Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year Reflections

Hey everyone! I know it's been forever since I wrote last. Blame the holidays and the less-than-speedy Internet connection. I really don't like my home computer, but at least I'm not wasting my time watching YouTube videos for the 10,000th time.

Thank you all for your prayers after the last post. They really helped. Like I said, the stumbles I was referring to were not all sexual. When God shines light on a just little sin, you end up noticing a lot more sin lying around, and this was my case. My overconfidence and my pride were much scarier, to me, than the lust I was dealing with, and through circumstances God showed me that I was focusing too much on lust and not enough on pride... And my failure to deal with pride was influencing my battle against lust. Funny how things kind of work that way, isn't it?

But enough about that for now. Christmas came and went, and to be honest I barely noticed. Time just flies by sometimes, and holidays always seem to be put on light-speed. I'm sad they are over, though. I'm at home for one more week and I have nothing to do... No chores, no friends to visit (they're already back at school), no more books to read, and no worthless PlayStation or high-speed Internet around to occupy my time. Hopefully I can spend some of this time working on my latest novel, but alas I do not feel particularly inspired at the moment. Oh well, I'm taking a Creative Writing class next semester. Maybe that will help.

I did bring in the New Year in a cool way, I think. I was at a Campus Crusade winter conference with a bunch of people from my school. It was a really interesting experience, and I was glad I went. The conference lasted for several days and there were a lot of cool speakers to listen to and seminars to attend. There were also various books to be bought, and I wish I had had enough money to by all of John Piper's stuff that was there.

(On a side note, Crusade seemed to endorse a lot of books by Reformed theologians. Most of the speakers were Reformed as well, and that gave me a chance to have a fun little "told you so" moment with all my friends who think my Calvinism is weird).

One of the best seminars I attended was one about homosexuality. To be honest, I was very apprehensive going in. I had expected to hear a lot of standard ex-gay ministry dogma and I wasn't exactly looking forward to that, but I wanted to be open minded, so I made sure to put a column in my notes called "Things I Liked" (right next to the one called "Things That Ticked Me Off").

You'll be pleased to know, however, that barely anything ticked me off. The speaker was a straight man that, in college, simply felt called to minister to homosexuals. That alone was impressive, because usually one gets the sense that the only people who care about ministering to gays are ex-gays themselves or James Dobson types that need ex-gays to help fuel their misguided public policy initiatives. Having someone who comes from a more "objective" background can really be helpful.

Although there were a few annoying references to developmental theory and the "gay identity" quagmire, the main point that the speaker tried to get across was how Christian students needed to understand the diversity that will exist in God's kingdom, and that diversity includes men and women who do not exactly fit into the heterosexual mold. He did not compromise on God's word, of course, for sexual purity is still very important. He did, however, drive home the point that the goal is not to make gay people straight, but to make sinners holy, and that celibacy is a completely valid and common outcome. Some people may say that "settling" for celibacy is bleak, but I think a little shot of realism is refreshing (not to mention essential to effective pastoral care). It's not easy, of course... But I've always found that fulfilling God's will is strangely filling.

I hope that I can continue to fulfill that will in the New Year. I look forward to getting back to school, seeing my friends, Hitch, and starting my new classes. I pray that all of you are blessed in 2008 as well. Adios!

P.S. This is my 100th post. Go me!


kurt_t said...

A lot of this sounds really irrational to me, Jay. God is shining light on sin. You see more sin. You think about lust, but you're supposed to be thinking about pride so you can deal with the lust.

I think you need to broaden your perspective. Read some Vonnegut, some Joseph Campbell, Gertrude Stein, Gore Vidal, John Waters! Anything that'll stretch your mind beyond these self-contained logical loops you keep spinning around in.

Honestly, Jay, sometimes you sound like you're trying to invent your own mind control cult, which I guess is better than joining somebody else's mind control cult, but it's still a mind control cult, even if you invented it yourself and you're the only member.

Look beyond, Jay. Walk out to the edge of that world you've built inside of your head and look beyond.

Jay said...

It's not irrational. I realized I had more of a problem with lust than I had thought, and I naturally started to review other areas of my life. I realized that I had problems with pride and arrogance, and these directly affected my problems with lust. How is it irrational? What's irrational would be to try to deal with a problem without dealing with its roots.

And no offense Kurt, but you don't know me. My parents are artists. I am an artist. I read a lot, and I have no fear of things that I don't agree with. Just a week ago I read "Blankets," a graphic novel by Craig Thompson about a young man's journey away from Christian faith. It was very un-Christian, but it was a beautiful book and I enjoyed reading it.

Could it simply be that I've seen beyond and found it lacking, time and again? Could it be that I find more joy and fulfillment in Christ, despite all the struggles and humbling moments that following Him requires? With all due respect, maybe your mind is the one that's narrow here.

I am who I am and I've come to my own conclusions (with Christ's help, of course). They are different from yours. I'm sorry you don't like that, but I'm not sorry for having convictions.

kurt_t said...

"Irrational" is probably a bad word choice on my part. Let me think about that. I think I probably don't mean what it sounds like I mean, if you know what I mean.

And please, Jay, stop reading graphic novels!

Jay said...

I know what you mean, and no hard feelings. However, telling a college student to stop reading graphic novels is like telling a fish not to swim. I think you should read Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis." It's probably the best Iranian memoir since Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran," despite the fact that it's in graphic form.

Mephibosheth said...

WB, Jay! I did three years of Cru's Christmas Conferences and Spring Break BeachReach. Your post is a trip down amnesia lane for me. Except you're a scarily confident Side B, while I was a deeply-in-denial pre-ex-gay.


Cru has always had a strong Reformed streak. In my day it was Sproul, now it's Piper.

One of my roommates on my Summer Project (1989--let's see, you were a toddler, no?) was a crazily devout Catholic--we got into such arguments--how ironic now.

Brother Joshua said...

Hey there Jay, I just kind of happened upon your blog, but I've been doing some reading and thought I'd leave a few comments. You're a talented kid and I've had a lot of fun reading through these posts.

I'm a little surprised that you say you haven't met many people who are interested in ministering to homosexuals who aren't gay/ex-gay or bigots themselves. At both the college I attended last year and the one I do now, the gay student group was full of straight allies (at my current school, they outnumber the actual gay folk, which weirds me out). And many of those are Christians who have very traditional beliefs about sexual morality.

(As an aside, I think that, as a Catholic, my experiences are necessarily different than those of a Protestant. Priests kind of have to minister to everyone in their parish, so gays are pretty much expected. Not to mention that few people can relate to the homosexual's struggle for chastity than someone under a vow of celibacy.)

Congratulations on having such a supportive boyfriend too; I hope you realize how unusual that is. I'm betting you go to a larger school than I do, but I could never enter the dating scene here and expect to find a guy who would put up with the whole celibacy thing.

And kurt_t, not to disparage the merits of those authors (Stein and Vonnegut rock my world!), but I think it's a little weird to suggest someone needs to broaden their cognitive horizons, and then suggest writers whose output invaribly either were produced during the postwar period or heavily influenced by its philosophy and mores. A little close-minded, eh?

kurt_t said...

Jay, this is why I love you. I think your blog is the only place on the Internet where I can be called close-minded for recommending the writings of John Waters.

OK, I'm going to curl up with Walker Percy's The Thanatos Syndrome now. No idea what it's about. Maybe I'll wake up with a whole new outlook on life.

Brandon said...


Congratulations on the 100th post! I'll bet you never even imagined you'd do so much writing, did you? Anyway, I'm glad you do write and that you keep this blog. I'll admit, yours is one of my favorite.

I'm glad you're doing better on the sin department. And I'm also glad you had a good time at the conference. A friend of mine went to one of those in D.C. and he seemed to enjoy it as well.

Hope you don't get too bored, or, for that matter, get the after Christmas blues. I usually experience that, but this year I decided to take a page from out of "A Christmas Carole". I'm going to try to keep the spirit of Christmas in my heart all the year long. So far, it's helped, I think.

Anyway, glad to hear from you. I hope 2008 will be a good year for you too. And as one writer to another, good luck with that. I myself have so many writing projects going on that it seems like I'll never finish any of them. I don't focus very well on one thing at a time, so I have several projects always going on. I'm also thinking about going back and completely rewriting my first novel, which I'm very excited about. I never was happy with the way it originally turned out.

God bless ya.


BEAST said...

Congratulations on the 100th post! You have contributed hugely to the battle we all find ourselves involved. Keep up the good work! The Lord bless you!


Jay said...

Mephibosheth: Oh man, they had tons of John Piper's books for sale at the conference. If I only had enough money... I'd like to go on summer project as well, but I'm going to do the camp thing again this summer, I think. I like serving the Lord there as well.

And yes, I was exactly one year old in the summer of '89. Doesn't that make you feel special? ;-)

Brother Joshua: It's nice to hear from you, and I hope you continue to visit. I guess I just need to get out more, or get out of the Deep South. I do like how Catholics minister to everyone without a second thought, and Protestants like myself should take a page out of their book when it comes to dealing with homosexuality and other sexual sins. Thanks for the comment!

Kurt: I didn't say you were close-minded in general, but you seem to be close-minded about some basic parts about the Christian journey (i.e. the struggle against sin). Enjoy the book. :)

Brandon: I can focus on one thing at a time. When I wrote my first novel, that's pretty much all I did in my free time until it was finished. I want a little more of that focus back, so hopefully I'll get some in 2008.

Beast: Thanks, Beast! I don't really consider this work, but I'm glad I get to do it.