Italy, Part Due

Well, we’re back and better that ever!

The weather was perfect, albeit a little cold, Rome was great for Christmas, and Florence was great for New Year’s. Meanwhile, Lexi and I stayed mostly disconnected from the Internet, often stealing away to Facebook to share a photo or two, but overall a successful reorientation of priorities on each other. All in all, Italy was a fascinating time for me and there are many a blog post that will be written specifically because of (or in spite of) my experiences there.

In the meantime, I wanted to discuss New Year’s resolutions since it is almost always a hot topic at the beginning of a year. I will, as in previous years, forego the process of setting unrealistic goals for myself that will inevitably be relegated to the pile of failures that is endemic of such ideas.

Instead, I decided to make a list of the things that I want to do this year, almost as a subjective bucket list, as listed below (what follows is a truncated list):

  1. Get more sleep
  2. Listen to more music
  3. Watch less TV
  4. Read more for pleasure
  5. Learn another language
  6. Purge distractions, both digital and physical

As can be seen, I am setting forward ideas of what I would like to focus on this year. Each of the listed items is not measurable from the perspective outside of my own head, but I will know if I am succeeding or failing at any one of them over time during the year.

I felt that last year was overly focused on my graduate studies, which meant that reading for pleasure was basically nonexistent and TV was the easiest way to unwind. This year, I want TV will take a back seat to music and audiobooks or leisure reading and hanging out at coffee shops.

How I normally choose to spend my time was often a focal point of the trip to Italy, which I did not expect. In fact, I think I turned a corner in Italy that I didn’t know was coming (even bringing me to tears one evening): I am ready to part with childish things to become a man (Corinthians 13:11).

I always come back to the initial step, about which I wrote in Going Legit. The fact is that the closer I come to where I want my life to be, even in the afore-listed terms, the further I am from where I began. In other words, as I mature, I am not closing in on something, I am instead getting further away from my current state of mind. 

The next step, and possibly a more difficult one, for another post entirely is my ability to pick and choose how and where I spend my time or possibly how I deal with the realization that how I may spend my time is worth less than it should be.

Probably not what many of you expected to read about in a post about Italy, but the trip was a crossroads for me that I will be attempting to understand for many months to come.

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.