Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pride

This morning in the Campus Chapel, we were treated to a great sermon on pride. (Hopefully if the pastor reads this, she is able to prevent this from becoming a source of just that.) Pride is a vice I avoid relatively well in its most obvious forms, but often times the less evident forms are the most dangerous. Without even noticing, I look down on others because of the way they look, act, or talk. I may not say it out loud, or at least to their face, but the slight bump in my view of myself that surfaces when I see someone I can rank below me on some sort of arbitrary and rigged scale is indication enough that I have a problem.

The unfortunate reality of pride is that often times attempting to remove it from our lives produces a bit of a feedback loop. When I look for situations where I feel pride creeping in, I begin to commend myself on my astute observation and introspection. Surely by watching my own behavior I am doing a better job at preventing the pride in my life than that person over there... Oh wait. Crap. Back to square one. Someone next to you leans over and says, "Can you believe that guy? I'd never go out in public wearing something like that." I know your reaction, because it would be mine too (unless I was the person making the comment, which happens all too often). How dare he talk that way about someone else. What a prideful jerk! I would never talk that way behind someone else's back. Oops.

How many times have you been in that situation? Probably more than you would like to admit. I know I would be completely ashamed if someone kept track of my slipups in this area.

Unfortunately I am at a loss for an easy way to combat pride during my everyday routine. There are some things I think can help though.
  • Instead of just noticing when I am being prideful, I can try to force myself to take a moment to empathize with the victim of my pride.
  • Honestly consider what it is about me that makes me feel better than someone else. Almost always the answer is something that is or was completely out of my control, and I just got lucky or blessed. I have decent clothes because my parents have jobs. In no way does that make me better than someone whose parents are out of work. Some of our circumstances are self-inflicted or self-achieved, but most of us would could be in a very different situation if we had been dealt different cards.
  • Most of all, asking for constant forgiveness. We truly are all made in the image of God, and pride is insulting not only to the person I put down, but to God himself.
I will admit that I have not taken a ton of time pondering this topic, so if you have any insights or comments, please drop me a note. I would love to discuss this further.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Late Night Stream of Consciousness

I've heard that staring at artificial light before trying to sleep is not recommended, but my lot in life has placed me in a situation where it's inevitable most nights. Every other night it happens anyway because I can only read a research paper or a book for so long before I'm compelled to check my email and see if anything shocking has occurred in my social networks. Most nights I fall asleep just fine, but occasionally, like tonight, thoughts tumble around until I have no choice but to blurt them out. For the sake of whoever might be my roommate at the time, I try to do this as silently as possible, so here I am. There will be very little structure from here on out, so either bail or buckle up I guess.

There are certain social situations I don't think I'll ever be comfortable in. Eating at restaurants is near the top of that list. Also haircuts and orthodontist appointments. Dentist appointments aren't so bad because conversational expectations are always lower when there's a tiny javelin inside your mouth.

It shouldn't be so hard to come up with fresh ideas. Considering how absurdly random the chemical interactions in our brains are, it seems odd that brainstorming sessions usually just result in reinventing the wheel.

I've done a lot of thinking about the topics that are covered in Rob Bell's book Love Wins in the past week or two. I haven't read it, but I've read about it, and I'm trying to formulate my opinion on the subject matter before I do. Some things I think are important in the discussion:
  • "Christ Alone" is non-negotiable. Always.
  • How someone views the mechanics of heaven and hell is not a matter of salvation.
  • We don't get to do any judging. Rob Bell brought up Gandhi as an example of someone who seemed to be a good person that many Christians would say is in hell, but others would give the benefit of the doubt. The flip side is someone like Hitler, who almost everyone would agree is (and should be) rotting in hell. The problem is, we don't get to make either of those decisions. Pretending that we've got some sort of secret code that lets us decide where to draw the line between the saved and the unsaved is at best arrogant and at worst a damnable offense in and of itself.
  • Many more things. Please don't take this as my whole belief system. Not sure blogger can handle that.
I've gotten back on my bike in the last few days, which has resulted in some wheezing and a sore hind end. Soon it'll be warm enough for me to get out for a significant weekend bike ride instead of just the 10 minute commute to class. Can't wait.

Parsing back through my day, I'm trying to figure out if I ingested something that would be keeping me awake. I had a Mountain Dew at noon, but I doubt that's it. I really hope I didn't accidentally get caffeinated milk. If I did I'll probably be up for a while yet.

I discovered that if I ever want to teach I'm going to have to work on my chalkboard skills. Profs make it look so easy (and I always mentally complain if someone's handwriting on the board is messy) but I gave a half hour presentation today and it's much more difficult than I remembered. You start writing big and neat and within a few words the audience needs a pair of binoculars and your line is sagging down towards the chalk tray by about eight inches.

That said, I would still love to teach. Now to find something I can learn enough about that someone would actually let me teach it. Let me get back to you on that in a few years.

I'm going to try to sleep again now. Questions, comments, concerns? There's a comment box for a reason.