Friday, May 26, 2006

My Love-Hate Relationship With Golf

As much as I love golf, it doesn't seem to love me in return. I've been at this game now for nearly 20 years, and have yet to break 100 (my career best did bring me within 2 strokes of a sub-100 round, but that was most certainly a fluke). I tried it again today with my old set of clubs -- and by old, I mean I think they date back to the Eisenhower Administration. Friends have told me my game will improve if I invest in a new and better set of clubs, but I grew up with an innate ability to be incredibly stubborn -- and I'm determined not to switch clubs until I break 100.

And therein lies the paradox: breaking 100 will require a new set of clubs, but I won't get a new set of clubs until the barrier is broken. It's thinking like this that really amazes me to no end that my family has such boundless patience with me.

It's funny that I can see certain of my traits (like my ability to be stubborn) already in my child: a similar stubborn streak; the desire to be incredibly organized and have everything just so; a really lousy attitude first thing in the morning (I think both of us would prefer to sleep until noon each day if we could); and a big desire to maintain total control of the television remote.

I have to wonder if my wife feels ganged up on by the two of us. Truthfully, if I have to battle my wife over my eccentricities, I can't think of a better teammate than my little one!!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Discerning My Path

Coming to a point - THE point - in your life where you begin to take a good, hard look at your faith and your beliefs is an overpowering and humbling experience. In recent months, I've realized that I am now at that point.

Truthfully, I've felt "nudges" for quite some time -- many of which seem to be directing me in what I think is a new direction in my life. But some of these "nudges" have caused me to take a closer-to-home look and reexamine the core of what I believe. I was talking to my wife last night about our experiences in Sunday school as a child, most of which sadly I don't remember. There are brief flashes of learning the creeds and the commandments, and of putting my nickle in the plate in the mini-service that our teachers had in the church undercroft on many Sundays. What I do remember from that point is that Christianity for me seemed to be very familiar and very comfortable -- Jesus healed the sick, Zacchaeus climbed the tree to get a better look at Jesus, Noah took the animals on the ark, etc.

I can even recall getting my first Bible from the church -- a small, black "Good News" edition that included some very simple sketches throughout of different scenes from the Old and New Testaments, and with my name embossed in gold on the front cover. The sketches were very basic and had no definition, something to which I never paid much attention.

In thinking about that one little point, though, in recent days, I don't half wonder if the fact that sketches had no faces and no set form could imply that they represent every man and every woman. It could have just as easily been one of us who was seeking to be healed, or one of us who was climbing a tree to get a better view of Jesus, or one of us who was watching as the ark was loaded. The lessons in the Bible can certainly apply to all of us.

One of the most challenging things about my personal examination, though, is that it's not limited to something as small as what a sketch means. The Spong lecture I discussed earlier, and a similar lecture by N.T. Wright which I attended last week at the National Cathedral, have made me realize that there are an infinite number of things to think about and pray about during this process: the literal versus the allegorical aspects of the scripture; the role of the church in the world; the influence of modernism and post-modernism on church development; the most effective way to pray -- the list is endless.

The sheer number of resources to use is nearly endless as well: Wright; Borg; Crossan; Pagels; Spong; Kung; Tillich; Ehrman -- and this is only touching on those I'm going through now. There are also numerous scholarly websites and journals to use. There are the works of the early church fathers and church historians. And there is the Bible itself.

As someone who loves to learn and loves the challenges of learning -- as well as the thought of having my childhood beliefs challenged -- this is a really exciting time. I look forward to going through this process and in sharing it with my family and friends.