Realization of Darkness

Thomas Merton talks a lot about the ability to sit still and recognize the darkness in ourselves which then enables us to receive light, or THE Light. I don’t know how in my 30 years as a believer I am just now reading Thomas Merton but thank goodness I am. I have to give credit to a lot of current authors that I stumbled across that have directed me to his stuff: Richard Rohr and Ed Cyzewski.

In the past, as I slumped into dark times and despair that’s all that existed and I would just suffer through it. I’ve always kind of joked that during those times sometimes Satan overplayed his hand and it pushed me back toward safety in acknowledging Christ in me. No need to despair.

Now  that I’ve had a little input from Merton and the others, I am able to be quiet and absorb what is happening and not wait until I’m ready to die to realize that God is in me and is with me. “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” It’s during these times that I can accept this light more than any other time.

I’m quicker to divert from my attempts at fixing things. The waiting is easier. By waiting, I mean acknowledging his presence and not necessarily expecting him to fix it ASAP. I have a whole different perspective on how my faith works during these times. I don’t simply want to just hurry back to comfort(I have a powerful desire for comfort). In Paul’s words, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

I suppose the struggle that buries me is listening to my external self trying to fulfill it’s love of comfort at all costs. When my internal self, the real me, realizes these things aren’t the priority in my life and that I’m already victorious, I can rest and know that God is in control and act accordingly.

Just some thoughts.

The Problem With Social Media…again.

“The artist may well receive the first taste of infused prayer . . . and often quite soon in their spiritual life, especially when the conditions are favorable: but, because of this tragic Promethean tendency to exploit every experience as material for ‘creation,’ the artist may remain there all his life on the threshold, never entering into the banquet, but always running back into the street to tell the passers-by of the wonderful music he has heard coming from inside the palace of the King!”

—Thomas Merton, Echoing Silence

I ditched Facebook and Twitter back in October of 2018. I was tired of looking at the world, it’s wonders and all the activities in it as a possible post.

I get daily emails from author Ed Cyzewski and today he shared the Merton quote above and it really struck a cord.

I believe it touches on a problem that is “common to man” in this age related to all media but especially social media. The most troubling part is the social justice aspect. Merton is talking about prayer but it reminded me of the same thought process behind my drive to post something to social media. I looked at everything as a possible post without really absorbing what it means and what to do with it. I’ve shared this before, no shock. Many people post to social media without ever actually getting in the battle. Myself included. It may not be comparable to entering the banquet since the battle for the King is less desirable than entering the King’s banquet. We post an injustice alert, inspirational quote, bible verse that sound good without living it out. Then walk away proud to have contributed so deeply into everyone’s life.

I’ve been off social media 5 months and still see things as potential posts. I guess this is part of the withdrawal process.

Social Media Recovery

Who the hell is obsessed with their phone on vacation?! Uh…that would apparently be me. In the real world, I was on vacation alternating between sitting on the beach and sifting through my social media apps. I was mentally not present, existing in the under belly of a second world.

Searching for that perfect post, my ultimate purpose of existing in this underground was to find something new to entertain my own second world community. That is the ultimate responsibility of any social media-ite. What’s troubling is I realized that for years I’ve been constantly evaluating everything that crossed my mind throughout my real world day as a possible post to pass on to the second world. Sometimes an original thought/experience. Sometimes a soon-to-be overly shared meme. Sometimes I’m lazy and just repost or share. You would think being on vacation would be so satisfying that I could put the second world on hold. Nope.

socialmedia

Writing clever little posts is just a kindergarten version of what I truly like to do…write.  But, the obsession with the creation of a new post is making me stop short of bigger goals: my blog and a book I’ve been trying to write for 5 years. I’m wasting so much time reading and posting to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I’m not spending anytime thinking or writing about anything in depth.

So it ended a week ago.

I removed Facebook and Twitter from my phone. I kept Instagram because it’s the only app my wife and children all use. I don’t like Instagram, and only follow my family and a few friends, so I will spending very little time on it. I’m already seeing that I spend a miniscule fraction of the time I was on the others.

I will not rejoin the others until I stop thinking in terms of “should I post that?” every minute of the day. Since removing the apps from my phone, I’m not looking at my phone all day but I do still catch myself thinking “I need to post that!”

I know there are positive aspects of social media but they are not outweighed by my desire to freely think through something instead of finding a way to format it into a post and being done with it.

I want to absorb and ponder. It is so superficial to think in terms of how to word a thought instead of pursuing the thought for deeper meanings and application. Instead of immediately passing on a thought, I want it to affect who I am. I want things to cause me to evaluate what I’m experiencing. Then, I want to share it with other people face to face. I can’t help but think this is making the best of what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 5:15-17, “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

I have to get rid of the noise in my head. How can I process and understand what the Lord’s will is if I glean life solely for the purpose of posting?

I want to strive to be better.

Everyone needs to stand down!

I went to China many years ago for the first time. I was told how the government would possibly jail us if we were seen/caught giving out bibles. I was anxious about my visit because of the news stories I heard about China. I was sure someone would turn us in. However, the people were shockingly different from what I expected. They were hospitable and went over the top to accommodate us on anything we needed.

Similarly, the people in our country are perceived to be crazy. Our news outlets do not accurately represent who we are as a people because of the government’s self-serving rhetoric. Our leaders openly push and represent views that are shocking…killing babies or separating them from parents or relatives. Their goal is to keep us at odds with one another by fear.

But their claims of the evils of America are NOT the Americans I know…conservative, liberal or moderate. The majority of the people I know want peace, justice and success for the people in our country. We have hearts and want the best for our fellow human beings.

We get caught up on social media espousing our views but we still go out day to day and help others even contrary to what others declare elsewhere. What else can we do??

How do we focus on THAT? Like the people in China, let’s shock the people we meet in our lives with our love and kindness. This will overwhelm the preconceived notions we have against one another.

How about we stop focusing on the detailed specifics about fixing the entire country to suit our beliefs and just be sacrificially giving to others? Then, shut the hell up about everything else. I imagine wanting the best for others will propagate the results we want rather than attacking each other.

We can continue letting fear drive us, or let love overcomes all things. Ever read 1 Corinthians 13?

The Online Persona

The internet is all fake. If you were wondering.

The internet is full of news that is top news one day and a retraction the next. How do we even know what to believe and what not to believe? Anybody can post anything anywhere and declare it news. On top of that, everyone’s in the habit of deciding what’s trustworthy based on their own bias. I read quiet a few news sources throughout the day and the contrast between the reported stories is striking. I have to glean what seems to be facts and piece together some semblance of truth.

With the stronghold social media has on the internet, social media and internet have become almost synonymous. Social media has become a smorgasbord of news stories, personal anecdotes, social causes, political opinions, cat pictures, and other loads of crap. I particularly like the stories with “Share this with EVERYBODY” which usually means it’s BS. I honestly believe that the most transparent posts I read are from the friends that I would have to say lean toward being bipolar. One minute they post something interesting. The next minute they’re cussing someone out or posting a passive-aggressive against we can only guess who.

Then, the social medias are full of social justice warriors known by their passionate posts and blogs. They rally the troops to some cause with a post, all their like-minded friends like it, they share it, maybe comment strongly, and then everyone goes back to their coffee at the trendy, air conditioned coffee shop. 

What about trolls? What purpose do they play in the internet world? Lately, the majority of those I see labeled as trolls are people that disagree with an opinion or point out a flaw in a article or post. I have been called a troll on multiple occasions because I asked a question to clarify a post or comment in groups that I am part of. I honestly wanted more info but apparently that implied something unacceptable to the masses.

So if this chaos bothers me so much, why do I keep coming back? I come back because it is like watching a NASCAR race. I have no interest in NASCAR other than watching for some big wrecks and then maybe seeing a pit row fight. I don’t have enough interest to care who wins. I want to see the comments where nut-bags argue about any little thing and I hope it develops into a major spat with name calling and berating. I want to see some WWE trash talking that ends up with one participant unconscious and unable to respond.

trainwreck

Oh, yeah. I do read some spiritual stuff.