Monday, January 23, 2006

Blue Like Monday Mornings...

Blue Like Jazz Chapter 2 – Problems: What I Learned on Television

I love the first line of this chapter…

Some people skip through life; some people are dragged through it.

While’s it’s funny, it is also really true when you think about it. I’m sure we can all think of people we know who tend to be skipping, as well as those who seem to be getting dragged.

I’ll be honest. I’d have to say I’m doing a lot of skipping. I don’t say it to brag, but more in a sense of gratitude. I’ve been blessed to live the life I have so far and I very thankful that life hasn’t been able to get a hold of my belt-loops and pull me down to be dragged.

I’m fully aware that one can hit the ground at anytime and find them self being pulled. But I’m also aware of the idea that just because we think someone is skipping through life, that is not always the case.

I was thinking this weekend how sometimes our life is like a frozen dinner you might get at the grocery store. Yes, that’s right. I was stuck at home a lot this weekend eating things like frozen dinners while I did some paperwork. But let me explain my thoughts…

You know how you are browsing down the frozen food section and you see that frozen dinner that just looks so good on the box? So you buy it and get yourself all excited to make it for dinner only to find out after those 5 minutes in the microwave that it is nothing like what you expected from the wonderful-looking picture on the front of the box. Not only does it look NOTHING like what was on the box, but it also does not taste a thing like what you expected.

Sometimes I think people can pull off the frozen dinner look in life. On the outside we can look all put together. We can appear to be skipping. We can look GREAT and rather appealing, but the truth is on the inside. Inside we might be nothing like what is on the cover.

Just a thought I had this weekend while I ate some Mexican frozen dinner dish…


I think this was one of the passages my friend Walker mentioned from this book when she first introduced it to me…you’ll have to let me know if I am correct, Walker. And people think I don’t listen… ;)

I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man’s mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God.

I agree with the idea behind that thought. Whether in reference to the devil or not, I believe that habit can become wasted time. Habit and routine can become so mindless. Honestly, I’ve given routine a lot of thought in reference to my future, and I’m pretty sure I’m a person that needs a profession that is not so predictable. I need a variety; things to be changed up often. I get bored with the same ole, same ole, after a while.

Miller is right. For a Christian, I can so see that being the case. The way we humans can become so mindless when we fall into our typical habit and routine roles, we are not focusing intently on things. And as easy as it is to get up each day and run through out routine actions at our job, it is just as easy to do the same when going to church.


If you don’t love somebody, it gets annoying when they tell you what to do or what to feel. When you love them you get pleasure from their pleasure, and it makes it easy to serve.

Yep. Enough said.


“I have always agreed with the idea that we have a sin nature. I don’t think it looks exactly like the fundamentalists say it does, ‘cause I know so many people who do great things, but I do buy the idea we are flawed, that there is something in us that is broken. I think it is easier to do bad things than good things.”

I don’t know what I think about this one. I’ve often internally discussed the whole idea about whether mankind is innately good or innately bad. Do I really think we are all born bad and we have to be taught to be good? It’s such a gloomy thought that maybe it troubles me to want to believe it. I like to think we are born good. I like to think good is in our nature at the core, though we screw up from time to time. Is this how it is? I don’t know…

I definitely don’t think I agree with the idea that “it is easier to do bad things than good things.” I think that is totally dependent on the act. I would argue that when we are born, doing a good act and doing a bad act are equally easy. I would say then as society shows us right from wrong, we would consciously see doing a wrong act, or bad thing—in Mr. Miller’s terms, as harder, but who knows.

I think Mr. Miller put this whole idea into a great illustration only a few lines away where he gave this example…

“I wondered, you know, if I ever had a couple of kids and I trained one of them, taught him right from wrong, and the other I didn’t train at all, I wonder which would be the better kid.”

“The kid you teach right from wrong, of course,” I told him.

“Of course, but that really should tell us something about the human condition. We have to be taught to be good. It doesn’t come completely natural. In my mind, that’s a flaw in the human condition.”

“Here’s one,” I said, agreeing with him. “Why do we need cops?”

“We would have without cops,” Tony said matter of factly. “Just look at the countries with corrupt police. It’s anarchy.”

“Anarchy,” I repeated.

“Anarchy!” Tony confirmed in sort of a laugh.

“Sometimes I think, you know, if there were not cops, I would be fine, and I probably would. I was taught right from wrong when I was a kid. But the truth is, I drive completely different when there is a cop behind me than when there isn’t.”

And what Tony and I were talking about is true. It is hard for us to admit we have a sin nature because we live in this system of checks and balances.

Nice, huh? He does argue a couple tough points.

As for the first point. I like it. The thought of raising one child with the concept of right and wrong and another without the concepts of the two. But then I wonder if that is just my experimental side coming out.

Honestly, I like to think we as humans notice the bad that people do more quickly than we pick up on the good. It’s easy to note the bad kids in class. It’s easier to remember how many times Johnny got detention versus how many times he helped Sally pronounce the big words in her weekly reader.

Good acts tend to be noted (sometimes) and forgotten quicker than do bad acts. Because of this, I could see how one child might be viewed as bad quicker than one being noted as good.

As for the second point…I just love it! Is it not the truth?! Don’t we ALL drive differently when we see that police car in our rearview mirror? Even if you are one who never goes above the speed limit, you most likely decrease your speed from being at the limit to lower when you see that cop.

Why is this? Well, when I think about it, I like to think that instance is kind of one of those exceptions to the rule things. Maybe that doesn’t mean we are naturally bad, and so we are having to refrain from our typically “bad” selves when we see the cop arise in the picture, but maybe it is just that we find ourselves with driving to be caught-up in the pace of the American life. Everything is fast paced nowadays here and we can’t let a speed limit keep us from getting in everything we need to get in that day.

I mean when I think about it. When I see a cop in any other setting, I harder ever have to readjust my behavior because I fear being caught being “bad.” I don’t feel like I typically am inclined to be bad, so I don’t find myself having to check myself to be in balance in other situations when cops are present.

Maybe this is because I was taught right from wrong. I don’t know.

I suppose I honestly just don’t know where I stand on the thought of whether we are born bad and have to be taught good, or whether we are born good and are taught by society bad.


I sat there above the city wondering if I was like the parrot in Lewis’s poem, swinging in my cage, reciting Homer, all the while having no idea what I was saying.

I know this isn’t meant to be funny. But my first impression of it is to laugh, but after I get that out, I too can see the depth of it.

I laugh because I think how I have had times where I have sounded so brilliant and so confident and yet beneath the talk I haven’t much more of a clue what I’m talking about than those listening to me do. HA!

But really, how often do we think we know what we’re talking about, only to find out we haven’t a clue?

It’s really kind of scary actually. It’s scary when you find it out after-the-fact. Like you’ve gone along for sometime thinking you know something, only to find out later that you hadn’t the slightest clue.

Sometimes we think we know people and we might talk praises of them, only to find out they aren’t how we thought. Or, unfortunately, we talk bad about someone only to find out they aren’t that way at all.

I suppose the only medicine for this is to prepare ourselves as much as we came. If we want to recite Homer, we need to make sure we have the right Homer and that we know what we are talking about before we go about proud-fully reciting anything.

[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s "Blue Like Jazz"]


Amanda said...

There are several ways to approach most of your points and people have literally written books on each one so if you don't mind I would like to tackle just one for now and if I have time comment on the others later when I can think about it some more.

I'm going to comment on habits and routine. Yes, habit and routine can be so mindless and it can be a waste of time. But, doesn't it say something about ourselves that everyone has a habit or routine. While it can be mind numbing and maybe boring at times there is also comfort and consistency to it.

For instance, I have a habit to read the comics daily when I get home for work. It only takes 30 seconds to a minute at the most, they aren't thought provoking but it's just something I do. When I'm in a situation and I am unable to read them for several days at a time I am slightly unsettle, I repeat very slightly. Anyways my point is don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Habit and routine can become obsessive, you should know the clinical term for that mental illness or whatever the politically correct term to call a mental disorder. And it can be time wasting but it can also be good even in religion. (Hey I warned you these points can each be a book)

In graduate school I took a class on Christian Worship ( this point will be based on Christian worship becuase that's basically all I know so I won't be able to represent other religions). And one of the topics we had was on tradition which is related to habit/routine. What we read and discussed was the implications tradition has, good and bad. Bad we know so I won't get into that. Tradition should not be intended to become doctrine or the final say in matters.

Tradition is best used as tool to help form us into and image or type or person we desire to become. For instance in the Catholic church when they take communion or the Eucharist they believe in transubstantiation, which means the bread becomes the literal flesh or Christ and the wine literally becomes the blood of Christ. It sounds barbaric but give me a minute. The idea, from what I've conlcuded, is that by partaking of Christ's body he is literally in us and he being in us we become him. And isn't that what the term Christian means, like Christ and isn't that what being a Christian one should do is become like Christ. So in partaking in this communion as a tool, a resource or whatever you are forming oneself into an image or a person you desire.

I believe it's when, at least in the Christian church, we lose this mindset about tradition and allow it to control us instead of us controling it it becomes a problem and has a negative impact. It was Jesus himself who said God made the sabbath for us not us for the sabbath.

So, in conlcusion about habit/routine. Yes, it can be a waste of time but it can be comforting and it can be transforming. And becasue it can be transforming we have to be careful what and how we do it.

I apoligize for the lenghth if it's to long. I would like to comment on your other points later if you don't mind.

Melody said...

Visiting hours are 24/7 :)

FeedingYourMind said...

Amanda: I appreciate your comment (and of course, you can comment as much as you want...I don't care...HA!)

Yes, I agree that habit/routine is not necessarily a bad thing. I hope I didn't come off as seeming that I think habit is all bad.

Habits are necessary I think in order to learn tasks well. If we want to learn something to a level of expertise, I think it needs to became as a habit. Something that we can do without really having to be 100% focused and into it completely.

As for tradition. I have NO issues with traditions. I don't think a lot of things should change. I'm perfectly fine with a lot of traditions. If they are working fine as is, then leave them (I'm lazy, what can i say...HA!).

But I just agree with the point that once something DOES become habit/routine it is easy for it to become so monatmous....[gosh I wish i knew how to spell]....that it can get to the point where one pays no attention and can view it as wasting their time if they or anyone else is not getting anything out of it.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

Amanda said...

No, you didn't come off that way at all, that's just what jumped in my head at the moment. I also didn't imply they that you had problems with traditions it just that my thoughts were lead from habit to tradition and some people view tradtion as a bad thing.

I totally relate to the fact that sometimes what we say sounds brilliant but the later realize we are idiots. Let me say just this, graduate school was a humbling experience. But, it was good humbling. I've learned that I don't know everything and I never will but that is not going to stop me from being a student or it won't stop me from learning.

And yes, it is very dissappointing when we find out someone we have looked up to is not who they seem to be.

I think what would help us all from idolizing others is for us all to be honest with ourselves and each other. I mean everyone should know that everyone is not perfect so why do we try to be.

Anyways, that was totally random thoughts.

I want to write some on the being innately bad or good thing, but I need to orgaize my thoughts, that is huge can or worms you opened.

Thanks for putting up with my thoughts.

FeedingYourMind said...

Amanda: I appreciate your thoughts, so thank YOU for sharing them!

And yes, the innately bad vs. innately good thing is such a big thing. I didn't even do it justice in whatever I tried to ramble off about it last night. I'm almost afraid to reread what I wrote about it because it is one of those things that at the time I might have been leaning more one way on the topic, but moments later I can be leaning the other way...HA!