27 March 2006

Ouch. That Hurt.

This post kind of wandered a bit because my head is still reeling (and evidently I'm a lousy writer).  If you're feeling lazy, here's the two-point summation: Relationships are hard.  Mean people abound.

Most people would probably agree that I am very much a Man. I'm a big guy, I'm analytical and a problem-solver, I talk fast and when I'm not paying attention can tend to behave much like a bull in a china shop.  I can be insensitive, unempathetic, and often just down-right stupid.  Then again, I am a man.  Bumbling around is expected to be pretty much the par for the course.

Growing up I had broken lips, pissed blood, and got thrown through my share of closet-doors, just the same as any kid growing up in an abusive household.  I know a little about cruelty and have first-hand experience on the business end of just nasty and evil people can be.  I say all that to frame my the next sentence...women can really be cruel.

We all know the old adage about sticks and stones, and we all generally accept that it is the reverse which is really true.  I definitely bear witness that the worst wounds are always on the inside.

Being somewhat versed in the power of psychology, it is my general opinion that women, being on-the-whole, more in touch with the verbal and intimate are therefore more capable of creating deep and lasting hurt than some moronic man flailing around like an imbecile.  This in no way should be taken as a light view of the utter contempt and loathing I bear for those who inflict physical pain on others.  I've been there, and this is my opinion.  The scars that cripple me today can't be seen on the surface any more (unless you happen to rub the bump on the back of my head, hehe).

From that viewpoint, I have found that women, being generally more in touch with the tune of emotion, wield words with the precision of a surgeons scapel incising your insides to an excruciating effect.  Their ability to destroy a life is matched only by their ability to create one.

Okay, so maybe I'm a little bitter from having been taken advantage of yet again.  And quite thoroughly divested of all dignity this time as well.  It is only Faith that keeps me upright.  In the face of a selfish, petty, and vindictive assault I can only retreat inside my Faith.  You never quite realize how big your Faith can be, how infinite your Salvation is,  until you feel how far from God this world has fallen.

The challenge now is not just to survive, but to thrive.  Surely I can find a way to not let my sweeping generalities about the feminine capability for cruelty color my day to day worldview.
If you've had enough of all your tryin'
Just give up the state of mind you're in…
- Change Your Mind, Sister Hazel

20 March 2006

The Loop

This weekend I was stalled on some very delayed plane-rides so I had a chance to catch up with some tv shows I haven't seen.  In particular the first two episodes of The Loop which were absolutely hilarious.  The whole first-class section was annoyed because I couldn't stop giggling and laughing at the dialog.


Well done, Fox for giving us The Loop a refreshingly funny comedy!

15 March 2006

Alas, not here.

Check out these pics from the Planetshakers conference.  They're still out and about.  I keep hoping they'll make a stop in my neck of the woods.

Of course, if they can't make it here, I may just have to swing over their way...

An Undivided Heart

So I'm growing. I can deal with that.

During this process of self-examination I continue to be faced with the stark reality of my isolation. Walking by faith becomes a straight-forward exercise when you surround yourself with God-fearing counselors who will unabashedly bounce your commentary and actions back to you as needed. Working on the road, amidst the decidely unreligious, makes me strain against my relativistic leash.

One of the key things that I find help my walk align my talk is striving for an undivided heart. Perhaps I'm just helped by the visualization, but knowing my heart and my motivations is how I keep my clarity and sanity in the world gone mad. It is common today to rationalize ways to accommodate our faith to the culture we imbibe. This is contrary to our identification in scripture as "a peculiar people." As disciples we have been sent out “like lambs among the wolves.” I'm not sure about you, but that would sure be easier for me if wool didn't make me itch.

Living with an undivided heart and an open mind is hard but I've found two aids to keep the walk and the talk in sync. Be deliberate and be articulate.

Knowing your heart and motivations is crucial to keeping on the straight and narrow. It is a necessity if you want your mind to be open to the world around you. The early Christans had this same problem when their monastic and ascetic faith was suddenly overtaken by rich, successful Roman Christians. The Roman Christians really wanted to find a way to live their faith, without giving up their influence in the world that was enacted through money and relationships. The new Roman Christians wanted to party and be faithful and the figured if their heart was in the right place, why wouldn't that be okay? It's the same rationalization I've heard over and over. I for certain have used it myself.

For much of life I have no problem with this, especially when it comes to interpersonal issues. You have to have an open mind about style, taste, and comfort level. If you link your own ideals of behavior, dress, adornment, worship-style, or whatever to maturity and depth of faith then you remove your ability to be impactful on those around you. Simply put, you stop being in the world. There is no excuse for elitism or formality in faith and God-following. I'll save the extremes of this (tolerance, relativism) for another post.

The earlier Christians had a problem with this blind rationalization which Paul argued for them. The crux of the argument is that the rationalizations can't be done in a vacuum. You still have to be able to interact and communicate those things you are being deliberate about with those around. For example, Paul urged them to consider if another weaker Christian might be led astray by this action. He wrote, “by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.” I'm personally not too keen on destruction so this would be a side-effect of my walk I'd rather avoid.

Being articulate isn't just about being able to tell others your story, your intentions, or about your faith and reasoning. It goes beyond your actual communication and speaks to the transparency of your life. You shouldn't have to actually defend your beliefs and movitations, they should be crystalline and obvious even to the casual observer. Don't shoot me, I know that's incredibly hard, and it continues to be my challenge daily. Thankfully Christ understood this intimately and gave us Scripture and Spirit.

In my own world-view, it is being deliberate which keeps me impacting my world (living in it), but it is being articulate which keeps me seperate from the world (not of it).  Maybe as you stew on this, you'll find your own ways to express how you straddle this particular razor.

In truth, I could write and write about the undivided heart and about being deliberate and articulate ad nauseum. This particular post is just to start giving the concepts some structure and start some thinking. Future posts will address and expound on these topics. I'd appreciate any feedback to guide this study.

14 March 2006

A Technical Match-up

Today at lunch we started discussing the whole online dating thing.  Not from a usage standpoint, but more from a technical stance.  We are geeks, remember?

Having recently implemented a dating site for a client and with an in-process effort underway testing a slew of people-matching algorithms and approaches, it is fair to say that I'm a little more than a novice on the subject.  As I threw out a topic and watched the fur fly amongst those at the table, I was intrigued by how passionate people can be about the whole thing.  It seemed that everyone had an idea, a point of view, and was intent on validating their perspective.

Don't get me wrong, it's pretty often that we discuss psuedo-religious topics of great weight.  But this was hardly the touch point I expected it to be.  To be fair, one of the gentlemen is an educated and trained therapist and another had implemented a dating site, so this was a subject that hit close to home.  Still, the remainder of the crew were pretty evenly split between steadfastly single and devoutly married.  With this kind of mix, I wasn't expecting much, but voila! a serious table rap ensued.

As I pondered this, I came across a couple of interesting reading points from recent history which were in my notes file.

First off, was a reference on The Non-dating Life about how eHarmony.com rejected a client because she listed her status as Seperated.  Read the source article on The Consumerist here.

Secondly, this post by Dave Taylor summarizes what a tinder-box this whole online thing can be.  Count the number of expert references, studies, and factoids he drops.  Sure it's more or less insightful and certainly a useful summation of current thinking.  But really, if you don't already know what he's going to write, you really don't need to be dating in any form.

Thirdly, when all else fails, it's back to old-fashioned geographic matching.  After all, if you can't find your perfect fit based on your personality, you can settle for someone next door.  I dug out a reference to a company called 4ppl that I had come across a long time ago which uses location-based services in a mashup with dating profiles to help people with the whole finding-others thing.

Lastly, evidently according to Jupiter Research this whole online-dating thing is going downhill.  They told the BBC that the market is declining.  Remarkably the don't think that the growth of social-networking sites (read: myspace, friendster, etc.) pose any threat because "They don't have the tools or the right audience to help people to find a date."  Well, okay then.  I guess the fact that more people use myspace in a month than use match all year, has nothing to do with it.

This continues to be a fascinating subject.  But then again, I'm a geek.


Really struggling.  I'm a very easy-going person and the interpersonal stuff usually comes easy for me.  Unfortunately, I've been choosing to grow.  Which always means self-inflicted pain of the highest order accepted by a smile wherein your teeth are clenched.
Can I relate to you the way you relate to me?
Can you help me out with my chemistry?
I don't want to be precieved the way I am.
I just want to be percieved the way I am.

- Chapstick, Chaped Lips And Things Like Chemistry
It's remarkable to me how easily we as humans deal with near-constant paradox and dichotomy throughout every facet of life.  We encourage people to deal with us in ways that are counter-productive and conflict-driven.  Then we stress over the fact that we are misunderstood or ineffectual in our relationships.

Sometimes I think the point of a friendship is to have those people in your life who will see past the image you actually present to the world and instead drink up the image you'd like to present to the world.  All the while, encouraging you that the person you actually are is valid, coherent, and suitable.

12 March 2006

Shaimus & Brunch

The Shaimus concert was excellent. They really rocked the house, drawing more patrons than any other group that night.

11 March 2006

Typical Josh

As usual when I show up to hang with the LMU crew, Josh is half-naked. The show tonight should be pretty good though.

07 March 2006

Emma's Birthday

My baby girl had her birthday this past week.  My baby boy got to spar for Tae Kwon Do for the first time.  They sure do grow up fast, don't they?


Avoiding Pretense

That warming smile like gentle heat of desert dawn
that voice like rushing wind through silent forest trees
the newness of heart brings in mind the
gentle sloping fields after first snow fall all pure
intense in innocence but easily changed
marred melted by the heat of this ever moving world.

Standing near as I wish her to my heart alive
with thoughts of her when finally together
 our spirit minds are one in vision eyes are too
paralleled with no convergence
intertwined with no divergence.

In life so close are we in mind so distant, unapproachable?

The radiant glow that means her smile on me
I see and feel as if tomorrow could not would not
be just a yesterday to come a past that's willing
to be made not only memories that fade.

With smile to my eyes her thoughts
unknown to me except as prayers.
Her life unchanged as yet made
known to me but not in full.

For what may not be cared for can be shared and so
avoid pretense of despair for that which we
cannot change such as my being now alone.

I listen for the words of emotion to speak in song to soul and
change that which I know to be a dream
into the reality that others see and I alone must now endure
with pleasure drawn when near to her again.

She smiles and I recieve at last truth from behind
the nervous eyes that may seem to see the me and
care for that which cannot be the thoughts and deeds
from one soul such as myself.

Were that my thoughts with which I think of her
could at last be straight in this my crooked mind and
though pulled together let us be firm as friends and
center also on God who attracts each and extracts
from each the glory due His name.