I've Got Mono: The Challenges and Beauty of Monogamy

The New Times published an article recently positing that infidelity was, for some marriages, just the right ingredient needed to keep a marriage strong.  The advocate for this lifestyle is none other than Seattle's own Dan Savage, of "Savage Love",  Stranger fame.  At first blush (pun intended), the article appears not to be worth the time to read.  Who cares about some guy's theory that married couples would be happier in some cases if infidelity was an accepted part of the marriage package?  But a real reading revealed both the thoughtfulness behind his argument, and the subtleties of deception that run terribly deep in waters of our culture.

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Surprised by Joy? Not anymore.

We'd been hiking for a little while.  Up 1000 meters, and then down 1000.  Up another 1000, and then down again.  Then up one more time, and down half way to our final night at a hut.  The huts are the Alpine alternative to backpacking.  Instead of carrying everything with you, all you need is fresh underwear, a little soap and toothpaste, and a sheet.  The hut provides you with a bed, pillow, blanket, your beverage of choice, and a meal, all for around 50 Euro for the two of us.  Of course, the place comes with views that are unmatched by any Hilton, Sheraton, or Comfort Inn anywhere in the world.

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Why now? Why hope? Why colors? Why art?

I just returned from an inspiring afternoon with a few hundred people, interacting around the topics of the gospel and social justice, and I wanted to take a moment and share why I'm so passionate about this topic, and hence the book I've just written.  My hope and prayer is that this new book finds its way into many hands because I believe that millions are floundering in their faith, or on the sidelines, or simply having the wrong conversations because they've not yet truly grasped the significance of the incredible life to which we're called in Christ.

The book, as many of you already know, is called The Colors of Hope.  You can read a free chapter here.  You can join a Facebook discussion here.  But before you do any of that, I thought answering a few questions would be a helpful:

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And if the World Ends May 21...?

"There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established already in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power."  Martin of Tours - 4th Century AD

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Fantasy - A door to reality that's closing, and why we should keep it open

This past weekend, as part of our plans to insulate our attic bedroom, I was searching out the “art” part of the project and stumbled upon these lovely works from England.  They’re part of folklore, fairy tale genre that hints at a different world – they’re not the world itself, but just a hint of it, a marker pointing us in a direction beyond what we can touch, taste, and feel in this here and now.  As Lewis says, they are “only the scent of flower we have not found, the hint of a tune we have not heard, the news from a country we have never visited.” Lewis proposes that our love of fairy tales reveals that we’re made for more than this life, more than buying and selling, living and dying, watching Glee and filling our our March Madness bracket.  He proposes that the fairy tales themselves point towards another part of our world, invisible yet real.

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Sexual Anarchy & Sexual Freedom

The church, over the years, hasn't done a very good job, in my opinion, of addressing sexual ethics.  We invoke "you'll feel guilty" (but sex feels good as often guilty, for lots of reasons I won't address here), or "you'll get a disease, or get pregnant" (but there are ways of dealing with both of those things), or "because God says so" as if we should just blow our brains out, not caring for God's rationale, becoming mindless servants in spite of the fact that we're to love God with all our minds.  Here's my take on God's sexual ethic, prompted by recent events in the news.

Whether it's MTV's newest show exploring the seemingly endless sexual appetites of some American teens, or the now famous Karen Owen F*** List powerpoint, her tale of bedding various Duke athletes, offered in sordid detail with ratings for each (based on anatomical size, lovemaking skills, attractiveness), the reality is that an increasingly large percentage of our youth culture are floating on the stormy seas of awakening sexuality and adulthood with neither an anchor, nor a compass.

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Resolved: I'll pray - 5 ways to pray 5 minutes a day

Life, it seems, is coming at us faster than ever.  Longer hours at work, more stress, commutes, repairs, exercise, relationships, and endless social connections that encourage us to remain linked in, with updated status reports and timeless tweets - add it all up and life can feel like a video game.  It's coming at you and you're reacting.  Reacting, though, is much different than living.  When I'm reacting, I end up preaching because I'm expected to say something, rather than because I've something to say.  I feel scattered, ineffective, stressed.I've felt this way too much in 2010, and so I'm heading back to "first things", foundational truths that are considered foundational precisely because life can be built on them.  I Samuel 30 tells the story of a time in David's life when he felt overwhelmed.  After some enemies ransacked a village, stealing his wives and children, he was overwhelmed with grief.  On top of that, his few faithful friends were so angry over the kidnapping that they blamed David for it and there was talk of stoning him to death.  It was a bad week.  We all have them, though not often to that degree.The first thing David did, we learn, was he "strengthened himself in the Lord".  This is the best first thing any of us could do, before diet, exercise, yoga classes, new goals and objectives, or attending another seminar.  Billions are made each year by capitalizing on our fundamental discontent - our sense of dis-ease that sends us looking in a thousand directions for ways to make life better.  I'd like to humbly suggest that whatever you're resolving to do differently in 2011, if you don't have any habits that help you strengthen yourself in the Lord, start there.   Specifically:I resolve to pray 5 minutes a day - at least 5 days a week.If that sounds overwhelming, here are five options for structuring your five minutes of prayer:

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Killing the Candy Tax: Metaphor for our political problems

Washington state, where I live, had "Initiative 1107" on the ballot, which passed resoundingly and as a result, banished sales tax from the important necessities of life: soda, candy, and bottled water. Thus is surely good news for all those living on the edge, who'll now be able to afford just a little bit more candy, or perhaps another six pack of coke, or even the convenience of expensive water that comes in bottles which will ultimately pollute oceans and landfills, while drawing down much needed aquifers so thatCoco-Cola and Nestle can squeak by for their shareholders.  Yes sir - candy is important in these tough times. Thank goodness the American Food and Beverage association had 16 million dollars to spend on killing our state's tax on these essential items.

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Cup of tea party please; hold the revisionist history

I was listening to the news this morning on the radio and heard some snippets of Michelle Obama's appearance yesterday in Olympia, WA, stumping for Patty Murray's re-election to the Senate for another six years.  I thought about the Patty Murray ads I've watched over the past two months, as well as those from her opponent, and realized that in both the cases, the plea for my vote is based on one declaration: "I'm not as rotten as the other candidate." The Elephants and Donkeys are paralyzed to the point of disgust, because those who go to Washington are supposedly the brightest and best--yet we've nearly nothing substantive to show for it other than spiraling debt, dramatic increases carbon emissions, foreclosures, and unemployment statistics.

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The sunny days are fine because clarity allows for freedom of movement, and depth of vision. But don't forget the mist, where waters bless the parched soul, saturating us with grace and truth, providing needed sustenance for the journey.