Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two Geezers Walk Into An iPad (Tomorrow is Dan’s Birthday)

I once asked a great sage of our time, Jerry Kroon, how he was doing.

“Well, Dan, I have officially entered geezerdom. It’s a strange new life.”

I am always amazed by the unique insights of Jerry Kroon. A percussionist’s perspective can be difficult to access but once a person truly listens, the wizardry of that gild opens up unfathomable riches of mind and heart.

Ok. That was all BS. But Jerry really is funny.

What caught my attention was his word “geezerdom.” Now that’s a great word.

I am not ready for geezerdom. Heck, I just now got used to adulthood.

Tomorrow, April 22, I turn fifty-seven. Unless I get an iPad for my birthday, the most memorable thing of the day will be simply that I will realize that I have lived on the earth for fifty-seven years. That was really old when I was a child. Now it is just sort of old.

I don’t see an old or even a middle age face in the mirror. I see a mature young adult face. I realize that I am the old one who judges my face that way. The reason for the discrepancy of perception may be that I am the only person alive capable of accurately discerning the features of my own face. Alas, the discrepancy may be due to another cause – namely, what psychology calls “cognitive dissonance.”

Cognitive dissonance is what is popularly called “denial,” that interesting feature of human consciousness that edits our perception and eliminates elements of reality that we may find unsettling.

Jerry doesn’t have cognitive dissonance, I guess. He looks in the mirror and sees an aging man. He wants me to wake up to reality. So there is only one solution – I must stay away from Jerry Kroon. Otherwise, my perception of myself may change and cause me discomfort.

For this blog to have any point, I need to offer some keen insight pretty soon. I suppose it is this: in order to acquire any sort of wisdom, we need healthy community. Otherwise, cognitive dissonance keeps us from learning the truth about ourselves. We keep believing our own inner script about ourselves. We keep playing our own inner movies; movies that we write, direct and produce for our own private enjoyment.

They are really good movies, by the way. I watch mine all the time. I am the star in every one of them. Every person in those movies who disagrees with me becomes the villain. I win; they lose. I never make a mistake and never get old. Women find me young, brilliant, strong and irresistible. The world awaits my every idea. Yeah, the inner movies are the greatest.

I have been writing about the church and why God makes the church an indispensable part of our spiritual life. He knows more than we how screwed up the church is. He knows how dysfunctional, chaotic and irritating it can be. But the church is a community that turns off our inner movies. It makes us look at something else. We learn when our own breath stinks because someone will always tell us.

Church is the antidote for cognitive dissonance disease. I just hate it sometimes! Especially on birthdays. Church tells me about mortality and the need to prepare for age and death. It tells me that suffering is a natural part of the fallen world. It tells me to get out of the way so my children can have a chance. It laughs about geezerdom.

So which church should you attend that will do all of that for you?

I don’t know. That is what we have been talking about in the last five blogs or so.

Churches really differ from one another. Though we accept that this diversity exists in churches, we must be firm in our commitment to the eternal things: the unmovable and unshakable aspects of the Lord’s Church. For, although the church is a human institution, it is also a divine institution.

The New Testament boldly calls the church: “the pillar and ground of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) It also calls the church “a nation of kings and priests.” (Revelation 1:6,) The church is also the family of God.

A few years ago Tom T. Hall made a lot of money singing, "Me and Jesus got our own thing going; me and Jesus got it all worked out; me and Jesus don't need anybody to tell us what it's all about."[1] It was a great song, a very American song. It caters to our sense of independence and autonomy.

Unfortunately, the song was also heresy!

God has chosen to work within this eternal covenant community that He calls His Church.

If you want God to be your King, you must be willing to live within His kingdom, under His rules, and in community with His other subjects.

So, despite our fallen nature and all our differences of opinions, we Christians have much in common. All Christians meet together to worship. We all honor the Word of God. We all partake of the Lord’s Table. We pray for ourselves and for others. We teach one another the Ten Commandments. We pray for and encourage one another. We work to take food, clothing and shelter to the poor. We help one another become more like Christ. We try to remain true to the core teachings of the Lord and his apostles.

Whatever our failings, these things insure that our local churches are true reflections of the Lord’s church.

We want the church to be important, powerful, relevant and intelligent. However, what the church offers is something we can’t get anywhere else. It offers truth: we are mortal, fallen and finite creatures in search of glory and eternal life. Without knowing that we are fallen and mortal, the search for glory will destroy us. Without knowing that we suffer, grow old and die, we will fail to find glory or eternal life.

Churches have all sorts of ways of teaching us, but none are more effective than the companionship of a brother in Christ who has lived too much life and experienced too much stuff to tolerate denial. A man like that will hold the mirror up in front of your face and laugh when you finally see in that mirror what everyone else sees: a mortal, fallible man.

God shouldn’t use a drummer though – that’s a bit over the top.

Maybe He’ll get me an iPad to compensate.

That’s not much, right?

Janis Joplin asked for a Mercedes Benz!


Marilyn said...

An important factor to consider is the manner in which something is said - tone/look, a disarming smile, said with affection, compassion, etc. - can rob words of all insult... Needless to say the opposite of this accomplishes [Nothing But] insult, dissension, tension and strife. Really then, if the goal is "help" a brother/sister which do we believe to be more profitable...?

Antonia (Toni) said...

Since you don't see correctly in your mirror -- maybe you need to purchase new ones. =)

There are many of us right behind you. Take care.