J Walking

J Walking

2007’s end – Things I know, Things I doubt, Things I want to know

At the end of this year there are things I know more assuredly than I did at the year’s beginning, there are things I doubt more than ever, and things I am grateful for (too many to list actually).
Things I know
– I am more confident than I have ever been about the central claim of the Christian faith – that Jesus was physically raised from the dead. No book has been more helpful to me in reaching this conclusion than N.T. Wright’s huge book, The Resurrection of the Son of God.
– That I am really, truly disorganized and that admitting the problem is the first step in finding a cure… or a way to cope.
– That Anne Rice’s next book, the second volume of her Christ Our Lord trilogy, may be one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. It comes out in March. I’ve probably said too much already.
– That I enjoy writing and talking about faith far more than I do writing and talking about politics. I do the latter because I feel like I should.
– That I can have a great life in the midst of chemo.
– That it is time to focus on writing my next book(s). Were I to get by a bus tomorrow and had time to reflect on my life before passing on, one of my great regrets would be not writing all of the books that are in my head.
Things I doubt
– I doubt I will ever see another great political leader. The process for electing them is so noxious, the pursuit of power for the sake of power so prevalent, our standards so low, that I doubt I will ever see another great political leader – at least not in the US.
– I doubt I will ever see another great family drama on television. That’s a shame. Everything seems to be about glorifying the dark and the depressing and calling it all “cutting edge.” Blech.
– I doubt I will ever read all of Shakespeare’s plays – there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to read five of them (let alone all of them).
– I think, as my 40th birthday approaches, I have to come to grips with the reality that I will never: win the Masters, play in the Masters, pitch in the seventh game of the World Series (to a favorable outcome- preferably), win the Tour de France (though with enough doping anything is possible), play outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers and get paid to hit other people, and front a rock band. It isn’t that I wanted to do all of those things – or most of them – but realism demands I state the obvious.
Things for which I am grateful
– Every day of life.
– Kim, Laura, Rachel, Livvy, and Aidan… and Sam the furry dog.
– New friendships – particularly Anne, Alane, Betsy, Greg, Marcia, Jen, Scott, Andrea, Burns, and Spence.
– Old friendships – too many too mention but especially John, Bill, Drew, Darren, Michael, Frank, Jim, Bart, Jeff, Jon, Martha, Marcie, John, Nina, Dan, Michelle, Russ, Joe, and the family.
– Family.
and on and on and on and on.
Happy 2008 everyone.

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posted January 1, 2008 at 9:46 am

What I know is limited, (no matter how much I may know), while what I do not know is limitless. That makes me ignorant, (and hopefully humble enough to learn.) What perplexes me is those who belief they know what they do not know, who approach the world with a template into which they attempt to fit everything they are unprepared to examine openly.
May we each strive to be open enough to see the world with new eyes, the eyes that we see in young children who engage the world without knowledge and are starstruck by its beauty and complexity. As adults we feel resonance with the child we see discovering the world; but can we set aside our templates long enough to recover the value of joyful ignorance on the threshold of discovery?
Be open and alive today; you will be amazed at what you will experience.

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posted January 1, 2008 at 10:18 am

Mr. Kuo,
I don’t always agree with you, but I sense that you are someone of kindness and integrity. I wish you nothing but the best in the new year.

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posted January 1, 2008 at 10:31 am

I have a painting, as yet unfinished, that I started as a way to express what it is that I know – truly know, as opposed to believe, think, feel. It may never be finished.
Wishing you the best in the new year! Please do write those books!

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posted January 1, 2008 at 11:13 am

Happy New Year to you and your family and to all my friends here.

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Steven Carr

posted January 1, 2008 at 11:23 am

Wright’ resurrection book leaves many questions unanswered.
Here are some of them :-
Paul writes ‘The first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam became a life-giving spirit’.
Does the typology mean Paul expected Christians to share in the nature of the two Adams, firstly as what they are now, and secondly as life-giving spirits?
Many converts to Jesus-worship in Corinth scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise a corpse. What evangelistic methods had been used to convert them to Jesus-worship?
Were these Jesus-worshipping resurrection-scoffers familiar with Old Testament stories of God breathing life into dead matter to create Adam, or with stories of Moses returning from the grave to speak to Jesus?
I emailed the Bishop of Durham (I live in Durham) with these questions on 20/11/2007, but I have receieved no answer.
who believe that ‘the resurrection’ has already in some sense happened to all the righteous, but the people who, on the normal grounds comment to pagan antiquity and post-Enlightenment modernity, deny that any such a thing can happen.’
The ‘this’ in that sentence refers to the denial by recent Christian converts that God would choose to raise corpses.
Wow! Those Christian converts really saw through the claims of the apostles that God had raised a corpse. They simply denied it.
So why had they converted?
Clearly they had never been converted by any stories of corpses rising.
Wright also claims on page 330 that there is ‘no reason’ to suppose that these people ‘denied any form of future life at all.’
Perhaps Wright should tell us why they refused to take part in baptism for the dead, if they believed that the dead were going to live on.
Even Wright claims on page 338 that baptism for the dead meant that people thought of the dead as ‘still in some sense alive’.
So why did some people refuse to take part in baptism for the dead, when Wright produces his claim that there is ‘no reason’ to suppose that these people ‘denied any form of future life at all.’? Surely their refusal to take part in baptism for the dead is a very good reason to suppose that they denied that the dead were still alive.
It is obvious that the converts to Christianity in Corinth believed that Jesus was still alive, but scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise flesh and blood bodies.
That led them to deny a future bodily resurrection, and any possibility of an after life for themselves, as they believed they only had an earthly body , and they knew exactly what happened to earthly bodies.
Jesus, of course, was a god, and so Christians could believe Jesus was still alive, and could make appearances, and still leave his body behind in the grave.
Paul corrects the Jesus-converts in Corinth by telling them that they will live on like Jesus did, because they will also become life-giving spirits like he did.

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Sotto Voce

posted January 1, 2008 at 12:06 pm

I’m happy to see 2007 go. The last two or three months in particular have been rough, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The black dog was on me, with a vengeance. At times, I was tempted to give in to despair. But I invariably realized that every blow also carried with it some blessing, revelation or clarification.
All my life I have been blessed, directly and indirectly, by the encouragement of everyday saints. Your continued public witness has certainly provided some illumination in a dark time. All politics aside, we need faith & hope like oxygen and many of us have been slowly suffocating. You’re a breath of fresh air.
God bless you, your family and all your endeavors in 2008.

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Larry Parker

posted January 1, 2008 at 1:14 pm

**I doubt I will ever see another great political leader. The process for electing them is so noxious, the pursuit of power for the sake of power so prevalent, our standards so low, that I doubt I will ever see another great political leader – at least not in the US.**
I agree with or at least understand all of your New Year’s “realizations” except this one. Isn’t the very cynicism you betray the very thing that will keep this from happening? No cynicism, no worst outcome.
I realize there is a lot of cynicism regarding the political process today — and understandably so. But you had the misfortune of working for a President who came across as particularly idealistic but was in fact particularly cynical. That doesn’t mean it will always be that way.
I see at least one candidate who can break us out of the trap — a certain senator from Illinois …

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posted January 1, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Happy New Year, David.
Assuming you’re right that we won’t see another great political leader in our lifetimes, is that a terrible thing? Sure, it’s regrettable that neither Lincoln nor FDR could be serious presidential candidates today, but as Christians, we don’t (or at least we shouldn’t) expect our salvation to come from Washington, D.C. We need great citizens more than we need great leaders.

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posted January 1, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Aquaman – my husband said – I am tired of looking for leaders – I want citizens who think.

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posted January 1, 2008 at 9:17 pm

I too doubt that we will see another great political leader of the stature of the giants who once led us. David named only a few of the reasons for that. Other reasons include that fact that we are so cynical, so jaded, so childishly anti-authoritarian, so materialistic, so short-sighted, so lazy, so ill-informed, and so self-centered and self-important that I doubt we would allow a truly great man or woman to ascend to power. I think you might be onto something, aquaman, that we need great citizens, perhaps more than we need great leaders. Perhaps it’s true that if we want to have great leaders, we need to, once again, become a great people and great citizens, and yes, Thinker, great thinkers. If we become great ourselves, we may be better able to recognize greatness in others.
Happy New Year, everyone!

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posted January 1, 2008 at 10:25 pm

we get the leaders that we deserve

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posted January 1, 2008 at 11:00 pm

OK, let us pretend we’re in heaven. We’re sitting around the warmth in big ol easy chairs. We see all those people we have admired. There’s St. Francis, there’s Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi. There’s Moses and the Buddha and of course there’s Jesus. We’re all looking at the terrible condition of the world and wondering – who the heck is going to fix things this time. God – who is named – I Am – looks around at the many souls gathered – the passions of life still alive in their admirers. Gandhi tells God – I’ve done it all. I fasted, I was in prison, I led millions to non violence. St. Francis remembers gathering a generation of seekers and the great change he was able to spark in church and faithful. Moses says, I did forty years and still didn’t get it right. Jesus says – I’ve done it all – given it all – they just don’t remember very well. Mother Theresa is there – content to be in the presence of God at last. They’ve been all the way around the crowd and finally the warmth settles on – you and perhaps me – “no, I’m not worthy we say. It’s too hard. I don’t know what to do.” You can do it – they say – these leaders and saints. “none of us knew what to do. We were just faithful. And so – in this dream of heaven – we are sent without real direction – but with the models of goodness that God has given us.
This is not original. I recall reading a short piece that was somewhat similar many years ago. those of us here in this place and this time want leaders, but do not trust God enough to be what God created us to be- faithful – not successful – just faithful. Great Leaders are never sure of what will happen, but trust that following the models of holiness who came before will be the vision of a future. It is never about religious correctness and always about trust. We have had 7 years of religious correctness – it has almost destroyed us and the world around us. These leaders are not particularly evil – just without a trust in the goodness of God and God’s humanity. Without such trust we fall into a virtual whirlwind of distrust and violence, poverty and greed. I pray for trust, for faith, never for certainty. I must believe that our lives have meaning for one another – God’s gift of connection to all things – all One – is a mystery. We are connected to one another in this place, in our churches, our schools, our families and yes – even in our government. Creating disconnect, making sure others appear evil in the light of our “goodness” is not what it is about. I pray to create only connections – perhaps that is the only leadership I will ever display. I will do it imperfectly, but I pray to at least keep that vision

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posted January 2, 2008 at 8:09 am

How do you protect the ones you love (which is a Christian mandate) if you do not point out the evil people trying to hurt them? You do that by comparing words and deeds. All the love in the world will not help anyone if apathy and silence is implemented in the name of tolerance and diversity that is really just Humanism in neologism. And expunging comments that do not march lock-step with Leftist politics is certainly not a good thing either. Jesus and Ghandi were betrayed and killed by people that got close to them. Yet, they spoke out anyway.

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Trish Ryan

posted January 2, 2008 at 11:13 am

If you write the second book, that might qualify you for the Stephen King/Amy Tan rock band, which would mean you accomplished a goal AND saw a dream resurrected!
I’m grateful you still talk about politics. Your perspective is often one of the few I can stand, in between the extremes. You’ve made it possible for me to re-engage the political process (it all seemed too hopeless before). Just thought I’d let you know that your efforts are bearing some fruit :)
Here’s to a 2008 that exceeds our expectations!

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posted January 2, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Donny, don’t forget that Jesus commands us to love one another– even “the evil people” who would harm those we hold most dear. I confess I fall far short of carrying out this command from our Lord.
Also, don’t forget that God is love. If “all the love in the world” truly isn’t enough to solve a problem, the answer isn’t to turn to something besides love– it’s to increase the amount of love in the world, by surrendering our very selves to God so He might use us as His instruments.

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jen halverson

posted January 2, 2008 at 3:51 pm

great post…
happy new year to you & your family!
can’t wait to read the next book!!

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c kitty

posted January 2, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Thinker hits the nail on the head. If we really, really trusted in God, if we really, really believed in how He has shown us we are to live, if we really, really surrendered to His will, we would care as much for those we don’t love as those we do love. We would not think killing is a good solution to almost any problem. We would not think we were good at judging others. We would not savage each other with cruel words in His name. We would trust Him with out lives, not just our after-lives. But the truth is that we trust our own faulty judgment more than what we know to be God’s will. In essence we trust ourselves more than we trust God.

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posted January 2, 2008 at 9:54 pm

David, come on man!
If you want to read all of Shakespeare’s play, what’s the problem? If you had said that you doubted you would be able to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica– okay, that I could see as a daunting prospect. But you’re just five plays short of having read all 37 plays? You’re in the home stretch.
I set out to read all the Russians in 1970 and I’m still hacking away at minor works of Dostoevsky (just finished “the Double”), Nikolai Gogol, etc. My big mistake there was to read all the great and acknowledged masterpieces first,and all the poetry, leaving me with quite a lot of uh lets say less acclaimed efforts for my push to the finish line. But it’s worth it, in the end.
Giveth Not Up.

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