Thinking Out Loud

June 2, 2015

One of *Those* Birthdays

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:43 am

So as I’ve already noted, Friday was marked by a robbery which kind of put a giant shadow over Saturday which was my birthday. A few days ago I recalled this quotation but can’t find the source for it:

Whereas once I found myself doing things for the first time
I now find myself doing things for the final time.

Depressing, ain’t it? At any rate, this is the blog post that ran on a similar birthday five years ago.


Here’s a simple psychological test you can conduct at your next dinner party. Everyone gets a small piece of paper and is asked to write down the age they would like to be if they could be any age. After they are finished, you ask them to draw a line and under the line write their true age. They fold up the papers and drop them in a hat, and then you open them and read the difference between the first second numbers. (i.e. “three years younger;” “two years older;” “seven years younger;” etc.)

They say the mark of contentment is when the difference is zero, when the person is most happy being the age they actually are. (For added fun, then try to guess who might have said what!)

Some of us are not so content.

Today, I am celebrating (or perhaps lamenting) one of those birthday years that ends in a zero or a five. Something about our decimal system ascribes to those years great additional significance.

I am not going to tell you what it is. While I have nothing but contempt for middle-aged men who park in teen chat rooms pretending to be something they are not; I relate best to that part of the Christian blog culture most populated by twenty-somethings, or worst case, thirty-somethings. With a lack of photographic evidence on this blog to prove anything contrary, I want to keep it that way.

Still, this is a birthday I approach kicking and screaming. I can relate to Logan, in the movie Logan’s Run. (Mention does not imply endorsement.) For those of you don’t know, here’s the 411 from Wikipedia:

Sometime in the 23rd century…the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here, in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide everything. There’s just one catch: Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of Carousel.

Within a domed city, Logan 5 watches as an infant’s hand is implanted with a Lifeclock, a crystalline device that changes color as a person ages. As someone approaches his “Last Day,” the Lifeclock blinks red and finally turns black, at which time the person must report to Carousel, where—he or she is told—there is the hope of Renewal, a sort of reincarnation.

Logan is a Sandman, responsible for hunting down and killing Runners, people who refuse to report to Carousel when their Lifeclock expires. Logan is accompanied by his friend, and fellow Sandman, Francis 7

The two watch a Carousel ceremony as the participants assemble in an arena, are lifted up by an invisible force and appear to be struck by electric arcs and vaporized while the cheering audience shouts, “Renew!”. Neither Logan nor Francis have known anyone who succeeded in this, but Francis believes that Sandmen always renew…
continue reading here…

I believe that the Apostle Paul’s statement,

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4: 11 NIV)

and by inference, injunction — that of being content in whatever place you find yourself — is a valid if not necessary life choice. Given Paul’s history of imprisonment and shipwreck — not the kind of guy you want to take out on your new ski boat — his ability to relax when things are literally sinking reflects the degree of his faith and trust in his Lord and Savior.

But I am approaching this particular birthday kicking and screaming. Wait a minute, did I already use the phrase, “kicking and screaming?” Oh no, that’s one of the symptoms of this age, you start repeating yourself. Not only that, but sometimes, for no apparent reason, you start repeating yourself.

Anyway, I just want to say in conclusion… that I think… perhaps we can all learn… oh no, it’s worse than I thought, I can’t remember what I was writing about…


December 31, 2012

I Am Seeing Ghosts

She walked into my workplace and made very direct eye contact. There was a sign of recognition from her to me, and I did believe she looked familiar. But no name or context appeared as my brain scanned all available memory trying to place her.

She had a wisp of hair in the front that had recently been streaked blonde, contrasting with the light brown tint of the rest of her hair. “Do I know you with a different hair color?” I asked her. It was what I felt was a disarming way of saying, “Do I know you from somewhere?” But isn’t that an overworked pickup line?

I can’t remember with what words she brushed the question aside.  She didn’t offer her name, and I didn’t press any further.

The question was a little creepy, I’ll admit.  Fortunately, she didn’t bolt for the door, but kept shopping, eventually making a rather large purchase.  She looked so familiar, though.

I don’t think I had ever seen her before. Well, not her. I have reached an age where I am seeing ghosts, not in the sense of the spirits of departed people, but the visual twins to people I knew a generation or more ago.

There is a saying that, “When you get older, everything reminds you of something else.” Have I reached that age? That’s scary. Certainly it does seem lately that everybody reminds me of someone I was acquainted with when.

I keep seeing people who are Xerox copies of people from another time and place. The real people in question have aged, but unfortunately, my brain has not been online to receive any updates. The update would consist of seeing the same people as they are now, but that’s not likely to happen.

Before I got married, I drafted an elaborate theory on how there were only 17 facial types, only 17 available sets of eyes, 17 mouth shapes, 17 noses and 17 hair types.  I’m not sure how I came up with the number seventeen, but I believe the number of facial types was meant to take into account ethnic variances as well.  There was some rather lame comment at the time about most of the seventeen being white Caucasian because the others “all looked alike anyway.” I would not get away with that today, but those were different times. Apologies all round.

Combine this with two available sexes, and you are left with 2,839,714 people; so even within the United States and Canada, you’d be dealing with at least ten identical people.  So you don’t have a twin, you have at least nine just within North America if that’s your home.

But the twin thing multiplies when you factor in time. If you have nine look-a-likes now, it’s possible that you also have ten people who are ten years younger than you are right now, who match what you looked like ten years ago. But also that you yourself  look exactly ten people did who are — survival assumed — ten years older.  

Ghosts.  Everywhere.  Walking past each other at the beach, at the mall, at church, at the airport…

The worst case is the summer camp we do volunteer work at. The generation of people we knew now has kids of their own, who show up at the same camp. When I look at Sam (real name) I see Tim (real name). He/they is/are not the only example. The generations start to blend in a brain that is reeling as though  caught in some grand time travel experiment.

Other adult volunteers at the camp tell me our two boys look like me. I don’t see it. Not at all. I don’t say, “You must be crazy;” but I’m thinking they’re probably stretching the point, or maybe it is just that bad hair days (or weeks; years) run in the family.

Or maybe they’re seeing ghosts.

September 4, 2010

Rob Bell Affirms The Bible Promotes Renewal, Not What’s New

Not sure what your opinion is of Mars Hill (Grand Rapids, MI) pastor Rob Bell, but today we listened to a most unusual sermon from a pastor for whom “unusual” is de rigeur.

Actually, as Bell’s preaching goes, this one was somewhat conservative. The message had as its aim the affirmation of aging. He claims that the motivation for this was that it was the day before his 40th birthday; hardly senior status by any measure.

(NIV) II Cor 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

He began with stories of people whose major life accomplishments began at what some would call the later stages of life. The stories highlighted people who were, with each example, progressively older. (Sadly, the slides that go with this sermon weren’t posted online.)

The message functions well on a number of levels. Besides affirming respect for the wisdom and experience of age, it’s also an encouragement to those who are older to reconsider retirement. But most important, it’s a challenge to all of us to rethink the concept that “new is best.”

Bell ends the message with a question that was asked of him — Bell being a guy who knows what it’s like to be the new hot trend — as to how a person can avoid “peaking” after sudden popularity.

(NIV) Psalm 92:12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green…

You can find the 50+ minute sermon here. Click on the message for 8/22 — appropriately titled: The Village Elder.   I’m considering creating some slides myself and then touring the audio message around to some senior’s groups.   I think they’d enjoy what the young guy has to say.

Postscript: The message ends with a story about a guy who was dismissed from his church for attending a Rob Bell conference on his own time with his own money. Not sure how it directly connects, but it shows that the Michigan pastor still has detractors. Not sure what they would find wrong in this message though.

August 9, 2009

Don’t Blame Seniors

Filed under: issues — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:48 pm

This was part of a long e-mail FWD I got today…

it was NOT the senior citizens who took:

The melody out of music,
The pride out of appearance,
The courtesy out of driving,
The romance out of love,
The commitment out of marriage,
The responsibility out of parenthood,
The togetherness out of the family,
The learning out of education,
The service out of patriotism,
The Golden Rule from rulers,
The nativity scene out of cities,
The civility out of behavior,
The refinement out of language,
The dedication out of employment,
The prudence out of spending,
The ambition out of achievement, or,
God out of government and school.

And we certainly are NOT the ones

who eliminated

patience and tolerance

from personal relationships and interactions with others!!

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