I was going to do my usual kind of blog post today but I simply can't. Not today. I simply do not have it in me to deal with fundies, dissect antiscience, discuss bad religion or to be snarky with anyone today. I am too happy for any of that. I am filled with deep joy and deep gratitude. Today I just want to watch the Boom-de-yada video on a loop and play Beethoven's Ode to Joy for the entire neighbourhood! Seriously, if you don't know it, look up the lyrics, especially the verse that goes:
"Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!"
and then tell me thats not 7 kinds of awesomeness right there. See today is the day I got to wake up and know that I have been officially cancer free for one year. So all my usual sarcasm, my questions, my opinions about life and struggles with my own stubborn faith can wait for another day. Today I'm taking an intermission.
You know yesterday in the waiting room over at Nuclear Medicine there was this middle aged lady. She said she had a singing and dancing ministry and asked if she could sing us a song. She did that and she did the interpretive dance that went with that and if this was any other day I would be telling you all about that in the most amusing way I could manage. But not today. Not regarding this lady. Sure, she was full of all the usual Pentecostal weirdnesses that I usually like to poke some fun at but she was still wearing the bandaid from where the chemo needle went into her veins and I could never mock someone like that. When I think of her I feel nothing but deep compassion. We do what we have to do to survive the things that happen to us sometimes. Over those things we have no control. How we respond is all we have left in times like these.
So in this spirit of kindness and giving I am instead choosing to take an ad break. Didn't see that one coming did you? Yep, just when you think I'm going to zig, I zag! Now I realise that easily 90% of the people who show up at this blog do so because they were googling "Christian Clipart" and Google Images sent them to my Heaven and Hell blog. But for my actual regular readers - I ♥ you both btw!! - I do want to just take a moment to recommend a book.
My bookshelf has been getting a little crowded and I'm considering a better system for my small (yet growing) personal library. Yet at the same time I'm a little hesitant because looking at it is kind of like looking at the tree rings of my own journey of through life. There are definite phases of my life represented there - the hyper charismatic days with Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland. The really strange days of esoteric prophecy and visions with Rick Joyner and Paul Keith Davis. There are a bunch of books on relationships, figuring out your life purpose, dealing with money, being a man, science vs. faith - all representing things I desperately tried to understand (so yeah, several books on figuring out women) at one or other point in life. At the moment the older, rigid apologetics tomes have given way to more humorous and gently questioning books by the likes of Rob Bell and Don Miller and the drier works on Bible Doctrine to books delving deeper into the Hebrew roots of Christianity with a freshly growing collection of books on science, skepticism and critical thinking growing right alongside it. I was chatting to RandomSue (who should strongly consider blogging again, srsly!!) yesterday and something she said made me realise something interesting about my books. We were talking about Rick Joyner's books and how it never made much sense to her and suddenly I realised just how cliquey those books made a lot of us Christians at the time. See those books (and several others on my shelf) you couldn't simply discuss with just anyone. You could only talk about it with other Christians and not all other Christians at that. It had to be likeminded Christians who were at your "level", people who were into the things you were into and "got it" the way you "got it" (would be very hard to define the "it" in question though so I'm not even going to try). Basically you could only talk to people who read the things you did and liked them the way you did and it fostered this whole attitude to the rest of the world of "Tee hee, we are totally into something you can't begin to grasp!”. This was a fundamentally retarded way of going through life now that I think about it. There is a sharp contrast between those books and the ones I'm into these days. In fact that's one of the things I like about my current reading list, it doesn't have that problem. When I find something interesting in there, odds are it will be interesting to others as well - regardless of their faith, lack of faith, denomination, church attendance or level of "spiritual maturity and insight".
That is why I would like to just recommend Donald Miller's latest book "A million miles in a thousand years". Now if you happened to have read my blog post about The Secret you would know that I have a deep and abiding hatred for books that offer you a magical way of changing your life for the better. I hate pretty much all self-help books (with the fire of a thousand suns!!!) and I'm very much not fond of motivational books* and speakers. Seriously, I get immediately suspicious of any book people call "life changing". So I'm not going to make that claim about this book - the book certainly doesn't claim it about itself - and I'm not going to tell you that its going to transform you into "your best self" or any other Oprah-esque BS like that. All it is, is a simple, very well written, very honest account of a man who wrote an autobiographical novel (Blue like Jazz) which became successful and was offered a movie deal. As he starts working on the screenplay for his own life he realises just how boring and unfulfilling his life had become. So as he learns the principles of storytelling and movie writing he starts applying them to his own life and they actually work. Now I know what you are thinking - that sure does sound like a self help book with a magic formula. It's really not. Yes, in the book Don gets off his couch, loses some weight, meets people, starts relationships and becomes someone a lot less boring but it doesn't promise to do the same for you. It could possibly but that would be up to you. But at the very least it could give you a different perspective on your own life, why you are the way you are and why other people behave they way they do. I don't lightly call things profound, but I found parts of that book to be very profound. It also made me change a few things in my own life. One of the reasons I'm not blogging as much as I want to is because I'm trying to change my own procrastinating ways and putting a bit more effort into my studies these days. I'm also trying to get out of the house more and spend more time with my friends. So far, I'm liking what reading this book has done for me. Try it, who knows, you may just find it meaningful to you too.
*I do own Lance Armstrong's Bio and it is inspirational but I still maintain that if you want to give it as a motivational gift, give it to a single mother raising a son, not a cancer patient. I think she would get the most out of that book. However that too is just my unqualified opinion!