the story, part one - the framework

"everyone wants to feel like they play an important role go the world's story. Why, then, do we insist on living such small, selfish lives?"

if you follow me on facebook or twitter, you'll know that was my status/tweet/thought of the day a week or so ago.

i was asked to unpack that comment, and when i tried, i realized that there were a whole bunch of thoughts and ideas that went into that one statement.

here is my attempt to explain the reasoning behind that post. in typing, i realized it was waaaaay more than should be expected to be read in one sitting. i'll post this in three parts--the framework for our story, how it applies to us, and the struggle for living it out.

that will allow for you to read, comment, muse over it, test it for the good and bad, and then hopefully tomorrow or another day soon, i'll have the next two parts up here. i hope this is beneficial to you and to others...and everything ties together, so i might allude to some thoughts before i fully flesh them out. i hope it isn't too confusing. i would really love to hear what you think.

so, part one.

i suppose,
as like with most things,
this thought started with a book.
or two.
or three.

i think the first time 'the story' was imprinted on my mind was as i read through one of rob bell's first books -- either velvet elvis or sex god, i'm not sure which. it might not even be rob bell, but the author explained the tradition of Jewish Passover, that when they read the story of the exodus, they say, 'we are the ones in exile'.

they take the story, and they make it theirs.

so no longer are these tales of miraculous salvation and deliverance only myths and legends that happened one day long ago to people we will never meet;
they are also stories of us,
in bondage to not-God,
enslaved by the things that weigh us down,
longing for a savior,
and knowing that we, ourselves, are hopeful for a better future.

taking the story and making it theirs.

the same thought are modeled in rob bell's jesus wants to save christians, talking about babylon and exile in general, and he even draws parallels with pre-babylonian exile israel and the american empire. fascinating read, really.

taking their story and making it ours.

the last book for the purpose of this post is ishmael,
a didactic novel written by an animist,
daniel quinn,
about our place in society,
and our role in caring for our environment.

within the pages of his book, Quinn points out that there are basically two groups of people in this world: the 'Takers' and the 'Leavers'.

Leavers being defined as those who follow the methods of living their culture has followed for thousands of years, ways that are proved to be good for themselves and the world around them: think Aborigines, Native Americans (not the ones with casinos. the real ones), etc.

and in this story, the Takers are defined as, well, everyone else. They are the agriculturalists, the businessmen, the power- and resource-hungry, living unsustainably, and unconcerned about our impact on our environment: think the average American.

Leavers trust "the gods" (from here on, simplified to "God" for the sole fact that in this story I present there is only one), living in a hunter-gatherer manner, taking only what they need day-to-day, when they go hungry, they know it's the hand of God ensuring the lifecycle will be maintained healthily.

Takers go hungry and instead of trusting God, they say, "screw you!" and industrialize society so that we have more food than we will ever need so we are in control, and God cannot hold the power of life and death. (p. 227 - "when you have more food than you need, then [God has] no power over you!")

later in the book, ishmael again differentiates the two in this manner:

the Takers are the ones that take the power of life and death in their own hands, and the Leavers are the ones who live their lives in the hand of God.

Quinn goes on to talk about the fact that this dichotomy is the result of living out a story.

a story.

the Takers live out a story that Mother Culture has fed them since day one, and she whispers in their ear, "if you don't take [your place in this story], you do not get fed" (p. 36) and as a result, we are driven to enact as story that "is not only disastrous for mankind and for the world, fundamentally unhealthy and unsatisfying. It's a megalomaniacs' fantasy, and enacting it has given the Takers a culture riddled with greed, cruelty, mental illness, crime, and drug addiction" (p. 147)

on the other hand, the Leavers live out a story that doesn't give them power, but rather, provides them with lives that are satisfying and meaningful.

humans are made for a story. whether you believe we evolved from a rock or that you were created in the image of a holy God, we want to be connected to a story, to know that we are important characters in this story, and that we can do great things. whether we admit it or not, we live what we are told we can do.

we pursue what we feel our talents and abilities have allotted us. sometimes we reach for the stars, sometimes we live small. sometimes we live free in the truth that we can do much, and sometimes we hide in the lies that tell us we are good for nothing. sometimes we do these things because people encourage us. other times we do these things because others have discouraged us and we want to prove them wrong.

we live a story. there are a whole bunch out there.

which one we live and to what extent is up to us.

part two coming soon.


genesis 15:6

"And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness."

just finished Job, yesterday. still wrestling with some of that. honestly, i think i'm going to forget what i read. perhaps i will go back and pick it up again later, when i have time.

today, the reading was genesis 12-15, narrating abraham's beginning. i always enjoy his story, because it reminds me of the Old Testament class i took at Mercer. it reminds me that there is so much more to the Bible than being a book that dictates your moral leanings.

it is a book that reminds us of God's love and dedication to his people, that tells of his overwhelming desire for all nations to be blessed, and somehow tells us how we are to live the good way.

Today, the verse that hit me was 15:6.

belief in God, counted as righteousness.

i want to believe God. over and over again, i hear myself in my head, repeating the words the father of the sick child spoke to Jesus,

"oh, I believe! Help me in my unbelief!"

i don't know what all i'm supposed to believe,
but i believe God.




-My friend, Priscilla, in response to my graduate school opportunity.

I have a good life. I should never be sad.

God is phenomenal. And I get to be a little part of it.


of love letters and lifelines.

i have not consistently read the Bible in a while.

i cannot recall for you how long it's been since i've followed through with a full-on "Bible study", partly out of laziness because i'd rather not sift through all of those dates and times and emotions, but perhaps mostly because i know it was something good in my life that i just dropped because i was tired of myself and my endless haughty and prideful rummagings through tradition, and am embarrassed by my lack of desire and will.

not that i should report to you about my endless queue of sins and shortcomings, and not that you don't struggle with the same things, but i often feel that my pulling away from tradition has pulled me away from some of the good things Christianity has made available for Christians.

i think i explained it this weekend as, "respecting and revering tradition, but not relying on it" or something like that. we've often heard that history repeats itself, and the young generations no longer listen to the voice of the old. we have thrown them all out, disgusted with the selfish baby boomers, with war, with consumerism, with hypocrisy, with hate and double standards, with tainted love and imaginary, small, deaf gods whose only purpose is to bring us blessings.

in this, though...

in this.

this disgust,

with the world, with those professing to follow the Christ (but not really), with myself,

i have thrown out the voices of conventional and godly wisdom, alike.

tired of hearing of this Jesus guy and the cool things people say He does, and wanting to actually feel Him, touch Him, know His face and hear His voice,

the only thing i could think to do
was to beg
to be able to pursue Him
by being pursued.

i don't want to make up something just because it's a good answer
or because it's easy.

i get this feeling that when i have a real person job and a real person life i'll stop questioning,
and i'll just slip back into the sunday-wednesday this-is-just-what-i-do-and-how-i-live-there-is-no-conviction-or-experential-basis.

God forbid.

I get these questions, and i'm miserable and broken and confused, and then after a while, i just forget them, and live happily and ignorantly.

and then the questions surface again, and once again, i'm miserable, broken, confused.

but what do i do?

instead of looking for answers,
i wait.

and in wanting God to answer these out of a thundercloud or a mysterious messenger,
and i let my brain rationalize them.
i let books and conventional wisdom rectify them.

and i inadvertently give the ways of this world the ability to decide how i think for me, instead of heeding the pages of a Book that i may have trouble following, but I know was inspired by God, and provides guidance in all areas of life.

and atleast four times in the past month, i have been urged by friends to read the Bible, because it is good, and you don't understand it, but it changes things.

so, with that being said,

chronological (as in, the order the events supposedly occurred)

i think it may take a year. i found a website that gives a reading plan.

i will not use any other supplemental documents unless i need to look up a word. i am not sure what version i will read. i may read a couple versions; who knows.

i will try to keep regular updates on here about what i'm learning and how i feel about it. i'll start on the 15th, which i think is saturday.

here's to truth, peace, hope, and love.

and knowing God has provided for us to find it somewhere.

-------------edit: does anyone want to join me? i'd love to have someone to talk about all this stuff with...to walk through it with...hit me up, i'd love to see what you have to say! http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/47/caug15.htm-----------------