How Did Darwin Lose His Taste For Poetry?

So we all know Charles Darwin is accredited with blowing up the world – or perhaps something like it. I might guess that millions refer to Darwin to prove a point or prop up a pivoting opinion or justify a dissension and yet have never actually read Origin of a Species beyond the few highly quotable bits. When I consider all the controversy, and all the opposing thinkers who have taken to argue with the dead man Darwin, I realize I have had little to offer – and – that I don’t really much care about the fact.

There is one thing I might hold up as a bit of damning evidence against the great Darwin – and it is nothing strictly to do with faith vs science – but more along the lines of art vs science, or perhaps better stated, science to the exclusion of art… I once a while back read the quote:

“But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry” ~Charles Darwin
« The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 27 of 188

I have no need to prove the thinking of Darwin “wrong”… but must question what sort of thinking would lead a human to lose their taste for the things which exemplify their very humanity? More importantly, how might I protect myself from such thinking?

Further in said letter, Darwin notes:
“My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive.”

I personally find this utterly tragic. It suggests we can poison our minds with our thinking activities (or thinking idleness even?). For Darwin, he spent countless hours “grinding” on facts and it killed the “higher” capabilities of art – poetry, music, imagery (although there is a small note in Darwins letter that made me smile about still enjoying the novelic viewing of a pretty woman – so porn wins :).

I have no intention to say science is bad. It would seem today that any question about the use of science immediately makes one anti-science. That is not the case here at all. We equate truth and facts as synonymous, but there are many vehicles to discover truth besides empirical fact. Every story ever written is attempting to display some truth through events and persons which likely were invented. For example, I get a lot of truth from Dr Seuss although I don’t get a lot of facts. It would seem a pursuit of truth which restricts attention away from anything other than cold hard fact does not result in a healthy mind or a happy life.

I am not questioning science, but rather scientism – the belief that there is no truth outside of the empirical method, and worse… that there is nothing of any value apart from cold hard fact. Science is good for the mind like kale is good for the body – but what would happen to your body if you determined nothing but kale was actually food? I think Darwin is expressing regret, not for his science, but for his scientism. Not even for his love of scientific pursuit, but for usage of scientific thinking to the exclusion of any other kind of thinking – other kinds of truth seeking. Maybe I am putting words in Darwin’s mouth with this, but how would you understand him when he says that his pursuit of facts caused the “atrophy of that part of the brain on which the higher tastes depend” and in his reflection, “a loss of happiness”?

To re-state a thing – Darwin is accredited with immense influence on the thinking of human society. Since he himself laments the outcomes of his work on his own mind – how can the above influence be called “good”? Shakespeare also had immense influence on the thinking of human society – above and beyond what can be measured even – but he did so through art rather than science. Some would say ole Billy boy was a hack and a thief – perhaps it is so, but perhaps it is also a sign of his mind being steeped in humanity. He often carried the ugliness that is found in human society – the pettiness and brokenness and madness – and somehow put his finger on the beauty that resides with the shambles. Science has no such finger. Science, it would seem, when taken to an extreme breaks that finger. Grinding on facts makes a powdery dust of beauty and goodness and truth in the human experience, or at least it did for Darwin.

If I were to offer any criticism of Darwin at all – it would be simply to agree with his own reflective findings in this letter:
“…if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”

made a confession

I made a confession
it took some doing
I shaped it just so
as though I had honest hands
and painful years
of mastery in the craft of it

I planed its nether edge
and inlaid its surface facing corners
I padded its shadows with velvet
then I ripped it back out
see there some soft strands of it
lay scattered still
on my makeshift workbench

It wasn’t quite finished
I could not quite hinge the lid just so
so I skewed it further
the imperfect now perfect
by intention of imperfection

I carried it out into the way
I handed it to a lady I could barely see
with three of her four fingers she accepted it
as if she had expected me

contemporarily incompetent

I am contemporarily incompetent.

I am not in control and I cannot fix this blasted thing.

I am surprised that the theory of evolution hasn’t wiped me from the face of this planet because I am not the fittest.

I suffer from a serious lack of bling – not to mention having zero glitter and less than zero gloss.

I’m not larger than your average and I don’t last all night – and I like it when my spam lies to me.

I believe the gym is for toddlers to bounce around and play with toys and so I haven’t been to one since I was very young.

I am lonely and I get very depressed when my dog doesn’t rush to meet me at the door – even he must not like me anymore…

I’ve got problems that I suspect a sharper mind could figure out and resolve, but I can’t seem to find one anywhere.

I’m a flake and I rarely follow through with what I say I’m going to do – I’m certain people have nicknamed me blah-blah-blah.

I sin. I try to hide the fact. My confession amounts to brushing my teeth and combing my hair and dumping some talc in my shorts.

God, in Christ Jesus, loves me with an eternal love and calls me his own – go figure!

The question of evil


The question of evil…For centuries we have been perplexed by it.
If God created everything, did God create evil?
Does evil thwart God’s plans, or even co-exist with Him in an opposing category?

Evil is more than a propositional truth… more than a philosophical difficulty…

it is my name.

I am the heckler at the wake
the stench in the culture club closet
I am the screaming arm of the junkie
the spread legs of the whore
the silent dagger in the victims back
I crave after the slightest pleasure
I delight at the sight of the pain of others
I eat garbage I spit blood
I am the sunken artery in the heart of religion
Deceiver slanderer murderer adulturer
I am the bad guy who gets it in the worst way at the end of the movie
while the audience cheers over my spillt guts
I am the representative of every horror ever inflicted by mankind on mankind.

Now ask me what it is that I will

I was created by a holy and glorious God
but my name is now “Ichabod”
I was designed for intimacy with the Father Almighty
but now I am called “Outcast”
My existential purpose was to praise the Most High
but now I am garbed with the name “Unclean”
The smallest green leaf directs and demands my worship
but now I go by “Idolator”
Every ray of sunlight
every drop of rain
every molecule of oxygen take the witness stand against me
and call my name “Scoffer”

Now call upon me to exercise any power for good – to love, obey, abide
Do you not mock me?
…further condemn me?

But give me a new name
and by that name call me
ahh sweet love
ahh blessed hope

Where is your proof!?

You speak as if you invented rationality… I might bet you didn’t. I might even bet you don’t know who did, yet you are trusting in it as if it was of some sort of value to your life. By demanding proof, you are presuming the rationality required to receive proof. The funny thing is that having rationality is the proof you demand. Unless you have a reason to believe reason operates in the universe, it best be abandoned or it will be abused.
Truth has been sufficiently relativized… Goodness has been sufficiently trivialized… Beauty has been sufficiently functionalized… These are your proofs – scrub the vandalism away and see they have been here all along.

Provisional Value

I must start at me. As Descarte found – Cogito Ergo Sum – I think therefore I am. Everything can be doubted, but the best evidence I have is my experience. I must find my first footing at the point of my own existence.

Either I have value inherently, innately, or I ultimately have none at all. I can also have value provisionally or via pragmatism, but both of these are fickle and/or fleeting and I will fail to thrive unless I perceive an inherent value to my existence.

What do I mean by “provisional value”? Provisional is a way of saying something is temporary, for a specific interim, not intended for long term or permanent usage. Provisional value is a temporary way in which can perceive our lives as valuable and worthy of existence. Family is our primary source of provisional value – at least it should be (and here I must wince for my own failings). A parent must value their child for who and what they are – because they exist – not conditionally or pragmatically. This provisional valuing must carry the child – at the very least – until they can gain the strength and wisdom to live from inherent value. (ideally, the parents value of their children will never fade from sight as long as they live – but lets face facts – it aint that way so often – and most likely because the parents are trying to gain provisional value from their children rather than having the strength and wisdom that comes from inherent value themselves. Vicious cycle that.)

And what do I mean by “pragmatic value”? Simply put… if you are useful and practically valuable in the life of another – if you “do well”, then and only then you are valuable and worthy of existence – at least until you don’t. In slightly different words… If you perform well and are a benefit to the bottom line of others, you are worthy and have value – upon the condition that you continue to do good. Provisional value (call it love if you are so reminded) is helpful if steady and reliable and (most importantly) unconditional. Pragmatic value, on the other hand – especially if from someone you believe loves you (a parent, a spouse) or even friends, co-workers, authorities, your adoring public… will eventually crush you like an empty soda-pop can unless you are filled and strengthened by either provisional or inherent value. Both inherent and provisional value provide meaning and significance (which we all hunger for more than we will ever admit ) and will allow the stress of pragmatic value to press hard from without. If pragmatic value engages upon a life empty of either inherent or provisional value, it will never create the meaning and significance we seek – it just aint that kinda value – it will only create pressure to the point of hopeless collapse.

Provisional value can take the place of inherent value but pragmatic value never can. Anytime someone says to you “I love you” and actually means precisely that, you receive provisional value. But I am sorry to say that this is more rare that it sounds. Often when people say “I love you”, what they actually mean is “I love the way you make me feel” which is a pretty durn good definition of pragmatic value. This cannot substitute for inherent value and will never provide the meaning and significance we hunger for.

Now here is where I’m likely to lose many of you…
You will never receive inherent value from another human person (nor even from yourself – especially never from your self). Others only have the strength to grant you provisional or pragmatic value because they themselves are only provisional in your life. (Perhaps this is one reason why losing a loved one can be so traumatic to our well-being?) The same is true in reverse – you are only provisional in the lives of others. (Side thought: Now there remains a slight possibility that you may also receive real provisional value from your doggy – in fact I suspect that is the very reason they are here – but your cat? fuget about it.)

If you are of the mind to reject the idea that you exist as a person for the purpose of relationship with the One who created you from eternity (by which I mean God) you are only ever going to be able to receive pragmatic value with a smattering of provisional value.

Value, defined in short, is the state of being desired. If another human desires you because of your looks or your money or the stuff you give them – that is pragmatic value. If another human loves you unconditionally and desires you simply because you exist – regardless of your mood or manners or mistakes – that is provisional value. If that Person is your very Creator, saying He loves you because you exist, and verily loves you from outside the bounds of time and space – that is inherent value. That is the kind of value which allows the human creature to truly thrive.

Now… a lot of “religious” people have not understood this about God and have never gained the wisdom required to experientially receive inherent value from God. They have assumed mistakenly that God’s love is strictly pragmatic – that He will only love you if you behave in certain ways and provide certain benefits to Him (as if He needed anything of the sort from us…). This is fatal to inherent value. The best advice I can give anyone considering a godward life is to delay your “good works” for a time, as long as is needed, and just experience the love of God as fully as you are able. Anything you do “for God” which is not motivated by love is worthless anyhow, and you will never be able to give to God what you have not first received from Him – so be loved before you try to be anything else. Here is inherent value – here is meaning and significance and forgiveness and relationship and love beyond the favor of fickle friends.

how often do we question everything

You must not start from a place of pragmatism.
You have life. You have value.
Because you have life you have value. Inherently.
If one cannot agree, they should not have what they do not value.
I should not have that which I do not value.
But the question is, how to value my life appropriately.

Only from a place of personhood can I extend value outward.
I cannot skip trusting that I have significance apart from and often despite the value I perceive others to assign me.
From there, you take that valuable thing you are, your growing perceptions, your skills and giftings, your very own art of living life day by day, and you enrich the reality around you.
but you cannot skip trusting

I know it can be scary, but how often do we question everything – I wonder.
What am I?
Not Who as we so often do
but What?

“A machine.” someone says
“A Machine!” says someone else

But we built machines, and someday perhaps the machines will rule over us, but only because we asked it of them

We are indeed like machines – but of the several possible reasons why, I suppose that it is because we made them to be like us,
to help us, to replace us by replacing lots of the energy we expend.

Nothing wrong with this I suppose, except why do we expend energy?
If we are machines ourselves, then whose energy expediiture are we replacing – some’s version of god

I do not think we are machines – only like them because we made them like us.
Whatever we are…
We consume Energry. Like a machine, work needs fuel. A heart still beating needs to consume.
We consume other life. Even on a strict dandelion diet, a thing living no longer is because our need for energy resources

But why are we consuming and spending so much energy? Is this not where we must ask about the meaning of life.
Work needs fuel. But work to what end? Question every response you consider.

Consider pain and pleasure. These are often found driving the energy burn. But they polarize more quickly than blend
and so they rule
with confusion

“You have no authority except that which has been given you, and I ain’t giving you any.”
Just a side bar thought from earlier…

Back to resources – our world and all it’s problems are likely to apex at the end like at the beginning
We war and fight and hustle to gain the upper head on the resources thing. More money, more stuff,
and so on
but why?

It could be that the why is so hard to find that no one really knows.
It could be that everyone knows, or knew, and has dropped it, or has had it knocked out of their young hands

I don’t know. I like to think of life as a story run amok
What if life really is just some giant fairy tale being told to children?
Some say, like I do at times, that the whole thing went sideways once other tellers were introduced.
Sorta the too many cooks in the kitchen sorta thing

“Tell me a story?” And the way we reply is to live our lives the way we do day in and day out.
We tell stories about other peoples lives because why?
We have this experience of free will (whether or not “free” is the right word idk) but we do influence whatever this thing we call reality is.

This might explain why so much drama, and so much laughter, and so much struggle and so much suffering. What’s a story without all that and more?

Good Story

ScreenShot572Every word is a story.
Every word has within itself the substance of story, and often many stories.
The word cat is not the cat it represents, and the actual cat is not a word or a story except that I must use words and story to tell you of an actual cat. “Cat” signifies, indicates, portrays and represents the actual cat but El Gato has full existence apart from any word used to refer to it.

Words are simple symbols – language itself is a word about words, and metaphor a word describing is some small way how we humans make sense and discover meaning and assign value. Sentences and paragraphs are more complex than words, but are nonetheless made of entirely of words and are therefore also story.

Out “there” are facts. As soon as a “fact” enters into a human mind, it is no longer a fact, it is only a symbol for a fact – just as the actual cat is not ever the word cat. We do not have facts in our brains, we have stories about facts, representations of things we believe to be actual and true. The vast majority of us trust our brains to provide truth to us yet no one has really solved the “brain in the vat” conundrum – it remains a possible fact. Few actually believe they are a brain in a vat and yet none can offer any solid evidence to disprove the assertion when it gets made every 3rd new moon. If we were a brain in a vat, there is no reason why we should every discover it was so and no method to prove it is not so.

All we have are our experiences. Every bit of experience, every brush of soft against skin and every bouncing of sunlight across the eye, is a story now that I try to recount it to you. Every experience is a memory only a moment later and no longer exists except in a story. Everything you have ever heard and seen and felt and believed and agonized over and fumed at and wept with – all of it amounts to a story about you. This story acts like a railway around the bend of your future – it influences you powerfully to react and respond and prepare in fairly specific ways – and yet it is a story.

You can also think of an equation as a story – every moment you are alive, there are additions and subtractions and divisions which ever expand the equation which is your existence. Who and what you are at this very moment is the sum on the other side of the = sign. Next you may add a fraction of a whole number, or multiply the whole thing by 23 – the equation grows and “Who I Am” is subject to change with every moment of experience appended to the equation.

Stand along side a small lake.
Pick up a stone.
Throw the stone into the lake.
Ask what just happened.
It is surely imperceptible, but we know, if only by faith, that the level of the lake was raised by your action. Your presence on this earth may sometimes feel just as imperceptible, but we know, if only by faith, that one individuals story is now not only included but indispensable to the overall grand story of Life.

We refer to our stories as “true” – and I believe that most all of them are in some way, even those which recount a fable or a dream or a rumor. Dr. Seuss’ stories contains an unfathomable many buckets of truth, and yet neither a Sneech nor a Lorax ever tangled with my actual cat.

“Good” stories almost always have a bad guy – and sometimes the very worst bad guy makes for the very best story. It is rarely the reverse, and even when the bad guy wins in the end of the story, it is questionable just how much bad he actually was.

All art is storytelling. Music, imagery, poetry, dance and anything else you may wander across that qualifies to be called by the word “art” is itself a symbol of human experience. It may not be beautiful in every beholders eye, but I sense that that was the hope filling the creator-artist as they art’d. To experience Beauty is respond to a representation of shared meaning, shared value, shared Life. It can almost be recursive – experiencing beauty will often drive us to create beauty in order to experience beauty.

It is hard to use the word “fact” in the same sentence as the word “beauty” – like nailing jello to a wall some might say – they are very different kinds of story. This suggests that perhaps fact is only a small part of the human experience, and if this is so, it explains our behavior far less … than we would like to confess … while walking in public … with our clothing wrapped and tied around us. Beauty and Goodness and Truth, while far from unreasonable, are not exactly the product of logic or rationality (two other stories some of us adorn ourselves with regularly if only because they are the fashion of the day. The colors of logic and rationality go together like shades of purple but clash horribly with the orange of a new day’s hope.) and this parenthetical notion really becomes the point i have to make…

All we have are stories. They are like clothing to us, protective, comfortable, fashionable, silly and expressive at times, marketing material at others. Before goth even became a thing I used to wear all black all the time. Black shorts in summer, black jeans in winter. Always a black concert t-shirt with some metal band’s logo. I was telling my story with the clothes I wore. I still do. My clothing choices, and the pictures on my walls, and the books in my library, and the car that I drive and the places that I visit and the friends I call friends – all tell a story about who I am, what I value, where I find meaning. It’s all very subtle of course.

Story is all I have. But let me tell you another’s story. I heard it from a friend of a friend – neither of whom I will ever meet – about a man I’ve never met. This was told to me as a “true” story, but it is not my own direct experience. There was a man who was becoming a famous golfer. Perhaps he was not as good as Tiger Woods, but as the story goes, he was getting there. Then he went to war (presumably not by his own choice in those days) and ended up a Prisoner of War in some small box of shit and piss and torment. Twelve years he survived the tiny spaces of hell. The first thing he did when released was to hit the 18 holes. You might expect that his golfing skill was diminished – and it was – but only a little, far far less than anyone might rationally expect. The reason why he was still able to out-golf most people after twelve years in a P.O.W. camp was that golfing was the story he told himself about himself every day in captivity. He played his favorite golf course in his mind every single day, imagining the movement of his muscles and bones, visualizing the terrain, the swinging club, the flying ball. The story of practice was nearly as effective as actual practice. This has a lot to tell us about the whole mind-body connection, which I find fascinating, but my point here is obviously about something else.

“If life is a game”, someone said, “let’s play”. Realize that story is all you have, and then feel the freedom the realization provides – you are in large part the story you are telling yourself about yourself. You are likely also the story other people tell about you – those close to you, those who raised you to believe story in the first place, even those who dislike you have a story about you which you can choose to believe and follow. If your life is but a story, you can allow others tell it for you, or you can tell it yourself. Be careful though because “I’m going to tell my own damn story!” is someone else’s story. Remember that the non-conformist is conforming to non-conformity. Let that sink in a while… Letting others tell your story is not a bad thing – it can be good and beautiful and even truthful. If there are people who love you, their story about you likely has great value. There are also people who would use you, twist you to their own ends – I will suggest that you edit their version of your story into the dustbin before you believe it like a fool.

Allow me to make you mindful of the fact that you have stories about the people around you, those close to you, and those far away, those which smell very much like you, and those which trigger your natural xenophobia – and your story about them is not without consequence. A story about your brother or your sister which is really a story about hatred is going to be followed through to the end of the story – as all stories eventually will reach their own logical end. Remember that the characters in the movies which are the most proficient at contempt, die by the hatred of another. The bomber terrorists get their spectacular end in a fiery explosion, and the poisoner dies in a grotesque struggle against their own weapon of choice. “Live by the sword, die by the sword” is a story we are all (overly-) familiar with. It is a come-around-go-around kinda world, and sometimes its a very short trip around. You not only get to make choices about the story you tell and follow about yourself, you get the same choice with everyone around you. Love is going tell Good Story – perhaps not free of bad shit happening – but it will be about goodness on it’s way to it’s own logical end.

It also stands to reason that the greater the love someone has for you, the better their story of you is going to be. It may only be some aunt or uncle in a far away country writing letters to you, telling you how much they love you even though you were a baby last time you saw them. If their love is genuine, the story which accompanies it should have great value to you – follow it, keep that story wrapped around you to protect you, to comfort you, and to share it with others.

“If life is a story,” I am saying “tell it, and tell it from love”

The Nearby Fire

It was then I entered
The moment I couldn’t
See myself

I had thrown myself
Into the nearby fire
Along with my shoes
And my expectations on life
As it should be

Some things are born to burn
Just as beauty
Sometimes singes
The skin

So in the crackle of
The nearby fire
Is a call to die
to what is dead
And a hope to live

How To Defeat Loneliness

In Four… Five Easy Points (okay, Five and a half)

As as elder of AC3, I get to participate in guiding and planning the direction of our annual church retreat – Vision Cast. This year, one of the key concepts we wish to focus on is community. It also ended up becoming the focus topic for our study group – Lion Tracks – and without my apparent input even (funny how that happens). So over the last couple of months I’ve been doing some reading and thinking on community. I have been sampling ideas from both Christian and “other” writers in an attempt to work from a broad pool of ideas for my own study and edification.


One of the key problems in our world, I’ve discovered, is loneliness. In the last 20-30 years, the number of people in our society who feel they have someone they can turn to and trust to be a friend in difficult times has plummeted by a shocking percentage. We have more superficial connections to others than we ever had, but the consequence seems to be a decrease significant connections. Loneliness, the books say, is a killer. One author said it’s ability to shorten our life spans here on earth was roughly equivalent to smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day! Others claim loneliness may soon be the Next Great Epidemic.

Loneliness must be defeated.

Around here at AC3, we certainly have an increasing emphasis on compassion ministries – feeding the hungry, taking in the lost children, helping people get back on their feet. I would like to see us collectively take on a compassion ministry to defeat Loneliness.

It’s not a requirement for salvation, you know, to help those who are in need, but rather, it is merely the result of receiving the love of God – so great is the incoming flood, it must over-run the banks and spill out into our world. I believe this. I also believe that we are, at the same time, captives in the foreign land of our culture and just as susceptable to loneliness as the one estranged from God.

I myself have always felt like a misfit. I learned early on to believe I didn’t belong despite any evidence to the contrary. I know also that I am not alone in feeling alone. If you were to ask me, however, if I suffered from loneliness – I would be just a bit offended and insist that I was most certainly not lonely. We are complicated creatures it seems. I would probably be able to say “I am hungry and need some food”, but never would you catch me saying “I am lonely and need a friend”. No way. Some people might, but my impression is that number is very small.

So how do we defeat loneliness? Since we rarely admit our own loneliness, and dare not confront the loneliness in another, it seems so much easier to just ignore the whole ugly plight. Am I right?

Well, while I don’t have a certifiable foolproof answer for you – I have discovered some possible hints.

First of all, we need to assume the need exists in everyone. We know everyone needs things like air, food and water – and certainly some have more resources than others – but we can easily assume everyone has the need for others as well. Also – the actual degree of need for community and trustful friendship is likely to vary from person to person, but no one is an island – some somebody once said.

Secondly… you would do well to assume that you yourself are included in the “everyone” of point one – and that you do in fact need a trusted circle of friendship – even if you don’t feel it. Perhaps it is especially true when you don’t feel it. It is almost a hunger in reverse sometimes – a hunger that causes you to starve yourself to death. The greater our loneliness, sometimes, the greater the pull towards isolation from others. I don’t know why this is, but it seems to be a common experience. Again, we are complicated creatures…

Thirdly… do not try, whatever you do, to make direct eye contact with loneliness. You have to sort of just watch it out of the corner of your eye – especially your own loneliness. The best way to defeat your own loneliness is to go attack it in others. Even then, however, you must deploy a strategy – you cannot just walk up to someone and say “I’m going to fix your loneliness for you!”. Chances are quite good that you would get the same reaction from them that you would get from me – and you will not walk away unscathed…

Fourthly… (and even I am begining to wonder how many points I have here…) Be wary of trying to “get in” to some or another circle of community. C.S. Lewis delivered a lecture on this dangers of trying to gain acceptance into the “inner ring” of some clik or circle. He warned that this desire to be accepted in a popular group is liable to make a scoundrel out of you – his words, not mine. Besides, he says, the very charm that entices you while are on the outside of that coveted group, vanishes the instant you are on the “inside”. This forces you to go looking for another circle to charm you.

His advice is quite clear…
Find something you enjoy doing.
Do it often.
Invite others to enjoy with you.

We attack loneliness most effectively, and most enjoyable, through shared interests and shared values. Don’t wait for someone else to build the right environment for you – build your own and share it.

I guess I have two more points to raise, and they are closely related so maybe we will just say Fifthly…
This point I discovered early on in my Christian training… and that is a truth about sin. Once I accepted that I was one who committed this thing called sin, I soon realized that if the gospel was for me, then surely it was for everyone, then it followed quite plainly that everyone sinned. That meant that getting close to anyone was going to be risky. More than risky… it seemed I was guaranteed to “get some on me” if I was doing community the right way. I became confident that I would be hurt by the sin of others, and I would have to find a way to deal with that appropriately. Walking away from community was just not going to be an option. Obviously, if some person has intent to maliciously victimize me in one way or another, it is reasonable that I should distance myself from that person. But just because someone is not intent on hurting me, or even truly intends to be a close trustworthy friend, does not mean I won’t get bumped and bruised by them occasionally.

Bob Marley once said “The truth is everyone is going to hurt you. You just gotta find the ones that are worth it.”

And that raises the other half of this point… who is “worth it”?
Our primary shared value is the love of Christ… don’t forget that, whatever you do. You must learn to see this thing in forwards and in reverse. I share life with others who love Christ and seek to follow Him. I also share life with others who are loved by Christ and are being sought by Him. Value and worth come from no other source – I promise you this is truth – even if I am struggling to communicate it fully. Our culture values wealth and good skin and strong manners and a hundred other things. You are being trained, perhaps unknowingly, by our culture to value the things it values – because that is what culture ultimately does. Beware of cementing your approach to evaluating other people based on anything other than the love of Christ.

So here is a hasty summary for you…
If you are going to defeat loneliness in yourself, you are going to have to first defeat it in others. If you would do that, you must see them as your Christ sees them. Destroy anothers loneliness and your own will surely flee the battlefield – tail between it’s legs-like.