Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tisk Tisk...

As admirable as evangelist may sound for preaching the gospel at all costs I’d like to pull the B.S. card! I am one who would say I trust Jesus and know God is in charge, I have been reconciled with God. Now, I am most hesitant to call myself a Christian because I would be typically put into the grouping of what our American religious culture has defined as Christianity. I do not wish to be apart of this sub-culture group but maintain my faith while also rejecting this religious culture.

On Friday four Christian men were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly trying to convert Muslims attending festival events. According to a source I contacted at the festival today, at least two of those arrested have been released. One is a recent convert from Islam who caused controversy at last year’s festival by getting into arguments with Muslims and filming them (Worldmag.com). Two key words I’d like to point out from the preceding excerpt, convert and controversy. While I understand passion and vigor I do not condone making a scene at a festival. Young faith is oftentimes dangerous because it is rooted in emotion and not very rational. This is not a knock on anyone, just a true statement. It is natural to be excited about something that is new to you that one strongly holds to. This is true in any arena, sports, faith, music, food, etc. Excitement is habitually applied to reality without much forethought or consideration of implications. Maybe a lesson should have been learned from the last time these men went to this festival and got into arguments with people. Is converting people to a way of peace really ever going to be done through aggression? If a Muslim were to come into a church service on a Sunday morning and disrupt it the Christians would immediately call police or be outraged by his lack of respect. This is easily agreeable, but not translated into another scenario, which baffles me. Last year we helped clean up at the Indy Gay Pride Festival. We literally walked around all night and picked up trash and made sure the grounds were tidy for the event, while it was going on. It was an interesting perspective for me to experience because I got to be inside the event and watch how those of Christian faith behaved on the outside. I watched a young man hold his bible and yell, literally red faced, jugular distend, angry tone, yell across the street into the crowd about how they needed to be Christians, about how they needed to convert. While I do think that everyone should experience what God intended them to experience by reconnecting with him through Jesus I don’t think that conversion tactics or salesmanship should ever be used and that circumstance should be considered. Was it an appropriate setting for 4 Christians to be at a Muslim festival trying to convert them? I say no. The Muslim population gathered at this festival to celebrate their faith, so what logical sense does it make to go into this culture and festival at a time when they are celebrating their faith and make any attempt at convincing them that the faith they celebrate is wrong? Again, while I understand the vigor for their faith I question the wisdom in their thought process.

“I guess America isn’t free”…was my friend’s response to this article. America is free my friend! It is so free that people are allowed to have festivals that celebrate diverse views that people disagree on. Because one is arrested for being an unwanted, aggressive, nuisance to this freedom to have this festival those who are unwanted are now saying there is no freedom. The freedom lies to refrain. The minority always has the right to refrain. A Christian at this festival is the minority and to come in selling their belief system to those who obviously don’t agree with it is to infringe upon their freedom and space. What freedom are we really talking about here?

My challenge to any person who would see this article as an outrage and infringement upon Christian freedom in the United States would be to consider your faith as a lifestyle not simply a belief system to be sold. I would not walk into a country club and try to convert golfers into basketball players because I don’t know them or their views on basketball or sports and basketball is a lifestyle and sport I chose to be involved in. It is a part of who I am so if it comes up with a person within conversation than I am more than willing to discuss it, but to go out and sell basketball is ridiculous. Why is faith any different? Do we think God is so small that He would allow those He loves to actually not casually run into a person of faith so much that we have to go out and rally? My question would be more focused and pointed at the reason they evangelize or see it necessary to go into these event? Could it be they want to be more religious or more holy or seek greater standing with God? Could it be these tactics are egocentric and not truly what Jesus did or would do? I recently read that to toss aside the way Jesus did ministry is to toss aside the entire gospel. We need to be more like Jesus in our tactics, but then again they wouldn’t be tactics at all, there would be no plan but to love people,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Adventures of Changing Landscapes

Distant strangers held a brief bittersweet moment of goodbye as I looked out the window of the plane as we finally departed. Homeward bound I was, after a day of dramatic dilemmas with weather and airline reactions. I flew to Spokane, WA this week for work. In my travels I discovered several things that have truly acted to impact my life in more ways than just throwing off my internal time clock by changing time zones so much. Amazingly enough I rediscovered something I thought I was somewhat of a pro on, community. How timely this discovery was for me both personally and professionally. I discovered how much distant distorts truth. I discovered that no matter how hungry you are you should NEVER EVER eat a medium pizza and an order of chicken wings late in the evening after a long day of travel delays. I discovered the common thread that bonds humanity as a beautifully diverse species. Sitting in my final gate awaiting boarding of a great machine that will transport me back to home I can only look around and smile, breathing in the splendor of life.

Commonalities abound among passengers as we descend upon the Twin City, Minneapolis, MN. We began our journey in Spokane, WA together Thursday afternoon. The reason we travel, our final destinations may, and the baggage we carry there are diverse. Among this diversity we find an inconvenient commonality, weather delays. Poison’s epic cry was, “every rose has its thorn.” Indeed, the beauty of WA state had its thorn this day, the rain and low laying fog produced by the grandeur of mountains that dwarf the hustle and bustle of travelers below would not allow planes to land or take off. A brother’s death, a grandmother’s failing health, a long awaited reunion of a son and his parents, a friend from another country, and a beautiful green-eyed girl beckoned us to our destinations. Pain, anguish, anxiety, excitement, longing, and anticipation fill our hearts and souls as we wait here at this gate. I look up briefly from my writing to see a undeniable invigorating sunlight glisten through the windows upon strangers bonded by a simple delay reveal something inexpressible to its fullest extend yet undeniable in its presence, humanity. Souls communicating through human experience, however different those experiences may be, cause laughter and facial expressions of joy. There is something special about this exchange of spirits, something I’ve discovered through a trip meant for professional gain alone, yet has paid priceless personal dividends.

Distant is the great distorter. This distance can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or intellectual. The distance between a team in Indianapolis and a team in Spokane required my travel. This distance across the country was a physical parallel to an emotional distance that separated beings on a common journey with a common goal within the context of a workplace. Misunderstandings between our offices were further complicated by this distance, it is hard to clarify perceptions and intentions over the phone or through cyberspace. Assumption was the tool of deception used by the great deceiver, intended to cause chaos along the journey, meant to tear apart a team and its efforts to achieve a goal. I was able to meet those I assumed so much about this week. I was able to clarify so many misunderstandings we have across the country daily throughout weeks past. I take back memories of real people, with real lives, with good intentions. I take back a message of reconciliation between distant teammates. I take back hope of attaining our goals. I take back consistency and continuity.

Obviously interested in what it takes to build teams within business I grab an interesting looking book at the airport as I ready myself for flight home. I had not truly arrived at actualization until I finished this book though. Ubuntu! This book gave me great hope and energy to put back into my work, my office, and hopefully the company as a whole. I arrive at my gate on a rainy day in Spokane excited to get back to my best friend and most beautiful person I know, inside out (my fiancée). A sweet voice summons my attention as I await the arrival of my flight. The US Airways employee announced that the plane we were scheduled to board had attempted to land three times and been sent back to Seattle to refuel and may or may not be able to come back. Amidst a great sea of frustration, confusion, worry, and impatience I made my way through an eternal line to finally reach the help desk. We rearrange my flight schedule which includes an overnight stay in a city I’ve never frequented, Minneapolis, MN. This is where the strangers and I would find unity around an inconvenience. On my way to Minneapolis I complete my reading of this book, yes I finished an entire book in a couple hours, yes this may be nerdy, but the book was hard to put down. Ubuntu is an African tradition that teaches all humanity is connected and we are not separate in our pains or accomplishments. Ubuntu requires a view of human equality and promotes a lifestyle and work ethic focused solely on the best of humanity as a species, not just an individual within that greater classification. As I finish my reading we begin our final descent into Minneapolis. I close the pages that amalgamate my experience this week. I simply find contentment in knowing we are all connected and am inspired to being about this within my work and life.

A trip intended only for business purposes has not only succeeded for the company, but for me as well. As laughter fills this gate I can only think this is the sound of humanity clashing, a sound that pleases the creation and creator alike. Beauty was revealed to me this week, climaxing in a timely inconvenience, through an airline transfer and a bunch of strangers. My adventures across a beautiful array of landscapes revealed humanity. Humanity has regained its magnificence within me.