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Monday, September 10, 2012

Beginning again...

My wife listens to a lot of sermons by Jamie Winship. I do not. Not because I don’t like them, but mostly because I’m not nearly as accomplished at being able to listen and absorb that sort of information while doing other tasks. When I do something, I typically commit the most important aspects of my attention to that one thing. But one day when we were driving to an outlet mall about 45 minutes from our home, we listened to one of Jamie Winship’s sermons on “identity.” He’s a great story teller and so it shames me little to admit that I only remember the stories he told. In one story he recalled of his time on the police force. He and his partner went to an apartment complex for some sort of disturbance call (I don’t remember all the details of these stories). They met a woman who, by Winship’s assessment, was demonically possessed. I won’t make any truth judgments on the situation, because, well, I can’t. However, one thing that this woman did was name the details of Winship’s partner’s life. The woman possessed, somehow, knowledge she could not have feasibly possessed at that time. This “naming,” as Winship labeled it, caused his partner to lock-up. The sacredness of his identity lay exposed and the sacrilege of his being “named” by this demon empowered woman was paralyzing.

I haven’t thought much at all about that story until recently. In a completely different set of circumstances through totally dissimilar means, I felt “named.” I felt like for the first time someone dug up the bones of everything I’ve hidden and laid them before me and called me to make a reckoning. I was reading a book called The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer. At one point in the book when he was trying to explain with some clarity the meaning of identity, he freely admitted that he could think of no better way to accomplish this goal than through story. He told the story of two men with nearly identical upbringings but who nevertheless responded differently to the pressures of higher education. One of the characters, Eric, hid away the insecurities brought about by higher education and learned to speak and act like an intellectual, but, as Palmer explains, “always felt fraudulent among people who were, in his eyes, to the manor born.”

This insecurity altered Eric in a way that caused him to “[listen] for weakness rather than strengths in what other people said. He argued with anyone about anything—and responded with veiled contempt to whatever was said in return.”

As much as I hate it, I must claim it. I’ve been named. That’s me. And since I plan to start back up on blogging, I thought it only judicious to name myself before any future posts so that everyone knows what I’m working on and can aid me in the processes necessary for claiming new and better things for myself.

So a little about me. I am often wrong, though I’ll do everything in my power to never admit it. I try to ignore situations where I feel like I don’t have an answer. When pressed, I sometimes make them up. It is utterly ridiculous how tremendously hard it is for me to say, “I don’t know.” Forgive me when I am mean, rude or otherwise short-tempered in how I deal with things. It typically means one of two things: (1) I genuinely believe that what is being said is so observably stupid that it warrants verbal bludgeoning, or (2) I fear you may be right (or more clearly, that I may be wrong) and thus rely upon the posturing of intellectual superiority. Unfortunately, I cannot aid in discerning which one I am guilty of because I spend too little time in self-reflection to often know it myself. I can only hope the careful reader will remind me of when I’m guilty of the latter, and perhaps encourage me to use more appropriate methods for the former.

With that said. I look forward to using this blog for my entertainment, learning and, hopefully and possibly, yours too.