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Christmas 2013 – The Cutting Room Floor. Or 13 that got me through 2013.

Most of the Christmas cards I received in the mail are beautiful.

Then there is the one of my college buddies and general conspirator in mayhem, Timbo, who entitled his “Seasons Beatings.” I placed it next to another card with the classic snow-covered cottage with two beautiful small children and a bible verse. I thought to myself, “this is the spectrum of my friends. And this is why I wonder if I’m crazy.”

In our American Holiday season, we like to just post the beautiful on our Christmas cards. Because beauty to many of us is the absence of imperfections – like what we post on our social media.  

My nieces and nephews are beautiful & most certainly super cute – even when they have dirty diapers. But they belong on my brothers’ and sister’s Christmas cards – not my B-Sides. I joked with my roommate that we should do a picture of the two of us with smoking jackets, doing our best impression of the Most Interesting Man in the World…but we were too busy.

When your relationship status is single, it is clearly brought to the surface during the Holidays. During the rest of the year, I respond to the void of the “honey, how was your day” conversation by trying to connect with others – either via coffee, drinks, brunch, dinner, social media, text, phone, walking home, riding the bus/train, etc.

If you are like me, you typically cut through the crap pretty quickly because – let’s just be honest here – I don’t have time for pleasantries. If I ask a friend, “how are you doing?” and get a half-truth answer – then truthfully, is that person really my friend?

Friends are honest. And honestly, honesty is in short supply in a world when we compare our messy internal world to the airbrushed social media world of our “friends.”

I was having brunch on the last Sunday of 2013 with dear, dear friends and we lamented how hard this last year was for us. Throughout the year, I’d walk a couple of blocks over to their place and we’d sit on the porch together and we’d just…lament. The collective crap we and our friends went through was pretty awful. We lamented ours and our friends’ break-ups, breakdowns, separations, divorces, downsizings, deaths, miscarriages, rejections, car crashes, house fires, losses…

…that’s enough. I don’t wanna write any more of those words.

Even writing those words in one LONG run-on sentence on a “holiday greeting” seems like I’m being such a downer. But staring at those words in succession – man-oh-man, each of those has a story.

And they all happened. This year.

Do I just crop them out like I do in social media? Or do I take them for what they are?

Trying to write a Christmas Letter for me this year is like the the smell of a little one’s dirty diaper while taking the extended family Christmas photo. Everyone knows someone really stinks and you breathe through your teeth in your smile to avoid the smell so the world can see how “wonderful” you are.

(Not that this has happened in my family. Ever.)

But when someone names the stink, it somehow is better. Because now, everyone. can. relate. and. is. thankful. you. gave. permission. to. be. honest.

(full stop.)

So back to the Christmas Card (which is now post Christmas.)

My hipsters’ hipster ex-roommate has replaced the Holiday Greeting with his top songs of the year for like 15 years now. That usually got me through March as being “with it” when it came to music. But I’m not an audiophile like him. And I was unemployed for half of the year, so I can’t really give you pictures of me looking awesome somewhere beautiful (with the exception of a mountain – to be explained below.)

So, here are a bakers’ dozen of things that got me through 2013 – to endure the stink. Some of them are beautiful, some quirky, some brilliant, others just ordinary. But these, along with Jesus, my friends and family, helped me endure 2013 and not become a triskaidekaphobic.

1. Step Out – Jose Gonzalez. Confession: this song has been on repeat for the last three weeks for me. I love it. I’ve always appreciated his quiet, subtle sound with deep lyrics in songs like “Heartbeats.” Jose reminds me of Paul Simon. But this song, with it’s majestic drum cadence, choral chants, strings…wow. This song is the musical equivalent to mountains, something at which you can just stare and say, “wow.”

2. Climbing Mount Princeton. In July, the old PC2K gang got together again to make mayhem, argue about everything, and leave our mark on another city. We decided more on a state this year, and landed in Aspen and conquered Mount Princeton.

Mount Princeton with the guys.

Mount Princeton with the guys.

My buddy A said that Colorado left a mountain shaped hole in his heart after living there a few years. I believe it. If it weren’t for family and my love for the city of Chicago, I’d move there in a heartbeat.

Climbing a 14,000 foot mountain isn’t easy, but manageable. We were winded, for sure. But we did it together. It’s hard to believe that these guys I’ve known for nearly half of my life, and I seriously can’t imagine who I would be without them. When we pledged a fraternity and became brothers, I can honestly say I don’t think we knew the depth of influence we would have on one another. Climbing a mountain together is just another chapter in an amazing story of the most unlikely of friends.

3. Yoga. Yes, I said it. This former high school football linebacker is now a dude who practices yoga. I set my alarm for 5 AM to speed walk 28 minutes to the gym in the morning for a 6 AM Yoga class. I’m not a yogi by any means, but this practice has meant as much in my life as Sunday worship this past year. I’ve learned that I’m an embodied soul, and just listening to a person talk at me on Sunday morning hardly equates to growth. Yoga has been a slow process of seeing how stretching, waiting, resting, listening, and balance can bring a deeper strength. It’s been a physical manifestation of a spiritual reality.  

(As a side benefit, I’d say yoga is the second biggest reason why I’m finally approaching my college graduation weight and tailoring suits to fit my emerging six pack. The first? Eating right.)

I’m sure somewhere Mark Driscoll is demanding I turn in my man card, but I can still bench press more than him and chop more wood than him any day. [Enter male grunt here.]

4. This video on wealth inequality in the US. Why? Well, let’s just say I have more motivation now to plunder and redistribute wealth and power than I ever have before. In a pragmatic way, I have more insight into why things are the way they are in our country, and how to be an ordinary revolutionary that plunders one kingdom for another.

5. My spiritual director. I don’t know how I would have gotten through the last 4 years without her. Seriously, C has helped me to see presence of Jesus in my life when I couldn’t.

In the wise words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

6. Caipirinhas on the back porch with M&A. This wonderful-yet-simple drink of lime, sugar, and cachana (we’d substitute vodka ‘cause that’s how we roll in the ghetto HP) reminds me of an old friend tragically killed in a car crash in his native Brazil not long ago. L was a Kellogg student when he introduced them to me 10 years ago at a church young adults retreat, where we stole away and he showed me carefully how to crush the lime not too much to avoid the bitterness of the peel. We drank and laughed deeply as we shared stories of life together. I did the same with M&A this summer.

Before hipsters were crafting cocktails, L invited me to understand his people through the simple craft of making a drink. In a year of much lament, learning how to continue to celebrate the lives of those who have left this world has greater meaning. I celebrated my Kellogg Graduation with a Caipirinha that evening, and thanked the person who planted the first seed of business school in my mind.

7. Georgio Moroder, by Daft Punk. I’ve loved Daft Punk since Bairdo blared them through the speakers of our frat house in the bright light of the late 90’s techno world. Their latest album this summer was amazing. Everyone heard “Get Lucky,” but perhaps most brilliant was the third track, Georgio Moroder, an artful ensemble of story, spoken word, synthesizers, strings, turntables, horns, drums, beat boxing, electric guitars…and I’m sure I’m missing something in here, but I don’t want to analyze and just sit in wonder.

Georgio’s timeless line in the center of the song forms the thesis (of the song, and maybe his own life):

“Once you free your mind about the concept of harmony and of music being correct, you can do whatever you want. So nobody told me what to do, and there was no preconception of what to do.”

Innovation is so often talked about but rarely tried today because everyone plays it so damn safe. We are afraid of making mistakes or getting burned. I get it. I’ve been burned enough now that I’m totally tempted to just play it safe. So we just recycle what’s been done before because of marketability. I get it – I majored in marketing and understand the logic behind all of it. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. I just wish some others would have the courage to try.

And by “others,” I am totally projecting and really mean me.

8. This by Michael Gungor. Gosh this fed my soul when I read it. Because here is someone who captured what mentioned with Daft Punk and nailed why we are so sucky in the Evangelical subculture about being real. (Not all – for one of the most real people I know and am proud to call my friend is K – read her blog.)

After being away from professional ministry for two full years now, Michael gave words to one the largest “push factors” for leaving: Zombie Christianity.

I see this all the time today (see exhibit A) and I cringe. Because more than anything when it comes to living life on this planet, especially in hard years, I need to see the proof of the incarnation – that the Holy Spirit chooses to indwell His people today. Not Christian Zombies who parrot the pastor; but faithful folks who use their own words to describe the living work of God within them and through them.

Perhaps this is why the voices of prophets of today are often those we don’t want to hear – so they escape to the margins and find truth away the acceptance of greater society, and there they find those ideals are greater than their lives.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t without costs.

9. My career coach. I’m just going to say it: Unemployment is a bitch to the soul. J was a gift because she follows Jesus & helped me look at the big picture of where I was going with my career.

Let’s be honest: I’m on my third career in my mid thirties. When employers look at my resume, they must assume I have ADHD.  Engineer turned college pastor turned human capital consultant. I’m a man out of my time. As cool as they sound, renaissance men were meant for the renaissance. They might be surely interesting at cocktail conversation, but in today’s world it’s deep subject knowledge that matters most. I can only fake it for so long (like a minute – I’ve never really been good at deception or lying.)

J helped me think backwards from where I want to end my career, and after a long session I realized that I desire to return to the university – but as a professor. But not a research professor. I’m still a teacher on the inside, but I teach as a practitioner. I feel more called to help organizations become healthy than I ever have in my life; but I know that the future in this arena is beyond platitudes, cliches, and cheesy PowerPoint graphics – it’s in real data.

And right now, that doesn’t exist. At least not yet.

Which means I have some time to figure it out along with the rest of the world trying to get ahold of big data.

10. My Fitbit. Speaking of big data, how many steps do you take a day? My average is 11,562. Boo-yah. Why do I know this? My Fitbit. Why does this matter to me now?

When you are unemployed, you need to see progress in something. Because you experience rejection. Every day. People don’t get back to you. People avoid talking about it because they don’t want to feel uncomfortable. It’s one thing to be rejected in romantic life, but unemployment can deny you from your God given right to add value to the planet through your calling.

My Fitbit was one coping mechanism for seeing a lack of progress in my job search for a few months. So when I would rock out a 15,000 step day, there was something satisfying about that. And I can almost always put one foot in front of another.

11. John Madden’s eulogy for Pat Summerall. First, it’s a crying shame that this BEAUTIFUL piece has only 5,000 views. THAT’S RIDICULOUS. John’s love for Pat as a deep friend and broadcast partner is worth pondering.  “I know Pat is saying right now, ‘John, Brevity, Brevity, Brevity’…one more time I’m gonna talk over you.”

(Maybe I should follow Pat’s advice right now…)  

But the line that gets me tearing up every time?

“The criterion for greatness and being the best at what you do, or ever done, is can the history of what you did be written without mentioning your name?”

That’s beautiful. As I grow older, I don’t worry about carving my name on things like I did when I was younger. I just want to help people see things for what they truly are – in all of their wonder.

12. U2’s Peace on Earth. OK, another item on the list not from 2013. Fair enough. But for some asinine reason, we don’t sing sad songs in church. We sing about joy, but part of joy involves lament. Therefore joy becomes just an ideal and a theory, but in practice I know I can’t get to joy unless I walk through lament.

I can’t experience real joy until I sing these words from Bono from the depth of my soul:

Heaven on Earth, we need it now.

I’m sick of all of this hanging around.

I’m sick of sorrow, I’m sick of the pain,

I’m sick of hearing again and again,

That there is going to be Peace on Earth.

Bono wrote the song as a lament for the innocent children who died in a bombing in Ireland. I sang it after news of a tragic suicide this summer.

Sadly, this year was the second self-inflicted death that I’ve grieved. They don’t get easier with age. This one may have been harder because it was linked with the first we weathered 8 years ago. Except I saw my then-students who were grieving their college friend’s death now grieve again in their late twenties, at the same point in life when I was grieving our first loss.

Grieving in youthful naivete is different than when you have been around the block a few years. Because you just think you will bounce back – and you do.

But when the idealism is gone, I’m almost sick of hearing people say things I know are true – and they can sound so cliche.

Like “Peace on Earth.”

But I know it’s true, and I just say the words anyway because I hope eventually they will become true if I just say them over and over again.

And that’s why I need hope.

13. “Hope” by Emily Dickinson. I discovered this poem out of desperation. I’m not at all savvy in poetry, and was fortunate enough to discover this  in the nick of time late this fall.

The first verse is enough for this entry:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all

Over time I’m learning the lyrics to the song of my soul. I’m not writing these lyrics; I’m uncovering them – because they’ve always been there. And uncovering leads to disillusioning in the best way possible. The illusion of what I perceived to be the lyrics of reality is replaced with something weightier, something of a far deeper beauty: hope.

The beauty of the Christian faith is hope. I love that in the Spanish language, the verbs “to hope” and “to wait” are the same word: esperar. Because I don’t think I can understand what it means to hope without waiting.

And with that, I’ll wait a few more hours for a new year. And if you made it this far, I hope you are still sane. 🙂

Hopeful in 2014,

Andy

Good Friday: Embracing Hurt

Every Easter, I reread Philip Yancey’s ending chapters in The Jesus I Never Knew.  I find his work on the passion week facinating, even after I’ve read over it probably 10 times over 15 years.

For me, Good Friday is the day that has deepened it significance over time. It has helped me learn to embrace mourning, and to be sad.  Many folks like to dress up Good Friday by talking about the resurrection – and a large part of me just wants to say, “Please don’t – not yet. Resurrection Sunday only has it’s power when we embrace the darkness of God’s Friday.*”  On Friday, I listen to two songs to end the day: Agnes Dei (the choral version of Samuel Barber’s haunting “Adagio for Strings”) and Johnny Cash’s “Hurt.”  I don’t know of a better song for Good Friday than Cash’s hauting version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.”  If you’ve never seen the video – look it up on YouTube.  It’s amazing, stirring, and beautiful. 

Saturday (tomorrow) I have an interesting day – meeting a friend who just decided to become a follower of Jesus, and going to one friend’s mother’s funeral.  It’s interesting when you are calendaring out your week, and the contrast of such activities makes you pause and reflect.

Speaking of pausing and reflecting, here is a piece from Yancey’s Jesus I Never Knew.  Enjoy.

Yet is a real sense we live on Saturday, the day with no name.  What the disciples experienced in small scale – three days, in grief over one man who had died on a cross – we now live through on cosmic scale.  Human history grinds on, between the time of promise and fulfillment.  Can we trust that God can make something holy and beautiful out of a world that includes Bosnia and Rwanda, and inner-city ghettoes and jammed prisons in the richest nation on earth?

It’s Saturday on planet earth; will Sunday ever come?

That dark, Golgathan Friday can only be called Good because of what happened on Easter Sunday, a day which gives a tantalizing clue to the riddle of the universe.  Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward entropy and decay, sealing the promise that someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale. 

It is a good thing to remember that in the cosmic drama, we live out our days on Saturday, the in-between day with no name.  I know a woman whose grandmother lies buried under 150-year-old live oak trees in the cemetery of an Episcopal church in rural Louisiana.  In accordance with the grandmother’s instructions, only one word is carved on the tombstone: “Waiting.”

 

 

*Originally, “Good Friday” was called “God’s Friday,” similar to when we say, “Good-bye,” which originally was, “God-be-with-ye.”

 

The Crucible in which “I Have a Dream” was Forged

Martin Luther King is one of my spiritual mentors from afar.  I’ve listened to his recorded sermons, and learned so much from his life.

One of the most particularly important moments in his life is recounted by Philip Yancey in Soul Survivor, and something I read every year on MLK day to remember what King’s true legacy was all about. May it help you continue to realize that the forces of sin in this world are not stronger than those of God, and that his Kingdom reign can be advanced with the decisions of ordinary folks to trust and follow God at his word.

You can read the whole chapter here, but I’ve attached the excerpt from Philip Yancey’s Soul Survivor.  Feel free to forward to your friends.

David Garrow builds his book around the scene of King‘s supernatural call, early in his career. “It was the most important night of his life,” writes Garrow, “the one he always would think back to in future years when the pressures again seemed to be too great.” King had been thrust into civil rights leadership in Montgomery, Alabama, after Rosa Parks had made her brave decision not to move to the back of the bus. The black community formed a new organization to lead a bus boycott and by default chose as a compromise candidate for its leadership the new minister in town, King, who at age twenty-six looked “more like a boy than a man.” Growing up in middle-class surroundings, with a kind of inherited religion from his preacher father, he hardly felt qualified to lead a great moral crusade.

As soon as King‘s leadership of the movement was announced, the threats from the Klan began. Not only the Klan-within days King was arrested for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone and thrown into the Montgomery city jail. The following night King, shaken by his first jail experience, sat up in his kitchen wondering if he could take it anymore. Should he resign? It was around midnight. He felt agitated, and full of fear. A few minutes before, the phone had rung. “Nigger, we are tired of you and your mess now. And if you aren’t out of this town in three days, we’re going to blow your brains out, and blow up your house.”

King sat staring at an untouched cup of coffee and tried to think of a way out, a way to quietly surrender leadership and resume the serene life of scholarship he had planned. In the next room lay his wife Coretta, already asleep, along with their newborn daughter Yolanda. Here is how King remembers it in a sermon he preached:

And I sat at that table thinking about that little girl and thinking about the fact that she could be taken away from me any minute. And I started thinking about a dedicated, devoted and loyal wife, who was over there asleep. . . . And I got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore. I was weak. . . .

And I discovered then that religion had to become real to me, and I had to know God for myself. And I bowed down over that cup of coffee. I never will forget it. . . . I prayed a prayer, and I prayed out loud that night. I said, “Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right. I think I’m right. I think the cause that we represent is right. But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now. I’m faltering. I’m losing my courage.”

. . . And it seemed at that moment that I could hear an inner voice saying to me, “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you, even until the end of the world.” . . . I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No never alone. No never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.
                                                                                                           

(From sermon tape)

Three nights later, as promised, a bomb exploded on the front porch of King‘s home, filling the house with smoke and broken glass but injuring no one. King took it calmly: “My religious experience a few nights before had given me the strength to face it.”

David Garrow weaves his narrative around that “visitation” at the kitchen table, returning to it again and again, because King drew strength from that memory at every hinge moment in his life. For him it became the bedrock of personal faith, an anointing from God for a particular task. As I read accounts of King‘s life, and his many references to that night, I am struck by the simplicity of the message he received: “I am with you.” Those words convey an underlying theme of the Bible: the Immanuel (“God with us”) presence of God. Over the next thirteen years of his career, King had other religious experiences, and many moments of crisis, but none to match what happened that night at his kitchen table. This one word sufficed.

May God, Immanuel, empower you to continue His work and call others to follow Him to join him in the restoration of this world as he restores us along the way.

Sabbatical Journey: A New Color for a New Season

As evidenced by my last entry being six months ago (gads!), it’s been a blur of a year.

Working greater than full time, taking two courses a quarter at a demanding business school is more than enough to have made me question my sanity.

While it’s yet to be official, I’ve completed my sabbatical paperwork and will be applying for a sabbatical for August, 2011-July, 2012.  I’ll be finishing my degree, and ceasing from direct ministry for a season before reentering once again in August, 2012.

So, for those of you who have sabbatical suggestions, suggest away.  While not going to class, I’ll probably be learning to sail on Lake Michigan, and getting back to the Rockies once or twice.

It will be to the point where I’ll actually be moving out of my office and working out of a home office.  And when it starts, I think it will be  time to paint the office a new color…any one have some suggestions for this color blind man?

Murder & Marginalization in Chicago: A Brief Statistical Overview

A friend’s post regarding a bloody night on the south side of Chicago where 7 were killed and 18 were wounded made me do a double take when I realized it was six blocks from my old neighborhood where I lived after I graduated from university.

Just a couple of months back in February there was a shooting about three blocks from my home in Evanston near the high school – and then another lockdown a week later for a shooting threat.

One of my former students wrote for the Chicago Now Blog Network, and they have an morbid-yet-interesting online homicide spreadsheet. Yes, the url is homicides.redeyechicago.com.

I downloaded the data and started to do a little analysis.

First of all, the racial breakdown is VERY scary.  One, according to the stats, there are no Latinos murdered in Chicago.  That’s not true…my friend S has shootings in her neighborhood all the time.

Second, with murder rates up about 12% this year, Chicago needs restoration and healing.  At this current rate, Chicago could break 500 homicides in 2010.

Third, just check out some of these breakdowns by race and gender:

Race # of Homicides Percentage
Black 353 76.74%
White 106 23.04%
Latino 0 0.00%
Asian 1 0.22%
Male 403 87.42%
Female 58 12.58%
Mean Age 28.33
Standard Dev 12.09336591

In other words, being a young African American man in Chicago give you the highest percentage of waking up dead via homicide.

I’ve spent a couple summers living among the marginalized in the West Side of Chicago, and it was there when I was introduced to Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu and some of the staggering statistics of the black community in Chicag.  The following is an excerpt from his book, Solutions for Black America.  The statistics are slightly dated since it was published in 2004.

Black median income is $32,000 versus White median income of $45,000.  Black per capita wealth is $10,000 versus White per capita wealth of $55,000.  One percent of the population owns 48% of the wealth.  Ten percent of the population owns 86% of the wealth.

Median SAT Scores:

  • Asians: 1083
  • Whites: 1063
  • Hispanics: 903
  • African Americans: 857

African Americans constitute 12% of the population, but African American males account for 43% of HIV Cases; and African American women are 64%.

In 14 of 16 health categories – diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, infant mortality, etc. – African Americans sufferers outnumber Whites.

Only 32% of African American children have fathers in the home.  The divorce rate in Black America is 66%.

In Los Angeles, African Americans constitute 11 percent of the population, but represent 47 percent of the murder victims.  In Washington DC, 1 of 12 African American males die of homicide.

Among African-American male high school students:

  • 1 in 200,000 will play in the NBA.
  • 1 in 3,700 will earn a Ph. D.
  • 1 in 766 will become a lawyer.
  • 1 in 395 will become a doctor.
  • 1 in 195 will become a teacher.
  • 1 in 20 will be incarcerated.
  • 1 in 12 will have an STD.
  • 1 in 9 will use cocaine.
  • 1 in 3 will drop out of high school.

There are 36 million “disconnected” youth in American.  These youth, 60 percent Black and Hispanic, have left high school, lack credentials, and are unemployed.

The Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics in a report entitled, “Cohabitation, Marriange, Divorce and Remarriage in the United States,” showed that Black women are facing a crisis in their relationships with Black men.  According to this study, when compared to all other racial groups, Black women are:

  • Least Likely to marry
  • Least likely to marry a long-term cohabiting partner
  • Most likely to have their marriages end in separation or divorce
  • Most likely to remain separated or divorced
  • Least likely to remarry
  • Most likely to see their second marriages end

Vomiting & Facebook: Purging from Social Networking

(Warning: This post involves a real live story on vomiting. It’s gross. Let the weak-stomached stop reading here.)

I love my nephews.  Really, I do.  But today I had one of those moments where being the uncle was…well, not all it’s cracked up to be.  Or as in my case today, chucked-up to be.

My brother hands me his son this Easter Sunday as he’s rushing to take care of some some odds and ends as my sister-in-law is directing the church choir while 9 months pregnant. We joked that the best thing would be for her to be transported directly to the hospital to go in labor after she stepped off the platform.

I’m holding little David, and he’s crying because he misses his Daddy.  Or at least that’s what I think.  I walk around and start reading the stuff on the Sunday school bulletin board…various animals and other interesting factoids for your typical 19-month old boy.  And then, he stares at me, gets all quiet, and…

…decides to share his slightly digested breakfast of egg casserole over my blazer and tie.  Such a sweet natured boy.

Kiddo-puke smells a lot like adult puke. Nasty. This isn’t the formula or breast-milk puke. This is egg-casserole puke.

(Ironically, as I’m wiping up the chunks, I realize I’m in the same room at my boyhood church that as a seven-year-old boy seeing a girl in youth group blow chunks.  For some odd reason, I vividly remember partially digested hot dogs on the floor. It was totally a traumatic event.)

I’ve visited enough hole-in-the-wall restaurants and traveled in enough developing regions of the world to be well acquainted with the symptoms of food poisoning.  And honestly, I’m a big fan of vomiting.  Nothing feels better when you’ve got the flu or food poisoning then letting it all out. Beats the dry heaves any day.

As some may remember, I gave up Facebook entirely for Lent and I did something I’ve never done before: I gave chose to fast from meat for six of seven days a week (with some exceptions of course).

Going off facebook entirely felt like vomiting from food poisoining.  It was like purging my body of…well, you name it. Voyeurism. Self promotion. Approval addiction. Status seeking. All the crap that facebook does to people.

Facebook doesn’t really “do that” – it’s just a mechanism to draw our junk out of us.  And this isn’t to say it happens with everyone. Some of you I’m sure are actually holy facebook users.

I missed seeing friends with whom I don’t often connect.  But all in all, it was nice to be off.  As I went more than six weeks without logging onto facebook, I wasn’t thinking in terms of status updates or this comic…

from xkcd.com

While it was difficult at first, I’m so glad I did.  I honestly don’t feel a strong desire to go back to it.  And I don’t think in terms of status updates anymore.

That being said – what is an appropriate use of facebook? And what is inappropriate?

Northwestern InterVarsity Students in the Chicago Tribune!

A great piece on my good friend Sandra Van Opstal and her staff Max Kuecker, Beth Hedges, and their work with the Chicago Urban Program.

I’m so proud of my students – CUP Alumni T, L, & K – you make me so proud.

“One of the common criticisms of Christians is, ‘You guys have your Bibles and your churches, but what about the real world?'” she said. “CUP helped bring it together. … It’s not, ‘We’re going to fix Austin by picking up a few pieces of trash.’ The real distinctive thing about CUP is the discussions.”


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