It’s been about 10 days since I returned home from my neato solitary voyage into New Mexico, and it’s gone by quickly. Here are a few more things that have arisen and are in transition as I move into the fall, each of which will likely get their own blog a bit later:
1) Living alone
Yes, I have bitten the yuppie bullet and am living alone in a 2-bedroom apartment, until Nicole and I get married and she moves in. I decided to do this because it seemed to work well to live as a true bachelor, for 6 months, before my bachelor-hood ends forever.
For the moment, I am stretching out, and living more messily than I have allowed myself to do in years. I come home and have immediate solitude, and am able to write, read, walk around in my undies, leave a mess in the kitchen if I want, and go to bed in peace at any hour.
Shifting to this kind of living arrangement, after spending the last 5 years in very tight community life, has been illuminating. When you live in community, your life and time at home are constantly in friction and tension with the people around you. But without that friction, I find that my life at home is much more peaceful and relaxing. I also have a renewed interest in going out and catching up with people that matter to me (as I did in the old days), which had been difficult to sustain during my community-dominated years.
Anyway, more analysis on all that later.
2) Looking again, and hard, at the Bible
A couple months ago my theology was getting knocked around. I was ingesting the words of some very sharp and sincere thinkers, who wrote that we have been getting the Bible wrong because we have been reading it wrong, and because we don’t understand what the thing actually is.
I worked on that for a while, looked hard at the Word, tried to somehow drain out the unexpected bile that I have for contemporary Christendom, and ultimately attempted to find a way forward. The trouble was, these scholars, I found, haven’t really succeeded in providing a way forward, through this inspired document that they have nonetheless illustrated as a confusing jungle.
I’ve decided quite simply that we cannot have it both ways: the Bible cannot be both divinely-inspired and also sometimes-broken-and-in-fact-wrong. If this is the case, then we have taken the first step in compromising the integrity of the most valuable and extensive Word from God that the church has at her disposal. From there, it will simply be a matter of who says which parts are important, and the 10,000 disagreements that will ensue as a consequence.
But, the matter still stands that there are a myriad of at least superficially contradictory passages in this Word, and plenty more sections that are ethically disagreeable, or simply effed-up and confusing. What do we do with these?
I’ve got to explore that, again, in a later blog. I don’t necessarily have solid answers, but at least I have some good questions.
3) Fighting for freedom
As I prayed out in the desert, one day I asked Jesus what was worth fighting for in this world, and he seemed to answer: freedom.
There are a lot of things that that could mean. My fiancee Nicole is passionate about fighting human trafficking — which is an oppression of freedom. One day, perhaps I will join that fight more than I already have.
Or, perhaps the word could refer to my personal love for mentorship. As I have walked with my peers and some younger guys over the last 5 years, one of my greatest joys has been to see the moments of eye-opening and waking, the punctuated episodes of shedding bondage, standing up taller and more free, watching as these men claim their identities in the Kingdom. and roar. Maybe I am on a course to fight for the freedom and identities of more men that I may one day know.
But in the meantime, I have discovered another kind of freedom, a personal one, that I am now fighting for — freedom from the hyper-consumer lifestyle, which demands an unnecessary level of paid labor to perpetuate it.
Yep, I’ve been bitten by that bug.
As I look into the future and see a rather wide path of possibilities opening up in front of me, I have started to wonder what matters most. Freedom as a general concept has always been important to me. Perhaps this is because I love learning, and experimenting, and I will impulsively and passionately chase after any new thing that gets my attention and convinces me that it’s interesting. This temperament is both an asset and a liability, of course.
What I long for, then, is freedom to explore, and to find a use of my ambition and energy that will serve the Kingdom and share the gospel. What I want in order to better do that … is freedom from having to work.
So, I have launched into the blogging micro-universe of Financial Independence, aka Early Retirement. There are a bazillion people writing about this, but my favorite so far is an entertaining and profoundly sharp little writer called Mr Money Mustache.
As I’ve been reading and absorbing these thoughts, and also analyzing my own finances more thoroughly than I’ve ever bothered to before, I’ve uncovered a rather disappointing trend in my life: my lifestyle has expanded to fill the container of my income. As my wages have risen, I’ve steadily eaten out more and bought more toys, aka wasted more and more money.
And, I would argue, I am not any happier.
So, there’s a fight in the making. More on this, of course, in a later blog.
As usual, plenty up in the air. Thanks for checking in.