Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Night in the Coffee Shop

It was a typical rainy northwest day, which is better than the blizzard conditions we were facing just 10 days ago. I could have done my usual climb of Mount Erie . . . well I could have, but it was cold and rainy . . . so I took my exercise inside. After a good run at Thrive, I took a quiet seat at the coffee shop over an iced mocha.

My trips to the coffee shop are a fixture in our village, with my yellow jeep often parked outside. But it isn’t usually a place of reflection because I am either in a rush, on my way to work, or I’m with one of my children on the week end and our conversation takes the place of quiet reflection.

I did go this morning with Daniel and Ramsey. But this evening I was alone, the lights were dim. Being about 5 PM, there were only a couple of lovers sipping tea in the corner.

My main purpose tonight was to start the book, The Catcher in Rye, by J. D. Salinger. The reason? During my conversation with Ramsey and Daniel (AKA Caleb) this morning I made the comment that I really wish I could know what was going on inside of Tyler’s (age 21) mind. I knew he would be starting home today, crossing the cathedrals of the N. Cascade Mountains in our 15 year-old Previa. He was coming home . . . sort of, after dropping out of college for the third time and with no plans beyond the next hour.

I can’t remember which one said it, Dan or Ramsey, but they both agreed that if I really want to know Tyler, I must know The Catcher in the Rye. I had a puzzled look on my face. They, however, like a matter of fact statement, knew that Tyler’s life changed after reading the book. If I had read it, it was so long ago that I don’t remember a single word. But I found it odd, that I had been searching for months trying to figure Tyler out and for Dan and Ramsey it was a no brainer.

I did finish the first three chapters at the coffee shop and I certainly do believe I’m on to something. I can’t wait to see the story takes me and if it really does unravel some of the Tyler mystery.

Next topic. I haven’t been writing much on my blog for several reasons. One, with the holidays, being snowbound and no water for a week . . . things just got crazy. Then, things continued in a crazy mode as I went back to work. All those patients, who were snow bound, suddenly needed to come in. At work I’ve been too busy to type. At home, Ramsey has been using my computer for hours each night as he is recording (and mixing) music on it.

Just before Christmas I posted the manuscript of a book I’ve been working on for two years, so blog visitors could take it out for a test-drive. Several have been very helpful and I’ve already started a re-write. I hope to post the new version as soon as I can. It isn’t easy because of formatting. I type in MS Word, but when I post it on the blog the formatting goes to hell. I may experiment with this writing, trying to translate it to html, then try to post it that way. If that works, then I will post the changes in my manuscript as soon as I make them.

Topic Three. Once again, I’m contemplating what to do with this blog. At one point I decided to move from posting anonymously (being extremely honest) to just sharing the muses of a post-evangelical man on a journey. But there are plenty of those out there. Then I decided that the best thing was to define the blog by the one, somewhat philosophical (even metaphysical) issue that I thought was key to where my journey had taken me and that was Christian Monism. I do feel that Christian Dualism was one of the greatest problems that I faced as an Evangelical and therefore Monism was a facet (at least) of the answer.

But now I am feeling a little hemmed in by just the term "Monism.'' The other thing is that visitors might find the term “Monism” as confusing or even something extreme, which it is not.

I then reflect back on an article that Michael Spencer wrote on his blog about “Why I don’t read your blog.” Honestly, I found it to be a little condescending. But one of the reasons he said that he doesn’t read blogs is if they keep changing their format or title.

With that said, once again I ask myself, why do I write? I’ve address this before. I think the main reason I do is for myself. Some days I feel so alone in the universe that I want to scream. It is so hard to find anyone that wants to listen, and if they do, they don’t understand. It is equally hard (at least for a man) to find someone who really wants to talk . . . in reality. So this blog is my “Wilson” as the volley ball in the movie Castaway.

But no one writes without the desire that someone is listening. I do track this blog and I know that I average between 50 and 100 visitors per day. While I know that may are only passing (spending seconds) some spend ten or twenty minutes so I know that they are reading something.

So I will decide if I want to make it more generic than the “Monism” direction that it is now. There are several issues that I want to deal with again. One topic is the loss of innocence. What I mean by that statement, is on some days I wish I were the old Evangelical Mike of 20 years ago. Then all of life fit into neat little boxes. I had a confident answers for everything, from who to vote for to what clothes to wear that day.

If I was still an Evangelical, I would know then that my children would be bad if they weren’t going to church and they would be okay if they were. I don’t know that anymore. Some of them might be at a better place in their journey if they are questioning every thing like Caleb is and not going to church. On the other hand, if some are going to church, but being taught not to think, not to question and foolish things . . . like Obama is a secret Muslim who is going to lead the U.S. to the great tribulation (eyes roll here) then it is not a good thing. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

In my Evangelical days, life was neat and clear because it was pretending. Some days I want to pretend again. I want to click my heels and go magically back to a child-like naivety. I want so smile and ignore the fact that I’m pissed off at my wife on some days . . . and she is towards me. Or to ignore tha fact that I'm sometimes depressed or some days I am really scared. It was so easy when reality was based on playing the game. But still, undergirding all that, is the fact that if God is there, He is a God of truth and that is something I should never fear . . . truth.

There was a lot more I wanted to add but this is getting too long. When I write fast like this the typos abound all the more.


trevor said...

Hope you do keep posting, I've been appreciating your works.

The whole 'monism' thing may be confusing, especially to first time readers, but I think that it's actually quite a useful framework for exploring the evolution of the church's philosophy. Not many people are exploring how the church has adopted platonic dualism wholesale, and the impact that that has had over the centuries.

You certainly wouldn't be the only person to change the name of their blog to reflect a new avenue of thought - that wouldn't stop me from reading.

Good luck figuring out your 21 year old. Mine are considerably younger, so no words of wisdom from me yet on that subject.

Craig V. said...

For myself, and I'm just one reader, I think you are a lot more interesting than the Monism Dualism conversation. I don't mean you shouldn't write about Monism or that it's not important, only that the reason I come to this blog is a connection I have with you through your writing about your life and experiences.

Bryan said...
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Bryan said...
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MJ said...

Bryan, surely you are speaking tongue n cheek on this one. Of course I'm not talking about you. I never knew you didn't like Obama until now . . . and a Facist/Marist? Okay, I don't think you learned that in any Evangelical church.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 62 year old Pastor - Evangelical yes but fascinated and almost convinced that Monism is the way to go. I am an inveterate reader of books on Spirituality - always have been.

As I have aged I find myself increasingly convinced that Christian dualism is not the way to go but am having trouble finding anyone out there who is heading in that direction.

Monism, as I understand it, maintains that we are "all one." That we are in some mysterious and wonderful way part of the whole - part of God. St. Augustine wrote - "Let me know You (God) so that I may know me. Let me know me so that I may know You (God). That statement seems to be saying that we are one with God. Acts 17:28 says, "In Him (God) we live and move and have our being." That seems to argue in some sense for the Monistic position.

I have experienced this - I believe - lost in God. Not annihilated. I still retain my unique "meness" but still a part of the bigger whole which/who is God.

I suppose I'm also looking for a Perennial theology that will connect us with our Buddhist and Hindu brothers and sisters. I believe that Suffism (the mystics of the Muslim faith) also believe in this unity between God and us.

I am, or at least I still claim to be, an evangelical. I'm also a charismatic - sort of - believing in the reality of the Holy Spirit. I'm also a Trinitarian - believing in the holy community we call God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I'm curious to discover if you have taken this conviction i.e., monism, any further. The book you mentioned - is it a delineation of your thoughts on monism? If it is I'd love to read it.

Blessings from a fellow Christian sojourner.