Thinking Out Loud

October 26, 2013

The Movie You Star In

(…Or at least have a supporting role.)

At least once a month, I receive a new newsletter called PARSE, written by Paul Pastor, the online editor for Leadership Journal.  If you’re interested, you can subscribe by clicking here.

This is an example of the short essays he writes…

Paul PastorTo be honest, sometimes I think that I’m the center of the universe. That I am some human version of Foucault’s Pendulum; the one fixed point around which the cosmos rotates.

Here’s how this plays out. Most of the time, I act like other people are just the supporting cast of a film I’m starring in. My wife’s a co-star of course. Close friends and family have big roles, full of humor and drama. There are bit parts too, mostly to help the plot along and add some color. The man with dreadlocks who pumps my gas. My favorite barista. The mailman. An old professor. Strangers are extras, maybe chorus members for a musical number.


What would happen if I realized that life wasn’t really my movie at all? What if I were actually a supporting actor in the “films” of dozens of my friends and family, a mild villain in a few old co-worker’s films. A comic character in some, tragic in others, sometimes just a member of the chorus, a flashing blip visible only when you pause the frame, back it up, analyze that tan blur there off to the left.

We’re all players in each others’ stories. Somehow, all those lovely, winding narratives mesh up to make bigger ones. The Story of Paul folds like tiny origami into the story of the 21st Century Church. The story of Post-Enlightenment Culture. The Story of History. Those in turn fold together into yet larger tales. The Story of Carbon Based Life. The Story of the Planet Earth. The Story of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Those, in turn, mash up yet again. The Story of the Universe. The Story of Creation and Re-Creation. The Story of God.

Those are plots too big for my comprehension. And I have the hubris to think that I am the center of it all? That all this revolves around my awkward mutterings?

I repent of my foolishness, but am daunted by a marvelous thing; you and I still have speaking parts, no matter how big the story gets.

May we deliver our lines well in the Story of the Church and Her Culture, standing here as we do, at the edge of infinite stages.

July 23, 2010

Can’t Buy Me Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:44 am

I don’t care too much for money,

Money can’t buy me love

~The Beatles

We spent the last few days looking at the St. Lawrence River from the opposite to our usual side. The place we’re staying in Alexandria Bay, NY overlooks Heart Island, home to Boldt Castle.

Construction on the vast structure was halted when the owner’s wife died unexpectedly. His heart was broken and the castle was never finished.

Living in Toronto, we couldn’t help think of Casa Loma, built again as a man’s gift of love to his wife, and never completed. What’s that saying in the Bible about counting the cost before you build?

Anyway, yesterday we were on a luncheon cruise on the river – it sounds posh but it wasn’t, the chicken was inedible – and learned of a third man who set out to build the perfect summer home on an island for his wife. He gave her a choice of any of the 1,800 islands in the Thousand Islands and she didn’t like any of them, so he built her an island, too.

In the end, she left him.

The marina outside our window is full of yachts and powerboats that are also momuments to vast amount of personal wealth that exists in the United States. But pause and listen to conversations and the people who own them are not happy. Their lives seem filled with tension and angst.

Yesterday, one woman suddenly took off in her SUV, and her husband walked out of their cottage surprised to see her gone. He got on his cell to her and whatever discussion precipitated their argument continued phone to phone.

People like us often look at the boats and the cabins and the “good life” at a distance and forget the fundamental happiness and underlying joy just aren’t in the picture for these people.

And so I end this with words normally spoken in the “fellowship time” in many of our churches…

…The peace of Christ be with you.

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