Saturday, September 06, 2008

about and through without shoulding

There is a HUGE difference between writing THROUGH something and writing ABOUT something.

What happened in the sinking of the Titanic, how the ship was breached and the accident, and the result, the FACTS have always been available to me, and I remember reading about the wreck as a new reader in the 60’s. I knew ABOUT the wreck.

Then the movie came out, and I EXPERIENCED the wreck through Rose DeWitt Bukater’s eyes, even if she was a fictional composite character. The Titanic story has the facts all intact, but is written as an experience, and as an experience is compelling.

Rose’s experience living through the Titanic was subjective, in that her experience was unique. MOST of the passengers perished, and so their experience, were they be able to relate it, would have a different twist, but would STILL have the same facts.

The history of the Titanic wreck, as I knew it, was an objective historical account.

Rose DeWitt Bukater’s account was a subjective perspective of the event… it was personalized and inherent to the personalization, came humanization. I could not really comprehend the true tragedy until Rose’s humanness was woven through the facts.

How many times do I talk ABOUT something when I should be talking through it?

And when I talk through it, when I’m sharing My story, and MY perspective, how often do I make the incredible error of assuming my subjective experience is somehow THE objective view?

My story is important, because when I talk about truth, I can best relate truth by relating the truth as I have experienced it in my story, keeping in mind that others may experience something quite different.

I had some difficulty in my marriage, and the story of my life includes my marriage being completely changed, but in the process redeemed. Others have a story that ends in divorce. My story in no way reflects directly on the THEIR story, and to assume so is a disservice to both my story and theirs.

We are made in the image of God, I believe, and as we press INTO that, I think each of our stories have transcendent aspects; each have echoes of God. But there is a huge difference between transcendent echoes, and uniform conformity.

I hope to be more open to hearing the stories of others, and to assuming less about how story SHOULD be. May it be that I should on people less. May it be that I should on myself less.

I guess it's a bit rionic that I just wrote ABOUT writing THROUGH. Almost hypocritical.

Friday, August 29, 2008

becoming a band

Watch the movie “Stand by Me” again if you get a chance.

Contrary to popular belief, men want their friends to know them at a deep level; men want friendship that has a depth that transcends words, and is alive in the silence of fly fishing the same stretch of river, a hundred yards apart, yet joined in a way that only men can be.

And many men have these relationships, these gifts from God that defy explanation, but just ARE. When we hear of men, people we like and respect, who say that their lives don’t have friendships like this, we have no real counsel, because, truth be known, as far as we know, the friendships WE have like that are coincidental… gifts from God that fell in our lap. There is no advice for how to have such gifts “fall in one’s lap”, it either happens as a happy accident, or it doesn’t.

In my life, I have come to recognize some of the elements that make deep friendship possible, and whether they’re universal truths or not, I believe that at least some of what I have discovered is true.

As I look at my own friendships, I have noticed something interesting that is probably close to universal.

I am able to have deep friendships, and I have a number of true friends.

Say I have a close friend, let’s say Bryan, and we can talk about anything, and do.

And I have another friend Scott who I share the same depth of friendship.

And it happens that Scott and Bryan have a deep friendship as well.

Something odd happens when we’re ALL together. Because the conversations and connections have happened one-to-one, even though each of the three of us know each other very well, the stories are not shared stories of us as a group, even though we all know the stories because we’ve had separate conversations in which the stories have been told.

Stories, the recounting of our lives, is the basis for deep friendship, because deep friendship is the creation of story. When men experience life together, as a group, the story looks like “Stand by Me” or “Band of Brothers”.

We’re mid-forties family men, who have to really squeeze to find a time to meet the college buddies, and in reality, it rarely happens for many of us. Maybe it’s partly because of the danger… there is a dangerous element to the things that happen when men get together. Maybe not dangerous in a risky sense, but men together, feeling the weight of the responsibility and expectations come off, are not the same domesticated guys that hang out in the den at home. The change is unnerving for those who depend on the reliability and steadiness of the same men, yet crucial to being alive as a man.

This gets to the “accidental” aspect of friendship.

I have come to realize that deep friendships with a group of guys are possible for almost anyone, it does not have to be some cosmic happy accident.

If a group of men take the time to spend a week together, completely disconnected from everything, and they let it all hang out, what I refer to as “getting our yayas out”… if men can simply BE for a week, but it’s done together, amazing things happen. And further, if they are committed to telling each other, as a group, their life’s story, what happens is amazing.

First, trust happens.

And the conversations between the guys flows, because all of the stories are known by all of the guys.

And the groundwork is done for the story of the group to have a life… the story is the individual stories of the men, woven together into a new shared story of the group.

Such a group, if you’ve ever been a part of one, is like “Stand by Me” or “Band of Brothers”… it satisfies a deep need we have as men to be known, and respected, and loved.

And believe it or not, it reminds domesticated men of their real identity, which means that they will never be domesticated men ever again, but they become men who LIVE in a domesticated world in a much fuller sense.

Men who are part of such a group make better husbands, not because they become more docile and easy to get along with, but because they know they’re part of something larger than the fight that is brewing over the chores. If you have such a small story that your involvement in household chores is a significant part of what defines you as a man, then the fight over the laundry is going to be vicious. Conversely, if you are living in the identity that you are part of a larger group, and that your significance is not in any way defined by your involvement in the laundry, it’s way easier to simply do the laundry… it just ain’t a thing anymore. Life becomes too short to engage in heated negativity over small things, when there is a larger story going on.

There is a group of men who really understand this, and who have dedicated their lives and substantial resources to facilitate this process… to help the process of about five men to become deep friends.

Horizonquest is a ranch where Randy and his team provide an incredible week for a group of men, with the purpose of each man becoming part of the group in a deep way… it is a way to solidify a group and start the shared story. It is about hearing and honoring each other’s story. It’s about engaging in activities together that are more familiar to ranch hands than domesticated city men. It’s about eating gourmet food man style.

And it’s absolutely free. An entire week. I am not kidding.

Check it out for yourself… or email Randy at Pick about five guys, and schedule a week. You’ll never be the same.

for video of my having been there...

Monday, August 25, 2008

the tyranny of assumption

Age and maturity have left an impression on me, most often recognized by the odd noises I make in such strenuous endeavor as tying my shoes. Middle age is here to stay... and whodathunk that middle age was referring more to my waist size than the number and weight of the candles on my birthday cake?

Middle age DOES come with some benefit; there are some assumptions I have been conditioned to make that help conserve energy and the joints, these raw resources spent so frivolously as a youth, but conserved now as the true treasures they are. And I've been thinking today about a helpful assumption I've come to embrace.

I call it the "Lowes Assumption", because I have come to realize that my assumptions, while worthy of names, don't merit the audacity of naming them after myself. Unlike "Boyle's Law", or "Planck Constant", I have deferred MY brain trust to other entities, and as we peruse this one nugget of brain matter, it may become more obvious why I would be so humble. I'm starting to believe my humility is simply accurate assessment.

"Lowes Assumption", states, "for every unfamiliar job I find at hand, there is some equally unfamiliar tool at Lowes that accomplishes this particular job in the most efficient and least painful way, and the cost of the tool varies proportionally with the pain and aggravation of the job"

Got hair stuck in your drain, Lowes has a doohickey that looks like a Zip Tie with little fishhook cuts on each edge... hair in the drain rates less than $3.

The right tool for the right job.

Wisdom starts by embracing an assumption that I didn’t naturally have… up to some point in my life, I approached every problem as if I were the first to have ever experienced it. I reinvented the wheel pretty regularly, and in doing so, wasted some precious and irreplaceable resources.

I have learned that better than answers, I need good questions. Good questions are only possible when I examine my presuppositions; if I assume I’m the first to every experience something, then I’m not likely to seek out wisdom and experience from others.

Ask any question, and then analyze the question… what is assumed in the question… and might it be that the assumption is wrong or that the assumption somehow unnecessarily limits the possible answers?

So here’s a question for God.

God, why am I dealing with the pain and pressure that comes with having less money than I need?

And the assumptions…

· Pain is bad and needs to be dealt with
· Pressure is a bad thing too
· That there is a reason, and if God “tips His hand” I might be able to fix the issue
· That what I believe I need, I actually need
· That there is a better option than what I’m experiencing, and that God should help me find a different experience; a more comfortable experience
· That my comfort is a high priority to both me and God, and that reduced discomfort is by definition a good thing

After challenging my assumption, a “better question” might be to acknowledge the pressure and pain, yet make no further assumptions, to ask for an interpretation before asking for a response.

God, I feel this pressure and pain, and I am not sure how I should interpret it… and without interpretation help, I don’t know what my reaction should be. Lord, I invite you into this, and ask for guidance in interpretation, and wisdom in how to use the interpretation as I decide how to handle this issue.


Lord, free me from the tyranny of my own assumptions.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

why I've been away

I took a break from blogging.

A couple of years ago I really became engaged in blogging on the blogs of others.. I was feeling around to find the gist of the emergent conversation, and wanted perspective on some of the issues facing followers of Jesus... how to love homosexuals, how not to buy into the agenda and ways of the talking heads that purport to lead the church, yet look little like Jesus.

Folks welcomed me, and I learned a pile in a short period of time. I eventually started "Not Safe But Good", and really enjoyed writing, but there was little conversation happening... it seemed like I was talking, yet it was less interactive than I was used to.

I've spend a couple of years in another venue... I've been writing in a forum. It has been working... I've continued to grow and folks have been gracious with me and my process. Most of this has occurred at John Eldredge's site, which one has to log into, with a free account. I sincerely invite anyone who finds anything I've written as remotely interesting to check out this forum. It has the good, the bad, and the ugly... but mostly the good.

I'm undecided about blogging here... whether it's maybe too much Vern-centric... thoughts?


Saturday, April 16, 2005

as the flock, we have no flocking concept

We are supposed to be the flock the Jesus talks about. John 13:35 "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.".

And yet we have years of division and strife. We have fractured community. Some spend more time attracting other Christians to church from existing church relationships than attracting those in serious need. We are more adept at apologetics than we are at meeting needs and being community. Many of us know the arguments regarding our chosen version of salvation theory better than we know how the addiction process works in our own lives. We have to form small groups and have an agenda before we'll hang out with each other.

What went wrong???!! Where did we divert so far from the Gospel? When did Jesus become an American caucasian, stuck in first century middle east? When did we start looking at verses versus looking at context? When did the Bible become an indexed reference book rather than a collection of stories to introduce God? How many times did Jesus toss a verse to someone compared to the number of times He related a story to them?

I've been exploring the emergent church, and have some hope that the paradigm of contention might be over… the we all believe that Truth exists, but that our experience and background changes how we see the Truth, and that our Truth is truth trying to be Truth. I see real hope, and I see more love than I've ever seen.

Few people can be argued into real relationship, but many are attracted by acceptance and love. I've yet to meet anyone comdemned into right relationship with God... maybe that's why Jesus was so hard on those who condemn.

Like the AAers say, "attraction, not promotion."

Monday, April 11, 2005


Based on a conversation on this blog, does anyone care to address these questions?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

emergent vern

I’ve been spending time on various blogs that are run by people in the emergent church. I’ve really enjoyed Karen Haluza’s blog Raw Faith and have recently been spending time on Willzhead. Will Samson and I will be getting together in the next week to talk about funding virtually unfundable Christian services, something I’ve been working on for two years and something that I believe Will and his family are jumping into with both feet (my perception).

I’ve also spent some time on Lessons Learned and Laborings Lost as well as screaming through the masses.

I spend time talking to people I really don’t agree with, as they stretch me, although I always try to be a positive part of the conversation. I stay away from “mental masturbation” of irreconcilable difference, as I just don’t want to waste time. I pick blogs where those that are in the discussion are polite, but above all, bright. (my desire is to talk to people smarter than myself, which isn’t all that hard to accomplish). Lessons Learned and Laborings Lost as well as kidpositive fit this description, as does Willzhead and Raw Faith.

For some reason, I have offended Lessons Learned and Laborings Lost to the point that they’ve turned off comments to all but those recognized in their group. Kidpostive isn’t saying much either. Neither of these blogs are run by people who care to identify themselves from what I can see, and have no contact info to clarify anything offline (unless it's my ignorance of where to look).

To both of these communities, I apologize… it was not my intention to offend you.