I spent the 1st part of this week in Los Angeles… San Dimas, if you want to get specific… It’s the home of Bill & Ted, as well as Life Pacific College. I had the good fortune to be able to travel with Brother, & to hang out with some dear friends, both of whom there is years of history. Had gut level talks… listened… laughed a lot. Discovered a great pub, on St. Patrick’s Day to boot, one that specialized in Belgians… the set up of the pub reminded me a lot of the ‘traditional’ Frankfurt/Sachsenhausen restaurant, albeit with a long, tall table instead of a standard one. Great times.
On that note, Brother & I stayed in the dorms - Floor 3 of Bldg D, #315. Through a series of negotiations that I shall not get into here I ended up with the top bunk, which was a great gig once I found a way to actually GET to the top bunk. Ended up having to climb up the desk/bookshelf & then launch myself up & over the rail. It was quite the experience. Not as comfy as sleeping in my very own bed with my very own theBean, but it was cool - esp. with the novelty of sharing a room with buddies.
One of the highlights for me was sitting in on classes - Pentateuch/Torah, where the class was in the beginnings of working through Leviticus - talked about the theme being "Becoming who we are" - never heard it described that way. In light of that, the rituals (ceremonies, practices, daily reminders) lose their strange-ness, & take on a special quality... seeing a people be-becoming... learning to step into their calling & identity. Nice job David.
The other classes we went to were Biblical Preaching & a Youth Ministry seminar class, with 7 students who are already out & about involved in youth stuff. The professor had to go to a "meet & greet" for about 40 minutes, leaving Brother & I to talk to & with the students. It was a highlight, & really sparked me to remember how much I enjoy 'school with a purpose'; learning, growing, being challenged in my thought processes, having to formulate new ideas & new conclusions. Good stuff.
One of the other reasons Brother & I were there was to explore some distance learning ops - not a whole lot has surfaced, but in some way we'll be back at school, if only from afar.
It also spurred on & reignited some old ideas for a local institute within our church family - we'll see.
At youth group right now we're talking about "Image & Identity" - reflecting on the fact that we've been made in God's image. We aren't mistakes. Individually, we've been marked as God's masterpieces, unique, special, & well-made, really coming to life in all of its fullness as we embrace who God made us to be.
And the enemy of that are the forces that exist to conform - reshape us, using a '1 size fits all' approach. Its easy to look outward, to the country & culture that we're living within... with its ideas about beauty, acceptable body shape, what to eat/drink, how to live... with the pressure to conform & take on behaviors & an 'acceptable' outward appearance to really fit in with those around us, even though it means living inauthentically based on someone else's version of what I'm supposed to be & do.
I was talking to a friend yesterday about this, & what came up was the sneaky & insidious way this same type of thing exists within the Church... where the pressure to become a 'good christian' with approved & authorized 'good christian behaviors, thoughts, characteristics, & preferences' can seemingly force us into a mold where we're just as focused on the outward appearance, going through the motions of living this 'good christian life' in order to gain the approval of others within the Machine. All in the name of becoming a disciple. But WHOSE disciple? Faking the funk, putting on a show that we're outwardly ok, while dying on the inside - living in a virtual prison of not wanting to do the WRONG thing, leaves us undeveloped, immature, & fearful. Is this the 'life in all of its fullness' Jesus came to bring? Don't think so.
Worse, the longer we go, the more difficult it can be to break out - because the longer we live the lie, the more fear & shame piles up, trapping us in a cycle of inaction.
Makes me think... The enemy isn't always out THERE.
I'm stoked. Tonight, we get to go to Carson to hang with the Locke clan: brothers & fams. My dad's birthday is tomorrow, & to celebrate, we're gathering tonight for a Giant Apple Pancake (GAP.) Let me 'splain.
Back in the day, momentous occasions in our household meant going to Johnny Ascuaga's for a GAP - its a monstrous, dense, battered concoction, smothered with apples, cinnamon, butter, & powduhed sug-ah, then topped with syrup. The batter itself has to sit out for a day, & it takes at least 20 minutes to cook, & involves a 'flipping of the Pancake" that can (& sometimes did) result in disaster. Going to Johnny A's meant an adventure, not knowing if our delicacy would actually make it to the table intact, but that if it did, we were going to eat & eat well, at least until the sugar coma came on.
At some point, Johnny A realized that the GAP was more trouble than it was worth - to him at least - & stopped serving it. He did, however, put the recipe out for the adventurous soul that would try to recreate the greatness of the GAP.
My dad, being the brave soul that he is, took up that challenge, & over the years has become quite the GAP maker. Chef-like even, producing GAPs that rival the best I ever had at Johnny A's, marking great days, holidays, & just becauses with sweetness.
But up until now, he's the only one that knows what it takes to pull this off... I say until now, because we (me, brother Ben, & brother Moe & fams) have been invited to not only partake in the eating tonight, but also in the making, so that we too can carry on this great tradition of decadence. Ahh.
Should be fun.
Spring sports season is upon us. Pasty is in track. I-Doey is in baseball. TheWeez is a proper footballer (soccer to us 'mericans) & I'm in softball. TheBean is breaking out her cheerleading outfit as I type... :)
Life is beautiful. Tim & David, thanks for a great week.