Saturday, October 1, 2011


Great post from my good friend Eric Peters.

My Problem with the Middleman

Its as if all of our efforts to duplicate relationships, duplicate happiness, and project hopes, dreams, fears, sadness, and the entire realm of emotion is based on our inability to completely throw ourselves into the being of another –to fully be in relationship with the people or peoples we let into our worlds.  As though we assume they will let us down.  Deep down in our bones, we know they will let us down.  

Take for instance the idea of marriage.  Both anthropologically and rationally speaking, it is an insane idea.  Not for the normal, Wedding Crashers-only-be-with-one-person-for-the-rest-of-our-life reasons but because this union can only end one way.  Badly.  Played out even to its most successful extremes, one of you will die before the other.  Or you’ll both die simultaneously.  Lots of hurt.  For certain lot’s of good…but without fail, it will end badly.  Or maybe not “badly” – but maybe “sadly.”    We know that even successful constructs let us down.  And the successful ones are few and far between.   And when God lets us down, we assume that somehow it was our fault or it is for our own good. 

What I am wrestling with is the idea that in our closest relationships, there is a constant barrier between the people we love – our spouses, our children, our closest friends, etc. – and that is this relationship with God and/or Jesus Christ that is supposed to supersede all other things.  As close as we can get is when we join hands and try to connect to God - together – but that never fully allows us to connect with each other.  And maybe were not able to connect in that way – to fully download another person – to fully mesh, combine, or become another person – and for some reason, the world is constantly telling us not to do that.  To never do that.
§  People leave. 
§  People die. 
§  People betray.
§  They curse in anger, are mean, unreliable, destined to failure, etc.

In Christian pre-marital counseling, they use a triangle – with you and your prospective spouse on opposing corners and God at the top.  And the analogistic exercise suggests that the closer each of you moves towards God, naturally you will grow closer towards each other.  Interestingly, in the same counseling session that would teach you on the dangers of relational triangulation, they will draw a triangle and suggest that you both seek out another being outside and above yourselves in an effort to get closer together.  

I simply don’t believe that makes much sense.
Viewed through the other side of the flannel graph, God has let me down more times than anyone I know personally.  Well, that’s probably not fair…but those who have claimed his name, his mission, his heart, had his name on his paycheck, or his promise have absolutely let me down more than any other person(s) ever has.  Ever.  So maybe its guilt by association.  And maybe my problem is not with the actually deity at the top of the pyramid, but with those who represent him, but I'll continue... 

But for the life of me, I can’t see how this burden to dig through the mounds and mounds of emotional, theological, and psychological excrement falls on me – so that I can uncover this deity who died to save me.   Died to make me whole.  Died to show me love.  At times lays silent to show me his power.  Knocks me down to show me how nice he is for picking me back up again.  Knocks me down to show me how strong he is.  Takes my loved ones for his purpose.  Allows my loved ones to be hurt for his will.  Predestines people to distort his name, image, purpose, will, and so forth.  The truth is that I will be a stronger, more iron-forged individual for having tunneled my way out from the bottom of the pile.  But to what end.  In the best of scenarios, it still ends badly. Or sadly.
But what If I poured myself into the ones I love.  Those I can touch, breathe, and hold.  If I had meaningful relationships.  Lived not like I’m in a holding pattern of retiling my kitchen, watching sporting events, and looking for wrongs to right until I can finally push off the mortal coil into harp performances and fluttering around on puffy white water vapor, but instead lived like this is my only shot.

Like this is it. 
Like the relationships that I make, hold, uplift, and pray on are my experiences.  Are what I’m about.  Nothing feels more full, more hopeful, more developed than pouring love into someone I can touch.
Hold hands with. 

Wipe tears from. 
Laugh until I throw up with. 
Cry uncontrollably with. 
The good stuff. 
Dirt on my shoes. 
Pain in my side. 
Running until my knees won’t bend. 
Wiping food up off the floor. 
Good beer and mindless philosophy.
Sleeping too late. 
The good stuff. 

So my proclamation becomes not driving towards a deity in order to get closer to those I love.  Instead, I cut out the middleman and I throw myself headlong into those I am in relationship with.  I throw myself headlong in to my local communities and national conversations.  Instead of praying for guidance on working with my students, I go seek those with actual answers – those who can give me direct insight.  I go to a real person(s).  I stop spending so much negative energy asking God why he won’t fix such and such issue…and I go be involved in the solution myself. 

No more not being happy (and not happy in the narcissistic, positive psychology, over prescribed medicinal syrup happiness, but earthworms, dirt, moving bricks, good conversation, laughter + stomachache kinds of happiness).  No more avoiding relationships.  Missing the good stuff.  Living a life so that when I’m gone people will say, “Man.  We’re going to miss that guy.  They only made one of that SOB.” 

And then folks will tell jokes and stories and hold up handwritten letters and boxes of weird junk that I mailed them (another post for another time), and talk about the bad advice I sent, and my children will laugh, and laugh, and cry, and laugh.  And my wife will cry, and cry, and laugh and cry.  Not because I want it that way, but because that’s just the way it is. 

And then everyone will sing “Piano Man” karaoke style.  Together.  And they can move on with their relationships together.  New ones.  And old ones.  Forged in laughter, mud, blood, spit, curse words, medium-hate, whiskey, and more laughter.  And food.  SOB’s always like food. 

It’s like I woke up today.  Peeled it off.  I’ll still work on this God thing – but I do feel more awake today.  Its about the people.  It’s about living a life of wonder, happiness, joy, silliness, and mystery.  And great friends.  Who love me as I love them.  And who in the end will shake their heads, laugh, and say, “We’re going to miss that guy.  They only made one of that SOB.” 

For my parents sake, I hope they don’t say the word SOB at my departure.  But knowing the people that I love, they will.  

Catching up with the blogosphere.

A few blogs from my friend Richard.  He tends to get the ball rolling everyone morning.  If I didn't know better, I would suggest that someone with his level of proficiency, authorship, and overall scholastic output was also a heavy meth user.  Interestingly, I don't know better.  Hmmm.

The Educationalist

Since I was a young child, I always wanted to be a psychologist.  I wanted to have mind control powers, know what a person was thinking before they even said it, and I wanted to be able to hear someone's predicament, reflect with a pensive yet demure look, and then in a deep voice, give them the answer they didn't even know they needed.  And most importantly, when I met someone new, I wanted to tell them I was a psychologist.  I want to let them know that I had stayed in school a long time, danced the dance, and gotten my new name.  

But alas, my field of study and vocation is education.  And when you've graduated with a terminal degree in most other fields, you get a cool new name.  Jurisprudence graduates are given the name Lawyer.  Those who study history are called Historians.  Psychologists, Theologians, Engineers, Biologists, Doctors, Technologists, Geologists, etc.      

The title of this blog comes from my jealousy of being in one of the few fields that doesn't receive a new name.  I wanted a new name.  I actually still want a new name.  But Administrator is synonymous with Satan.  Educator is a vague and unassuming term used to describe anyone who teaches.  And "educationeer" sounds like I need to make some new friends.

So educationalist it is.  Let my inferiority complex continue unfettered.