Reply

Do you ever text or Facebook message and wait around for an hour or two for a reply?  I like to think of myself as being rather secure with myself, but I have to admit — that messes with my head.  I’m not talking about waiting for their take on the meaning of life or the status of their dad’s cancer treatment, mind you.  I’m talking about questions I have asked that require a yes/no answer.  Of course, if I just got a yes or a no, I’d probably think that was rude.  But at least I would have a reply.  That’s something.

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The curated life

The curator of a museum is responsible for the content of the museum’s displays.  They acquire permanent additions, they arrange for temporary exhibits, they generally set it up so that the museum receives the maximum possible amount of positive attention.  “That place is amazing!” would-be attendees say to one another.  “We absolutely have to go there!”

The plumbing problems, the mounting debt, the personality flaws of the artists — those are not to be put on display.  These negative traits of the museum are every bit as real, perhaps even more so, than the positive ones.  But they stay hidden from the public if the curator has anything to say about it.

Social media has been described as a way of “curating” our lives.  We put on display only those aspects that we wish to show.  Generally that means all good news, all the time — pictures of our dinner, or of the family at the amusement park.  That sort of thing.  “My life is great!  Don’t you wish you were me?” is the general idea.  Or perhaps a bit of wisdom or humor we tracked down on the internet — which, presumably, prove that we ourselves are wise or humorous.  Occasionally we may post a vague request for emotional support — “Can’t get into it now, but I need your prayers,” “Feeling especially glum today,” “New shoes, what do you think?”, etc.  But let’s be honest; those tend very strongly to be more in the “begging for compliments” category and less in the “I am weak and I need help” category; after all, if we really needed help, we would actually talk about our problems.

Actually, “talk about our problems” is another example of the same phenomenon.  Sometimes we can’t seem to talk about anything else.  But I would venture to say, in at least 90 percent of these cases the “problems” in question are not our fault; they are topics of conversation mostly to generate pity or place blame.  It’s the same principle, really — allowing people to see the part of our lives that we are willing to expose — and absolutely nothing else.

But that is not how we build relationships.  That is how we build walls.

The Bible tells Christians, “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another” (James 5:16).  The prayers of righteous brethren “can accomplish much,” as the text goes on to read, because we have created real and lasting bonds.  They know our weaknesses, so they can minister to us in our weaknesses.  Hiding our weaknesses may make us feel secure in the short term, but what they really do is prohibit our spiritual family from doing its job — and hindering our own ability to grow and mature.

The curated life is all about appearances.  We want to act like everything is wonderful — especially when it isn’t.  The vulnerable life is all about realities.  We are in constant need of assistance, and we want to make ourselves available to the ones most willing and able to offer it.

That is not to say you should take to Facebook and begin confessing every character flaw in front of the whole world.  But perhaps privately admitting our frailties and weaknesses to a trusted brother or sister in Christ would not be the worst idea in the world. 

 

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Real dangers vs. imaginary ones

Hospitals across the country are retheming after a recent study unearthed a startling fact.  Of 250 children surveyed, exactly 250 of them expressed an aversion or out-and-out fear of clowns.  I suppose a generation of administrators raised on Bozo and Ronald McDonald were slow to realize that garishly painted faces were just about the last thing children wanted to see when they were already scared out of their minds.

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Delete

December has five Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays this year.  That’s unusual, as you might expect.  Pointless and uninteresting, sure, but unusual.  In fact, it was suggested on Facebook (yes, I’m railing on Facebook again today) that it only occurs once every 823 years.  OK, that might push it past the border into Interestingland.

Except it’s not true.  And when you think about it, it can’t be true. 

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Biscuits

In the latest installment of This Week on Facebook, I present a meme: “Just imagine how great life would be if biscuits and gravy made you skinny.”

       Well, sure.  But why stop there?  Let’s wish that video games increased our intelligence, or alcohol improved our driving, or pornography strengthened our marriages.  The only difference is, I’ve heard people actually argue the last three.  Not even kidding.

Here’s the report from planet earth, though: Good choices are frequently painful choices, and indulgent choices are rarely good choices.  I am no stoic, but I must decry the rampant hedonism in our culture that has been sold to us as a tonic for what ails us.

Medicine tastes bad.  Exercise hurts.  Work wears you out.  And yes, tragically, healthy food is less appetizing than fattening, artery-clogging food.  Frankly, we should be highly suspicious when someone tries to tell us different.

But we do have a tendency to believe “information” that supports our indulgences.  Most of my brethren who have tried to get around the clear teaching of Matthew 19:6 and Matthew 19:9, for instance, have a divorce and remarriage situation very close to home.  The truth does not always hurt, granted; however, it doesn’t become less truthful when it does hurt.

God’s word is truth (John 17:17).  Our current understanding of it may or may not be truth.  We owe it to ourselves to be honest — painfully honest.  If it means giving up a tasty morsel or two, so be it.

 

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Videos

OK, Hal has been watching videos on Facebook again.  Someone unplug his modem before he turns into one of those people who is always linking to clips of baby goats and puppies.  Anyway, this one was of a driver and would-be Sonic customer who seemed to have confused the concepts of drive-in and drive-thru.  

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Short cuts

It’s time for another report from the Facebook links.  Really, one of these days I will quit watching these things.  But then again, if I did, where would I get ideas for this column?

Anyway, in this particular instance a woman was being interviewed by a TV reporter because she had difficulties while dropping her children off at school.  She was running late, so she decided to cut through an elementary school parking lot to get to another school in the neighborhood, driving around two traffic cones while doing so.  One schoolteacher was so upset at her actions that he literally threw himself onto the hood of her car.

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A few words about "change"

A Facebook “preachers” group that I somehow became attached to (you social media types know how easily that can happen) brought a preacher in Tuscumbia, Alabama, named Jesse Winn to my attention. After e-mailing Bro. Winn and exchanging a few thoughts and pleasantries, I decided (with his permission) to include his name and a link to the article in question. You can find the article here. I encourage you to read his article with the same prayer, spirit and consideration I ask when you read mine. The gist of his article was this (his emphasis):

I believe that, generally speaking, as a movement, we (the churches of Christ) need to be less afraid of change when necessary and more willing to question things.

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Selfies

I am channeling Jude today.  The epistler famously wrote of feeling “the necessity” to write how his readers should “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).  His plan had been to write regarding their “common salvation.”  Similarly, though not by inspiration, I was feeling the urge to write regarding the strange compulsion toward selfies in our culture (a less noble topic, granted).  But amidst my angst, I think I may have found some sympathy.  And I find myself writing something quite different from what I had planned.

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Excuses

Why do women cheat on their husbands?  Several of them “confessed” in one of those slideshow testimonial things I keep saying I’m not going to click on.  Just say no to Facebook, Hal.

Anyway, the responses varied.  I was in a bad marriage.  He cheated first.  I was lonely.  I was confused.  I was unappreciated.  I was drunk.  I was sick.

Here are some things I did not see.  

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