Archive for July, 2004

Open Letter

Posted: July 21, 2004 in Everything

I, like most people, have my own thoughts and views about politics. And in an election year, who doesn’t? But unless you’re married to me, or happen to be in my living room at the moment an election-related news story is reported, you probably won’t hear those views.

Celebrities, however, feel no need to keep their political views confined to marital relations (though if they did most celebrities would still have several people to tell), or their living room (they’re so used to being in our living rooms, I guess they feel at home). So, without commentary on the content of celebrity advocacy, here is my open letter to ALL celebrities.

Dear Celebrity,

I don’t really care all that much about what you think. Your thoughts on global warming, the economy, the war in Iraq, school uniforms, gun control, affirmative action, and anything else you care to speak out on couldn’t concern me less. Don’t be offended, my neighbor has political views–I don’t care what he thinks either.

Yes, I agree that you have a right to advocate what you believe in. We all do, and we all should at times. But just because you can sing or act or dance or direct or write doesn’t make your mind the epicenter for all wisdom. My best friend from high school can juggle. I don’t call him to ask how to vote.

For some reason, Celebrity, you’ve convinced us that you’re smarter and more informed than the “average” American. And it’s true that there are people who equate your financial success and fame with some special acumen.  We tell ourselves, “The Terminator made a lot of money, so Arnold will be a great Governor,” or “Barbara Streisand sings pretty, she must be right about gay-marriage.” But that’s not true, is it?

The never-ending cycle of marriage, divorce, and remarriage is enough to let us know that you don’t have life all figured out. The drug rehabs, the spousal abuse, the anorexia, and “I want a bigger contract” mentality are prevalent enough to show us that your lives, while more glamorous than most, aren’t all that different.

In fact, if the crack journalism of the E! True Hollywood Story can be believed, you all are more frightened, more self-centered, more hurt, and more damaged than many of us.

I suppose much of your rampant talk, Celebrity, can be reduced to a world and culture that almost begs you to say something. Saying something is okay, provided that you think before you speak. And provided that sometimes you just listen, and don’t speak at all.

The New Testament writer, James, had something profound to say about speaking. Whether you trust in God’s Word or not, I think you’ll find wisdom in these words: “let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak.”

Isn’t that something, the idea the what you speak might be more thoughtful if you listen to someone else speak first? It’s an interesting concept, that what you say may be more reflective if not spoken from a quick reflex.

Hollywood Celebrity, you might want to listen to those words. You may consider them before you bash the President or castigate the person who wants to be President. Listening first might cross your mind the next time you get the urge to post your opinion on your website or do an interview with 20/20.

You can always tell yourself that if you don’t have a script then you aren’t required to say anything. You might want to become a person that is quick to listen and slow to speak. As a matter of fact, all of us who live outside of Hollywood might want to be slow to speak too.

Live Your Adventure,

Sean Palmer

PS. Let me know what you think. I’m ready to listen.

Out-Of-Control

Posted: July 19, 2004 in Everything

In a world, and especially a church world, that loves control, I’m falling more out-of-control. I love it! Everyday, I experience more deeply the fact that control is an illusion. Worse yet, control is often a thinly veiled disguise for Godlessness. Sadly, in churches, the people who seem most in control seem the most spiritual. That too is an illusion.

 

When I’m tempted to take my life’s horse by the reins, I re-visit these words from Leonard Sweet’s “A Magna Charta of Trust by an Out-of-Control Disciple.”

 

“I am part of the Church of the Out-of-Control. I once was a control junkie, but now am an Out-of-Control Disciple. I’ve given up my control to God. I trust and obey the Spirit. I’ve jumped off the fence, I’ve stepped over the line, I’ve pulled out all the stops, I’m holding nothing back. There’s no turning back, looking around, slowing down, backing away, letting up, or shutting up. It’s life Against the Odds, Outside the Box, Over the Wall, the game of life played Without Goal Lines other than “Thy Will Be Done…”

 

I’m done lapdogging for the topdogs, the wonderdogs, the overdogs, or even the underdogs. I’m done playing According to the Rules, whether it’s Robert’s Rules of Order or Miss Manner’s Rules of Etiquette or Martha Stewart’s Rules of Living or Louis Farrakhan’s Rules of America’s Least Wanted or Merril Lynch’s Money-minding/Bottom-lining/Ladder-climbing Rules of America’s Most Wanted.

 

I am not here to please the dominant culture or to serve any all-show/no-go bureaucracies. I live to please my Lord and Savior. My spiritual taste-buds have graduated from fizz and froth to Fire and Ice. Sometimes I’m called to sharpen the cutting edge, and sometimes to blunt the cutting edge. Don’t give me that old-time religion. Don’t give me that new-time religion. Give me that all-time religion that’s as hard as rock and as soft as snow.

 

I’ve stopped trying to make life work, and started trying to make life sing. I’m finished with second-hand sensations, third-rate dreams, low-risk high-rise trades and goose-stepping, flag-waving crusades. I no longer live by and for anything but everything God-breathed, Christ-centered, and Spirit-driven.

 

I can’t be bought by any personalities or perks, positions or prizes. I won’t give up, though I will give in… to openness of mind, humbleness of heart, and generosity of spirit. When short-handed and hard-pressed, I will never again hang in there. I will stand in there, I will run in there, I will pray in there, I will sacrifice in there, I will endure in there– in fact I will do everything in there but hang. My face is upward, my feet are forward, my eyes are focused, my way is cloudy, my knees are worn, my seat uncreased, my heart burdened, my spirit light, my road narrow, my mission wide.

 

I won’t be seduced by popularity, traduced by criticism, by hypocrisy, or trivialized by mediocrity. I am organized religion’s best friend, and worst nightmare. I won’t back down, slow down, shut down, or let down until I’m preached out, teached out, healed out or hauled out of God’s mission in the world entrusted to members of the Church of the Out-of-Control… to unbind the confined, whether they’re the downtrodden or the upscale, the overlooked or the underrepresented.

 

My fundamental identity is as a disciple of Jesus–but even more, as a disciple of Jesus who lives in Christ, who doesn’t walk through history simply “in his steps,” but seeks to travel more deeply IN HIS SPIRIT.

 

Until he comes again or calls me home, you can find me filling not killing time so that one day he will pick me out in the lineup of the ages as one of his own. And then… it will be worth it all… to hear these words, the most precious words I can ever hear:

 

‘Well done, thou good and faithful… Out-of-Control Disciple.'”

Quick Quote

Posted: July 18, 2004 in Everything

I’ve had to do a lot of running around lately, so I have not been able to blog much–well, not at all.  So, for the sake of keeping up, here goes!

 

Over the last few years I have come to an ever-deepening conviction that church life should be marked by communal living as much, if not more so, as anything else. The problem is that community forces us to become exposed and vulnerable. Not ever having had true, deep community we don’t know, or have wide distrust, of whether or not it is worth it.

 

I’m provoked by these words from Jean Vanier. “Community is a place of pain, of death of ego. In community, we are sacrificing independence and the pseudo-security of being closed up. We can only live this pain if we are certain that for us being in community is our response to a call from God. If we do not have this certitude, then we won’t be able to stay in community.”