Today I was sitting in a coffee shop reading a book (yes…I was one of those guys reading over an overpriced Mocha)  I was reading Brian Mclaren’s book “Finding Our Way Again”.   So yeah…I felt ridiculously post-modern and young adulty, but oh well.  The book’s overarching argument and topic has to do with Spiritual Practices and the need for them in our world and individual daily lives.  I won’t go into all that he had to say on the topic of spiritual practices, but one of his main reasons to me seemed to be one of vulnerability.  On pg. 164  he writes,  “It’s only those who have come to love the light who are devastated by its absence — the dark night of the soul, a time when light is gone. ”  

We all enter into times of our lives that are full of darkness…things don’t always work out, people let us down, we let ourselves down,  the list goes on and on of things that could be considered the darkness.  There is nothing more vulnerable then darkness.  I feel it when I drive at night on a country road.  My vision is limited to what is lit up by the headlights, and I realize that if something would happen to my car on the road it would be until  morning till someone could see it.  That is vulnerability…that is terrifying.  When I was little it was when my mom shut the lights off in my bedroom that I felt the most alone and the most scared…vulnerable.  The vulnerability comes from the lack of knowing…the lack of control, the knowledge that we might not be prepared for what is coming next because we can’t see it in the chaos of darkness. 

One of my favorite pieces of advice to give is “There is strength in vulnerability and vulnerability in strength.”  When we let ourselves be vulnerable we become open and are able to learn and grow, when we convince ourselves that we are strong and don’t need help we often crumble and fail.    Vulnerability can be good, it can give us space to grow and change.   I believe that is where practice comes in.  Practice develops memory, practice develops skills that will be needed in the near or distant future.  Spiritual practices open us up and allow us to more fully understand the love of God.  The hope that goes along with these practices is that when the darkness falls and we feel and become vulnerable we will have practiced moving and living in God’s love so much that we can navigate the darkness with grace and courage.  The love and understanding the we practiced in the light becomes our guide in the time of darkness so that we may be vulnerable and scared, yet not stuck.  We grow from moving in the darkness. 

What are you practicing in times of light?  Is it prayer, is it reading scripture, is it being in community, is it working for others, is it worship in a community?  Whatever your practice is …do it!  I hope that while you develop these skills in the light you will remember them in the darkness…they will be what guides you and allows possibility to flourish in the darkness. 

God bless!

Justywayne

Things that I love…and hope to continue to love in 2009.

 

1) People…yes this year brought some interesting opportunities into my life to be with some beautiful people.  I am in a minsitry setting that am able to hang out with some of the most caring, intellegent, and spirited youth Kansas City has to offer.  I also work on a staff that is full of people that honestly care about what is going on in my life and want to do the best for the community that we find ourselves in (though our community really needs to keep on thinking about changing the name).  My friends are becoming an ever diverse group of people that constanlty inspire me to do something more with my time and energy.  I am blessed to be surrounded by people that I feel truly care, thanks friends from around the globe!  And my family grew in size over and over and over….my sister had a baby (Gage…is probably one of the chubbiest babies I have ever seen..love him to death)  My brother got married (Anne I know you don’t read this…but you navigate Zeiglerdom like no one I have ever seen)  With the marriage I was honored to become step-uncle to two amazing kids (Colby and Ali…you guys are nuts…and that is why I love you) and My brother and Anne just had another baby (Baby Creighton…although you can’t read I love you duder)

2)  This was the year of footy pajamas!  OH MY GOSH!  so in the past I have attempted some interesting fashion choices…but this year in the world of Justin was all about the footy pj’s…nothing says “I want to be fully comfortable at all times” like a pair of footies!

3) Theology…Yeah!  I flipping loved it this year…Professors Chun and Howell forced me to reach in and wrestle with some tough stuff this year.  I was introduced to process theology which pretty much made want scream from the mountain tops “YESS!!!  FINALLY PEOPLE WRITE WHAT I THINK” (actually they have been writting it for years…i am just egocentric and decided it was all about me).  So yeah…I am a person in process, God is a God in process, and everthing is constanly changing.

4)  I don’t know…I have a hope for the future.  I don’t know what my ministry will look like…awesome.  I don’t know where I am going to live…even better.  I don’t know who will enter into this process with me in the future…who cares.  I do know that I am on the right track…I am following my call, learning what I think I am supposed to be learning right now, loving who I am (for the most part…there is still a few things to work on)  All in all…life is gee golly whiz swell.

With that I think I will sign off of this new year blog extravamaganza!

 

peace and love

Justy

So I pay thousands of dollars to go to school and try to figure out what it means to be in ministry so that I can help other people do the same.  I am getting that out  of my “official” education…I am being taught theology, and I am being taught ideas and practices  of ministry, and heck I even at least tried to learn something about Christian History (not my strong suit).   But some semesters we learn more outside of the classroom.  I have been surrounded by beautiful people who have had some terrible things happen to them. So what?  So what does this mean to me as a person?  It means I have learned some things about the way I want to be and ways I want to think and ways I think the world is.

1) Hope is never silly.  While that sounds dumb, it is easy to forget.  In the midst of chaos we can forget that there is something that is beautiful out there, there is something that will give life.  There is something that isn’t crazy and scary.   It is ok to not remember it, that is human.  It is during those times that it easiest to forget that those around us are needed to say “there is hope” over and over and over and over and over.  I think I want to be a person who says that more and more in my life…so here I go there is hope.

2)The world isn’t perfect.  Yep…my little idealist self is a person that had to learn that bad stuff does happen.   People do things and act in ways that hurt and cause so much pain not only to individuals but communities.  The world is a scary place sometimes, but I think that is why we are communal.  That is why we seek others to surround ourselves with that we think are able to stand with us in the brokeness.  My idea is that yes, people and situations are not always perfect.  But in order to get through those times we have to be able to trust others, we have to be able to share our burdens, and we have to be able to continue on and try to make sure that what is bad doesn’t happen anymore.  We have to change patterns of hurt and violence in ourselves and help others do the same.  In doing this then maybe this imperfect world can limp along to something greater.

3) My final rant is the fact that I think that I have learned that humor is sometimes the best way to love a person.  Yeah…I am not always the most serious of people…so the way that I try to show someone that I care and I want to help is by making them laugh.  Yes, I mock the situation they are in or I make a fart joke, or I do something else.  But this has seemed to help those around me that need something.  I always follow it with a hug or something more serious…but I think the way into the pain is often laughter.  To make us see it we often have to take a break and a step away by laughing.  And then enter into it with have a least some distance through laughter.  So I guess I will have to think more and more about the fact that yes, laughter can be a form of ministry and healing.

 

Thanks SPST for trying to prepare me as much as you  can for minsitry, but i think the real world is doing a pretty good job as well.  I fully affirm the beauty and value of a seminary education and think that it is one of my best tools and will give me some grounding to what I am learning and have learned outside of the seminary classroom.  I also want to affim the lessons that I have learned simply from being in relationship with some beautiful people.  So for all of those that I know in one way or the other, thanks for standing with me and letting me stand with you while I learn how to do what I am called to do.

 

Peace

JZ

I think conversations with people are the best ways to clarify what we think what we think…in talking to most people I would hope that they realize that what I say today may not be what I think tomorrow.  But in a recent conversation I realized that something…theology matters.  Yeah I know that as a person in ministry and a seminarian this should be simple, but it is something I forgot.    I often look at my friends around the world and country who do amazing work and beautiful things and worry that my studying theology doesn’t really  do much to change the way that the world is.   In light of my feelings I was suprised to realize that I do think that theology does matter.  I know that they are thoughts and feelings and no one can truly know what or who God is…but what you think about God is important.  It is important how you view the one who is constanly calling us into life, because how you view God affects how you  act  in this world.  If we feel that God doesn’t care or love what would guide us into loving actions of justice and peace?  If we feel and think that God is black and white, why would be strive to be with the other and learn from what they have to say?  If we think that God is hateful and vengeful, what stops us from violent actions and hate towards our brothers and sisters?  Even something as simple as if someone sees God as a man (which is more prevelant then I would have thought) then what stops that person from disrespecting our sisters in the world?  What we think has a direct impact on how we act and who we become, there is no distinciton.  When people say that what  they believe has not direct effect on others, I am sorry I don’t agree.   This is why open conversation is vital to our  lives as christians (sorry that is my specifi lens, christian, so that is what I am going to use).  In open conversation we can find our own thought patterns and the patterns of others and begin to challange one another to break certain thought patterns and grow others.  In community we see how our theology affects other people.  So , what you think does matter.  What you do does matter.  Who you are matters..,….so think carefully and act lovingly.

 

peace

justywayne

Today I was asked to donate blood to the Red Cross…good idea right?   I am so glad that people are willing to share that gift with other people, but what about those who can’t give.  One of the requirements for giving blood is that ,as a man , someone can never have had sex with another man, and as a woman , they can never have had sex with a man who has had sex with a man.  This is quite clearly because of the history of AIDS and it’s connection with homosexual male sex.  Is this a homophobic practice?  Is it fair to tell all men that have had sex with other men that they are no longer safe to give blood, that because of who they are the are likely to have infected blood.  When looking at the statistics the bigger indication that one would have AIDS is their race.  I am not saying that African American people shouldn’t give blood, I would say that this is racist, so why is it  ok to do that to gay  men?  Women are also more likely to have AIDS then men…so shouldn’t they be looked at more closely, poor people are more likely, are we going to take incom levels before giving blood?  So my question as a Christian is how am I supposed to respond to  this…I don’t know.  As a person who can give blood is it my  job to stand in solidarity  with those who can’t and refuse, or am I called to give blood but continue to raise the issue, what is God calling me to do?  I don’t know.  I know that I consider the practice homophobic, I know that as a United Methodist I uphold the ideology that all people are made with an inherent sacred worth.  I know that God calls us to act justly…so  what is just in this situation.   Can I give blood when I know that so many of my friends can’t, is it more important to stand in solidarity with people who are being unfairly singled out,  or give blood so that someone else can find healing? 

 

 

Justywayne

While wandering around a store the other day that was filled with stuff that was far too expensive, I took the time to look at a Kansas City artist’s work.  She is an author and painter and paints some of her own favorite quotes on canvas.  Yes, I know…slightly lame, but one of them really stuck with me.  “I hope that someday my courage catches up with my imagination” , it has been a few weeks since I saw it and since I still think about it I guess I should process it.  I don’t think of myself as that courageous of a person.  I am easily intimidated by most people, and I can’t count the number of times that I have kept my  mouth shut when I should have spoken my mind.  At the same time my  imagination is full of ways to make this a better world…but I don’t always have the courage to act on my own imagination.  things run through my head like.. What if I fail, what if what I think really isn’t going to change anything and I wind up wasting a whole lot of energy, what if instead of helping people I just wind up creating more hurt, there has to be someone better at doing this then I am…I should let them do it so I don’t screw it up, If I take a stand on this how will it effect me later or  the ones that I love. I think we all talk ourselves out of acting just because we don’t have the courage to do the things that we know need to be done.

I am rambling, but I processing this so back off.  I am now trying  to define what courage means and I realize that I don’t know.  I think that maybe courage means looking at our options and choosing the one that will serve the  world the most…even if it is the most difficult.  I think that courage means being aware of your fears and trying to figure out  a way to do the right thing despite the fact that you are terrified.  I know that there are probably better definitions out there, so if you have them feel free to share.  I think that if we would be courageous enough to act on our imaginations then maybe we wouldn’t then maybe things would get better around here.

So yes, a slightly  tacky painting has caused me to reflect upon my vocation as a human being.  I doubt a whole lot of people are reading this, but If you are I probably love you… take courage, be imaginative, and send me some chocolate…I really like it.

 

Justy wayne

When was the last time you drove past a billboard…any billboard and thought “you are right, I agree with you, now my life has changed” probably never.  I get it that many people are passionate about the abortion issue, but I have a problem with “choose life” billboards.  my favorites are as follows

1) “choose life you mom did”…yeah well my mom also wears t-shirts with kitties on them and I am not doing that anytime soon…unless it looks cute on me then I will have to think about it.  What if “your mom” has had an abortion, then that statement would be false.  Now put yourself in the shoes of the mother.  Those are really life giving words to read on the side of the highway..or not.

2)”Babies are gifts”(a picture of a baby with a bow on it)-first of all that is tacky.  second of all not all people are in the situation to claim the pregnancy as a gift for whatever reason.  We don’t know the cirumstances of peoples lives and choices.  Yes I affirm life, but I don’t affirm telling other people what they have to view as a gift…even if you are the governor of Alaska (who somehow lost the Miss Alaska pageant).

3)”Abortion is Murder”-At least this one isn’t cutesy…it is just mean.  It is oversimplified black and white, and there is no gray here…that is the problem.  Also if you are going to be “pro-life” then maybe you should be thinking about whether or not what you say to thousands of motorists is life giving or not.  Maybe you should think about all the women who have to see that everyday and the way what it reminds them of, the pain that goes along with that.  You don’t think that they suffer enough that they have to see it in giant print????  Well I am sorry but I disagree!

Whether you are pro or anti choice I don’t care, but don’t harass motorists with your beliefs…it isn’t very pro-life of you.

Justy wayne

Apparently I am “lazy” when it comes to blogging.  I disagree…some of us talk to real people on a regular basis and don’t have time to blog.   But since my public seems to demand it.

I have been hearing/reading a lot this summer about “conservative people are blah, blah, blah” (enter in your own words for blah, blah, blah).  As someone who rarely gets categorized as conservative I have to say that even I am a little tired about this.  I get it,  lots of people don’t agree with them, and I get that it is annoying when people do dumb things in the name of christianity, it takes others a long time to fix what they have done… I have multiple friends who I would consider conservative narrow minded people.  But how can we begin to heal and change if we sit and just point fingers at one another, what if we really tried to just see hope in oneanother.  I know that you will probably say “there is just no changing some people…even if you try you can’t change them”…being a defeatist never helped any situation.  What I am trying to say, stand up and speak your mind yes, and then get over yourself long enough to be in a relationship with someone, maybe someone you consider to be an arrogant conservative jerk.  I am pretty sure that is the only way that it is going to get better.  When someone has a human face to go along with a group of people it is harder for that person to be prejudiced towards that group of people, when someone actually feels listened to and cared for maybe they will grow in faith and love, maybe it is time for the progressive part of our world to take a stand and be models for others and show love and compassion.  Or maybe we are all just screwed and should just stop trying?  I don’t think so.

Ok…I watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith yesterday and was disturbed with my initial reaction to the film.  I have seen the movie before and had the same feelings the last time that I watched it.   Why is violence sexy?  If you haven’t seen the film…two assasins find out that that they have been married to one another for 6 years without knowing that either of them was an assasin.  At one point in the movie they are attempting to kill each other wich blows up into a full out hardcore action movie brawl in the middle of the movie…this is of course causes them to become fully arroused and then they make wild passionate love in the wreckage that is their house.  So why is violence so sexy?  Why is it attractive that these people are trying to kill one another and then wind up having sex?  Does this mentality justify sexual and physical violence in relationships…does it tell people that secretly people want it and then it justifies sexual violence.  Or is it different because both characters in these scenes were on an equal power footing.  Or is it possible to be equal in power in violence???  Does violence mean that one person has to have power over the other person? 

 In discussing it with other people I have then had to come to questions about people who are arroused by pain.  I think of myself as a pretty open and accepting person when it comes to others sexuality and what they find arrousing…but I don’t know if s&m behavior is all around healthy..or is it?  The people are consenting, so in that way it is fine…but what does it mean when we need physical harm to feel something, is it healthy to want pain in order to heighten the pleasure of sex?  Is this turning sex into something that it shouldn’t be?  But I guess who am I to say what sex should or should not be.  I have no clue, just some of my thoughts today.

 

peace

justin

Hey all…ok sorry I have been absent from the blogging world lately.

Something that has been bugging me a lot lately is the idea of close minded liberalism.  The set of mind where as people who claim to fit into the category of “liberal”, whatever that really means, become close minded to ideas, thoughts, and feelings of people in the other end of the political, theological, social, any other spectrum. 

Is it possible for us as human beings to honestly meet the other where they are and begin to see their point and not cling so tightly to our own.  I used to think so, but lately I haven’t seen a lot of that happening.  I haven’t seen enough of it in myself or in other people, and the funny thing is that I tend to spend a lot of time around people that most would consider progressive.  Can a person really be progressive and not listen to the words and feelings of the people that they disagree with?  I think that this is what my christian faith is calling me to, to attempt to see God in “the other”.  To know that there really is no other, but honestly it is getting harder and harder for me to honestly say that I respect and listen to what other people are saying when they are seemingly so different from the ways that I feel or think.  I try my best, but I am scared that I am becoming a close minded progressive. 

In conversations I tend to hear what other people say, and then I begin to form my argument against what they have said…I don’t think that this what is meant by being in healthy community with one another.  How do I fix this?   The weird thing is that I know that it is wrong, and I would be upset at other people if they did it to me…I also claim to be a good listener…hmm…not so much.  How am I supposed to grow as a person if I can’t hear and learn what other people are saying and feeling and experiencing?  So if you catch me being a close minded progressive please slap me and let me know that I am being dumb.  I thank you in advance.

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