Posts Tagged ‘imago dei

22
Jul
20

Is Regionality Really Real?

Wild WestThe other day, Patrick the dog and I were out walking in our neighborhood here in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Not an unusual thing for us.

As we walked along a street not far from our home, we saw a neighbor couple out working in their yard. Of course, I wanted to avert my eyes, pretend I hadn’t seen them, and keep on walking. But Patrick insisted on stopping and chatting up our “new best friends.”

I found out their names were Frank and Meredith. Frank hailed from Illinois originally, but Meredith was born and raised in Colorado. After explaining that I had only moved here six months earlier, I added, “My wife and I are just AMAZED at how friendly the people are here! It really is awesome.”

To which Meredith replied, “I’ll tell you honestly… it is because of the influence of all of you Midwesterners. People from Colorado really aren’t that friendly – and I say that as a native Coloradan. You folks moving here from Iowa, and Kansas, and Ohio, and Illinois are just rubbing off on us.”

To which I replied, “Huh! Isn’t that interesting?”

After exchanging a few more pleasantries with Frank and Meredith, it was time for Patrick and I to bid them farewell and resume the Hunt for Bunnies (aka, morning walk).

But Meredith’s comment stuck with me. First, I wondered if her observation was really true. I mean, I have met a lot of friendly people from Colorado. I have also met a lot of really UNfriendly people from the Midwest.

But it also made me wonder if there really are such things as a State or Regional Personalities.

Are Midwesterners – on the whole – extraordinarily friendly?

Are Coloradans actually stuck-up and aloof?

Do Californians really check themselves in the mirror every 10 minutes and inject the word “dude” into half their sentences?

And what about people from the South? How closely do they conform to the stereotype that paints them as abnormally bigoted and uneducated?

I remember a sociology teacher in college who told us that stereotypes are so dangerous because most of them, “… begin with a small grain of truth.”

I believe we are drawn to stereotypes initially because they promise to save us time and energy. We shake hands with someone from Rhode Island and think to ourselves, “Since I already know that people from Rhode Island are vicious gossips, I won’t have to wear myself out trying to discover that personality flaw in this guy!”

Too often, though, we stop working to understand that person once the stereotype rears its ugly head.

I am sure there was a day long ago when there was such a thing as “regional flavor.” But then we invented superhighways, and jet airliners, and television, and the Internet, and little by little, our regional quirks and tics all began to blend together. It is no longer unusual for someone to be born in Ohio, move to Seattle, then to Minneapolis, then to Kansas City, then to Chicago, then to Sydney, Australia, then back to Kansas City, and finally to Fort Collins, Colorado… which, incidentally, is the story of my life’s journey.

We are each as unique as our fingerprints. Our personalities and outlooks have been shaped by thousands of different things… including the part(s) of the country we have lived in.

But isn’t it great to be reminded in scripture that EVERY ONE OF US is made in the image of God? (Genesis 1:27), no matter where we hail from? That we each carry Divine DNA in our souls? That even people from Arizona are considered to be, “… a little lower than God…” and have been, “… crowned with glory and honor,”according to the psalmist in Psalm 8?

(Sorry, Arizonans. I had to pick on somebody).

Today I invite us each to pause and celebrate the supernatural ancestry that binds us tightly together in one human family.

But let’s also not forget that the BEST bar-be-que on the planet can be found in Kansas City…

 

Abundant blessings;

09
Apr
19

Need Answers?

Shell answer manIf you want to know what is right, just ask me…

… on virtually ANY topic.

Let’s start with DRIVING. I can tell you how fast you should be driving, which lane you should be in, how (and when) to pass, when to put on your turn signal, how much space you should allow me as you merge into my lane, and exactly how often you should wash your car.

In fact, I just returned from a cross-town trip in my car and offered just about every one of these pieces of advice to other drivers I met on the road.

I am sure my wife is pulling my leg when she insists that other drivers don’t appreciate my wisdom.

I can also tell you the right way to raise your children… especially if you are having a hard time with their behavior in a restaurant, grocery store, or other public places.

SPORTS? I’m your guy.

I have all the right answers for the manager (and players) for our hometown baseball team. I can tell the players when to swing at a pitch and when to let it go by. I can tell them how fast to run the bases, how far back to stand in the field, and – importantly – how long their pant legs should be.

I can tell the manager when to take a pitcher out, when to leave him in, when to steal a base, when to bunt, when to bring someone up from the minors, and when to send them down.

I regularly speak this wisdom directly into the TV screen during games, with little to no effect.

I have just as many right answers to offer the coach, general manager, and scouts for our hometown professional football team, too.

Unsure where you stand on any of the complex political issues of the day? Just give me a call at 1-800-KNOWITALL and I will happily illuminate you.

Heck, I have answers for you on finance, hygiene, etiquette, grooming, clothing style, lawn care, faith, food, and patriotism…

… just to name a few.

Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming about what a wonderful world this would be if only you would each seek – and then apply – my impeccable guidance to the issues you face.

Of course, I kid.

Or do I?

I have discovered that one of the consequences of living in a world filled with people who are not me, who do not live (or believe) in lockstep with me, who sometimes even seem to REVEL in taking a different path, is that I sometimes find it hard NOT to judge… or take a critical view… of “those people.”

Sometimes I do it under the guise of “offering helpful advice.” “This approach worked for me…I’m sure it would work for you, too!”

Sometimes though I fear I might do it out of a deep-seated need to elevate ME… by diminishing YOU.

When Jesus told us (in Luke 6:37), “Do not judge and you will not be judged…” he was giving us several different kinds of life guidance all at once.

Of course, he was guiding us on helpful social norms. He knew that we can easily become irritants to people who constantly receive correction from us… even when we are on target with our critiques.

But I think the primary purpose of this teaching was to help us each develop GRACE and HUMILITY as a necessary prerequisite for loving our neighbors.

See, if I only see you as a “project” to work on instead of as a fully capable, full-functioning child of God with a rich uniqueness to offer the world, I have committed the fundamental sin of IDOLATRY; that is, I am guilty of trying to remake you in MY image, instead of allowing space for the imago dei in which you were originally created to flourish.

My bad.

So you do you and I’ll do me.

And hopefully, we will BOTH observe a common, respectful Code of Conduct when next we meet on the highway.

22
Oct
18

Drawing a Line

Hello!

I have an assignment for you today.

When you find yourself at a place where you have a little flexibility in your schedule, I would like you to stop and draw me a picture.

I would like you to draw me a picture of a person. Please.

It can be a self-portrait, a picture of your spouse or significant other, a picture of a total stranger, or some mythical person… It doesn’t matter.

And just to take a little pressure off, let me add this one additional condition: you can choose to make your drawing a crude, stick figure person, like this: Stick_figure

OR you can decide to make it a detailed, shaded, textured, nuanced genuine work of art, like this:

Mona Lisa

Totally up to you.

OK?

Alright… so this is not a real assignment. You don’t really HAVE to stop and draw me a picture. (Unless you really, really want to).

But I know that if I were on the receiving end of an assignment like this (a REAL assignment… not just some made-up blogger trick assignment), I know which drawing option I would choose.

Due to both a lack of talent and a lack of motivation, I would choose to produce the quick, stick figure drawing option.

And I think that most of us who aren’t professional portrait artists would do the same, wouldn’t we?

The upside of choosing the “stick figure caricature” option, of course, is that it is MUCH quicker and easier.

The downside is that it is much less accurate… much less helpful.

And while you and I don’t ever receive assignments like this in real life, we DO regularly face a similar choice.

When any of us encounters another human being, we are always faced with the choice of how much time and energy we will invest in creating an accurate, detailed picture of that person.

Whether it is someone we have known for a lifetime or someone we just met 10 minutes ago, we can choose to either quickly sketch a stick-figure caricature of them… OR we can spend the necessary time to develop a detailed, shaded, textured, nuanced portrait.

Yes… option “A” (the stick figure option) is quicker and easier. And so often in today’s world, we are motivated to choose solutions that are quick and easy.

But the quick option is usually not accurate or helpful.

This subject seems particularly relevant today…, as those of us in the U.S. are right in the middle of a white-hot political season.

And you know how it goes with election-time advertising messages: MY favored candidate is always painted with the crudest, boldest “good guy” brush-strokes, while the opposing candidate is painted even more crudely as “the very incarnation of evil.”

Somehow we sense that these “cartoon image” pictures of politicians are not really accurate. And yet, most voters rely on very little besides what they see on TV or hear on the radio when choosing for whom to vote.

In the end, our voting decisions (and PLEASE get out and vote!) are very binary; “YES” to this one, “NO” to this one.

No room for maybes.

Let’s not apply that approach to the other people in our lives, OK? Let’s dare to spend the time to try and understand the mystery, the depth, the multi-hued and deeply layered nature of each person.

Let’s recall that when the Psalmist sings God’s praises and says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.” (Psalm 139:14, NRSV), that he also means you, and you, and you, and you, and EVERY person ever.

We also need to remember that you don’t have to be an accomplished artist to consider the rich detail of each person you meet.

 

Abundant Blessings;

04
Dec
17

Seussical, the theology

Ever heard something like this?

dr-seuss-clipart-dr-seuss-round-ornament-9982-907Yes, I want a god…

I want a god all-knowing, all wise.
I want a god with the power
To light up the skies!

I want a god
Who is steadfast and true.
Who – when I’m in a jam
Will know what to do.

I want a god
Who will help when I’m stuck.
Who will answer my questions
Or lend me a buck.

I want a god I can hold
In the palm of my hand.
A god who responds
To my every demand.

I want a god
Who confirms
The truths I believe
A god who will validate
The things I perceive.

None of this world-shaking
Breath-taking
Ineffable, imponderable
Magnificent stuff.

Who needs mystery
And awe
And infinity
And all that ungraspable guff?

Who needs a god
That is higher, greater,
Farther, deeper
Than the limits of my mind?
That kind of God
Puts me in a bind.

I want my god like my power…
Ready to go at the flip of a switch.
Turned on when I need him
The scratch to each itch.

Yes… let there be god.
But let god be good
Let him grant each request
Like a good god should.

Made in MY image
So helpful… so convenient
Who will never intrude
With grace so prevenient.

I’ve heard that prayer more than once. And if you must know, I have heard it from my own lips more than once.

Am I ready today to let God be God?




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