Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Artlessly Dodging My Way To Mediocrity...

Ok, so I'm seeing a trend here... when I'm under the gun on some work-related project, like I am tonight, I find that I suddenly have an overwhelming urge to post a new blast of hot air on my blog! Weird, ain't it! I just can't quite figure it out! I suppose I must just be a professional crastinator (or "pro-crastinator" for short). Hey, it takes a lot of practice and hard work to be this good at slipping out from under responsibility and justifying it. Not to worry (I tell myself), the night is still young! Plenty of time to get things done!

So if I know I'm like this, and I know it's at best counterproductive (and at worst, offensive, or even outright sinful), then why don't I just stop doing it?

Lovely, now I have to segue into theology... prepare thyself. For those that aren't of a religious bent, you may now skim the rest of the post looking for funny pictures and cool videos...

So I was at Stan's tonight, for the weekly prayer meeting thingy that we do, and the topic of idols came up, and it led to both an interesting conversation and to much chewing on the topic in my head on the drive home. I kicked it around a bit with Wifey, but I also want to kick it around in here, to see your thoughts.

I suppose, going into this discussion, it should be said that I'm coming from the understanding that we all have things in our lives and/or personalities that could be labeled "idols", from a certain perspective. Definitions and conditions vary, of course, depending on your particular personal theological mental construct, but I've heard preachers of many denominations preach the ol' "put away your idols" subset of sermons. So I shall proceed.

Is there such a thing as an "idol" that we simply cannot lay down, and have to have God take forcibly from us? Is an "idol" by definition something that we have the power to lay down and walk away from? Is praying "Lord, please take this idol from me" really just an admission that this thing (or habit or person or whatever) is something we don't want to give up - and won't give up without God ripping it out of our clutching hands? When we pray that prayer, are we actually saying, "Lord, I don't want to stop doing this behavior because I like what it does for me, so I actually want you to say that it's ok for me to do?" Like we're really wanting Him to change its label so it isn't "bad" anymore, and give us permission to do it?

What's the difference between an "idol" and a goal? Is a "goal" just a healthy, positive version of an idol? If an idol is something we fixative on and/or turn to instead of God, and we realize this, don't we then have the power to set it down and walk away from it? Or is it like an arrow stuck in us that we have to merely allow God to remove (since we can't remove it ourselves)?

So, when preachers say "put away your idols", what do they mean?!?!?!?

OK, enough of that. I certainly have opinions and possible answers to each of those questions, but I'd rather hear what you all have to say without sullying the air with my own takes.

That pic is a good segue!

So, I bought a new video card for my computer. It's a radical step up in power over my last card(s). I got it in the mail on Tuesday, but I still haven't installed it. Frankly, I'm a little afraid. I've never installed one before, so I'm a little nervous about messing it up. But the instructions seem pretty loser-friendly, so I'm not too nervous. The other, more substantial reason I haven't yet installed it is the potential lose-lose response to having that much new power... if it's AWESOME, then I'll never get my other projects done, since I'll be spending tons o' time playing all those games I bought for the holidays, most of which I haven't played yet, since my rig has to this point been underpowered. OR maybe I'll install it and I'll be like, "Meh, whatever. It's nice and all, but who really cares?" Then I will have spent a fairly substantial amount of money on a new card + a dozen games for nothing.

Gads, I am a wealth of first-world problems today! It's a wonder you actually take the time to read this nonsense!

Here, lemme embed an awesome video...

Buncha crazy Frenchies. That guy at the end walked that skyline with absolutely no safety gear, and nothing to help him balance beyond his own arms. Small mistake = certain death. I don't know whether that is staggeringly impressive or monumentally stupid. Probably equal parts both.

Well, speaking of amazing game graphics, you need to watch this newly released trailer for a forthcoming game called The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition... the game is one I likely will never get, because it apparently has a TON of offensive "adult" material in it, but this trailer has none of that. It is fairly violent, but it is ridiculously cool. If your connection can handle it, I highly recommend watching it high-res full screen. The gist of it is that an assassin sneaks aboard a ship to kill a king.

I'd say we've come a long way from Pong and Space Invaders, eh? Again, I won't be buying the game, but the trailer was awesome.

I guess that could segue into a discussion about wading through nonsense to get to good stuff. Like with this game - I know there's a lot of great content in the game, but to experience it, you have to also take in a bunch of rubbish. It reminds me of GRRM's Fire and Ice series. Terrific writing, lots of great characters and action... but a healthy serving of (needless IMHO) adult nonsense, foul language and extreme violence (although the violence isn't really an issue for me). Is it worth it? The exposure to the yuck in order to feast on the yum?

My good pal Josh had a rather interesting piece on his Blog of Manly today, about when and if a man should let himself cry. It's a good read - it made me weep (lol)! Check it out, it's a quick read, and let me know what you think in the comments...

On a completely unrelated note, my personal trainer Mark is now training one of the WWE Divas, as she prepares for her appearance in this year's Wrestlemania. He didn't seem to have any idea how big a deal it is for a wrestler to be in the Big Show like that, or any idea that she's kind of a big deal herself... those ladies are tough. They have to look good and be extremely athletic, and be good showmen as well, plus the year-round schedule is brutal. To him, she's just another client that needs to get in better shape. Everyone has a cool story, he thinks. I suppose that's the best attitude to have. Some people get all caught up in celebrity. It's nice to know Mark is too down-to-earth for that. Anyway, I thought it was cool.

Well, I think I've put off doing my work for long enough. Gonna hit the road. Let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts, in reference to the "idol" business, the "good with the bad" business, or the "men shouldn't cry" business... or, heck, anything else is cool too.

Dave the Artless Dodger


logankstewart said...

An idol is anything that you elevate to a position above God, be it a tangible thing or an abstract idea. They're self-constructed "high places" that we return to over and over again where we keep our eyes on our idol and not on God. They ultimately are things that pull us away. A goal is a perfectly fine thing, though they could definitely cross over into idolatry. Paul himself "finished the race," and you can't very well run a race without a goal. The goal is not an idol, though. I do think there are idols that we've built up and that we need help in tearing down, whether that's through personal accountability and discipleship or from God Himself. So what does "put away your idols" mean? It means live in the Spirit, seeking first the Kingdom of God, and pursuing a truly intimate relationship with Jesus. "No man can serve two masters," Jesus said, and He has to be our treasured one and nothing else.

I'm conflicted about stuff like ASOIAF, weeding out the good from the bad, so to speak. Part of me screams liberty and stop being so legalistic. Part of me says calmly, yes, but flee from temptation and why even bother? Sometimes a book or a movie doesn't cause me to flinch at all, cause I see through all the filth to the real story. Sometimes, though, the filth is so overwhelming it's hard to press on. So I have no answer here. This is something I struggle with. I want to be real and relevant and I believe connecting with culture is a way to do this, but I don't want to cross over into sin, either. Tough one, that.

Crying has absolutely nothing to do with strength. That's just stupid. Being soft-hearted and prone to tears doesn't make a man any less a man; being stone-hearted and stoic doesn't make a man any more a man. Besides, those are worldly standards of manhood. I'm more interested in biblical manhood. I want to be a man of integrity, of my word, of deep faith with God, and passionate to Him alone. Crying may be associated with manliness in this world, but it's got nothing to do with the manliness found in Scripture.

That's enough for now, you weasel, skimping out on shedding your opinions. You better at least put something up here in the responses!

Oh, that Ali/StreetFighter graffiti is great. Good stuff.

PostCalvinist said...

i left you a really long comment but in the course of submitting it, google tried to make me sign up for blogger and I didn't want to. now that I have to retype my message I wish I had.

I guess Logan didn't read the whole peice or didn't read it with an open mind. it's pretty clear he already knew what he thought since his response has almost nothing to do with anything I wrote. And that's fine with me. It got me a hit.

It would've been even cooler had he taken the time to interact with my ideas about the cultural war on gender uniqueness. That has biblical implications. Or my thought on self-sacrifice. Straight out of the Bible. Or my ideas about parenting - raising boys and training their perspectives.... yep, also biblical. Or the part where I told men not to be stones. or the part where I said it's absurd to tell a man never to cry. or the other parts.. like all of them.

It also would've been cool to dialog with him about it on the site. Oh, well. I'm certainly not going to cry about it.

Thanks for the mention!

Anonymous said...

I'm typing this from the hospital bed side of my sleeping girl, so forgive the lack of scriptural support - you'll just have to trust me :)

When we first date and marry, most of our thoughts are consumed with our lover. How we can please him/her, how we can arrange to spend as much time as possible with him/her, and our time usually includes a constant display of our affection and love. We pass up much of what we enjoy, for the sake of the other.

If the church is the bride of Christ, and He is our Love, how must He feel when we allow activities, making money, hobbies, and friends to come before Him? Throughout the OT, when the Israelites worshipped idols, it is often referred to “prostituting” themselves. Cheating on their Mate. We are rejecting our Lord, even for things that are not considered sin, when we put Him second place.

In reading the OT, the Israelites chose their idols, so I do not think it is uncontrollable, but extremely punishable, as our Mate is quite jealous. It is well within our “will” to repent, and is highly recommended because when God must remove them for us, things can get ugly.

Goals are proven to be quite practical. It was Moses’ goal to lead the Israelites to the promise land. God gave him that goal, and he conferred daily with the Lord for guidance and direction. The goal is to achieve God’s will, whether it be in our job, how we spend our free time, or who we marry. It’s when we start ignoring God, putting our goals and will before Him, clinging to them even if He says no, that they become idols. God gives and but ALSO takes away, but blessed be His name.

Beth A.

PS: The same thing happened to my comment as did your other poster. Fortunately, I typed it in a Word document first. It happened when I went to "Preview" and then tried to post from there.

Paula Titus said...

Hi Dave, you know I can't keep my mouth shut about all things theological. :) Nothing profound though,'s been my experience that the "laying down of idols" must be a cooperative effort between God and myself. I think when we genuinely get to the place where we know there is something we need to give up, and make an effort to do so, God will help make it much easier than we thought it would be.

I don't think He does anything by force, but He still gets all the credit because if it weren't for His wooing and convicting I would have never even recognized my need to lay aside the idol, let alone conquer it.

I didn't read Josh's blog about men crying, but personally I'm not a fan of men who cry unless of course it's an extenuating circumstance.

Hope you got some work done.:)

logankstewart said...


I could not and still cannot comment on your blog, as it tells me I must do so using Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail, and I have accounts in none of these things. I've looked for an email to contact you through, but I could find only a submissions email to Blog of Manly. So I'll just respond here. (Sorry Dave.)

Re: Dave Wagner's Blog Comment -

I did in fact read the entire post and with an open mind, but I suppose my entire basis of thought was based around the comment "Besides this, I'm not sure if it's ever beneficial for a man to cry." Just like Rivka mentioned above. The broad generality doesn't jibe and disagreed with the sense I got from the rest of your post. That, and the obvious tongue-in-cheek "Males now are too busy crying to accomplish anything useful." That's simply untrue. I'd postulate that males are simply to lazy and self-centered to accomplish anything useful, because by and large, I think "boys don't cry" is still a relevant and implied cultural acceptance.

I think of David the Psalmist, the King, the Man after God's heart, and how he poured his heart out to God in both praise and in anguish. I don't think you could deny the emotional downpour there. And as his son was dying after sinning with Bathsheba, David wasn't standing there by Bathsheba and holding her hand supporting her. No, he was too busy laying down on the ground and crying out to God, refusing to even eat. For seven days.

To me it just seems like your post says that men should not cry but there are circumstances when it's okay for men to cry. The dichotomy is maddening. You're right, though. Men must get back to being unique, and I'm in absolute agreement that gender is quickly becoming homogeneous and indecipherable. We must be strong role models, both within the church and the world. We must be strong for our families and friends. We must love in a self-sacrificing manner (though this isn't necessarily a Male trait).

So I laud and lambaste your post. I still don't think that crying is the issue of why we have a fatherhood crisis and urban problems. I'm not 100% if you're being sarcastic in your opening or not. Like I said on David's blog, crying has absolutely nothing to do with strength or manliness. Having control over ones emotions does take strength, yes, and will and determination and self-denial, but having emotions is a gift of God given to both Male and Female. Masculinity and manliness is much much more than tears.

I hope you get this. Otherwise I'll trust David to somehow relay the message.

PostCalvinist said...

my wife told me I would regret that one line "besides this..." She was right. :-)

I accept responsibility and the consequences, but I write in broader brush strokes - far less interested in each individual exception - for more interested in the rule.

But one thing I'm amused by is how everyone is lambasting my endorsement of pruposeful crying by citing incidents or examples of........ purposeful crying. There are things men should cry about - a point i clearly made TWICE - death of a son would be one of those.

It's no dichotomy - I didn't say men shouldn't cry (unless you count that one line that I wrote poorly). i said they shouldn't endulge their feelings to the detriment of their calling to others.

I also said, rightly, that a father's tears CAN be a huge impact on a son. I can tell you the few times i saw my father cry. the things he cried about (faith, family mostly) are the pillars of my adult life. He taught me priorities by showing me what was important enough to let in, to let close.

i chose crying as the face of the modern lazy, selfish man... because they are symptoms of the same thing.

We disagree less than your passionate lambasting of me would seem to indicate.

Drydoryssus said...

Good grief Dave, that must be about 2000 words worth of comments! If that doesn't satiate your blog's hunger, I'd like to know what does.

Actually, since most of the text volume is about the "idol" debate, I'd rather pass on it.

As for crying, well... As Josh more or less wrote, be neither a stone nor a pussy. Crying is manly, but that's always relative.
And now for a different kind of mythological reference: Take Achilles. He cried like a little girl but fought like a demon. Still among the primary role models for men today.

David Wagner said...

Nice! This place is hoppin!

On the crying thing: I actually am a bit surprised at the heat this topic generated. I thought Josh's piece was terrific... then again, I have "being a man" issues going way back... it's been hard for me to ever feel like I'm a real man (as opposed to a boy trapped in a man's body), so I am fascinated by such discussions. That's what I enjoy about Josh and his blog(s)... I think he's about 90% straight-shootin' with his thoughts/words and 10% envelope pushin' for the purpose of making an impact (often rankling feathers along the way). Josh is The Man.

Dry, I'm going to have to look into Achilles a bit deeper... never heard him presented that way before, I must be missing something. Thanks for that.

As for the Idol discussion, I'm still a bit torn. I'm kind of of the opinion that the term is too widely applied and loosely defined, in general... applying it to any and every thing in us that doesn't encourage full-bore pursuit of the King seems a little extreme. But I appreciated everyone's thoughts on it, especially Beth's (we're still praying for Mary).

Paula, do you think that an idol is definitely something that requires God's help/intervention to get rid of? Meaning, if we can just decide to stop doing it and/or just let it go, then it was never an idol to begin with? That sort of meshes with my feeling that we have lots of issues in our lives/personalities that need to go, but very few true "idols" (as defined by all of you - something we turn to instead of God, for whatever reason). I guess I'm saying, I think some (most?) things we can just stop doing if God shows us it's a problem... but some are way too deep and need His hand...

I guess this could segue into what it means to worship. If an idol is something we "worship" instead of God, that couldn't mean literally bow down and worship, singing the praises of and attributing divine virtues to, etc., because then I'd have nothing to worry about. I've never done that with or to anyone but God... Are there more subtle definitions of "worship" that could apply to things we merely have an interest in (like, say, playing computer games, lol?)?

Ah well, thanks y'all for all your input. Good stuff for me to chew on.

logankstewart said...

Even though Josh and I may somewhat disagree on the affect crying has on American masculinity, I think we both agree that there are extensive problems in manhood, and that there must be people willing to stand up for what it means to be a man. To be a man is to stand up for what you believe, and we've both done that.

My definition of manhood has been widely shaped by a drunken, drug-addicted and abusive father who had next to nothing to do with me for pretty much all of my life. My step-dad didn't have the substance abuse problems, but he had no idea what manhood was, either. After having my first kid, a daughter, last June, I've really been looking at how to be a biblical man and father.

Anyway, I just want to say that I appreciate Josh's straight-shootingness, even if it does rankle some feathers along the way. I would much rather have a conversation with someone who speaks their mind instead of someone who just says pleasing and mostly pointless things. We have to be real with one another, and doing it in love and respect is key.

I am sorry if my comment came across as "passionate lambasting." Maybe I should have used a different word in my first choice. Cause you're right, we disagree less than my comments indicate.

PostCalvinist said...

No sweat, logan. It's all good. I love a passionate lambasting once in a while! :-)

Hopefully we can be of help to each other - through Dave apparently - as we strive to become God-honoring men.

One final note: I used "the crying man" as the face of the generally weak, bossed around, hen-pecked, timid, milquetoast, non-confrontational nice-guy that our churches are trying to turn us into.

We've been taught for decades that being "christlike" mean being a .... pansy (i'll be polite.)

Personally, I think men should cry as little as they need to. But I'm not going to disqualify someone more soft-hearted than myself, obviously. However, I think many men cry more than they need to because they've been taught actually to DENY their strength and wallow in all emotions. THAT is why I chose crying as the vehicle for my ire against the weaklings.

If I see a man crying about his faith or his family, I'm going to put my arm around his shoulder and support him.

Enjoyed the sharpening, bro

PostCalvinist said...

PS - how in the world do you not have facebook? or any of the others. not critical, but you are certainly a rarity.

logankstewart said...

You're dead on there, brother. Our churches are not producing men of the Word, but men of the times. Somehow "christlike" means pansy, but the Jesus I read about was no pansy, for sure.

I had a facebook account, but after going through all the changes (I was a freshman college student just after came out) over these last few years, the privacy concerns, and the drama on the site, I deleted my account. I also got rid of satellite and got an antenna. We're canceling our Netflix soon. We have no smart phones. I'm unhappy with how "connected" our society has become, but I won't go into all that here. Suffice it to say that there are good things about all the modern conveniences, but there are plenty of negatives, too.

Paula Titus said...

Dave, to answer your thought: "Paula, do you think that an idol is definitely something that requires God's help/intervention to get rid of?" --- I will defer to John 15:5,"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (nothing of value for the Kingdom of God) Parenthetical mine

I agree with what you said about not all of our bad habits/attitudes/interests being defined as "idols" although I think anything we do that we think is "good" is meaningless unless our motive is for Him and His Kingdom, and since we can generate no goodness on our own...once again He must be the source. I hope that makes sense.

To comment on what you said about playing computer games, (lol) even though someone isn't physically bowing to them or offering animal sacrifices (yuck) could be offering more of themselves (time, effort, enjoyment, money, etc)with said game than they are with whatever God requires of them. I believe everything moved from the physical realm to the spiritual realm going from the Old Covenant to the New. Great discussion! :)