broken angel

The Broken Saint

James, you are the most confusing person. I think sharing your confusing life on a blog is doing more harm than good. I’ve seen you change more directions than the wind and I’m convinced you still don’t know where you’re going. My advice, do what I did, shut down the blog until you can get a grip on your own life before sharing with others. Or, stick with things your 100% sure of and write on that. You have a wide reader base and writing articles for FFOZ has gained you even more. This is the kind of stuff that causes confusion and arguments in MJ and frankly it’s embarrassing. Based upon this article (and forgive me if I am wrong), I would say, make sure you don’t keep the Sabbath. Go out and mow the grass just to make sure you’re not resting on that day. Also, eat pork at least twice a week, preferably in public, so you’re not keeping kosher. Go to church, keep your mouth shut and be a good christian. I’ve cut down my visits to your blog to about once a week. Now, I think I’ll be un-bookmarking this site and I’d suggest the same for others as well. I’m a very nice, easy-going guy, but somethings just light my fire. Sorry you were the match, James. Much love, my brother. Just think about it.

-Keith
Comment on one of my blog posts

While I tried to take this comment in the spirit it was written, I have to admit, my first response was to want to “bite back” a little bit. I probably communicated some of that “sting” in my actual reply, which I regret, but my reaction must mean Keith has a valid point. After all, did I create this blog just to whine about what could be called first world problems in Christianity?

My reply (since I should be honest) to Keith was this:

I’m not “required reading,” Keith. People who think I don’t make sense (sometimes life and living don’t make sense and people experience dissonance and contradiction) and who are disturbed by that don’t have to read my blog. As of 2013, there were an estimated 152,000,000 blogs on the Internet. I’m only one of them.

It’s not my intention to do harm, it’s my intention to illustrate a real, lived experience as a person of faith. I’m not a textbook and I’m not the Bible. I don’t live a linear life and I’m not trying to say that I’ve got it all together. Clearly, I don’t.

However, I suspect most, real, live, human beings who are disciples of the Master (or anything else) don’t have life completely settled, either.

I appreciate that you are commenting for my sake, and maybe at some point, I’ll stop blogging, but when and if I do, that will be a decision I make in relation to my understanding of God and who I am in him.

Cheers, Keith.

Too snarky?

walkingI hope not. But I think I make a really valid point, too. Unlike most other, similar blogs, I didn’t create “Morning Meditations” to just be about my theological and doctrinal conclusions, but rather, about my theological and doctrinal journey.

A journey implies a changing landscape as one progresses in their travels. If I were to take a road trip from Boise to New York City, I’m sure the scenery, what I’d see and experience, would change, sometimes rather dramatically, as I was moving along down the road.

I believe that’s true of any journey in life, particularly one in the company of God and God’s (imperfect) people.

But I can see Keith’s point. I often toggle between some review or assessment of a theological “product,” such as a book, sermon series, lecture, article, whatever, and my personal reactions and responses to what it’s like being a “Messianic Gentile,” dealing with other people’s expectations, dealing with my own expectations, as well as just kvetching and complaining.

The downside to reading such a blog is that it can seem like I’m terribly inconsistent. The upside, or so I’ve been told, is that my writing can seem raw, authentic, real, and relatable by (many) others who are going through the same or similar experiences on the trail to “faithland”.

“You don’t need to be perfect to be impressive.”

-Anonymous

That isn’t a direct quote. I derived it from something I read in an article by Marc Chernoff called 12 Common Lies Mentally Strong People Don’t Believe which was posted on Facebook. I generally avoid inspirational blogs, stories, and speakers because the effect they create is like eating a spoonful of sugar. You get an immediate boost but soon afterward, there’s a profound let down as well as the realization that what you’ve eaten is nutritionally deficient. I looked up the “About” page for the article’s source, Marc and Angel Hack Life, and the youthful appearance of the authors made me question if they’ve experienced enough life to qualify them to suggest how to “hack” it to others, especially “old guys” like me.

But if nothing else, I found several other quotes and “quasi-quotes” that were useful and applicable to my current situation and perhaps a new project.

In order to avoid the confusion Keith speaks of, I’ve been toying with the idea of creating two “environments” in which to write, one for more uplifting commentaries, reviews, and the like, and the other being more gritty and human, a place specifically designed for me to be able to “let my hair down,” so to speak, “tell it like it is,” and yes, to kvetch.

Broken AngelI have a couple of options in mind. The first is administratively the easiest. I can just create an additional page to “Morning Meditations” (It would appear as another navigation tab across the top) called something like “The Broken Saint” and write separate content in that venue. The other would take a greater investment in work and a few extra bucks but be more creative. I could make a second blog, solely for the purpose of expressing my humanity as a person of faith, and actually call that blog something like “The Broken Saint” (I’ve yet to settle on a final title). I could place “buttons” on each blog, linking to the other, so readers could navigate easily between them if they desired.

It’s still the middle of the week as I write this but approaching Shabbat, so I’ll give myself the weekend (maybe) to mull things over. What do you think? Would you visit two related blogs, reading uplifting and informative commentaries on “Morning Mediations” and pursuing my personal humanity in living faith day-by-day on “The Broken Saint”?

“If religion is a crutch, who isn’t limping?”

-Anonymous

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28 thoughts on “The Broken Saint”

  1. As for myself, I thought your reply was way to kind. I get what he’s saying, yet it comes from a place of arrogance and a severe lack of understanding and empathy. I can’t stand the mentality of “tear down to build up” and really that how Keith came across.

    To me it just seems so wrong to even begin to tell you that you shouldn’t reveal your humanity through all of your works, and that it should be separated to shield the few who can’t comprehend anything other than solidified beliefs. Last I checked God was working with and though people with faults and doubts not a perfect collective with a solid and definite theological view.

    If you believe that you need it split, then you should do so. Don’t do it because someone can’t handle God working in and through our humanity.

  2. Thanks, Jim.

    I’ve already received a response from a friend via email that she would visit two separate blogs. I don’t think she requires my content be separated, but may enjoy how I’d creatively construct a second environment that exists for the sole purpose of being “human”.

  3. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I seem to recall reading a comment by Isaac Asimov, in connection with his short story “Galley Slave” (about the acceptability of proofreading robots), that cited this quotation as a response to an editor who seemed overly fond of highlighting what he erroneously thought were inconsistencies in Asimov’s manuscripts.

    Personally, I prefer to see variety on one blog rather than to toggle between two; but then, maybe I’m just too lazy to toggle. And considering some recent comments of yours about reducing your workload by reducing the frequency of your blogging, I should think that maintaining two blogs would be rather contrary to that hope. Somehow I’ve never thought of you as particularly inconsistent, though certainly you seem to have your varied moods. To me, that seems to express a human touch, so that you aren’t tempted to become a mechanical purveyor of anyone’s canned theological trope. Besides, you are one individual straddling at least two worlds that often are at odds; how could you not be continually shifting position as you try to represent, or simply cope with, both (or more)?

  4. James, I think you know I enjoy your blog probably for many of the same reasons Keith dislikes it. I appreciate your openness and willingness to let your readers see how you wrestle with issues of faith and practice. To me, this is the reality of faith. Not some dry intellectual environment, but dealing with the challenges of being a broken human being trying to serve a holy God. It’s not always pretty but it is the way it is. I would just encourage you to keep on blogging however you choose to do it. I think many others besides me find your thoughts to be encouraging and challenging. I know it helps me work through some of the same issues. I would read an additional page if you choose to add one. And Keith doesn’t have to come here if he doesn’t want to read your thoughts. I also thought his comments were arrogant but if it provokes you to do something you have been thinking about anyway, then God has used his comments for a good purpose.

  5. So far, comments here, via email, and on Facebook are generally supportive of maintaining things as they are, although I have to resist the urge to create a new blog just because I want to try out new WP themes. 😉

  6. James, Keith himself is “between two worlds”, seeking “the truth”. He is probably reacting to what he feels to be an uncomfortable uncertainty, and as such, he feels that it shouldn’t be voiced in public since it may permanently damage faith of other believers in Jesus (in his opinion). However, in the Psalms we read King David crying out to Hashem who to him must have seemed, at times, a million miles away. That’s what I think you’re doing here – crying out for truth.

  7. Thanks for your gracious response, Gene. I seem to remember reading somewhere (I don’t recall the exact source) that Judaism is more “OK” with dynamic tension than Christianity is. Maybe I’m just giving a voice to what everyone else feels.

  8. While I agree with a little of what Keith wrote, some of your doctrines and views are very confusing and contradicting at times (IMHO), but that would be untrue without a balanced view… I find some of your writings to be excellent and uplifting. And no one’s opinion, should stop you, not that it really would anyways, as you said, no one has to read what you write, and this is your life journey, however it is put out there for critic, like Keith’s comment, which is something you have to face. The point is, you are a very good writer, your like a drug addiction to the mind :P, very gifted in this way, and you should not turn away from your talent, that God has given you…

  9. I never said I wasn’t open for criticism, Zion. That’s one of the reasons I wrote this particular blog post: to attempt to respond to criticism.

    I heard D. Thomas Lancaster comment once on one of his recorded sermons that he doesn’t blog and he’s not even on Facebook because of the “environment” that can be created by online comments. The blogosphere is not for the faint of heart, but saying that, if we aren’t sensitive on some level and capable of being hurt, then how can we relate to the pain of others?

    Thanks for the complements. Yeah, for me, writing is sometimes compulsive so I guess you could call it a “drug”. At least it doesn’t damage my liver and give me a handover the next day. 😉

  10. I’ll make a single comment, or rather, as single scripture in my favorite KJV 🙂 (Thank you for helping me to learn not to argue, by the way)

    Proverbs 10:19
    “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”

  11. Thanks, Steven. I needed to read that in an English translation that isn’t 800 years old, so I chose the NASB:

    When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

  12. James, I’m thankful you have chosen to share your journey with us, however meandering and convoluted. I feel more scared of someone who feels he has it all down pat and is now instructing the masses. Perhaps your friend would better enjoy John MacArthur, and maybe MJ/HR has its own JM? I don’t know, perhaps I don’t keep up enough. Fortunately, we have lots of competing JM’s, it appears in the ABC organizations.

    Yes, the way the world of religion (any brand) works is you keep all the questions and controversies under wraps in order to not confuse your market or cause them to lose faith in you.

  13. Argument can be good if in the right spirit; at least it means that people are thinking, rather than robots. It is true that Judaism is more comfortable with dynamic tension as it is based upon how one lives rather than what doctrine one believes.

  14. To be fair Chaya, most other bloggers, particularly in the religious space, don’t typically share their doubts and inner conflicts. The head pastor at the church I attend said that “Fog in the pulpit creates mist in the pews,” meaning that even if a pastor doesn’t have all the answers, his sermons must seem like he does or he (or she) risks creating indecision and confusion in the body of faith.

    I can see where he’s coming from, but first off, I’m not a pastor, nor do I represent myself as any kind of authority (see my Who am I page). Secondly, living a life of faith “on the ground,” so to speak, is not a clear-cut endeavor, at least if we’re being honest with ourselves (and the people around us). I kind of think of myself as the common man of faith just telling my story one blog post at a time.

    I agree that I can learn a lot from a civil debate on a topic, even if I end up still disagreeing with the other person. Unfortunately, the Internet is more like the wild, wild west than it is a civilized debate, and many people commenting on blogs will “shoot first and ask questions later,” or just “shoot first” and then keep on shooting. It’s why I try to take care about keeping my comments section within certain boundaries.

    Finally, to the degree that we are finite, flawed, mortal people trying to interact with an infinite, perfect, immortal God, I don’t see how it’s possible to avoid seeming contradictions and a lightning storm full of dynamic tension when we honestly talk about a life of faith. Also, learning people have a tendency to revise their opinions as they come across new (for them) information, so I think it’s reasonable that I might have an opinion today that is different on some topic than the one I held a year ago.

    Of course, I don’t doubt that some people use the Internet like a library, “check out” resources created by authorities to teach them concepts in a definitive manner. But I’m not an authority and life isn’t definitive, it’s evolutionary.

  15. I feel so honored to have my name on so many of your tongues.

    Jim, go read my comment to you on the previous blog post I commented on.

    chaya1975, I’m not looking for a MacArthur. I have a wide variety of teaching tools that I read. One in particular that I like and who “feels he has it all down pat and is now instructing the masses” is Derek Leman’s blog.

    And finally, Gene Shlomovich. How dare you!?! I send you a private email six months ago with some questions. This is how you treat me. Come onto a public forum and put me on blast? I’ve lost all respect for you. First of all, I’m not “between two worlds” or “seeking the truth.” Your seeds of confusion and deceit were quickly washed away by the life-giving rain of the Holy Spirit. So, don’t you ever contact me again. I have nothing left to say to you.

  16. James, yours is one of the very few blogs I follow. While at times it may seem we are on different wavelengths, I think we are both concerned with similar issues regarding the tension between traditional church viewpoints and recognition of the Hebraic foundation of the gospel.

    I’ve had no personal involvement with Messianic Judaism but I came to an understanding of Israel’s continuing importance to God through my own reading of scripture. Prior to that I’d been heading along the replacement theology route but had to change paths when I found scripture didn’t support what I had believed.

    Through your blog I have seen your own struggle, firstly with your personal involvement with a Messianic fellowship, and later your experiences with a church that doesn’t understand or accept a lot of what you know.
    It is hard for some to recognise that so much of what they have been taught about Israel is the result of tradition. I have close friends who express concern for me because of my views, and the fact that I’ve been involved with blogs like yours. They are fixed with an idea that seems to suggest Jesus has changed nationality and is no longer interested in the Jews, but has become a “man of all nations” (excluding it seems, Israel).

    I appreciate and value this blog and he way you approach it. It keeps me informed of an aspect of God’s purposes that isn’t being recognised by the majority of professing believers and brings a little balance to the “christian” ideas out there.

  17. @Keith: Please check your email.

    @Onesimus: Thanks. I know that we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but part of this process isn’t just collecting a bunch of readers who agree with everything I write. It’s about having a discussion about different perspectives and stimulating dialogue. If we can accomplish that without personalizing those differences, then we’ve created an environment for everyone’s learning and growth, mine included.

  18. Keith, what on earth are you talking about?? I revealed nothing private about you to anyone (unlike some of our mutual acquaintances – you know who I am talking about who posed my private response to you on the web). Everyone on this blog is caught between two worlds – Christianity and Judaism, including you – that’s what I meant.

    “So, don’t you ever contact me again. I have nothing left to say to you.”

    I have not contacted you – you contacted me and we have not communicated even once since. And I have never discussed our communication with anyone either, until you decided to announce it on James’ blog just now.

    “Your seeds of confusion and deceit were quickly washed away by the life-giving rain of the Holy Spirit.”

    You can slander me, call me deceitful and think the worst of me. You won’t be the first or the last. As a Jew, it’s part of the job, I suppose. When you reached out to me, I poured my soul into helping you.

  19. James: IMHO, your blog is fine. Two blogs will destroy the nice mix that you have in your meditations. Let me tell you that I have received input from HaShem to certain things that He wants me to get a grip through your blog. (He seems to teach me things by hinting info elements from many sources, all at the same time… that’s how I recognize He is telling me to put my attention on any given subject).

    Have a great day today!

  20. Thanks for the responses everyone. I want to cool off the conversation at this point. Apparently Keith is reacting to Gene about something that occurred outside of this dialogue and I don’t want to perpetuate that. I’d just as soon not close comments but keep in mind that I do review every single comment made before approving it (or not) for public view.

    Thanks again.

  21. Just read this and thought it was appropriate:

    We all start off as young children who need our characters to be molded. We all have our natural areas of strengths and areas that need fixing. Anyone who lets his character traits go on automatic pilot will have many character failings. To have faults is the normal human condition. That is why we were put on this earth: to develop and grow. Allow yourself to feel joy with every action you take to develop your character. When you notice that you have a fault, be glad that you recognized it. Whether you find it yourself or whether someone else points it out to you, you can feel a sense of appreciation that you are aware, for now you can correct it.

    -Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
    “Build Yourself”
    Aish.com

  22. James, for the sake of the conversation I’m going to copy what I just posted on you other Messianic Gentile post.

    James, I came at you voicing my concerns about your blogging techniques. I have no beef with you. None of your comments have offended me. I came at you a little too strong and I apologize for that, but I promise you, my intentions were good. I respect what you do and honestly I like the majority of the stuff you write. Heck, I share a lot of what you post on my Facebook page. The thing that bothered me was how everyone started attacking me and jumping to conclusions and accusing me of things based on their assumptions. Like I said, maybe I saw this blog site as a teaching tool, but I should have looked at it like I was getting a glimpse of your diary.

  23. James, yes, the thing with me and Gene is a personal and private matter. I don’t want to keep that conversation going, but I felt I had to respond because I felt betrayed. He’s trying to gloss things over in his response. James would you mind just deleting the parts of Gene and my posts that pertain to that? Now that he saw my response, I just want it to be over.

  24. OK. Everyone’s had their say. Rather than have this conversation become any more difficult than it already has, I’m closing comments here. Thank you all once again for providing feedback and support. I appreciate all of you.

    Blessings.

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