Archive for the ‘friendship’ Category

Yes, that’s a bit long for a post title, but it was way better, I thought, than what I’d been planning on calling this post: “Entropy and Corporate Grieving.” I’m still thinking about David Ker’s post “Bon Jovi Gets It” and the dialogue in response, which includes this comment from Codepoke:

The problem, though, is that “church” is not a whole experience. The Sunday morning service cannot begin to handle a whole-truth song. There’s no way to make 100 people deeply join in with a whole-truth song. On Sunday morning, if you present a song that complains against God, even for one line, you’re going to fragment your audience.

This is the post I was trying to write, when I got distracted on “A Grief Rabbit Trail”. It is part of my ongoing thinking about why church songs (and ultimately, the churches, themselves) don’t make much room for sadness and grieving together.

As I’ve pondered this question, I keep coming back to an illustration from a Scientific American article: “Does Time Run Backward in Other Universes?” Now, lest you think I’m smarter than I really am, I’m not. I didn’t actually understand the article. A friend was visiting me and we were doing one of the wonderful things that introverted friends can do together–sitting at the breakfast table, drinking homemade smoothies, reading. I was reading a graduation speech turned into a book. She was reading Scientific American. Periodically, one of us would speak up and share something interesting we’d just read, and then we’d both get quiet again. Personally, I think that is way more social than going to the movies together. But, I digress, don’t I?

In any case, I didn’t really understand much of the article. I kind of thought I followed the reasoning of the first paragraph:

The basic laws of physics work equally well forward or backward in time, yet we perceive time to move in one direction only—toward the future.

But, from there, I lost it (emphasis added).

The asymmetry of time, the arrow that points from past to future, plays an unmistakable role in our everyday lives: it accounts for why we cannot turn an omelet into an egg, why ice cubes never spontaneously unmelt in a glass of water, and why we remember the past but not the future. And the origin of the asymmetry we experience can be traced all the way back to the orderliness of the universe near the big bang. Every time you break an egg, you are doing observational cosmology.

I am?!?!

I could work my way into a tension headache right now trying to figure out some deeper reason why ice cubes don’t unmelt than what I thought was the self-explanatory reason that it’s warmer outside the freezer than in it (at least here in Florida).

But, I digress. Again.  My point is that most of the article did not make sense, except for this one particular illustrated sidebar, where the author was explaining entropy with an analogy to eggs:


And now I’m back to thinking about corporate grieving. I wonder if we feel lonelier in our grieving, because it feels like there are so many more individual ways to be broken and hurting and grieving than there are to be doing fine.

I remember once, when I was going through a very difficult time, I was moaning to a friend how alone I felt in facing what I was. I remember his disagreeing and pointing out some of the other very close friends who were walking with me and supporting me, at great sacrifice to themselves, in so many practical ways.

I had to agree that I wasn’t as alone as I was feeling. But still, I told him, I felt alone in what I was experiencing. I compared it to having friends holding each of my hands as I walked to the guillotine. No amount of friends surrounding me was going to make anybody’s head but mine roll. In that moment and in that suffering, it felt like my experience of grief and sorrow was mine alone. Of all the myriad ways to be fully smashed, I was smashed this way and not that way, and I felt lonely in that.

I think this _____ (is it reality? is it a belief? is it a fact? is it a cultural perception?) contributes to how hard it is to grieve corporately or to find songs that can be sung, grieving, together. Songs which make space for how hard things can be for any given person at any given time.

It’s not all that hard, I’m thinking, to come up with songs that look at all the different angles and perspectives of the one way to be pristine–to praise the One who makes me happy, to celebrate being a sinner saved by grace, to “count your blessings”. While those things are also, in some ways, unique and personal, they (and the feelings that come with them) seem to be more easily shared and understood as common to all people.

I’d guess it’s quite a bit harder to write songs that can bring people together in the feelings that come from the several ways to be slightly cracked. I think there are some, though my mind is drawing a blank. Can you think of any?

But, when it comes to myriad ways to be fully smashed, how do you cross over into that being a corporate experience? I don’t really have any answers. I’m thinking out loud here, trying to come to terms with some of the roots behind why it is so hard.

Quite often in my thinking, I keep coming back to culture. I wonder what friends in Africa would make of my comparing the loneliness of suffering to a broken egg’s higher entropy?

The comparison to there being more ways for an egg to be pristine to be broken makes sense to me, and it makes sense that there are more ways to be lonely in brokenness than in wholeness. But, I wonder, does it make sense to me because it’s the way it is, or because it’s the way my independent culture has taught me to make sense of things?

Even as I ponder and try to put words to this by comparing entropy, broken eggs and suffering, I feel like I’m getting closer to some presuppositions that if I could put my finger on them, I’d be able to question rather than mindlessly operate out of.

Does this need to matter to the average person any more than the reasons why ice doesn’t unmelt? I think it does. Because if I care about being able to suffer-in-relationship (and I do), something’s going to have to change at the level of seeing suffering as insurmountably and ultimately isolating. Part of me keeps thinking (and feeling, to be honest) that it makes sense that suffering is unique and lonely. But another part of me thinks it doesn’t have to be that way. I keep thinking that there has to be a way to grieve corporately in the communities we are part of,  even if only one member of that community is suffering at a given time.

Here are a few more thoughts from the comment thread on the Bon Jovi post I referred to above:

Songs of grief require specifics. You can be happy for a general fact, like that Jesus loves you, because it’s easy to write the backstory for that in your mind. But you can only be sad for something specific. Grief is painful, so we subconsciously need a backstory, but we don’t write sad backstories as easily. So, bringing songs of grief to a large group makes the most sense in the context of someone’s specific grief.

But we’re not used to telling specific stories of grief in public. Sunday morning is not about that, so those songs end up sounding awkward when they’re introduced. Liturgical traditions do tell the stories of Christ’s grief, so the songs make sense.

Anyway, I agree there’s a problem, but it’s not with the songs. The songs fit the environment we’ve created. Change the environment.

How to do that? Is it inevitable to see suffering as isolating? Is it universally inevitable or culturally so? Do songs of grief really require more specifics than songs of praise and joy? Or do they require more specifics because of a specific understanding of the nature of grief in contrast to the nature of happiness?

In finding this explanation of entropy with the various possible states of an egg (pristine, cracked or smashed), I think I’ve found my way not into more answers, but rather into more questions. I am hopeful that that is a positive direction for my thinking to go in on this topic.

I want to be able to grieve corporately. I want to be able to connect with my local church body and not feel like an outsider because I show up at church with a heavy heart or suffering body.

I don’t wrestle with this just for my own sake, but am also thinking of what it means for many of my other friends who I don’t think would want to be relegated to a homogeneous Sunday school class for “people who are currently miserable” in order to feel connected with in their current realities, which include a great deal of suffering.

Somehow, some way, it has to be possible in a public gathering to make space for all the realities–the joys and the sufferings–that people bring with them into community gatherings, in this case, particularly the church.


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To Gild a Lily

I don’t recall having heard this phrase before this week. It appears to be a mix-up of a phrase from a Shakespeare play. But the verse it comes from has moved me all week.

Gilded lily

It’s so easy to want to try to change people. But, quite often, when we try to do that, I think we don’t count the cost or think about what it really would mean to do so.  Sometimes what is lost by the “improvement” is just too great.

I’m not totally against change. But it seems to me that many of the little annoyances we wish our friends or family would change are really so very consistent with what it means for them to be themselves that wishing a specific thing to be different or “better” is to wish lobbed off some of what makes that person who they are.

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A friend sent me the link to this photo from the Telegraph in the U.K. with this caption: “Children play in Tskhinvali, capital of Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia”

Here’s what my friend said about it: “To be happening in a place at war makes it really shocking, but it’s just two kids doing what kids do.”

For all of the horror I feel when I see this picture, especially in its context, I just can’t convince myself that those children are less filled with delight than their eyes and faces suggest in the moment captured here. The gun and the context makes me think I should interpret the picture with horror at children playing out the dynamics they’ve seen, of people terrorizing other people. But those children’s faces won’t let me make sense of the picture exclusively in that way–as only a painful acting out of terror and trauma.

As my friend said, “…it’s just two kids doing what kids do.” I have four children, and I know that look (though it is notoriously hard to capture on camera). They’re happy and they’re freely having fun, for that moment at least, in the middle of all the craziness and horror going around them.

I live with a lot of tension. I can’t find relief, usually, in definitive answers, one side or the other, and usually I find much defensible honesty in the questions that both sides ask on any given topic I sit with tension on. Is war a necessary evil? Is unequivocal pacifism the right answer? I. Just. Don’t. Know. Fill in the extremes, the questions and the challenges of both sides on any number of tensions. And keep responding I. Just.Don’t.Know. And you have the story of much of my life.

This picture captures the horror and delights of life, all mixed together in a way that makes me want to look away. Yet, I can’t really do that. My eyes keep being drawn back to the photo. I’ve had the webpage open to it for a couple days straight now. I’ve so seldom seen a photo that really captures that free (carefree?) look of delight in children. But still. They’re looking carefree while one of them is pointing a gun at the other? While their country is at war? How to make sense of that? I can’t.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this photo articulates very well the tensions I live with in so many areas of my life. I want things to make sense, but they don’t. I want there to be perfect answers, but even good answers to bad problems seem to bring much fallenness with them.  And even the fallenness is not as miserably and perfectly and exclusively hopeless as I might sometimes like to imagine.

I can’t explain the tensions and the emotions that this photo stirs. I only know that they feel honest and real and familiar. By stirring me in such a way that anguish and delight, heart smiles and horror collide, I’m faced even more intensely than usual with the reality that the world has no easy answers, and blanket condemnations are no more helpful than pat answers.

(My Wonderful World Blog from National Geographic has an interesting read about some of the geographical realities that contribute to the Georgia conflict being more complex than it can seem on the surface).

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David Ker is my blogfather. He is the one I thank or blame (depending on my mood) for getting me into this whole blogging thing. I think my comments on his blog were getting too long (imagine that) or something, and he nicely recommended I start my own blog.

Well, I’ve now been blogging a little over a year, and I’m guessing that in blog years, that makes me just about a blogolescent. Which means I’m supposed to rebel, right? And if I’m supposed to rebel, when I hit the blogging teen years, then it really doesn’t matter if I break a few of my blogfather’s hard and fast rules. I don’t remember exactly where these rules are written, but I seem to remember his saying that to be a good blogger one most post frequently. I’ve obviously been breaking that rule. And then, I think I recall his saying that one should never blog about why one has not been blogging frequently. I’m now about to break that rule, too.

Here are the top reasons why Eclexia has become rather unpredictable in her blogging habits:

5. Single Mom. Four Kids. Summer Break. Self explanatory.

4. Blogging is like  mixing pen pals with reality TV. Pen pals, on the one hand, can be fun. On the other hand,I can’t stand reality TV and the stilted drama-for-entertainment-that-pretends-to-be-real-life.  Pen-palling, like blogging, is only a one-dimensional relationship, but that’s not bad in and of itself. You get to meet interesting people and learn interesting things. But, in blogging, to have such public pen pals, in such a big social circle, brings certain social dynamics into the public realm without all the bigger social supporting beams that support face to face relationships. In pen-palling, there usually aren’t social pressures to put a strain on the relationship. On reality TV, social pressures are magnified, but in a context where there is no connection beyond the contrived and limited context to fall back on. And to make it worse, those voices-with-nothing-else-to-back-them-up are very public. Both agreements and disagreements are made more of, I think, in the blogging world than they would be in the rest of life where the people agreeing or disagreeing have more to life and relationship to fall back on than just their intense, disembodied talk. Disagreements on blogs, in my opinion, take on more of the reality TV drama than they ever would in ordinary dialogue, which is anchored in deeper social contexts. I haven’t quite decided, as I get to know and enjoy more online friendships, if I can handle the lopsided and public nature of those friendships, or if I’d just rather revert to the penpal model (I suppose it’s called something like epal these days. Or maybe Facebook.) with the online friends I’ve already made.

3. Some days trying to make sense is just too much work. I recently received this little statement in a daily email I get from StoryPeople:

Thinking there’s not a whole lot to say anymore, now that people listen and he has to make sense.”

With all the joys of meeting so many interesting people, comes the pressure I feel to have to make sense and say something that they–my new friends–will find worthwhile reading. That part was easier when I didn’t know anybody online and didn’t care if I could write well or if I made much sense in what I wrote. Being able to write my thoughts helped me make sense of them to myself. It was an anonymous little world where I could work to try to make sense of my thoughts without social pressure, and then having sorted them out a bit, find it easier to communicate my thoughts in my face-to-face friendships. I wanted a place to struggle to articulate my thoughts on various topics without having to worry about how they would be heard or understood. Now, blogging feels more like real life where I really care about communicating what’s on my heart in a way that real people who I know and like will actually be able to hear and understand what it is I’m trying to say. That people are listening intimidates me a little.

2. Blogging is a lot more like public speaking than I ever imagined. I’m an introvert. I like my friends one a time. I can be quite talkative one-on-one. But you will find me speaking up to a whole group of my friends a whole lot less frequently. I like to be fully engaged with the person I’m communicating with. And you can’t do that with a lot of people. Blogging stresses me out a little bit, because I’m thinking of each of the people I’ve come to know who are reading my blog, and I can’t really talk to each of them. I have to talk to all of them at once. And that is not easy for me.

And the number 1 reason I’ve not been blogging much lately:

1. I don’t have a waterproof laptop in my shower. Just this morning, in my pre-church shower, I had an interesting thought I wanted to blog about, and the words to express it were right there. All of that was gone by the time I got back to my computer. Either I’m delusional in overestimating the profoundness of my shower thoughts, and once I get out, I come back to reality and realize they weren’t all that interesting after all. Or, I’ve got some serious short term memory loss issues going on. Either way, I’m never so confident about my ability to talk about interesting things in interesting ways, as I am when I’m in the shower. Which is, needless to say, not very conducive to blogging.

Well, it might sound like I’ve just talked myself right out of blogging anymore. But for me, the most important step in doing anything is spelling out all the obstacles, and then deciding whether or not I want to really do the thing and if so, how to work with or around the obstacles.

I will say this:  I only want to continue blogging if it gives me energy, rather than takes energy from me. By looking at these challenges, I’m encouraged to think that there might be ways around some of these stressors, so I can continue to enjoy this venue for expressing myself and dialoging with all manner of interesting people who make me think and feel (Thinking and feeling both give me energy. So, blogging really is a good place for me to get energy. But only if I can minimize the above obstacles.)

Any suggestions are appreciated.  Of course, if no one comments, I might think everyone I know has gone away during my quiet time, and if no one I know is reading my blog anymore, I’m back to not having to worry about making sense!

I’m just kidding about that. I do miss chatting with those of you who read and comment here, and I look forward to hearing any thoughts or suggestions you might have as I keep growing up (and hopefully maturing) in blog years. I really do see many things I like about this odd little social realm, and I don’t think I’m ready to totally step out of it yet.

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(for lack of the creative thinking skills needed to come up with a better title)

I suppose my blogging habits of late fit me in with this predictably hyperbolic description, courtesy of David Ker:

the rest of the blogosphere has rolled over on its back and feigned death

I’m supposed to be keeping my word to write a post based on a children’s book or series. But every time I start, I stall. Maybe I’m stuck in the Doldrums (my kids and I are reading The Phantom Tollbooth. What a fun book, and what a delightful description of the Doldrums.)

The reality is that every time I try to put my feelings about one of my favorite books into words, it feels either too pedantic or ends up spoiling the simplicity of the story by making too much of it with my words.

The other thing is that every time I start to write that post, I keep veering off course, and it’s always in the same direction. Today, while reading a book called The Gift of Fear, I found some words that got at the feelings my brain kept veering off to:

The great enemy of perception, and thus of accurate predictions, is judgment. People often learn just enough about something to judge it as belonging in this or that category. They observe bizarre conduct and say, “This guy is just crazy.” Judgments are the automatic pigeonholing of a person or situation simply because some characteristic is familiar to the observer (so whatever that characteristic meant before it must mean again now). Familiarity is comfortable, but such judgments drop the curtain, effectively preventing the observer from seeing the rest of the play.

What I’ve been thinking of is how hard it is for me when people I love experience other people I love (or even God, whom I love) in ways that sort of make sense to me (meaning I understand where they are coming from), but at the same time seem to miss so very much.

Sometimes I think I’d like to be a mediator and make a job of being able to say, “Yes, I see it that way. But what do you think about looking at it this other way, too?”

I read a book about autism and I think I’d like to take what makes sense about autism and people with autism and sit down with other people who just write an autistic person off as strange and say things like, “But, look, see how this makes sense? See why so and so can’t look you in the eye? It’s because he can’t filter things out too easily, and so your eye movements distract him.”

I hear someone disregard a person who is obsessive compulsive and I find myself (compulsively) wanting to explain that from a different perspective than the observer might ever have considered it from.

I hear someone knocking someone for being down and out and I want to let them know the therapeutic value of being depressed sometimes.

I hear someone understanding an outgoing, vivacious person as “shallow” and I want to say, “No, no. It’s not necessarily so. Look at it this way.”

I hear someone making sense of a quiet person as unsocial and friendly, and I want to say, “No. Quiet is not unfriendly. Lack of smile might just mean that they are concentrating hard on what you are saying.”

It’s not that I always have a certain answer for “how people are”. It’s just painful to me to watch people come to rock solid certain conclusions about things which they are only seeing (perhaps are only able to see) from one angle.

I see people highly offended by the “way so and so is” and I want to step in and say, “But look. If you really understood this, that would make sense. At least a little bit. Or maybe it’s just that your assumption would make less absolute sense.” And sometimes getting people to see that their assumptions don’t make absolute sense feels like it would be good progress in the right direction. But…sigh…I don’t think many people agree with me that it would be progress for them to move into the direction of LESS certainty.

I also find myself caught sometimes between people who I love and admire deeply but who stand out as so different, and others who write off those people as weird, or crazy, or ridiculous, or… And I, who loves not standing out, wishes there were a way to be unique or different and not stand out. Wishes, at the very least, that more things about the gloriously varied ways that people are and do made easy sense to other people and didn’t seem strange, odd, or even wrong, just because it (or they) are different.

You know what? The problem isn’t so much, I think, that people don’t understand other people. It’s more that people are quick to understand people only in the categories they already know or understand. They take what, in reality they don’t understand, and make sense of it in ways so that they think they do.

Sometimes I get weary of seeing people pigeonhole other people or situations–making sense of them because that’s easier to do than living with tension or not being able to make sense of. Sometimes I don’t mind trying to cross that gap and help people see what they might be missing by dropping the curtain early.

But, sometimes it’s just easier to live in my own world–seeing what I see, enjoying what I enjoy, loving who I love and holding on to the tensions of people and things I don’t understand. I’m not willing to default to making sense of the tensions just for the sake of my relieving the tension. But I don’t always find it easy to communicate that to other people. And so, sometimes it’s easier just to sit with the different angles I see things from, than trying to talk about how differently I see or understand people or situations that other people have pigeonholed. It’s easier than trying to explain. It’s easier than trying to put into words “another way of looking at it.”

Sigh. Does that make me an introvert?

Sometimes I don’t want to talk about God, either, for the same reason that I don’t always want my friends from different circles to get together (at least not if I’m going to have to hear about it afterwards). It’s not hard for me to see how differently (and why) people see God (or my “strange friends”) differently from how I do.

What’s hard is to try to put into words something bigger or different than the pigeonhole that people put God or some of my friends into, when I see how automatic and easy and firm the pigeonhole is. Sometimes the pigeonhole makes so much sense, in and of itself, and the way I see it–bigger than and outside of the pigeonhole–while it makes sense to me, is admittedly not nearly as satisfactory to other people as the pigeonhole is.

I’m not a debater and I’m not a defender. I know who and what I love. And I feel deeply why I do, and why I can and do still love and admire the people (including God) I do for all of their complicatedness. But sometimes it’s too hard to try to help other people see something else outside of their familiar judgments, which make so much sense to them. Does it matter? Is it even my business to try to clarify or explain or bring to light another perspective than the obvious pigeonhole? Sometimes it feels like it does and is. But I’m not always sure.

What do you think about that above definition of judgments (and is it just me, but does anyone else think “judgment” needs an “e” after the “g” to make the “g” say it’s softer sound? Or am I trying to pigeonhole English writing to make it more comfortable for me? And if so, what am I missing out on seeing here 🙂 ):

Judgments are the automatic pigeonholing of a person or situation simply because some characteristic is familiar to the observer (so whatever that characteristic meant before it must mean again now).

So what do you think when you read that? Agree? Disagree? Does it make you think of a story in your own life or experience? I love stories. Stories help me sort out my own thoughts better (and right now, you can probably tell, these thoughts aren’t too well sorted out, being pretty much on the emotional soapbox level). And stories give me hooks. And, finally, stories are the best ways I find to think about things from other perspectives (because even in this, I’m sure there is more than just the way I’m looking at it, to look at it.)

In any case, whether you have a story to share along these lines, or any other form of comment, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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rock and a hard place

This was the best visual I could find for expressing where I’m at emotionally today. Quitting is too costly. Keeping on going seems, well, pretty near impossible.

I thank God for the perspective of a friend who listened to me wail about being stuck today. Having a friend around when you’re stuck doesn’t necessarily mean you can or will get unstuck. It doesn’t automatically make the impossible seem possible. But a friend can bring perspective to the situation, even if it is just by stating the obvious so obviously that (1) I realize I really do have good reason to despair (i.e. I’m not crazy to be feeling overwhelmed) and (2) I can actually even laugh a little about it (I find it nearly impossible to laugh, alone, when I’m stuck. I have many good and funny friends, though, and I appreciate every little laugh they can eke out of me when I’m down).

It’s amazing how being able to lament with someone else about how hard things are can infuse a desperate situation with a ray of hope. A friend’s very presence reminds me that I’m not alone. One friend can be a tangible reminder of the many other people still in my life. And although I cannot defend or explain exactly how it works, a friend’s listening to my cries (and sometimes crying them with me) gives me courage to keep crying out to God and trusting Him, even in between a rock and a hard place.

Don’t ever underestimate the strength and courage you can give to someone who is stuck, by sitting with them, sharing in their grief and lamenting with them. You may or may not be able to help them see another solution to getting through or even out of their problems. But you honor their suffering by listening. You pass on courage and strength by grieving with them.

Okay, that’s enough philosophizing about pain and suffering and feeling stuck and wanting to quit and the importance of friends being there with you even if they can’t do any better than you can at getting yourself unstuck.

All that’s well and good, and I’m really grateful it’s true.



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Because if I had to reject everyone whose brain thinks and communicates in ways that are different than mine and which are hard for me to understand, I’d miss out on gems like this post from Ancient Hebrew Poetry, “Why I am Not an Atheist”. The whole post is brilliant, and I hope you’ll go there to read it. But, since I find through blog stats that few links are consistently clicked onto, let me highlight this one small selection:

I see a rising tide of evil, and hope against hope in God’s superabounding grace. I see baseless fears everywhere: they just have new names. I see an abundance of racism, and especially classism, wherever I look. It is simply put to more ‘refined’ uses. I see no more wisdom in the current arrangement of roles and time management as it is distributed along gender lines, than was true in the past.

Oh, yes, it is wonderful to hear someone presenting reality as reality, side by side with the hope of God’s superabounding grace, without trying to reconcile things by diluting or denying either how bad things still are in spite of all of our progress or how superabounding the grace of God is. The reality John points out here makes me think and puts words to things I see and feel.

My point, though, is not primarily how much I liked this particular post, as much as it is what I’d be missing out on if I wrote John off as a “hopeless intellectual” just because he often writes about things my brain can’t begin to comprehend in ways that are quite complex.

I subscribe, via Bloglines, to Ancient Hebrew Poetry. Perhaps 80 percent of what I read there goes over my head. I can imagine some of my friends looking at me and asking, “Why bother?” Well, partly it is because the part I do get enriches my life so much. But, another part of it is that I enjoy getting to know and hear about life through John’s eyes and mind. I enjoy having friends, even blogging friends, who make life so interesting because they are so different from me.

If I see a brilliant intellectual, and let that aspect of the person’s personality be all I see, and if I write off that person because of what I don’t understand when they speak, I will have missed that person as a whole person, who is intellectual, but not only “An Intellectual”. I also will have missed the opportunity for my life to be enriched, for my faith to be challenged, for my heart to understand things from perspectives I’d never have arrived at myself.

Aristotle’s Feminist Subject is another blog I follow, but do not often understand. I’m glad I stumbled on the blog and hung around, because I’ve met another nice and interesting (and I mean both of those words as compliments, in spite of how they are often twisted, semantically, to mean other things) person in J.K. Gayle and gleaned so much of value from the small percentage that I do understand of what he writes. It was on that blog that I was introduced to a biography, Same Kind of Different As Me, which has impacted my life and thinking profoundly. It’s the only book I can think of that I found myself weeping after I finished reading. It shook up many of my presuppositions about life, about class, about change, about how God works.

Sometimes I’m intimidated by highly intellectual people. Okay, I usually and almost always am. But I don’t want that intimidation to get in the way of connection with people. The conversations I’ve had with both John and J.K., while only a small part of my whole life, are ones that I am so glad I didn’t miss out on. I treasure these connections and online friendships. And I find that once I get to know the person behind the intellect, the intimidation either goes away or at least becomes not so big of a deal.

And while I say that my life has been enriched by the things I do understand that John and J. K. write, it’s not nearly as utilitarian as it sounds. Mainly I’ve really enjoyed getting to know, however remotely, two interesting people whose amazing intellects happen to be just one part of what makes them interesting and nice people.

Connection in the body of Christ is supposed to cross over barriers. If you can run intellectual and academic circles around me, and I use that as a reason to disdain you, then I’m telling you I can only connect to you if you stop thinking and talking the way God made your brain to work. To me, that is sad and would be a great loss all around.

What do you think? Is there a difference in disdaining people because the way they think is complicated as opposed to any other reason that we disdain people who are different from us? Is it okay to disdain an intellectual, but terrible to disdain someone who is mentally retarded? I see that as highly inconsistent. I would daresay we deceive ourselves if we think it’s acceptable to disdain someone who has more of something than we do–whether it be money, intellect, popularity, etc.–but appalling to disdain someone who has less of the same thing than we do.

If I think I can disdain or write off someone who has “more,” then I have to wonder if my “acceptance” of someone with “less” is really acceptance or merely patronizing? Lately I’ve been thinking that “patronizing” is just the dolled up, socially acceptable version of disdain.

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