When You Realize Jesus Wasn’t a Good Citizen

I gotta admit, I’m a bit perplexed at Christianity these days, especially Christianity in America. Many expressions of the church look completely contrary to what I find in the life of Jesus. Many Christians champion values that I have no idea how to reconcile with the person of Jesus. To be honest, it feels quite discouraging at times. Thankfully, I know there are plenty of others who share this feeling (because you tell me regularly).

Consider the following quote from Walter Brueggemann.

Jesus, unlike most responsible American citizens, appears to do no work, and is accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. He is presented as homeless, propertyless, celibate, peripatetic [perpetual traveller], socially marginal, disdainful of kinsfolk, without a trade, a friend of outcasts and pariahs, averse to material possessions, without fear for his own safety, careless about purity regulations, critical of traditional authority, a thorn in the side of the Establishment, and a scourge of the rich and powerful.

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What Should We Focus On?

After more horrific school shootings this week we find ourselves in the same conversation. Again. To be honest, some of the worst perspectives I’ve heard are from Christians. In fact, so many Christians have been making arguments that helplessly point to generic sin and evil that a friend of ours called Michelle and I today asking if we could explain it to them.

I couldn’t make it make sense for them because it doesn’t make sense to me. It reminds me of a quote I read on the way our reaction to information has changed throughout history.

In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the twenty-first century censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information. We just don’t know what to pay attention to, and often spend our time investigating and debating side issues. In ancient times having power meant having access to data. Today having power means knowing what to ignore. So considering everything that is happening in our chaotic world, what should we focus on?

Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus
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True Beauty

I was reading one of my wine magazines and I felt like doing some blackout poetry with it. You likely wouldn’t guess it from the words I chose, but the article was about artichokes.

True beauty is the confluence of love in celebration.

We prefer appearance.

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Believing What We Want

I once read a fascinating story about something that was said to the magician Houdini. According to the book The Secret Life of Houdini,

In February, both [the actress Sarah] Bernhardt and Houdini found themselves playing Boston at the same time. She invited him to visit her at her hotel, where Houdini entranced her with more than a half hour of close-up magic. The next day, she rode in a car with a magician and watched him free himself from a straitjacket while being suspended sixty feet in the air. The previous year had been rough for the French actress; ten years after a serious injury, her right leg was finally amputated and she was continuing her stage career with the assistance of a wooden leg.

On the way back to the hotel, the Divine Sarah suddenly embraced Houdini. “Houdini, you are a wonderful human being,” she purred. “You must possess some extraordinary power to perform such marvels. Won’t you use it to restore my limb for me?”
Houdini was shocked when he realized that she was dead serious.
“Good heavens, Madame, certainly not,” Houdini sputtered. “You know my powers are limited and you are actually asking me to do the impossible.”
“Yes,” she said, leaning closer to him. “But you do the impossible.”
“Are you jesting?”
“Mais non, Houdini, j’ai jamais ete plus serieux dans ma vie.”
Houdini’s eyes welled with tears.
“Madame, you exaggerate my ability,” he said.

This is such an interesting response to Houdini’s magic from someone who got to experience it more intimately than most. Yet how would we describe Sarah’s question to Houdini? Was it childish, or naive, or ignorant? Perhaps, but I think something more simple is happening: Sarah believed what she wanted to be true.

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Van Gogh

Earlier this year Michelle and I saw the Van Gogh exhibition when it was in town in Phoenix. To say it was incredible would be an understatement. We stuck around and “watched” the show nearly three times that day, each time from a different vantage point.

After that experience, I decided to dive into a massive book on the artist called Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh (see: Amazon link). This sucker is 976 pages or 45 hours of audiobook. This allows an extreme level of detail throughout his life and I’ll be honest, it’s a bit of a depressing read. Vincent was not the guy anyone assumed would make it and he dealt with massive challenges and failures for almost his entire life.

I’ve never spent much time painting, but it’s obvious that Van Gogh took liberties with the images he created. One of his explanations why was fascinating to me. “In drawing a wall, he said, ‘the artist who must copy every small stone and each stroke of whitewash has missed his calling: he should have become a bricklayer.’” I think this applies to artful storytelling as well. A good story is more than a retelling of the details and events that took place.

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How to Get Better at What You Do

I’m back! You may or may not have noticed I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks as my site has been down (thanks to those of you who reached out with concerned text messages). Turns out GoDaddy launched an updated and crashed a few things on the backend. Thankfully I have a friend who helped get it back and running faster than before.

In the meantime… I started making TikToks.

No, I’m not dancing, and I’ve yet to make videos where I’m multiple characters. But I’ve watched this platform for a while and decided to challenge myself a bit and go for it. I’m still reinventing myself these days and trying to figure out the best ways to pursue the things I’m passionate about doing.

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