The Medieval Bestseller
I read it somewhere on the Internet...
Saturday, October 20, 2007

I suppose if I cannot sleep, I ought to blog. It seems the past few weeks I've taken to not blogging on Friday and instead blogging sometime during the weekend. I'm content with this new, unintentional arrangement, as it gives me some time to relax on Fridays after work and it seems that I get way fewer hits on Fridays, anyway. Anyway, I'm not sure why I can't sleep tonight. My brain might be processing a lot of information, which is the usual reason why I cannot sleep, but I'm not quite sure what it's processing. But I am sure that I have been thinking a lot lately.

So today I read an email from one of my longest friends ever. I have a lot of long-time friends, but next year it'll be 25 years of knowing this friend. Which is a pretty long time, if you think about it (especially if you consider that I am only 29). That's over twice the length of what I consider to be a long-time friendship. Anyway, in the email she payed me a compliment, but the thing is that I'm not necessarily sure it was meant to be a compliment. It was one of those statements where someone says something about you that they believe is a fact and just part of who you are, something that they really value about you. So in this instance she said, "Something that I always find refreshing with you Jenny is that you do not have this pretension in your nature or in the way you share your heart."

I found myself just really touched by this, especially thinking about how much more meaningful this compliment is to me than, say, a compliment that I have good hair. Don't get me wrong - I love it when people tell me I have good hair and I appreciate good hair on others. But I think these deeper compliments are good and necessary for us to hear regularly, in part to remember we are valued beyond the surface, in part to see that our friends really "get" us, but also in part for our larger society to recognize and affirm the whole person.

I suppose I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I realize that when I've been taking walks on the bike path lately, I've been thinking about the notion of friendship, wondering what is at the root of friendship. Why am I friends with the people I'm friends with? Is there a common theme amidst my friends? Is the root of my friendship with people common among all of my friends? Just so you know, I have no answers to those questions. When I start to formulate an answer, another question pops into my mind.

The long and short of all of this is that I think I'm really going to try to work on telling others these sorts of compliments from here on out. So if I haven't complimented you in a deep way, don't be afraid to say to me, "Hey, where's my deep compliment?"

Other than all of that, I've been thinking a lot lately about corporate chaplaincy and the church and secularization and things of this ilk. When I was driving home, I was thinking that if I were ever to get a PhD (which, let us be clear on this one, I'm not willing to get a PhD), I might want to write about secularization and how there is this yet persistent need or desire for some amount of spirituality or belief system in people's lives. People seem to be off-put by the church, yet there are services traditionally under the purview of the church that people seem to want and value, without necessarily wanting the rest of what church means or is, at least in their perception.

Like something I find both interesting and annoying is this online ordination of the Universal Life Church. To me, ordination in the Universal Life Church is meaningless simply because I value the idea committing to an established doctrine in the ordination process. The uncertainty of what, exactly, the Universal Life Church is simply makes me uncertain. However, the idea behind why people are getting ordained in the ULC is not lost on me. Beyond it being a novelty, the idea is that people are recognizing both the importance of setting people apart to be an authority and, paradoxically, also affirming the notion that an ordinary person can be an authority...which is, in a sense, a Protestant ideal.

So you see people without theological training becoming ordained, you hear people say that they read the Bible and pray, yet don't attend a church, you hear of companies finding value in providing a benefit of spirituality to their employees, you find movies conveying spiritual and Biblical themes, etc. And yet you hear about how the church is dying and how people are uninterested in religion and spirituality...and I guess I'm not really sure that I buy into that. I think it moreso makes me wonder what the heart of the church really is and challenges me to consider what the heart of ministry, and the role of ministers, should be in light of all of this.

Well, it's nearly 2 a.m. and I have a date with Carrie to go to Sierra Madre at 9 a.m. to go to a bakery and walk around the quaint, little town. Sierra Madre is probably the only city in Los Angeles that even remotely feels like the east coast to me. The city is small and cute and has a town center and has a lot of foliage. I've always liked it, although I'm certain that if I grew up there I'd probably think it was the most boring place on earth. So, I should probably see if I can fall asleep now.

- Jenny, 10/20/2007 12:29:00 AM

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