QUOTE: What I Believe (or, Your Faith is Too Small)

madeline, l'engle, lengle, madeline l'engle, l engle, engle, l, a wrinkle in time, a, wrinkle, in, time, book, lewis, clive, staples, lewis, c, s, cs lewis, c s lewis, brad titus, brad, titus, bradley, titus, bltitus, b, l, titus, bltitus.com, bradtitus.com, christmas, joy, love, christianity, christian, religion, god, jesus, christ, jesus christ, mystery, mystery of godliness, holiness, faith, religion Madeline L'Engle:

What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God's love, a love we don't even have to earn.

I read L'Engle's book A Wrinkle In Time when I was in elementary school, but I feel like I need to rediscover her writings. I know she's somewhat of a universalist, but I think she was a peer and a friend of C. S. Lewis, who is my favorite author of all time.

But I like the quote - and it's a position I've been moving towards lately in some degree. Yes, there are things that we can know, but there is so much about God and eternity and life and creation that are so far beyond our comprehension and imagination ... sometimes we make Christianity too small and tidy. I have more to say on this issue, but it will have to wait for another blog post.

An Altitude Problem (or, Planes That Don't Fly)

I was talking with my wife the other day, and her brother has never been in an airplane. She has, and her parents have, but my brother-in-law has never flown. I was thinking about that today, and I remembered a story that I read in Time Magazine awhile ago about a new twist on air tourism for the poorest citizens in New Delhi, India. For $4.00, these faux-travelers can cram into a 120-passenger plane, run through the emergency procedures, try on their life vests, drink a soda and eat peanuts, and sit for two hours ... all while they go nowhere.

The plane doesn't fly. But the price of a ticket is too high for many of the poor residents in the area, so they go through the motions of flying. For some, it is the experience of a lifetime and as close to flying as they will ever get., and for others, it is a crash course in airplane etiquette for when they eventually do fly. No matter what, however, the fact remains - this doesn't count as flying.

I've been in churches that lack altitude. You're there, and you go through the motions, and everything is just like it is supposed to be ... but there's no altitude. Nothing that lifts you higher, that takes you beyond where you are right now. The same songs, the same traditions, the same ... everything. But there's no real lift. It's hollow and empty and insincere. A church - a real, spiritual church - should soar. In a church service, where there is a real move of God, the people there should be caught up. You should never leave a church service in the same place you started. It doesn't count as church if you haven't flown.

This isn't about emotionalism - it's about transformation. It's not enough to have a church experience if the experience doesn't change the participant. Going through motions doesn't change anyone. An encouraging sermon of goodwill doesn't change anyone. Singing songs heard on the radio doesn't change anyone. The Spirit changes people. The Spirit gives altitude.

A plane that doesn't fly isn't really worth anything. Neither is a church with no altitude.

(if you want to read the story in Time - http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1684522,00.html)

Person of the Year

I'll be honest - I never expected to actually be Time's Person of the Year this year. There was a lot that happened, and I think Ben Bernanke was a nice choice. But I was a little disappointed that I didn't even get a runner-up nod. I mean, the Chinese Workers were runners-up! Maybe I'm still a little cocky from sharing the award with the other 6.7 billion people inhabiting the planet in 2006, but I think I accomplished a lot this year. (The downside of sharing an award like this is that you can't very well put it on your resume - you don't stand out from the pack when everyone else shares the honor) After all, I accomplished a lot this year. Sure, the Chinese worker helped influence the world, but where would they be if it weren't for the American consumer (me) spending money I didn't have in order to finance their economy? Honor where honor is due, my friends.

And, I stimulated the used-car economy by buying a used Jeep, and now I'm ensuring that those poor, struggling, multi-national oil companies can continue to stay afloat as I keep gas in my SUV.

I contributed to the stability of the airline industry by flying (once), to the textile industry by shopping for clothes, to the fast-food industry by over-eating, and to the third-world coffee farmers by drinking obscene amounts of fair-trade coffee from Starbucks.

I stayed in a hotel (once), bought new shoes (twice), and saved a bank by working on a Saturday when I was scheduled off. I'm a regular economic stimulus program, here.

So, Time editors, next year, remember me when making considerations for your Person of the Year. In 2010, I'm planning on losing weight and getting out of debt. Then I'll buy a house. Helloooooo infamy.