Tuesday, October 26, 2010


23 years ago, it all started to make sense.  That is when I first learned that I could be labelled "ISFJ".  I had resisted the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator for a while.  My friends who had taken the 'test' seemed to be so excited about it.  I faked my way through the laughs over such lines as 'you are such a P' or 'I can't do that I'm an S'.  Frankly, I didn't like the way people seemed to use the types as excuses, either for themselves or for others.  I wanted people to have to take me as I was - and not make assumptions about me.

After I took the test, I understood how the results could be abused the way I had experienced, but I also saw the light that countered that dark side.  I finely understood why it was possible that given the same data and the same choice-options that people could come up with difference decisions.  There was not necessarily right way or a wrong way, but perfectly valid different ways based on different personalities.  I also paid close enough attention to learn that no type is absolute - that they simply indicate preferences - our natural way of acting and behaving if we have the opportunity to follow 'our best' path.  Everyone lives in and out of their type.  It's just harder when we have to go against our preferences.  And so I resisted the dark side and avoided limiting people to their types.  But it did help me understand why people's first and natural reactions were the way they were.  And I understood myself better.

My original goal still stood.  I still wanted to authentic.  My type doesn't dictate how I will act or behave, it comes out of me.

Jesus invites us to live authentically - to avoid hypocrisy and embrace honesty.  Authenticity is being true to one's self.  Being an authentic person is living openly as who you are.  Now MBTI reminds me that people exist on a long continuum between introversion and extroversion, so for some 'open' will be more or less obvious to the rest of the world.

Given that, I believe that being authentic is to live in such a way that others will be able to see what you believe is important.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


In Martin Scorsese's, Goodfellas, Tommy DiVito, played by Joe Pesci, reacts to Henry Hill's (Ray Liotta) comment that he's "funny", with one of the most memorable scenes in that movie: "I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to [bleep]in' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?"  Henry was trying to compliment Tommy for his ability to tell an entertaining story and was forced to wonder if he had just insulted his fellow wise guy - not a wise thing to do.

I know a guy who is an aspiring semi-professional comedian.  He and I were talking recently about how religion is a common topic for some of his colleagues.  My friend has been bothered by some mean-spirited, volatile routines he hears from time to time, that seem to denigrate all religious activity, leaving no room for any value in a spiritual life.  So he came to me for advice on developing a routine that valued religion.  He asked, "what can I say to counter these guys?"  That's a hard thing for me to do, we religious types do provide a lot of valuable material for comedians.  I suspect that the basis of some of these anti-religion routines fairly respond to some of the worst parts of religion.  As my favorite folk singer, David Wilcox reminds us, "there will always be a good man in the worst sense of the word." 

I am a bit worried about how I can help my comedian friend, but I am also honoured, because, humour is a powerful spiritual tool.  I am trying to think about the funny parts of what people assume we religious types believe and see if I can enlighten my friend's audience through this routine he wants to develope.

All I have so far is a start:
I know this guy who is a minister in a church.  I doubt that you would have ever heard of him.  He doesn't wear a polyester suit and a toupee on TV; and he's not making many headlines: he only sleeps with his spouse and he doesn't have five cadillacs purchased with the life savings of some naive old lady.  I asked him, 'Is it hard being a minister when religion isn't as popular as it used to be?  He said, 'it is actually a great time to be a minister because, no body is forced to believe in God anymore.  They either do or they don't.  Thank God people have to actually think for themselves when it comes to religion.'   He said that the biggest problem with the modern state of religion is that too many people are taking things literally and not enough are taking it seriously.  Just because someone writing in the Bible a few thousand years ago called God, "him" doesn't mean that we have to picture this old man with a white beard, covering up a "heavenly package" under his robes.  I never thought I'd hear a minister say, 'It was a nice idea for God to make people in God's image, but that doesn't mean, we have to imagine God in  a speedo'.

Got any other ideas for me of how to speak about a 21st century inclusive theology in a humourous way?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


In less than two weeks, it will be time for the triennial municipal elections in Alberta. In about a month, there will be mid-term elections in US. Each time the 'signs' come out I am frequently amazed how often someone is running against something rather than for something. Granted local elections seldom get ugly, but they can.

As a confessed cable news junky (US and Canada and BBC), I have been watching with fascination the US political scene. Voter anger, mistrust of established candidates, ya betcha!

We, voters are perfectly allowed to be upset with the direction our political leaders may have taken us. But we need to be rational and reasonable and realistic. Anger, by the very chemistry of the body, lacks reason. Which one of us has not experienced anger only to be filled with regret when 'cooler heads' prevail. It's a chemical reality of the way our brains work. Anger is a lousy decision making tool.

If we choose to use anger with our ballot, we will get the results we deserve, but they may not be what we need.