Monday, January 7, 2008

This entry has a split personality; first, it's not deep... and then--SURPRISE!

I was sitting on my bed in the dorm and I suddenly, nostalgically, had a mini-meltdown.

The reason was that I have very few stuffed animals at school.

I have my crush puppy, which stems from a small phenomenon a couple of friends of mine dreamed up in high school. It's simply a Ty Beanie Baby-sized doglike animal that you name after your current crush. It changes names with each twist of romantic fancy. "Ioan Gruffudd" is an impish brown puppy with a red collar.

I have a few monkeys, as my roommate collects them and if I had monkeys, we'd have a "theme" and it'd be "cute."

I also have my Build-A-Bear. His name is Benvolio, after Romeo's best friend. I called my sister to bemoan the sorry fact that My Baby's First Christmas 1987 Bear and my worn-nosed Polar Bear are both at home, presumably under the bed. I told her I just had the monkeys and Ioan and Benvolio. There was an awkward silence. Then she told me.

My sister, unsentamentalist that she is, has given away nearly all of her stuffed animals during our regular room purges, in which we spartanly strip the room of all things cluttery or floofy. The only stuffed animals to escape her reign of terror were the ones that had slipped under the bed.

She had given away her Build-A-Bear.

Soulless. How can you give away a Build-A-Bear that you've made? You stuffed it! You made a wish on a little heart and slipped it into its tummy! It's JUST like "Raggedy Ann" and her candy heart!

I don't care. She is getting a crush puppy for her birthday and that's all there is to it. I continue to be armed with nostalgia and the desire to have .5 inches of bed space, and I fully intend on buying myself a tiny, trinketlike stuffed-or-beaned toy as soon as I can spare the five dollars and change.

In other news, I generally think about Christianity. You probably know this. I may be mixed up at times about Christianity. There may be days when I don't care as much. But I do think about it. Often.

What you may not know is that I also ponder the church. The legend. The phenomenon. The fizzling fad. Televangelists.

I took a class on church history last fall and it was nothing less than fascinating. I have friends who don't go to church--quite a few, actually. I have friends from all manners of ritual-heavy church traditions. I have home-church friends who eat guacamole and discuss Christian fiction and the curse of institutionalized Christianity at their meetings. I have Quaker friends, Shaker friends, lots of friends. Donald Miller is not my friend, but I'd kind of like him to be.

And it's interesting. Church is interesting. For real.

Last Sunday my pastor read aloud a blog entry at the pulpit. (I like the word "pulpit." Lectern? Not funny. Pulpit? Yes, it's funny.) It happened to be a blog that I had read before, an entry from Shaun Groves at entitled "No Good Reason." What Pastor Ben did not read aloud in church was "No Good Reason For That Either," in which Shaun states basically that there is not a good reason to not go to church. You follow? There's also a "Finding a Good Reason" which might negate either of the earlier entries; I don't know, because I haven't read it yet.

Many people tend to approach organized religion and the church very negatively. They've been burned by the church personally or they were scarred by reading about the children's Crusade in Western Civilization I. In any case, there's this sense, that's getting pretty prevalent in the postpostmodern world of the now, that organized Christianity either kills Christianity or it is the worst form of Christianity.

And I don't know that I agree.

Certainly, the first and foremost issue is that people seek God on a personal level. The "personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ" is a big part of orthodox Christianity, for good reason. I think most people are pretty convinced that Jesus wouldn't lead a children's crusade.

But organization... gee whillickers... organization takes the chaos of emotionally charged mumbo-jumbo and provides the structure necessary for people to often learn something or two.

It's related to the idea of Christianity being a "relationship, not a religion." Yeah. Relationship is why a lot of people are Christians. Sure. That's good.

Religion is a cause.

Lots of people get freaked out about the concept of Islamic jihad. They should. It's a strong agenda. There's a lot of power in such a driven statement--a submitted people waging holy war.

But at the same time, to say that jihad is limited to bloodshed isn't fair to the Muslims who work at that nice restaurant down the street, and to all of the Muslims out there who work hard and don't kill anybody.

Furthermore, to say that jihad is a purely Islamic concept is not fair.

Most religions call for some kind of fight--against widespread injustice or personal unholiness. In some cases, the fight is nonviolent GandhiMotherTeresa. In other cases, it's the crusades, waged by Christians against Muslims, or conflicts metasized into catastrophes by Islamic extremists, among others, in the Middle East.

So this was a disorganized blog. It was also really long. And I'm tired.

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