and Brazil, one wants to serve (the persecuted church) in Eritrea, and one dreams to work with and help women in Israel and the Middle East. All I could say was wow.

I had someone respond to Confluenza, and it reminded me that when you publically write you do something vulnerable because anyone can say anything about what you wrote. She had a good point which I agreed with but it always reminds me of the fact that I must always tell people that I am making a generalization that does not apply in every situation.

I have one friend in South Africa who is the only person who has verbally told me that I do not need to state “I’m making a generalization.” He knows and understands. I LOVE that. It’s hard to find people who understand and it’s just cool that he can let me make one in order to highlight a tendency or proclivity and know that it doesn’t apply to every case, person, or thing.

His name is Ross. I also honor Ross because he allows me to simply be. I don’t know how to explain it other than I do a lot of flexing for people. Hopefully these are not compromising flexures but he is one of the only people who allow me to just be me—it’s pure acceptance. And it’s not compromised acceptance; it’s still challenging, but there is no care or concern to change you. He’s the one of the only people who really understands cross-cultural communication, so that if he knows that your actions mean something from your culture than it does from his, he’s ok with that. Many times even people know you must still conform to the other. With him it’s refreshing to just be able to burp because in your country it’s a sign of respect for the person who made the meal. Thanks.

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