Monday, June 01, 2009


Without my betrayal the prophecy fails
No crown of thorns; no cross and no nails
So I ask for deliverance from my destiny
My name is Judas; someone had to be me
~Judas by Griffin House

Few characters provoke such complete hatred throughout history as Judas Iscariot. In his Inferno, Dante names the very center of hell after Jesus' betrayer. There Judas receives the most severe punishment of all damned souls, an eternity head-first in the central mouth of Satan, the ultimate traitor, with his back continuously grated by the fallen angel's claws.

And yet, God shows us time and again that He is a God of foreshadowing and significance. Were He not, He would not laid out hundreds of prophecies, such as the one alluded to in the song verse above, for His Son to fulfill. Were He not a God of foreshadowing, He would not have had the prophet Hosea mate with a whore and then call his children Not Loved and Not My People only to have them redeemed in the end. He is a God who uses names, uses things people already know to announce the things they could never understand.

When I look at the life of Judas, I concede that I will never understand. Here was a man who followed Jesus, the Messiah; followed Him and knew all He did and, what's more, knew He did it in the name of The Lord. And yet, he sold Him for a sack of coins. Then, in the end, he took his own life out of shame and despondency.

If one believes in free will, one can easily claim "Judas did as he saw fit and then felt bad. He did as a man would do." But, if one adheres to a faith of predestination, then someone had to be Judas, right? Someone had to betray Jesus or else God's plan doesn't unfold like it ought to. And then, does that person deserve to suffer an eternity parted from the God he more than likely believed and never had a chance of fully serving?

It's easier for me to believe that, in his humanity, man will choose to walk away from God than it is for be to believe that a loving God will choose to send man to eternity in hell. And yet, it's also easier for me to believe more that a loving God will allow people into heaven after all we've done to not deserve it than it is for me to agree that we could ever earn our way in.

The answer, then, my friends, is that I don't know. And I don't understand.

What a freeing answer it is.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

do you dare to dream?

He remembered the day well: the day he heard that he who holds the dreams holds the keys. That was the day he forbade himself to ever dream again.

Now, this might seem like some silly notion of your average schoolboy, but, schoolboy or otherwise, this one was neither silly nor average. He was the kind of boy others sat up and took notice of. Books stood at his command, begging to be pulled from the shelves and understood in some new, enlightened way. Little girls gave him a wide berth out of respect and awe they couldn't quite place.

They knew it wasn't the valor of the star athlete. Neither was it the authority of the class president or the teacher's pet. Closer still, but not quite there, was the reverent fear of the trouble maker. Devoid completely of the over-slicked salesman.

In essence, he contained all of the bravery, ingenuity and intrique and none of the qualms. And no one knew why.

He knew why. He was the boy who refused to dream and, therefore, having no dreams to lock him in, could always live free.

Little did he know that dreams, wont as he was to dismiss them, are things that can't help but exist. And exist they the deep recesses and insulated caverns within. Wall to wall to wall the dreams meet and share. They bend and shape. They intertwine and recreate each other. In the end, they can not help but converge into an exploding kaleidoscope of what could have beens and never should have beens and what ifs and what was thats and that just can't bes.

But for now, they simmer. He is not as yet aware of all that he has banished from his awarness and how that will forever change his life.

and soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

As far as the East is from the West

Despite her best efforts, my mother fell short at teaching me any sort of navigational directions as a child. She would test my senses on routine trips and ventures, only to to be met, time and time again, with my complete oblivion. In fact, my sense of direction was so horrible that it became a family joke (though more "funny/sad"--because it was true---than "funny/haha") that prudence would advise taking the opposite direction of whichever way I suggested. All I knew was that when my mom drove me to day care in the morning, the sun was on my side of the car and when she picked me up at night, it was still there, on my side.

As I got older I earned the privilege of riding my bike to friends' houses. One time I actually rode my bicycle a good twenty minutes in the wrong direction because I couldn't remember whether I should turn left or right at the bike trail entrance. That was my first, and needless to say last for quite some time, endeavor to venture on my own on the trail.

It wasn't until driver's ed that my dubious sense of direction was overcome by something much, much stronger: my stubbornness. Meaning well, our instructor told us that men tend to use concrete methods of navigation, such as compass directions and mileage, whereas women use landmarks and other temporal objects (turn left at that deli we had lunch at the week before Easter last year...). Then he continued to explain why the "manly way" was better: restaurants close, buildings change ownership or are torn down, there may be more than one of them, etc. etc.

This was the point where I decided I wanted to learn the lay of the land and finally took notice of my surroundings.

After that I learned my hometown is laid out like a grid, streets running east and west starting at Lake Michigan, avenues running north and south starting at the northern county border. Finding an address in that city is one of the easiest things a person could ever do, with one or two exceptions thrown in here and there.

This system became my directional point of reference; so much so that it took me a moment to readjust at college when the nearest lake was to the north of campus, not the east. And then I moved to Nashville--a place where East Nashville is technically north of the city and West End practically runs down the middle of it. Here I've had to once again realign and recenter my internal compass in order to make heads or tails of the city layout.

Sometimes, however, navigating a city proves far simpler than navigating one's self. Oftentimes I still feel like the little girl sitting in the passenger's seat on the way to the Reddlin's house, telling my mom to turn right on 85th when she knew we were suppose to turn left into the cul du sac-filled neighborhood just up the road. I feel like I haven't yet met that well-meaning driver's ed instructor of life who will off-handedly tell me the way to break out of my nonchalance.

Yet this nonchalance, this system navigation, has less to do with moving vehicles than it has to do with something so much more industrial, more dangerous, more demanding. This navigational system I now find myself in is not a grid with easy rules. You can not graph this on your TI-85. And yet, like my self from yester years, I sit at a junction with the question hanging overhead: "Which way do I go?"

And I am still afraid that I will choose the wrong path. What's more, I'm afraid of not learning anything by turning right when the answer was left. There are answers everywhere. Maybe the question shouldn't be which way do I go but "what will I learn and who will be willing to let me learn and learn along side me?" I think those are the more important questions. '

As far as east is from the west. That's how far my thoughts are from yours. I know. It seems that leaves a massive gulch in which we all might revel and careen and err and be tangled or loosed, to be broken and redeemed.

East is the car ride in to my day care and west is the car ride home. Between is the gully in which we live and play and breathe and sob and eat and rest and revive. And Hope.

I am no longer a child. I know how to get to the Reddlin's. Now I just need to stop second guessing myself. I know where I am: between the east and the west. Helping me have confidence in that. For that is what I need. here. in the in between.