Resolutions vs. Aspirations

My pastor had an interesting aside this morning.  He talked briefly about the difference between making resolutions and having aspirations.  It is tradition to make New Year’s resolutions, which most of us fail to keep.

But aspirations are much more powerful, and in turn, they can empower resolutions.  Resolutions are specific individual goals, such as losing weight or taking up biking.  But aspirations are expressions of who we are as individuals; they are potentially life-altering directional desires or expectations.

For instance, I have an aspiration to communicate truth and be a voice of healing for the wounded church.  One resolution that stems from that aspiration is setting up this blog site.  In the longer view, resolutions stemming from that aspiration include getting a bachelor’s degree, so I can move on to the resolution of getting a doctorate, so I can move on to the resolution of passing the state boards and being certified to practice professionally as a psychologist in my state.  I have resolutions to one day teach at the university level, write books, and have a practice where Christians can get help the church is not equipped to offer (either through ignorance or deliberate neglect).

What I found especially interesting about this thought (aspirations vs resolutions) is that resolutions rooted in aspirations become steps that have the power to change your life.  Traditional resolutions are largely rootless or wishful.  They are things that would be nice to accomplish but are often not things to which we are deeply committed.  Aspirations (distinguished from dreams) are very specific life goals based in who we are and, hopefully for believers, in our relationship with God.

More from the Plastic Christian

Another “huh?” from the plastic music minister my brother told me about (see previous post).  During the course of his between-songs patter, he made a snide, denigrating statement to the effect, “…these churches that want ‘worship’ music in their services…”  What exactly are they doing with the music at this church if worshipping with it is a bad thing?  I thought worship was the point.  Isn’t the church service commonly called a worship service?

Granted, I am aware the sneering comment was targeted at what he views as “evil” contemporary Christian music — as opposed to traditional hymns.  And to give this church its due, these folks seriously sing out in their services; none of this passive mumbling under our communal breath to the tune of pianos and organs.  But he did say “worship” — at the very least it was a telling slip of the tongue.

And this style of under-the-table pot shots is a common technique used by religious leaders to reinforce their “everyone else is evil” and “everything we don’t like is evil” message.  In the absence of actual intellectual and/or Biblical support for being “against” everything and everyone, this type of emotional manipulation has to serve instead.

Plastic Christians

My brother K told me about a recent experience at a church visit with family over the holidays.  We were sharing shudders as he described the new music minister at the church.  The man in question led the service with loads artificial enthusiasm and forced good cheer, drumming up the “amens” throughout.  He maintained a steady patter of falsely self-depracating patter designed to imply humble godliness. 

If you’ve ever been in an IFB church you’ve probably seen the type, and it’s not exclusive to IFB.  I find it difficult to verbalize, but if you’ve seen it you know what I mean.  And don’t even try to tell me (or yourself) this “personality” is real.  It is completely manufactured, but I think it’s possible those who do it are not even aware of what they’re doing, since they may be unconsciously imitating other leaders within the religious system and Bible colleges/seminaries they’ve attended.

My question is, first, why isn’t this fake, plastic personna obvious to everyone sitting out there in the pews?  I do understand that this type of church leader is quite the norm within certain church circles, so maybe people are so inured to it they don’t “see” it.  But it is so very obviously artificial.  Which leads to the second question…

Why is a plastic image acceptable in church, particularly within church leadership?  Putting on a false front, even for the sake of “communicating the gospel” is deception (take a look at my blog post about what God says about abusive church leadership). How can a “personality” based on deception accurately communicate the truth?

Another question — if it seems necessary to project a “larger-than-life” image to the public, what is being hidden behind the mask? Christianity is about the truth. A false front is diametrically opposite to the very nature of the gospel and the model of Christ. A Christianity communicated through the mouth of a plastic mask is inherently rooted in falsehood; it is anti-Christ, to use a rather flagrant term, but an accurate one if you think about it. Very, very scary thought. But no one seems to think about it. And the fact that this can be overlooked by churches without a second thought says a lot for the state of those churches.

Back to School

Whew!  The holiday break is officially over.  Spring term starts tomorrow.

 I had a lot of goals for the break and I actually got most of them accomplished!  One was to get this site up and running.  I have found blogging to be an excellent venue for the writing that’s on my heart and I want to keep it going.

I’m a little concerned I won’t have time to write once I’m back in the school schedule.  I even adjusted my classes last night to allow more time for writing.  I’m trying to fast-track my way through this Bachelor’s degree since I’ve already done one before so I had scheduled myself for a very heavy load.  I’ll still have a heavy load since I’m trying to get through 8 CLEP tests this semester, but my regular class load will be the minimum full-time load of 12 hrs instead of 17.

But, that said, I’m looking forward to digging back into academia.  New things to learn, new people to meet.  😉 

Modern “Church”

Found a good post on the state of the modern Christian church at The Virtual Pew Daily. Coincidentally, my pastor preached about this same thing this morning and I made notes on some related thoughts I wanted to write about (which I’ll hopefully get to shortly.) I’ve excerpted some bits from the blog post, but the whole piece is worth reading.

…It is annoying at times; people confuse the church, those who love and follow after Jesus, with an organization, denomination, or building we call church. The truth is, like it or not, what we call church is nothing like the church we see in the New Testament. Unfortunately many Christians have become so involved with politics they end up spinning everything to support their positions, even when those positions are wrong…

…One of the concerns I have is that those who call themselves Christians find excuses to not do what the Bible tells them, and even finds excuses to keep on having what they call church, not resemble, follow, or be anything like the church in the New Testament. Some will say the culture is much different, or the early church did things because of persecution, or any number of issues. While there are certainly cultural issues we should take into account, we have to be careful when picking and choosing…

…Let me make it clear, the early church was about relationship, and love towards one another, why do churches today talk about this, but not do it?…