Saturday, September 29, 2007

Will You Take Me Back?

So, yeah, about the last couple weeks. . . .

This seems a bit awkward.

I guess I owe an apology to anyone still hanging around Redeeming Prufrock. I feel like I have returned to middle school where one ends relationships not through conversation or even an argument but through silence and the total disregard for the other's existence.

Ah, but dear reader, I did not mean to break up! I merely needed some time alone. You know, to clear my mind. I mean, it wasn't you, it was me. . . .

Ok, I'm a prude. I know, I know, I could've at least called. Or blogged. Or commented. Or something. Anything.

I really hate to write that I have been really busy. Everyone says they are busy to the point that the word carries no substantive meaning any longer. I sometimes think "I'm busy" has replaced "Good" as the generic response to the introductory question: "How's it going?" Saying "I'm busy" is like saying nothing.

Thus, I shan't say I have been too busy to blog. Had I wanted to badly enough, I would have made time for it. This week, I made time to watch the Tar Heels. I made time to read a book. I made time to eat lunch. If I (and I suspect we) want to do something badly enough, I make time for it.

So as to the silence: I have discovered over the past month that my Meyers-Briggs test stands correct. I am an introvert. My new job demands that I spend most of my time with people, which I love. People matter. However, I have found that spending time with folks wears me out. At the end of the day, I usually meet relational and intellectual exhaustion. So when time comes to write, I have trouble stringing coherent words together. I love words too much to treat them so lightly.

I have not retired from the blogosphere as previously reported in the comments. I merely must re-find my place in it, a place where I can contribute something blogworthy without eight hours of book-shelving/brainstorming each day. This process occupies my thoughts at the moment.

Consider this a DTR (Define the Relationship, for those unfamiliar with the lingo these days). I hope to redefine our relationship in a manner that works well for both of us.

If, that is, you will take me back.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

So I'm Here, Now What?

I give my first ever talk at an InterVarsity Large Group tonight with the hopes of providing a welcoming place for freshmen new to the college environment and of inviting them into God's transformational work at UNH. If you are the praying type, this all goes down around 7:30, so any prayers before then will receive great thanksgiving from your humble hack. Here's a snippet from what I hope comes out of my mouth tonight:

“So I’m here, now what?” It’s the question of the week. Somehow or another, you all got to this room, tonight. “So I’m here, now what?”

I cannot answer this question for you. At the moment, I cannot even answer it for myself. Quite a case of the blind leading the blind. What I can answer for you though is where InterVarsity is going, and I chose these words carefully because I do believe that we are, in fact, going somewhere. We are a Christian organization, and one of the biggest misconceptions of Christianity – both inside and outside of the church - is that it is a monument, a place to gather people who believe like us and think like us and look like us and just sit around and do stuff like wear halos, have no fun, “grow,” and be holy.

But this is not Christianity. Christianity is not a monument. It is a movement. And we here at InterVarsity are a part of that movement. Tonight, I want to respond to the question “So I’m here, now what?” with an invitation to you all to come along with us to where we are going.

I have recently become fascinated by the Greek myth of Sisyphus. According to lore, Sisyphus was an ancient king of the Greek city of Corinth. He was a wily man, known specifically for his deceitfulness and trickery. Tales range far and wide of how he seduced his niece, how he usurped his brother’s throne, how he betrayed the secrets entrusted to him by Zeus. My man Sisyphus was a rascal, a rogue, a rapscallion even, and this troubled the Greek gods to no end. When Sisyphus died, they decided to punish him for his life of deception. His fate: they condemned him to an eternity of rolling a huge boulder up a steep hill. Now, rolling a ball up a hill isn’t that bad. But here’s the kicker. Every time he neared the crest of the hill, the boulder would slip from his grasp and fall back to Ground Zero where he must begin again and again and again. . . . all with the same futile result. His eternal fate was frustration.

I have fallen in love with this story because, in times of transition such as now, life often feels like this to me, that I am pushing a huge boulder up to the top of a hill but each time I get close it merely falls back on top of me. I work hard all through high school to get to college – where I feel new, awkward, lonely even, left at the end of my labors asking the disappointing question, “So I’m here, now what?” I study for hours on end, rearranging my schedule and saying “No” to things I really want to do - only to bomb the midterm anyways. I spend weeks leaving everything I’ve ever known behind me and moving 900 miles from home all to realize that I’m here now, and I have no clue what I need to be doing - except pulling against the Yankees and eating Dunkin’ Donuts.

Life often feels like the boulder never crests the hill, despite my best efforts.

I tell that story as a point of contrast because the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is not like this. In fact, it is the exact opposite of this. If life sometimes seems to be a laborious and futile upward push of the boulder that never really accomplishes anything substantial, then the Kingdom of God is a snowball running downhill collecting us along its path and giving us purpose, progress, and peace. It is a bold, but tender, movement.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at UNH is a part of this movement. We are going somewhere.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

An Elephant Invasion of UNH

A little UNH in the news:

Tonight, a Republican presidential primary debate will be held at the Whittemore Center on the campus of the University of New Hampshire. Tune in to Fox News at 8:30 to see the arena in which my new second favorite college team - I'm a Tar Heel born and a Tar Heel bred - plays hockey. I was unable to find any tickets for tonight, which is good preparation for me because I hear hockey tickets are few and far between up here. Still, I never miss a chance to brag a little on my new school; the center of the political universe, or more aptly the right of the political universe, comes to Durham, NH tonight.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cutting Out a Home

When moving to a new region, one must find certain places of comfort. Church, for example. Life often feels unstable in a new place without church community. I still seek the feeling of home which this comfort will provide me.

Today was a big day for me though because today I found one of these places. I found my barber.

His name is Al. His title: "Master Barber" at Champion Cuts. That's right, folks, not an "Apprentice Barber" or even a "Regular Barber." A "Master Barber." His business card says so.

Now you may think I exaggerate, that perhaps this topic does not seem blog-worthy. However, I do not like hair. It annoys me. I hate it when it creeps onto my ears, and I hate it when it sprouts on the back of my neck. I hate when it becomes long enough I can twist it and play with and not keep my hands off it. Thus, if a barber does not adequately fight back the side-hair climbing onto my ears and do some good tapering work, he has monumentally failed me. I take this very seriously.

I have spent the better part of the last four years of my life away from Charlotte and have yet to find a barber who does an adequate job. Chapel Hill, Williamsburg, Boston - none provide the comfort and home of my barber in Charlotte.

So when I strolled down to Champion Cuts today, I almost did not enter. I had lost hope given past experiences. Perhaps another barber simply did not exist who could match the standard set for so many years in Charlotte. Yet, my friends, suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope.

I choose to hope. I enter.

Al is a big dude with a bald-head. As we began, he asks me what I have up today, and I say I work at the university. Soon I would go to work. He asks me what I do. I reply I work with a campus ministry. This almost kills our conversation, as it almost did with my landlord, as it almost did with George the Chinese take-out guy last night, as it almost does with most folks I meet up here. People find Jesus awkward here, and they do not hide it. I respect that. Facade does no one any good.

I have become adept at pushing through the awkwardness caused by my occupation, so I make a comment about Appalachian St. beating Michigan. Unlike nearly everyone in New Hampshire, I knew of App. St. before they beat Michigan. I feel like I have known a secret that everyone else has just learned about, and now is my time to shine. I shine, talking about a friend I know who goes to school there and must have had a grand party Saturday night.

Pushed through awkwardness. Al and I still have a chance!

On the wall in front of the chair hangs a great deal of Boston sports memorabilia. This is Champion Cuts, after all. Right in front of me hangs a picture from the New England Patriots Super Bowl victory over my beloved Panther Nation in 2004. I have never cried over a sporting event. I came closest at that loss.

This almost ruins me and Al. Some things I cannot tolerate. Re-opening old wounds remains one of them.

But Al tapers. Al takes a two-guard to the edges of my ears. What's best, Al only charges 11 bucks. The price remains low enough that I can leave a substantial tip and still feel like I get a deal. The quickest way to a man's heart may be through his stomach, but the surest way to capture it is through his wallet. Thus, I find reason to ignore the Super Bowl poster. It's only a game, after all, and some things are more important than sports.

Like hair.

I have still yet to find a church home. I still do not know where I will go watch the Panthers on Sunday. But today, I found a barber.

Today, Dover became a little bit more my home.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Coffeeloo

Today presents itself as a watershed moment in my life. Today, I abstain from Dunkin' Donuts for the next 30 days. Today, I also embark on the longest work day of the year.

Napoleon had his Waterloo. Today, Ben may have his Coffeeloo.

We welcome 3000 new students to UNH today, 1000 of whom attended InterVarsity's Ice Cream Social last year. The number has doubled each of the past three years, so we expect at least quadruple digits tonight. We spend the day advertising and preparing for tonight's festivities, before diving into that daunting, week-long task known simply as "follow-up." After meandering through ice cream, door knocking, more ice cream, coffee, ultimate frisbee, the week ends Thursday night with our first Large Group Meeting of the year - and the first of my UNH life.

Exciting times, these are.

Demanding ones, as well. Especially without Dunkin' Donuts.

Lord, have mercy.