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Archive for July, 2010

It’s not easy to become an adult.  It’s a process and a struggle, and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight.  More importantly, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  Becoming an adult happens in, through, and with the communities that are a part of.

In the last post I said that I’ve recently discovered two movies that express a lot about the struggle for adulthood.  The first was “Away We Go”.  The other is called “Lars and the Real Girl”.  It sounds a little strange to say that it’s about a guy who falls in love with a sex doll, because it’s really not about sex at all.  In fact, there’s no sex in it at all.  In reality it’s about a guy who struggles with a delusion where he creates an identity for this doll and thinks that she’s alive.  To work through this delusion the entire town winds up surrounding him and going along with his delusion.

While the movie pivots around Lars’s delusion it really deals with Lars’s struggle to figure out what it means to be an adult.  There is a pivotal scene, of which there is a glimpse in the trailer, where Lars asks his older brother how he knew he was a man.  The striking thing, for me, is that his brother doesn’t have a perfect answer.  It’s a process, even for him.

What’s more striking about this movie, especially compared to Away We Go, is that there is a clear connection between Lars’s struggle for adulthood and the community that surrounds him.  The only way for Lars to work through his issues, and step into something resembling adulthood, if for the community to walk with him through the struggle.

This seems to be an underrated thing for most people and most communities.  While many emerging adults put on an air of self-reliance, mainly because we think we should, the reality is that the community holds the key to solidifying their identity as an adult.  In a very real sense, someone is not really an adult until their core community tells them that they are.  Especially for those who stay in the communities where they were born and grew up, it’s very easy to remain ‘Bill’s boy’ or ‘Janet’s daughter’ well into mid or later life.  For many, they don’t even have the opportunity to be real adults until their parents die.

Of course, the flip side is that communities will come around the next generation of adults in order to support and guide them into adulthood.  One can hope this will happen.  But I think it still remains to be seen.

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Just because I’ve been living in the same place for over a year doesn’t actually mean that I know what I’m doing.  I often put on a pretty good appearance but the truth is that some days I just sit there and think, “How did I get here?”  Life has sort of seemed to just have happened.

I’m twenty-nine, recently fully employed, as a pastor no less, and I’ve been married for 6-years.  But the question of whether I actually qualify as an adult is an almost ever present question.  For that matter, it feels like I’m part of an entire generation for whom the definition of adulthood has completely changed.  Needless to say that’s creating some interesting anxieties.

Great art has the ability to capture a feeling or an idea that you didn’t even know that you had or could articulate.  In the last year I’ve discovered a couple of movies that have really captured some of my feelings in this regard.  The first one is a movie called “Away We Go”.  It’s a movie starring Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski.  Their characters Burt and Verona find themselves pregnant somewhat unexpectedly.  They also find themselves completely untethered to any particular location and proceed to go on a road trip to decide where they want to live.  They’re trying to decide where they want to make their home, not just where they want to live.  What’s refreshing is that the main couple are relatively normal, functional human beings.  Everyone else is crazy, but they’re normal.  The way that my wife put it is that things aren’t perfect because they’re together, but they’re better.

The core question, or struggle, of this movie is the struggle to figure out what it means to be an adult.  It’s a process of identity formation.  Or more generally it’s about claiming your live as your own, including all of the stuff that’s in it.  There’s a scene where they’re sitting together and veronica asks if they are screw-ups.  (It’s partly in the trailer, check it out.)  At this point in my life, that sentiment resonates with me perfectly.  I’m right at that point where work and family and home are all mediated by a level of uncertainty of identity.

Perhaps because it’s because I’m at a point of transition in my life.  Maybe it’s because I’m coming to terms with being a stable, married, gainfully employed human being.  But this movie really spoke to me.  I’d definitely check it out, but be forewarned, it is a move for adults.  Not obscene, but with plenty of adult language and things that just don’t appeal to kids.  Nevertheless, if you want to understand the world of emerging adults, this is a great window into that world.

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Quietness

Unplugging is one of the hardest things to do.  But it’s necessary.  A couple of weeks ago I gave a sermon on the need for silence where I used the text from 1 Kings 19 that says:

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;  and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave

Essentially I said that if you want to hear the voice of God, then you need to find some silence in your life.  The response was interesting.  I ran into a number of people from church that following week who said that they had stopped what they were doing at some point in their day and just noticed the silence.  For some of them, it was the first time they ever had.  My aunt even sent me a poem that she said she had on her bulletin board.  In fact, she said that she had clipped it out of the Mennonite Weekly Review when she was a junior in high school (I won’t tell you when that was but let’s just say it’s been a while) and has had it on her bulletin board ever since.  I think it does a pretty good job of capturing the idea.

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“In Quietness” by Elizabeth Searle Lamb

There must be a time
…for silence in my life,
a time to dream of peace
such as a flower knows
or snowfall in a wood;
there must be a time
to hear unspoken words
from the heart of a friend
or the music of a stream;
there must be a time
to let God’s purposes
be known within me,
to let his healing
meet my need and his
abundance fill the lack.
There must be a time
for silence in my life.
It is in silence I pray;
it is in prayer I grow.

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Every now and then you can see someone predict the future.

A couple of months ago a man named Jesse Schnell gave a presentation to a bunch of video game designers at a convention called DICE.  The link is here and you definitely need to watch it.  I also wrote a previous blog about this here, which is also worth checking out.  The important part of his talk (at least for this blog post) is his prediction about the convergence of real life and video games.  Two of the big points were 1) that the Facebook game ‘Farmville’ (and many other kinds of games) is representative of real life and digital life colliding in an amazing way and 2) that eventually, video games could hold the possibility of making us into better people.

Here is evidence of both of these points.

1) Farmville and real life.

My wife bought a bag of carrots the other day that had a sticker where you could get free ‘cash’ in Farmville.  Real farming + virtual farming = just plain weird.

2) The Self-organization game

Epic win is a phone app to help you keep your life organized that is disguised as a game.  Yep, now you can level up through your life.

I don’t know that I have really anything profound to say about all of this but is still strikes me as kind of abnormal.  It’s just odd to see someone tell you that something is going to happen, and then all of a sudden actually see it happen.

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I was 14 in May of 1995 when the Oklahoma City Bombing happened.  I don’t remember much about that event but I do remember two striking things that have stuck with my for years.

1) In the immediate confusion and aftermath of the event, I remember that the first assumption was that we had been attacked by a foreign born terrorist.  Specifically an Arab one.  I even remember several acts of retaliation against Arabs in Kansas taking place due to the racism and misinformation.

2) Timothy McVeigh bought the fertilizer from the Mid-Kansas Farmers Co-op in McPherson, Ks.  The Mid-Kansas C0-op in my hometown of Goessel has a storehouse that distributes to a number of area Co-ops, including McPherson.  This means that the fertilizer used in the bombing probably came through my home town at one point.

This last weekend Katie and I went to Oklahoma City for a little weekend getaway.  One of the places that we stopped by was the Bombing Memorial site.  It was the first time that I’ve ever been to the Memorial.  Of the various memorials that I’ve been to I would place this one right up with the Vietnam Memorial in terms of respectfully and contemplatively remembering the dead.  Pictures say it better than I can.  Enjoy.

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I’m baaack

Hey all.  It seems like I’ve been out of it for a little while….at least in regards to the blog postings.  I just wanted drop a quick line to everyone to let you know that I’m going to try to get back into the saddle here in the next week or so.

Anyways, hope you’re all having a great summer!

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