pondering theology and existence 'neath the Golden Arches

Here's a picture of me taken at Lifest a couple weeks ago...I swiped it from this webpage...thanks Ken! Thought I'd post it for the heck of it.

Maybe it was the oppressive heat and humidity, or perhaps two 12-hour-solo-parenting days have messed with my mind, but today was day a contemplation.

Here's a picture of my reality: Svea and I dropped off Paavo at his Summer "Book Buddies" class at 12:30PM, leaving us 3 hours to hang as a duo. After buying 50 bubble-filled CD mailing envelopes at Office Max, we crossed the parking lot so I could eat lunch at McDonalds. It was the France Ave McDonalds in Edina, and I must say it was exquisite, relaxing, and immaculate (unlike so many of its franchise brethren). My #2 Value Meal (super sized) was PERFECT. My iced tea was the ideal ratio of water to ice to tea. So I sat in air conditioned comfort surrounded by well-dressed business lunch patrons, gazing out the huge sparking glass windows watching a parade of sport utility vehicles cruise on by. In my left hand, I fed Svea some Cheerios and puffs as she sat in her stroller, and in my right hand I enjoyed my A+ lunch. Now I know this whole paragraph is totally profane in light of the situation in Darfur (let alone 100 blocks North in my previous neighborhood in North Minneapolis), but this lunch-time moment felt to me like a little window of relaxation and civility in a day filled with relentless parenting.

So, there in McDonalds, my mind wandered to questions of faith, society, God, and mortality. Earlier this Summer I was required to read Richard Rohr's book "Everything Belongs" to prepare for an event where I was to play music. The book was very powerful, and as I read it and struggled with it, Rohr anticipated every whine, criticism, and critique I could come up with, and addressed it specifically on the following page. It was like he knew what I was thinking as I read. Ultimately, I ended up siding with the author, and I think the entire experience with the book moved me into an even more open, accepting, monk-ey, and "zen" (whatever that means) place in my life and faith.

Simultaneously, I've been struggling more and more with the problem of alcohol abuse in society. As most folks who know me personally already know, I've been a lifelong teetotaller (or as the kids like to say, "straight-edge, dude"), although I've never been public about it. So lately I've been wondering, what would happen if I talked about my personal choice in this matter in my daily life, or even in my songs? Hmmm...could be good, could be a disaster. Wikipedia tells me that my approach to it is called "abstentionism." I had no idea that anybody had ever categorized such things! So, I'm getting more squishy and liberal in some ways, and more hard-core and conservative in others.

Also, I'm more and more weary of the paranoia running rampant in American Christendom. What do people think of me/us?!? Who should/shouldn't we be seen with?!? Somebody is trying to destroy us/me!!! What are we supposed to do?!? Aaauuuugh!

For example: yesterday I did a Google Blog Search on the just-completed LCMS National Lutheran Youth Gathering 'cause some of my musical friends were down there playing, and I wanted to read the word on the street/web. The search hits revealed to me that there's a war going on (and I wasn't aware of how widespread the struggle had become!) between "confessional" Lutherans and every other kind of person (I guess). Sigh. Here's a classic post from a guy who's glad his congregation skipped the LCMS National event so they could attend a MORE conservative youth event instead! Brother, it's a good thing you weren't in San Antonio last Summer with me and my denominational tribe at the ELCA Youth Gathering...you would've keeled over.

And here's another great blog courtesy of indie CCM-songwriter Shaun Groves about faith and fame. I think he's handling his situation with grace and class, but read some of those links, and a few of those comments...man, people sure do get their panties in a bundle.

Holy crap, America, can't we just relax?! This stuff is so silly compared to the life and death struggles all around us, in Iraq, in Africa, in North Minneapolis. I don't give a crap if you're a "confessional" anything or not...I'll push you out of ditch, give you my extra clothing, be sure you're fed, pull you drowning and drunk out of a lake (right Will?), play with your kids, sing you a song, give you a cup of cold water, change your diaper, sign my autograph, and share my cheeseburger, okay?

Dear Lord help us all. Like we say in church, "Come Lord Jesus," just to finally put an end to all this stupid crap.

Have you heard the newest Damone album? It's rocking my universe.


Frank said…
Well, what happened in San Antonio?

"Classic post"? Yikes! The kids I'm partially responsible for couldn't recognize the LCMS gathering as something connected to Church was my biggest issue. I really wish that we didn't have to consider alternatives.

Where you are dead on target is the fact that there huge battles going on where folks with very different views are trying to define a church that's relevent for today. Some may classify it as a war between conservatives and liberals (political terminology that drives me nuts!) but the battlelines are not as clearly defined as many claim.

I see you’re from the twin cities, I’m in St. Paul this week and I can’t say enough good things about it! It’s one of the best “large” cities I’ve ever visited, and I’ve traveled to cities all over the world. Minnisota is awesome.
Steve said…
Hmmm...I think he totally missed the point of what you were saying. It's frustrating when people confuse dogma with Jesus. Anyway, I'm glad you're feeling more "zen" this summer!
Frank said…
Steve, do you think I'm confusing doctrine with Christ? In the interest of full disclosure, I don't think the two can be seperated. If we look at Christianity froma historical perspective we can see the battle over doctrine (which really boils down to the issue of justification) started at the very beginning. Even St. Paul was battling with those who were following him around preaching something other than the Gospel.
I for one think all the bickering and infighting can be healthy.
Lisa Herlocker said…
Hey Jonathan,
I think the paragraph near the end that starts with Holy Crap about sums up how I feel too. As you know I've seen both sides of the Lutheran fence (raised LCMS/currently ELCA) and just don't get why differences get so blown out of scale to our similarities. Just think of the good we could do in the world if we just pooled our resources more!

By the way I hope all is well in your circle of friends in light of the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis -- it looks awful on TV.
RevDrum said…
Jonathan, my friend, your passion is so evident and that is one of the countless reasons I love you man! Thanks for your holy discontent!

I've spent my summer in CPE at Napa State Hospital, a "psychiatric forensic facility" (in short, people who are not in prison because of mental disease). Since I am always identified as a "Protestant chaplain", I often get questions about "what is the difference between the protestants and ..." and my response has quickly become "How 'bout we focus on what makes us the same, because in the grand scheme there are more similarities than differences" ... every time I've said that the response from the person I talk to is "that's a great point" (more about this topic at my own blog revdrum.blogspot.com)
Here's a link to how important the LCMS National Youth Gathering was/is to our youth ministry that is totally committed to serving Christ: http://ryms.blogspot.com/2007_08_01_archive.html#6463897597618848466

Here's my first music review from the Gathering: http://www.musicspectrum.org/2007/08/2007-national-youth-gathering-music.html

The battle is just sad. Meanwhile, who is losing? The youth. We bicker, squabble, threaten to take away funding, tell them that what they're doing isn't "church" enough, and then we wonder why they drift away from the LCMS, Lutheranism, or even Christianity.

By the way, part of me being a youth leader at the NYG was fueled by McDonald's, and I enjoyed the Big Macs. . .despite having read "Fast Food Nation."

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