Update 9/14/16

 

Hi. I’m trying my second video. I’m aiming for 1 a week. Nothing in particular for a subject. Just a random update on me, my life and my job hunt. Excuse me not looking at the camera for most of this. I still need a script to keep from stammering and locking up. I’m doing this as kind of stream of consciousness writing (with some editing). I’ll just talk until I get to when I think I’ve said enough and then I’ll stop. This is good practice for my speaking; I’m sure my speech therapist would be proud.

Still no seizures, so that’s a positive. A little over 3 months with no seizures. I’m halfway to driving again. I’m scared what that means going forward though. It means that if I get too stressed I’m likely to have another one. If it was just a few hours earlier I would’ve been driving when it happened. That’s scary to think about so I won’t go down that path. But no seizures since the one in June, when my dad passed away. I said I’d go into that in more detail at a later time. No better time than now.

There really isn’t too much to tell, in all honesty. He passed suddenly and of natural causes at the ripe old age of 56. That’s pretty young, but he outlived his mother. She died of a heart attack in her early 50’s. My father lived a hard life and spent the majority of it not taking care of his health. He decided to get bariatric surgery a few years ago and that really helped. He lost a ton of weight and preached the gospel of weight loss any family and friends that would listen (and some who wouldn’t). It was too little too late, however. My father’s heart was already damaged. He had a quadruple bypass at the age of 40 and his heart couldn’t keep up with his lifestyle.

I found out when my little sister called me. Based on how hard she was crying and how early it was in the morning, I knew what had happened before she worked up the courage to tell me that “Dad was gone.” I’ll be honest; it didn’t come as a surprise. I feel bad saying that, but it is true. I had expected it a lot sooner. My dad had told me about his heart issues, in confidence, about a year earlier and that he didn’t expect to live more than a couple years. But “When it’s his time, it’s his time.” I expressed to my dad how selfish that was; that he had a daughter to live for. He stayed steadfast on his resolution. Based on conversations with his wife, though, he was softening on that stance.

I am sad that he’s gone, but I’ve still not cried. I feel terrible admitting that to the whole internet. It is the truth though. I watered up a bit at the funeral, but I still haven’t cried. Some of it is me. I’m just like my father. He didn’t cry at funerals. Once someone was gone they were just gone. I only remember my father crying at two funerals: his grandfather’s and his mother’s.  Also, my childhood was a lot different than my siblings. He wasn’t really there for me. It is not like he was an absentee father but he left my mother when I was 10 or 11 and left the state for personal reasons about a year later. I didn’t really see him much after that (minus the year I lived with him). We talked on the phone for a bit about once a month or so. I even lived with him for a year in 8th grade. But I missed my friends and the small school atmosphere in upstate NY. So I moved back to NY. That year couldn’t make up for the years without a father. A year and a phone call once a month is not the same as having a parent close by and seeing or talking to them frequently. I don’t hold it against him. He did the best he could, given the circumstances. Do I wish he didn’t move? Of course I do. Was that a possibility? I don’t think so.

He was a genuine man; what you saw was what you got. That was a good thing about him. He didn’t put on airs for anyone. He looked forward to my calling with car questions and we became closer in my 20’s. That didn’t make up for my childhood, but it created a new bond between father and son. I’m not sure that either my step-mother or my wife knows this, but I talked him out of divorcing his wife and he talked me into marrying mine. I expressed misgivings about marrying my wife to him and he said he knew that she was God’s plan for me. That convinced me to overcome my ‘cold feet’ and marry her. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; I don’t know anyone stronger, more virtuous or more vested in my success than my wife. I don’t think I ever told my father that. I don’t think I ever thanked him after the fact or expressed my deep gratitude. That’s a regret I am just going to have to live with.

Like all of us, he was a wonderfully flawed human being. I am sad that my son is going to grow up having only known my father from our stories about him. I suppose the positive to that is that we get to craft A’s memory of him. That’s not the same as having his own memories of his grandfather though.

EGB

Can Love Be Commanded?

A friend recently posed a question to me: “How can we be commanded to love? Isn’t that kind of a conflict of interests, with love being spontaneous and all.” So I decided to take advantage of the shiny new blog and answer him here.

Jesus said,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another “[1]

Jesus commands loving one another. Read that again. Jesus commands loving one another. Foremost, the command presupposes free will. If we can choose to love, we must be able to choose not to love too. So we’ve ruled out a deterministic universe (Thank goodness). But, even if one interprets love as an action, as something you do, there’s a problem there. Love doesn’t work like brushing your teeth, or handing me a sandwich. It doesn’t work like any number of examples you can think of. It is deeply personal. It is sacrificial, both figurative and literally.

First, I suppose, we should begin by gathering a working definition of love. It must be Christologically (Christ) centered; after all Jesus said to use him as the model for true love. And it must be kenotic (Give to the point that we literally cannot give any more. Think of Jesus on the cross).  Therefore I think a working definition may be proposed as we “identify ourselves” with the persecuted and “immerse ourselves in the world of change, struggle and conflict as the Word did for us, for the sake of the world’s own betterment.”[2] That seems like a good start. Sure it’s got lots of holes, but it’ll serve for the purposes of our short study. Besides, short of a complex systematic theological study it will have to do. Love is total giving for the sake of the other.[3]

Second, even with a definition established we’re no closer to solving the problem of a commandment to love. If love is giving for the sake of the other, can that be commanded and still be love? I think that it can.

A commanded self-sacrificing is no less sacrificial. The end result is still the same.  The problem comes from how one defines “love.” If one defines it as affection, then no. No, it cannot be commanded. However, if one defines it as we have, as sacrificial giving for the sake of the other then there is no problem. It doesn’t matter how you got to the sacrificial giving. The only prerequisite is that it must be sacrificial.

When faced with real life, it really isn’t that easy. Everything is easier when dealt with on paper, in concept form. Real life is messy. The devil lives in the details for good reason. When it comes to sacrificing you’re always forced to make decisions of priorities. There are competing “goods.” You’ve children to protect, but you’re commanded to give to the point of kenosis. Who do you put first? Why? I know someone whose mother chose to take in an alcoholic in to live with them when he and his brother were just kids. I’m not saying I agree with that, but where is the line? You’re a battered spouse; at what point is your giving enabling rather than being truly loving? If we get off the extremes for a minute, your spouse comes to you and says they’re feeling neglected but you’re genuinely giving ALL that you have. What do you do?[4]

I don’t have the answer to these questions.


[1]John 13:34

[2] Tanner, Kathryn, Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001), 63. Yes I am aware of the other non-theological directions this could point us.

[3] I realize how problematic this is. I keep picturing a bloodied wife on the kitchen floor saying “I can change him. I just need to give more.” I’m writing a blog so it cannot be too long and it would take me 100 pages to unpack “identify ourselves” with the persecuted and “immerse ourselves in the world of change, struggle and conflict as the Word did for us, for the sake of the world’s own betterment.” Cut me some slack :-).

[4] Insert your own situation at home where you’ve got two genuinely good things competing for your attention, but you’ve only got enough time/energy to love on one of them.

An Update on My Progress (9/8/16)

**In watching the video I noticed a weird cadence to my speech. I’m going to work on that**

 

It’s been a while since I did one of these. I’m reading a script because speaking is one of my weak points, reading aloud even more so. But I thought it would be nice to fill my videos page with something other than peeling tattoos and loud hardcore shows. Since I’m hunting for work I thought it would be nice to keep all of my pages fresh… including my YouTube page. After all you never know when Destiny is going to come calling.

I’m not going to lie; it’s been a struggle looking for work. I’m glad that I’ve got the job I’ve got now for cushion. That runs out by December and I need somewhere else to land. I’m sure something else is going to come through but it gets a bit bleak sometimes, especially after the summer I had.

I had 6 interviews for teaching jobs over the summer. That’s a lot of interviews. You’d think I’d have landed something, right? Wrong. Every interview I’d get stuck on an early question and not be able to answer. I couldn’t even get a question out to buy myself more time in the very beginning. With the principal at Callaway High School (a local high school), whom I know outside of the principal-teacher context, I couldn’t answer that question: “how do you build a rapport with students?” It was disheartening. However, my phone kept ringing with principals seeking interviews and ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Right? After some research on Aphasia I realized that time wouldn’t be enough to fix this problem. I needed speech therapy fix this.

Speech therapy went quite well. I saw a speech pathologist and his graduate assistants at the local hospital. They made me very uncomfortable, but in a good way. I continued to have interviews while in speech therapy but too soon to make a difference. My last interview was for an Instructional Design position at West GA Tech College and, despite not getting the job; I thought it went really well. We continued speech therapy up until Florrie went back to school and I lost my ride (I had a seizure when my dad died in June. That’s a story for another time though).

Well…all that to say, “I’m keeping my head up” but being honest, it’s not been easy. I’m sure Destiny is right around the corner. I’ve just got to keep the faith. But that doesn’t mean whitewashing the dark stuff. This turned out a bit darker than I’d hoped, but that’s ok. I’ll wrap it up here. No wisdom. No moral of the story. Just a guy who’s hoping against hope that victory is just around the corner.

EGB

Technical Troubles a Continuing Problem

Technical Problems abound with this site. my apologies. it will be rectified shortly.

EGB

Trouble Writing After 8 Years Off

I am having trouble generating thoughts that are blog-worthy. It really is a skill. Ever since my graduate theology professor told me to take a break from blogging in 2008 I’ve not held it a priority. I’m hoping that this blog post about how I cannot blog will help to get the juices flowing :-).

Regardless, the job hunt is going well. At least 1 application a day. Something’s going to come through; I can feel it.

Thank you for reading.
EGB

I’m back, baby!

I decided to reopen a blog. It’ll be different this time, however. Instead of just theological musings I’m going to open it up to all aspects of my life. Mostly this will just be a place where I put my thoughts and journal. I’m still unsure if I am going to open it up to comments though.

All for now.
-Earl