Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Latest Beef with Church Stuff

I just realized the other day that I am passionate about a technical issue about religion. I will be vague as to not single out any activity in particular, because this has been culminating over quite some time. And yes, some of it stems from my own frustration with the Sunday night and Wednesday night requirement for church attendance.

Basically, my beef is this: Christians do not have to have a church service to have fellowship and to grow in Christ. I, personally, feel like we too often consider fellowship sitting in a service and shaking hands with those around us at the appointed time (or the 'pony time' in West Texas). I am not against the church service at all—I love it and it is crucial to the life of a Christian—but it is when people have to have a formal service to feel like they have had fellowship or "God time"? that bothers me. I guess that's their decision, but I believe so much in the power of just being together as a source of Christian fellowship.

Case in point: Small groups. Some of the most powerful spiritually moving times I've had are in Christian small groups, even though we had no Bible open and didn't sing any Songs of Faith and Praise. God still reveals himself in my friends' lives, and I need to hear their stories—even though their stories didn't make it into the Bible. Beyond that, I have never had many deep Christian relationships until I was involved in a small group. This is my own fault, but I have to have the small group to survive spiritually. I'll have to admit, though, sometimes if our small group gets real small (like 4-6 people), we just talk about our lives and what's going on, and I still feel spiritually uplifted. Just a note: we certainly use the Bible and scripture in our group, but we don't feel like we have to exegete a passage every night, thank goodness!

This isn't coming out real clear. I would make a horrible church minister. We need the church, we need to worship together as a church, but woe to us if it stops there. A Christian in isolation isn't experiencing life and will easily fall, and a Bible class with 20-60 people is still isolation in my book. If we were not in a small group and did not hang out with our Christian friends outside of "church,"? we'd fall away, even though we would still be at church every Sunday. There are 10 other people in our home group, besides Monica and I, and we would trust our lives with any of them. We would battle Satan with any of them.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where you are with other Christians and are frustrated because you are not having a formal devotional, just drop your guard and get to know one another. Stop thinking that a Church service is the only way you can worship and fellowship with others. You'll never get to know somebody by standing next to them during a service, but you really get to know someone when you play a game, sit around a table, go out and get coffee, eat dinner together, etc. Plus, when you really know the people you are worshiping with, you are worshiping on a whole other level. How many people do you "know"? at church? I certainly don't know enough.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Soccer Weekend

This weekend 8 other guys and me played in a 6 on 6 soccer tournament. We were one of two US teams, and all the other teams were composed of Hispanics. It was a great multicultural experience, and it was put on by MUM and the Iglesia de Cristo at Sycamore View C of C. We played hard, but we only won one game! Actually, I am not totally surprised we only pulled off one win, because we had never played together as a team and we were playing teams that play together every week in leagues.

Needless to say, playing games on a Saturday afternoon in intense heat is not an easy thing to do. By our last game on Sunday we were all pretty wiped out, and it was even worse as the other team destroyed us. Despite all of our misfortune, it is just fun to play soccer. I don't think I'll ever try to play 4 games in 2 days again (granted they were only 44 minute games), but maybe a game here and there would be okay. Also, I owe Monica a weekend because my games took all of our together time.

Have a good week! Hope you had a great honeymoon, Mark and Darci.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Happy Anniversary #3

Just in case you did not have it on your calendars, today is our 3rd anniversary. What a blissful 3 years it has been! I can’t imagine being married to somebody more perfect—Monica is pretty lucky to have me (haha). Monica is incredible and she is my soul mate and my everything. She means more to me than anybody else, and I am still madly and deeply in love with her. God has really blessed our marriage and has been with us every step of the way. Happy Anniversary, Us!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mission: Accomplished

I think you all are getting the wrong impression of me. I really do work hard in school and turn in good papers. My recent performances are not making me look too good. Here is how I look at it: I am still spending about the same amount of time other people do on their papers, I am just doing it all in one sitting.

I also need to say that the Harding Grad M.A. in Counseling program is pretty awesome. It is fairly demanding academically and extremely practical. The hardest part about the program for me is becoming aware of myself in so many ways and then coming to grips with it. Anybody can do the academic work, but it is the soul searching work that makes or breaks you. So, if sometimes it seems like I am not taking the paper writing part of it seriously, I am definitely taking the soul searching part seriously.

Have a great day! I am now finished with my summer semester and the fall semester starts Monday. I am going to enjoy my break!

Monday, August 14, 2006

It Finally Catches Up to Me

So, I have a paper for group counseling due Wednesday. Since it is a counseling paper, I do all my research in the U of M Library and not Harding. So, I check the hours and guess what? It closes at 5 PM (10 minutes ago) and is closed tomorrow so the library staff can have a retreat tomorrow. WHAT IN THE WORLD? HOW IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?

Well, I deserve it. I have been procrastinating too long on my stuff lately and I deserved for this to happen to me, but I am still boiling mad. I have a plan B, though, and it involves Questia.com, finding somewhere that has internet, and taking it as it comes. Plan C involves finding a diamond, a suction cup, and some black clothes to sneak into the U of M library.

In a way, I am kind of glad this is happening. Maybe I’ll get my rear in gear earlier from now on—I doubt it!

Monday, August 7, 2006

Great Comments!

Wow! We did not expect to get so much feedback on those last couple of blogs—Thank you so much. I guess we can all relate to the last-second paper writing procrastination thing, as well as the topic of racism—I am definitely convinced of how important it is to remember that racism is still alive and well, and we don’t need to pretend like it is not important. I will hopefully never again wait that long to write such an important paper.

We went to Hot Springs this weekend to hang out with Brian and April on Lake Hamilton. It was an awesome trip (much thanks to Brian and April), and a well-needed (and well-deserved on m’s part) break for both of us! Unfortunately, we were both kissed by the sun and look a little lobsteresque and feel like we are on fire. We applied, but apparently did not re-apply enough! We thought for a date night we could both just peel skin off each other.

Monica promised pictures on the last blog and they are coming soon. We have birthday pictures, Cali pictures, and lake pictures we need to upload.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

24 Hours Left

Well, I still haven't written a word yet! I just got back from Hell, aka Mustin's Auto Parts on the Tennessee/Mississppi border to pick up a wheel—not a tire, not a hubcap, but the actual wheel part to replace the wheel that was shredded when our ball joint came out of the socket which allowed the axel to land on the inside of our wheel and destroy it like a dog in a teddy bear museum. I call Mustin's Hell because it takes forever to get there (esp. in an unairconditioned truck) and this is the second time I've gone this week, AND both times I had to go 6 miles away to an ATM because they only take cash or check. SO, I bring a check the second time and they tell me they only take company checks (after telling me I could bring a check on Tuesday). I am pretty sure the real Hell will not take Debit or Credit Cards. To make a long story short, I hate Sam's, but I like Holt Tire next to the movie theater, and I now have a used tire on a salvaged wheel that I am pretty sure Hell (Mustin's Auto Parts) made at least $75 off me. Final total for this last car repair including what I had done today is $520. (new ball joint, labor, new wheel, new tire, tire and wheel installation)


My thesis statement: Racism is bad, okay. The church as an institution through its structure and benign neglect of the biblical mandate of unity of all people (Eph 2 and Gal 3:28 and such) is guilty of prejudice and racism. The 90's had Rodney King and the new decade has Hurricane Katrina to remind us of the atmosphere of racial tension we have. If you don't believe me, ask Kanye West and he'll straighten you out.

Basically, I will talk about what racism is, how it is represented theologically, how the church (not the CofC or The Church, as we in The Brethren like to call it at our Brotherhood meetings) has neglected the issue and contributed it, and finally, how I, Ben Thompson, am going to solve the problem with my paper. Here's a hint: I do not believe the solution is to have more black churches and more white churches, and I don't think mere assimilation is the key. However, I am pretty much going to stay away from the phenomenon of having a church of another culture meet in your church building and counting it as reconciliation, or should I say recon-silly-ation. I believe it is so much more than that. We have to be integrated and we have to show the world that the one place that should accept everyone is the church, and stop hiding behind the myth that it would be much worse to integrate than it would to stay separate. In my gut, though, I don't think I am ready for that, and I am pretty sure most Christians aren't either. I have definitely stepped out of my realism box, haven't I? Ignore my ranting and raving, I am a mad man right now.

See you tomorrow.

And yes, we got approached with our first revenue-sharing scheme yesterday. . . we are now officially adults.

UPDATE: I am pleased to announce that Ben finished & turned in his paper (never mind that he barely missed the 4P deadline & had to make a run to the post office to get it postmarked with today’s date on it:)). On another note Cali got her second ‘lion’ haircut this week & we are about to have amazing adventures this weekend so stay tuned for pics!!

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

50 Hour Paper

It begins now. . .

In 50 hours or so (4 PM Friday), I have a 15 page paper due for my Christian Ethics class. This paper is worth 35% of my grade, and needs to be good quality. The topic is racism and how the church often unintentionally upholds it. It should be really interesting—I just have to write it. Basically, I am supporting the position that our current church structure is set up for keeping up the race barrier in churches. Now, I just need 15 pages to support that position. I’ve never waited this long to start, but the summer blues got a hold of me. Summer classes are straight from the devil.

Maybe I’ll update you on the progress as I go along. I bet you are so excited!! Yeah, right!