HahYuhDooin?

Don McIntyre's blog. See www.donmcintyre.com

8/10/2013

Love is... (Interpretive Paraphrase of I Corinthians 13:4-7)

Love is patient. That is, love is not over eager to “fix” or “improve” the other.
Love is kind. That is, love does not decide how to express itself and then assume that’s what the other needs. Rather, love looks to define itself by the other's true needs.
Love is not jealous. That is, love does not resent the other for his or her special gifts or abilities, his or her unique role or advantages.
Love does not play the moral rivalry game, or at least does not try to win it.
Love is not rude. Does not habitually assume that its own needs or impulses have priority.
Love is not quick to tighten its jaw just become some expectation has not been satisfied.
Love does not keep a mental list of points that can be brought up during an argument.
Love is willing to consider an uncomfortable truth that might produce spiritual growth.
Love can put up with just about anything, is eager to believe the best, and can see a good and powerful God at work in the midst of even the most troubling circumstances.

*

Notes:
1. Whenever I officiate at a wedding, this is included. I have been surprised by how many comments it has received, and how many requests for a copy. So here it is.

2. It never ceases to amaze me what new power and relevance biblical truths have when they are merely reworded for a contemporary audience, even Christian people who have been studying their Bibles for years. (For many more of my interpretive paraphrases, see elsewhere in this blog, and my book Little Crucifixions.)

4/13/2013

Dear politically conservative Christian,

Your biblical faith calls you to be a good citizen of your country, but it is nothing short of idolatry to try to use Christianity as a means to an end - that of saving America.
  • Yes, America as a nation has rejected, or is rejecting, the Christian faith as it is defined in the New Testament.
  • Yes, to reject the Christian faith - once it is properly understood and exemplified - is a great tragedy, and leads to destruction.
  • Yes, if America as a nation began to be truly repentant (as it is defined in the New Testament), its worldly fortunes might begin to turn around,
  • and your own American-style comforts and opportunities might remain safe for a while longer.
However, the significance of such things dwindles in comparison to
  • The fact that nations and earthly kingdoms - including this one - rise and fall. It is in their nature, and unavoidable.
  • The Third commandment, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain," which does not mean saying "goddam," but means something immeasurably more serious: invoking the name and authority of the true God in support of a cause that is not part of His own agenda for humanity.
  • The need to repent from our own clinging to American-style comforts and opportunities.
  • The requirement upon you to "love God (not America) with all your heart, soul, mind and strength," and to "seek first the Kingdom of God (not America) and His righteousness (rather than political victory)."
Is there any fragment of American patriotism in your "evangelism"? If so, then like the progressive Christians you delight in defeating, your faith has been highjacked and cheapened by something profoundly dishonoring to the Jesus of the New Testament.

2/01/2013

A Strategy for Making Interpersonal Conflict the Beneficial Experience it Can Be

"There must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you."   – I Corinthians 11:19

Step #1 – Enter the explicit presence of the God who forgives, and ask for his guidance.

Step #2 – Think about the differences::

  • What character flaws of MINE are being exposed by this situation?
  • What character flaws of THE OTHER PERSON are being exposed by this situation?
  • How is the Holy Spirit speaking to me (to which I should be vulnerable)?
  • How is the Accuser speaking to me (which I should reject via the Scriptures)?
  • What's just messy humanity - that is, limits on the possibility of resolution due to social context, inability to have a healthy face-to-face discussion, unavailability of third parties that could assist, etc.?
Step #3 – More prayer.

Step #4 - Never fear legitimate anger or the appropriate ways in can be expressed. God made us with the possibility of legitimate anger - when appropriate personal boundaries are assaulted. Legitimate anger is often confused with its more dangerous corrupt cousin: a settled attitude of resentment, which is always wrong and destructive. Consider the possibility that the other person might have legitimate reason to be angry with you. If that is possible, you must come to that person with humility. If you feel you have legitimate reason for anger, then you do no good by minimizing that fact. Forgiveness is impossible until legitimate anger and/or a settled attitude of resentment are both dealt with redemptively. Do not attempt to move on until these issues are settled between your conscience and God.

Step #5 – Settle all issues of forgiveness, and if necessary, as it often is, seek wise counsel.

Step #6 – "As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people." Now is the time to have that uncomfortable conversation with the person, if it is possible. (Sometimes it is not possible, but don't simply run away from the very kind of experience that is essential to human maturity.)

Step #7 –Note previous experiences of interpersonal conflict. Identify recurring themes and issues.

Step #8 – Talk to God about resolution of this experience in your own secret (“inner”) life. God has the right to bring it back to your mind when it would be helpful to do so, but only God has that right.

Step #9 - File this record for future reference. It's invaluable to recognize recurring themes and issues.

12/17/2012


When
(1) everyone is horrified to the maximum degree by an event, and
(2) everyone wants to stop it from ever happening again, and
(3) almost everyone offers a solution (or a piece of a supposed solution), but
(4) we know for certain that similar events will continue to happen, no matter what -

-Then we may draw three conclusions:

A. The most fundamental root issues, if we were to go exploring behind and beneath all the rhetoric of pseudo-solutions, are matters that most people, most of the time, habitually evade because they are incredibly personal and uncomfortable.

B. The best and truest solution is not even on the radar screen of most people most of the time, and when it ever is (rarely) hinted at, it will be ignored, ridiculed, or utterly misunderstood.

C. People - Americans, certainly - hate to feel vulnerable, and therefore will almost always turn grief into grievance.

12/16/2012

One Little Child

I have received some requests regarding this old song of mine.

A recorded version is not currently available on the internet. I will try to remedy that before Christmas. When I do, it will be found here:

The "Leaving Lukewarm" Collection at donmcintyre.bandcamp.com/ 

Here are the lyrics:

Mary, (C) do not be afraid. You have (Am) found favor with God
And be (F) hold, you shall conceive, and your (Dm) womb will bear a child (G7)
(C) And you shall (E7) name him (Am) Jesus - (Dm7) one little child (G7)
Shepherds, (C) do not be afraid, for be (Am) hold, I bring to you
good (F) news of endless joy. For to (Dm) day is born to you (G7)
a (C) savior, who is (E7) Christ the (Am) Lord - (Dm7) (G7) one little (C) child

All our (F) hopes and our (Dm7) fears, all (G) our (C) joys and our (Am) tears,
from the be (Dm7) ginning of (G7) time till the (C) end
have been (F) caught in one (Dm7) moment (G) and (C) gathered to (Am) gether
like they'll (Dm7) never be gathered a (Fmaj7) gain
in a (dm7) manger in (G7) Bethle (C) hem

He sat lofty on his throne while angels constantly adored
All history fulfilled his will. Creation called him Lord.
Perfect in power and glory, never defiled.
In the fulness of the time, he stood a distance from his throne,
removed his power, removed his glory, stood there all alone,
and came from Heaven, lowly and mild, as one little child.

All our hopes and our fears, all our joys and our tears,
from the beginning of time till the end
have been caught in one moment and gathered together
like they'll never be gathered again
in a manger in Bethlehem

In a stable, near the inn that had no room for such a guest,
the head that lies now sleeping on a joyful mother's breast
will someday wear a crown of thorns: "The King of the Jews"
And the hands that rest so gently on the gifts that came from kings,
and the feet that lie so warmly as a shepherd sweetly sings
will someday be pierced clear through for me and for you.

All our hopes and our fears, all our joys and our tears,
from the beginning of time till the end
have been caught in one moment and gathered together
like they'll never be gathered again
in a manger in Bethlehem

All our hopes and our fears, all our joys and our tears,
from the beginning of time till the end
now depend for all time on that one little child
in a manger in Bethlehem
in a manger in Bethlehem

10/08/2012

Politics in the USA


9/10/2012

Interpretive Paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 12:01-08

We entrust ourselves to the futile things that seem to matter at the time, says the one who knows.

While you are young,
before the inevitable days of sorrow come
when you will say, "Whatever."
Do all you can to keep the True God - the Ultimate, Personal Source and Destination - in your awareness

Before your seeming lights turn dark...
Before clouds have too often been on the horizon...
Before the last anxieties loom...

...When all doors are shut.
The factory makes barely any noise at all.
The softest birdsong awakes.

Fear keeps you at home, though all is in bloom.
Wild fruit is everywhere, but those who would eat it are fatigued.

You are preparing for Eternity Revealed while those who will miss you prepare to mourn
who watch their precious link to you desolving,
a dozen unique benefits dwindling,
your support becoming fragile.

What they knew most of you will return to soil
As what they knew least returns to God, who knows you best.

9/07/2012

Election Spirits



[The following is a reprint of something I published in 2004, which is significant because it came about during an election eventually won by the Republicans. In other words, it arose in an environment that is different in many ways from the one in which we currently live. I found myself thinking about this essay many times in recent months. I'm reprinting it because I think it is critically relevant in all elections (please excuse my arrogance).]

What will be the deciding factor in the neck 'n neck presidential election? So many people have been spending so much energy saying so many of the same old slogans to so many habitual "undecideds” that a lot of really important stuff has got to be getting lost in the rhetorical shuffle.

1. The election will be decided on issues and substance (if "our" guy wins)
2. The election will be decided on illegitimately funded deception (if "their" guy wins)

Those are the two main schools of thought. I’d like to add one more, one that gets virtually no attention at all in the world of public policy hype. It is at least worth considering the possibility that this election, as well as several if not all previous ones, will be decided by - please! I beg for your brief indulgence - spirits.

That word is cumbersome because, like the words flu and religion, it has far too many possible definitions. It appears in front of liquor stores as in, "Wine and Spirits." It is heard at high school pep rallies, which are now called "spirit rallies." Or we hear that someone has a lot of "spirit," as in spunk or energy. Then of course, there are the TV preachers with their Holy and various unholy spirits.

But spirits in presidential politics? Strange, indeed.

There are some provocative common threads in the examples I just gave. The booze drinker becomes, in various combinations, looser, sillier or angrier, less bothered, more confident, and eventually, sleepy. Significantly, the condition is not simply physical, emotional or intellectual. The effect of drinking alcohol, and especially of drunkenness, is what we might call a wholistic one. Alcohol gets to your essence, wherever that is. We might say that alcohol changes one's "spirit" - one’s indefinable center of gravity. That is why it is called a spirit. To drink it is to, let us say, invite in a new spirit (often along with a new year).

Likewise with a pep rally. What is going on there? Through various chants, called cheers, mildly ritualistic bodily movements, and inspirational speeches, students drum up a sort of group identity and group focus which motivates them toward some action, often defeating the other team (!). Much of the affect is conscious and planned, but as with alcohol, there is a great deal going on beneath the surface as well. Though pep rallies are usually harmless, it is worth noting that, down through history, similar behaviors have often created volatile mobs.

In short , the affect is not unlike that produced by alcohol, except that the energies or forces are of a different kind, and there is perhaps more group reinforcement. Still, the general tone of the psyche is changed: thoughts are gathered and focused in a certain direction, strong feelings are stirred, and certain inhibitions are dispensed with. The level of rational objectivity is lowered, or sometimes eliminated altogether.

With all this in mind, let me offer a possible contemporary definition for the word spirit, one that accounts for the whole range of nuanced meaning, whether refering to alcohol, pep rallies, energetic children, TV preachers or psychologists.

Spirits are any of various powerful, largely subconscious attitudes or impulses within people, whose sources are to some degree sub-rational, that cross ordinary physical, psychological or social boundaries and express themselves inevitably in behavior.

What will decide the election? I want to suggest the subject of spirits as a possible direction for analysis. Honestly, I do not see the election of a president as all that rational or conscious a process - for anyone. If it is so rational, why do most people say they hate negative campaigning - even though the professionals know negative campaigning “works”? Why would it be so important, as it clearly is, for media types to repeat the same talking points over and over again long after we can repeat them in our sleep?

How could there be so many undecided voters when the two candidates seem so diametrically opposed? What makes otherwise normal people stand in the rain on freeway overpasses, waving and holding up signs, when almost all of us, no matter who we vote for, almost always end up disillusioned a year later? How can we get so excited about lawyers, who we despise and ridicule on a daily basis, just because they want to run for office and become even more unaccountable?

The answer, I think, might be - spirits. Largely without our conscious or rational participation, we are imbibing some mind altering beverage; we are surrounding ourselves with some mysterious covert pep rally; we are driven by invisible ghosts of one sort or another.

Is there a better way to explain the most disturbing fact of every election season - that far too many of us become certain that our own point of view is clearly superior, and that all the over-simplifications, half-truths and bogeymen are on the other side? Would we allow ourselves such blatant stupidity in any other area of our lives (except sex perhaps)?

I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, not in the usual sense of the term, because I think everyone - everyone - is being fooled by it. Through our choice of television shows, films, magazines, websites, books, music, school and church, through our chosen friends and social environments, our workplaces and who knows what else - we are spirited in a certain direction.

It starts out as a somewhat rational and objective process. Some conscious choice is involved. But eventually it becomes a train with an unearthly momentum. You could not get off, even if you were able to consider that possibility - which most can not. The more minds it controls, the more out of control the train itself becomes. And everything else is just the necessary habitual distraction we call our daily lives.

What if blind self-righteousness is as much a political as a religious thing?

8/22/2012


The wonderful and profound meaning of money:

No matter how much money you (think you) have or (think you) don't have,
there are limits on what you can buy.

All self-justifying and self-congratulating rhetoric aside, what you end up buying proves and demonstrates your
-priorities
-values
-identity
-religion and ethics

Cigarettes? Charities? Booze? Causes? Investments? Entertainment? Rent/Mortgage? Support of others? Purchases? Necessities? Luxuries?

When the time comes to prove who you you REALLY are,
how you spent the money you have will remove all doubt
to all observers.

8/15/2012

Confusing the Roles: bad for everyone

    One very great confusion is the confusion between the roles of government on the one hand, and the role of followers of Christ on the other.
    It is the role of government to preserve civilization against destruction. To do this, it must restrict the behavior of those who would destroy it. It does so through fear of consequences, which works well enough with most people. But some people, groups or nations are so bent on destruction, that a legalized, government form of violence is used to defend civilization against a violence that is perceived to be more evil. Thus, if someone is going to commit the rape of a child, the father of that child will not be accused of a crime if he beats the crap out of that person to stop the rape.
    Both acts are violent, but the one is just a violent crime, while the other is a necessary violence to defend an innocent potential victim. Multiply this by many, many people and many, many situations and you have the traditional - and biblical (see Romans 13) - argument for government and its "justified violence."
    In the most extreme examples - such as war, terrorism, serial killers and gang violence - the justified violence that is necessary to preserve civilization can be quite extreme. It is a complex, imperfect and troubling system, but it is made necessary because of just how awful people can get. God's plans can't go forward if mankind destroys itself completely - which is what would happened without some form of sanctioned violence.
     That is the role of government.

     Contrast the role of the Church: to forgive, to seek healing (from the inside out), to pursue love, compassion, justice (in the biblical, not the political, sense), to empower (in the Christlike, not the worldly, sense), and all those other things you hear so much about in church.
     Problems arise when church people try to get government to do the role that is only for the Church. What if we were to get government to throw away its proper role, and do what certain Christians want it to do: forgive, set criminals free, recompense everybody for whatever losses or victimhoods they think they've experienced, not fight back (no military), etc.? The government is not doing its job, and wickedness takes over - eventually destroying the culture because it is not protected.
    And significantly and ironically, the Church, when it is spending its energies trying to get government to do the role that is only for the Church, then the Church is not fulfilling its God-given role. That's bad for everyone, especially the anemic Christians it produces.

8/02/2012

Another Tragedy Soon to Be Behind Us

Soon the tragedy will drop from the news cycle. After that, will you ever catch yourself thinking again about the meaning of James Holmes? How many times have you already heard, “There must never be another event like this"? Pretty obvious, but one question should not go away: why do conspicuous red flags like those in the Holmes case go unrecognized or ignored?

Everyone wears masks. Every person you come in contact with today will keep uncomfortable aspects about him or herself hidden from you. The fact should not produce paranoia, but neither should it be taken lightly.

Masks are unavoidable; a functioning society depends on citizens who do not act out their darkest impulses. The problem is that, in some ways, we are more dependent on falsehood than we care to admit. A promising student "suddenly" shoots up a movie theater, seemingly happy marriages "suddenly" end in divorce, the friendly neighbor down the street "suddenly" commits suicide, riots "suddenly" break out in peace-loving Seattle.

Why do such events shock us? Because the unspoken agreement of virtually all our social interactions is: at all costs, avoid uncomfortable conversations. “I didn’t want to hurt their feelings... It’s none of my business... I'll lose my job... Don’t rock the boat... Who am I to judge?” Our everyday language is filled with the habitual slogans of willful ignorance.

Thus, those who are truly evil - “The People of the Lie,” in Scott Peck’s insightful phrase - do their deeds under the radar until some shocking event forces the blindfold from our faces.

Charles Manson, O.J. Simpson, David Brame, Nidal Malik Hasan, Jared Lee Loughner: Why do their names still haunt the most thoughtful among us? The same question can be asked about Sept. 11, or dozens of other events that “shocked” us, then quickly became yesterday’s news. We know that it is only a matter of time before the next surprise eruption of violence. If we have the courage to look into our own habits, we know something else: we know that we avoid speaking up or acting against smaller evils when we notice them, when they still can be corrected with relatively conventional resources. Therefore, to one degree or another, we are complicit in the next shocking headline. That is an extremely uncomfortable idea. Who among us has the courage to chew on it for a while?

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7/31/2012

Interpretive Paraphrase of Romans 10:1-4

Romans 10:1-4

Precious ones, my deepest and most honest passion (and thus, deepest and most honest prayer to God) for them is for their complete rescue from their routine pain.

I will tell you what I know for certain: they are passionately religious, but their passion and religion arise from willful or habitual blindness.

They will not, or can not, seriously consider the unusual, inhuman, shocking, transcendent, rather bizarre kind of goodness that is appropriately associated with God. So - just like anybody else with coventional perceptions - they just try to demonstrate (serving their own agenda) their conventional, human, earthly (anemic) goodness which brings its kind of reward: glorifying themselves before others; not taking the radical life of God seriously.

Because those who have truly faced the fact, the history, the horror, the weirdness, the meaning of Christ's life and death

know how silly and pathetic their "principled" views of goodness and justice are (impressive as they seem to be to those they are trying to impress).

Why? Because Jesus Christ - rightly experienced - is the ultimate embarrassing ridicule of conventional "righteousness"

for anyone who meets him (rather than merely using him as a rhetorical tool).