Parallax

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Parallax is an interesting scientific principle to me.

I won’t go in the nerdiness of it nor could I explain it to the extent that would make it seem like I truly understand it.  For instance, it is something used in astronomy to help scientist calculate the distances of relatively close stars based on the relative positioning of the earth in our solar system to the observable star.

There are some angles and an equation that needs the tangent…

And…

After that… my understanding falls off very quickly.

What I do understand about it is that what we observe changes based our position to the object.

A simple graphic.

Parallax_(PSF)

If I was standing at point “A”, I would see a tree with nothing behind it.

If I was standing at point “B”, I would see a tree, which based on the angle may look like a different tree, that is front of a house.

Both are correct and the larger the angle at “C”, generally the larger the variation of what is being observed. (MORE ON THIS IN A MOMENT*)

The key takeaway is that being 100% accurate in your observation on the exact same thing could produce 2 (or any number of) correct answers.

There is also the overused example of the blind men touching an elephant and describing what they are feeling.  All are correct.

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So what?!

It’s still a tree and it’s still an elephant.

True but the experience of it may be completely different.  We may end up arguing about the type of tree and may never agree that it’s an elephant.

I see why postmodernity has its grip on so many people’s thinking.  It’s the “everything is relative and there is no truth” mantra that is being chanted at times.  Like in the elephant illustrated above, if I think it’s a snake and you think it’s a tree, then whatever it is can’t be absolute.

So this thinking has a “dark side”.  Where ever there is a disagreement, then relativism must be correct.

Currently, in the public sphere, there is no truth on many things: sexuality, gender, religion, culture, and it’s growing.

*An easy one to play with… Explain to people how men and women are different, you will know who much this thinking is prevalent by a number of attacks you receive.

In addition, the growing awareness of different perspectives (like the angle “C” in the first illustration) shows that there are a growing number of “truths” available to a post modern thinker to validate that there can’t be a Truth.

The problem with this thinking is that people become certain that there is no certainty.

…and although we can experience the same thing as a rope, wall, snake, tree, etc.,

It still is an “elephant”.

The key here is to look for the “elephant” not the single perspective of a “snake” or “tree”. (obviously, I’m speaking metaphorically…. and obviously, I’m not speaking but typing)

When I see something or have an experience, where I live, my age, gender, education, DNA, upbringing, the amount of money I have in the bank, and on and on, will affect what I see and/or experience things.

When you see the same thing or have a similar experience, the greater the “angles” are on a multitude of things affects how closely we see and/or experience similarly.

So… Anything that is debatable, which includes most things/ideas, our perspectives will give a piece of the larger Truth on that thing/idea.  However, another Truth is that what we are disagreeing about is just a part of what we can learn and understand.

Remember the first illustration.

Parallax_(PSF)

 

Primarily, we focus on the Truth of what we are looking at as the focal point (“C” in this example).  We call it politics, religion, parenting, etc.  But what I find as interesting at times is the Truth of “A” and “B”.

Where people are in life is it’s own Truth as much as how it “paints” their perspectives/experiences.

So my experience of parallax is two fold:

  1. How I see/experience the world. (which is peppered with ego and “self”)
  2. Where I’m standing today. (which has changed and will continue to change)

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

– Multiple authors

 

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Some of us were born to burn things…

I took this picture of Andrew last night and was captivated by it. 

The simplicity of his pose as he watched fireworks explode and burn. He was content and at peace. 

The truth is… I am the same. I love to watch things burn. I mean this literally and metaphorically.  I thought for the longest time it was because I came into the world and things started falling apart (and this created a normalcy of chaos). 

Although that plays a role, I think some of us are just like this (my son is similar and he didn’t get a similar start). 

Some of us just have a sense to break, burn, mess with, deconstruct, etc.  It’s our creativity at work. 

I watch my boys fight all the time, but only one is  (usually) enjoying it. 

There are times when I’m frustrated as a father on how to approach this. However, the deeper frustration is the fact I am this way too. I don’t want it at times and, at the same time, I want to be honest about who I am. 

Fighting gives me energy and being passive lulls me into a mild form of apathy. 

Right now I’m in a waiting period of trying to figure out where my fight is. (I’m still pissed at people choosing ignorance, wealth gaps, racism from all tribes, increasing diabetes/obesity, people masking self interest as religion/politics and on and on and on)

*exhale

My point is we all know people like this and maybe we are designed to be a little prophetic at times. 

Peter Rollins (who’s theology is called pyrotheology) tells a story an Irish IRA bomber dying and meeting St. Peter at the “gates” of heaven. Peter tells him “you’re not going to get into heaven for what you’ve done”. The IRA bomber replies “I’m not here to get into heaven. You have five minutes to get out”.

For some of us, that story resonates. 

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.

-Jesus

When they go high, we go low…

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*Sorry to all 2 of my readers for not writing for a few months.  It seemed appropriate to listen more than give my opinion during this “noisy” season.

So I’ve been following the election race like most people the last few months and now that it’s over, I feel we are all going to experience a little adrenal fatigue.  We are all going to crash like college students crashing after cramming for a final for days and finally getting through the exam.

I’m sure I could write for days on how ridiculous things got (and could possibly get).  I saw things from all camps that made me shake my head, laugh out loud, and other moments where I just turned it off.  I never got mad nor thought I had to make a choice between one’s ridiculousness or the other’s.

Nothing that was said, expressed, or promised spoke to me and I was okay with that.

I did hear something in a glimpse that resonated for a moment:  “when they go low, we go high”.  It sounded like something that I could agree with.  Be above the dirt.  Rise above the slummin’. Don’t engage with “that”.

But alas.

When the “right” went low, it was an expression of Pride speaking.

Then when the “left” went high, it was an expression of Pride speaking.

Both parties were just saying the same thing:  “We are above Them”.

It seems like a no-win scenario.  In this election, maybe it was their only way.  Luckily Jesus wasn’t a politician.  He would lose our elections.  We “kill” people that speak and act like Him.  He was killed by the politicians of his day for saying what he said and doing what he did.

His message wasn’t “when they go low, we go high” but rather “when they go high, we go low”.  Not the low that is slanderous and childish.

His going low was an act of humility…it was washing Juda’s feet…it was turning cheeks and going the extra mile to those that wish you harm…it was riding into town on a donkey… and on and on and on

Pride is the name of the high ground where you can look down on others.  We are playing a giant game of king of the hill.  Some try to move up to higher ground by pushing others down.  That game is simple to see.  The trickier (more devious) game is played by those that try to move higher up by looking down on others that play the obvious game.

The problem lies in where God resides.  He is above us and it is impossible to see, notice and emulate God when we see the Other as below us.

Humility places us in a position that makes us look in one direction: up.

 

You should (n’t) do that

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“A crossfitter, a vegan, and an atheist walk into a bar, five minutes later, everyone in the bar knows.”

I love reading articles on health, fitness, and diets. I enjoy conversations with people that are passionate about it as well. One thing I have found is people have strong beliefs on what is “good” and healthy, and are vehemently opposed to what is “bad” and terrible for you.

  • Find someone that doesn’t eat bread, and I’ll likely find someone that will tell me the Voldemort-like evils of bread.
  • Find someone that doesn’t eat meat, and I’ll get to hear how everything in the meat is causing cancer.
  • Find someone that does Crossfit, and I’ll hear how it’s the only “real” way to get in shape and get results.

This is interesting to me, because the same phenomena exists in the religious realm.

  • Find someone that doesn’t drink, and they will let me know why drinking is sinful.
  • Find someone that doesn’t struggle with sexuality (hetero- or homo-) and they will let me know what “god” thinks of it.
  • Find someone that goes on mission trips, and they will tell me that everyone should be doing this.

Of course, these are not universal (and Lord knows, I’m not immune). We all can easily fall prey to this mentality. All of us run a risk of believing what we are able to resist (that we believe helps us) should be resisted by all. We also believe what we are able to do (that benefits us) should be accomplished by all.

When I’ve sat down with people that say there is an acceptable and unacceptable amount of sin, I’ve tried to show how what they are saying (most of the time) is how convenient God forgives all the sins they struggle with. …Or what is more deceptive is how God doesn’t forgive certain sins they see in those they haven’t forgiven.

So the guy that told me in the sauna the other day that fasting is terrible for your body and your metabolism, I’m glad eating 6 times a day is working for you.

And the guy a few weeks ago that told me those that don’t go to church are just hiding from a community that exposes sin, I’m happy that the weekly gathering is helping you in your journey.

…Just realize that your results, and more importantly, your attitude towards us that are still working things out will be more convincing than your newfound truth.

Peace.

God doesn’t care who is president.

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I was at lunch yesterday with a buddy that shares many meals with me. We ramble and talk about pretty much everything (both of us are story tellers and walking tangents). As we discussed politics, I made the comment that God doesn’t care. After that statement, I tried to convey that He does care simultaneously. We were talking about this because we have family and friends that believe there is the “god-choice” when it comes to voting.

And it always amazes me how much God’s views on immigration, economics, human rights, defense, etc closely mirror my own and how no one can call “bullshit” on that.

Trying to explain a paradox-al view over BBQ usually leaves me with “I could have explained that better”.

Now Ben, who is more Right of center than me and a Follower of Christ, understood me. But a fly on the wall probably would of been like, “what?!”.

So let me state it this way: God isn’t concerned/worried/needy of anything with our elections because of 3 simple reasons.

1. God is omnipotence. Or simply all powerful.

God caring about the election is like me caring about the way the towel paper roll is on the “thingy” in my daughter’s bathroom. (I bring this up, because apparently there is a right/wrong way to put a towel paper roll on).

Like this, it doesn’t really matter. It’s irrelevant. We have other bathrooms. And honestly, if it was really important to me, I could instantly change things.

So, to the God of infinity and eternity, it doesn’t really matter and it’s irrelevant. God has other ways to do whatever God does. And honestly, if it was really important to God, He could instantly change things.

2. God is omnipresence. Or simply God is everywhere.

God caring about the election is on the same level with God caring about everything else. Although I’d argue that Jesus didn’t express that. Jesus expressed great care for people in poverty, those that were outcasts and disconnected, and those judged by the religious. He also stated not to be concerned with the powers and principalities of this world.  But hey, maybe Jesus was wrong because a lot us disagree with Him by our actions, words and what we share online.

God cares just as much about my kids grades….
God cares just as much about rain in California…
God cares just as much about the homeless guy that is getting kicked out of McDonald’s…
God cares just as much about a widow in India…

And on and on…

So to say that this is more important is drawing some kind of conclusion that really isn’t Biblical.

3. God is omniscience. Or simply God is all-knowing.

A candidate can deceive you and I. They may be smooth enough to deceive themselves. But they are not deceiving God.

God knows that those that seek power, capital, and control are doing it by taking it away from others. God is not some fool that thinks, “Oh, he or she is different than the previous (insert a ever-growing number) of people that are corrupt or will be corrupted by power, capital and control.

We can be persuaded that it will be different, but God knows the heart of all of us. Our desire to fix, control, or eliminate things so that we won’t have uncertainty, randomness, and chaos is not a Biblical command, right, or promise.

What they are, is however, a temptation to create something where God is no longer needed because we have become gods. And again, God isn’t fooled or duped.

So may those that believe in God use this a weapon to produce Fruit and may those that don’t believe use this a weapon to cut through the muck and mire of the idolatry that creeps up in us that do believe.

sharing what inspires you

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There is a tale that a man inspired by God once went out from the creaturely realms into the vast waste. There he wandered till he came to the gates of the Mystery.

He knocked.

From within came the Cry: “What do you want here?”.

He said, “I have proclaimed Your praise in the ears of mortal, but they were deaf to me. So I come to You that You Yourself may hear me and reply.”

“Turn back”, came the Cry from within. “Here is no Ear for you. I have sunk My Hearing in the deafness of mortals.”

-Martin Buber

It is good to proclaim what is True.
It is good to share what is inspiring.
It is good to attempt to explain the ineffable.
It is good to capture the depth, and the width.

No string to the responses.
No amplification with the deafness.
No frustration.
No re-explaining to exhaust a point.
No insecurity to the mockery of it all.
No expectancy.

What moves me may just move me.
I have to express the encounter at times to complete it.*
I also have to allow it be “dry” to everyone else.

There is no need to convince anyone that Something is transformative or True. The life I live will be the constant hum of that.

I will continue to share, but not for the purpose of persuading, but out of abundance of what God is doing in me.

…Also…

God may just put His hearing into how I will speak when no one will listen.

To the deafness in myself.

 

 

*I once taught on Grace (Charis). It is like a dance where there are two partners. God, who leads and extends, and our accepting and participating. In the context of this post, somethings need expression (action) for there to be acceptance. I feel that I understand and accept God’s Grace when I practice the extension of It.*

Enough

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I am a short-sighted person.

Not about everything but really about one thing.

I love to predict the future and study the past. I love to read about different religions, politics, and experiences. I love to understand and go deep about many things, which makes me confident.

Which makes me arrogant.

And this arrogance blinds me to the reality that I don’t know a lot about what is good/bad for me.

This awareness has come from years of pursuing things that I thought would bring me joy/happiness/contentment only to achieve and/or acquire them only to find a let down, a ghost, or a dead end.

This awareness has also come from years of avoiding things that I thought would bring me pain/sadness/strive only to experience them and find an illusion, courage, or a treasure.

The Truth is: what I want is not always good for me and what I don’t want is not always bad for me.

This brings a pause. A breathe. A deeper thought about my desires.

It makes me hesitate, which frustrates those around me at times. I know it does because indecisiveness drives me crazy too and my own hesitation is exponentially disappointing to myself.

The hesitation comes from a fear though. I’m afraid of wasting my life. I’m afraid of going into a “deep sleep” of pursuit and waking up at 55 and having a crisis of identity (plus I don’t really want a corvette or a motorcycle). I also am afraid of becoming bitter and frustrated in my most influential older years.

There was a sermon a few years back by Matt Chandler called “God is for God”. It was powerful because of the setting (he was at a conference put on by Elevation Church… the Joel Osteen Jr.) and he brought home the message that God doesn’t give you what you want. And this is good news (the Gospel).

There is a frustration in not receiving what you want and ask for. I experience it daily. I think I know what’s best and what needs to be done. I’m right at times, and there are times when what I desire comes to fruition and it is good for myself and others.

It’s where my heart goes when my desires aren’t met that is vital. It’s the fulcrum of my soul. Not getting “what I want” is a fork in the road and the path (my response) I take is indicative of my heart.

The darkness lies in the thought “that God blessing with me with enough is NOT enough”.

So I write this to preach to my own heart.

I have enough money.
I have enough time.
I have enough people that I love and love me.
I have enough freedom.
I have enough space.
I have enough ability.
I have enough energy.
I have enough scars to have enough wisdom.
I have enough knowledge to make enough decisions.
I have enough experience to act on it.
I have enough ______ to do what You ask of me.
I have enough ______ to experience goodness and joy.

And in those moments where this isn’t True, You are with me, and that is enough.

The lesser of two paths.

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So I stand there looking down two paths.

One takes me to place that seems harsh and mean-spirited. It is full of thorns and poison ivy. It seems, to me, to be a claustrophobic space. And from where I’m standing the more I head in that direction, the smaller the space is to move.

The other path is wider and seems to open up, however, it doesn’t really make sense where the path goes. It appears to be a path with more of a maze-like direction. Lots of dead ends. Lots of paths that really just lead back to the starting point.

One is too closed.
One is too open.
Both are loud and noisy with the commotion from those trying to make their way through.

People are rushing by me and I feel the breeze of their movement which naturally stirs me to move too. There are also nudges towards both that are palatable from those passing by.

Wind. Nudge. Breeze. Bump. A stream of bodies.

I’m near the entrance of both paths and able to see those that have just entered start to feel some reservation, but I see them move forward. They are encouraging each other and their shared frustrations to navigate helps to give off the aroma of a tribal bond. The scent is so intoxicating, and motivating.

Also near the entrance, there are gathered, men and women, that are very helpful with answers to questions that I’m not even asking. They are yelling at people to come to their path. They are true evangelist and apologist. They have the persona of really effective speaker: “A step in this direction and away from the other, is a step towards truth, fulfillment, and self-actualization”.

That works for some.

Some just need to see a friend or family member in a path to motivate them.  Although some go towards those they know and some go away simply because of those people.

Although, most of the people I see have chosen one of the two paths, and the those that haven’t yet are heading to one, I see a small group of people around a fire outside the entrances, off to the side.

I go over there to see what there are doing and I notice that they sit peacefully just staring into the fire. This is a group that doesn’t share much in common on the outside. They are the Island of Misfit toys, the Rat Pack, and the Planeteers.

They have nothing in common, but they don’t seemed bothered by it, because they are rarely looking up from there gaze at the peaceful embers.

Every now and again, those heading towards the path yell something at one the campers to get them to look up. Occasionally one does and gets up to see what the other wants. They rarely come back to campsite but no one sits in their seat, just in case.

I find a spot there to rest.

Coincidence

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Today is my dad’s 64th birthday and would have been my mother’s 60th birthday.

It’s kind of cool and probably would of made for some killer parties had she not passed.

Now it might seem like a fun fact, randomness, or coincidence that they shared a birthday but it’s not.  Well it is that they did, but not the fact that my brother and I share parents that share a birthday…

We were hanging with my always wonderful aunt Marla over Christmas and she was sharing teenager stories of her older (“cooler”) sister.  My mom.  There was a calendar that my small town put out that showed everyone’s birthday, and before there was interest in my father, my mom thought it was “cool” that they shared a birthday.

A small seed of intrigue that grew into watching

…then interest

…then romance

…then a marriage

…then a family.

 

It’s  coincidence somewhat, but it’s also deeper than just that.

 

We are seeing and not seeing a lot at the same time.  There are prompts and nudges all the time under the surface of who we are and what we’re thinking.  Coincidence happens to all of us.  Running into people somewhere random, sitting next to a stranger on both legs of a roundtrip flight, or sharing a very specific similar interest with someone we are around and then becoming aware of it.

Coincidences are when we experience something in reality that seems connected but unconscious.  It seems random and unique, but I’d suggest that it isn’t.  The surprise (or shock if it’s something negative) is us just now becoming aware.

 

The more awareness I strive for, the more coincidences I notice and the more coincidences I notice, the more awareness I have.   I’m looking for more coincidences now instead of waiting to be shocked by them.  (Although the “SURPRISE!!!” is still a fun moment).  Connecting the dots is enjoyable because it connects my experience with yours and others.

 

I am a product of a coincidence, but that coincidence is a product of something eternal.

Regression to the mean.

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It’s that time of year again.

…Turning over new leaves.

…Learning something different.

…Losing 15lbs.

…Writing more.

…Running a marathon.

And on and on.

I love them all.  I want to do them all (no marathons).  I’ll plan to change so many things in the positive direction this year.

 

But alas….I’ll arrive later this year with a lot of broken promises.

 

I’ll have good reasons and bad excuses for not getting where I hoped to be… and both are okay.  Changing things is hard work, takes time and takes times.  I’ll regress back to the mean (or the average) over time.  It’s not sad or tragic.  It’s logical, scientific, and the reality for most things.  It’s hard to change the habits and wiring of the brain (and those brains around me that impact my life).

 

But I have unlocked two ways to improve things in my experimenting.

 

The first way is incredibly effective, but hard to predict and structure.  It’s the “shit” happened and I HAVE TO RESPOND moments.  Now the “shit” doesn’t have to be negative.  Stress can be eustress or distress.  These moments are not daily, weekly, and rarely yearly, but when they arise they give us clear forks in the road to change.  I did 61 hours of college in 2006 because of a moment (Kai being born).  It took me 6 years to struggle to get through the previous 70ish.  I don’t constantly want moments like these (mom dying, jaw breaking, lung issues, collapsing of 30 year old thought, getting married, having 3 children, getting a promotion).  But what I do see is that they are opportunities to shift my thinking and actions abruptly.  It’s easier to change in these moments because there is support by those around me, and more importantly, support internally and personally.

A lot of resolutions just don’t pan out because the support systems (external and internal) are not pushing for it.

It’s much easier to stop eating gluten if it makes you sick and have headaches…

It’s much easier to quit drinking after you get a DWI…

It’s much easier to look for God when you’ve been living in a hellish situation….

And, honestly, it’s just easier to change if those around you are changing in the same direction.

 

The second way is less abrupt but is a little more controllable and less chaotic.  It’s simply the “+1 thinking”.  It works in the gym but works in the other disciplines as well.  If regression to the mean (average) is likely to happen to us, then altering the average of who we are over the long term will provide the change.

I will be transparent and let you know that I try to change 20-40 things a year. I fail to achieve most, but I do achieve some, and that’s enough.  The meaning is to shift the mean.

The truth is: most people that I admire (or can’t stand) made big choices on how they responded when the big moments happened, but they also made a lot of “+1 moments” over long periods of time.

 

It’s okay to set a ton of goals and then break them.

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