Month: August 2012

A Proper Response to Bad Ideas

The proper response to a bad idea is a better idea. - Kevin Kelly

Our world is full of bad ideas.  I’ve contributed my fair share.  So have you.  No one has a monopoly on bad ideas.  They’re universal, unbiased and arbitrary.  Albert Einstein once said, Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.  So let’s get over ourselves and admit that we simply aren’t as smart as we think we are.

However, this doesn’t mean that we’re hopelessly relegated to a world of bad ideas.  You and I both know that our world is also full of good and even great ideas.  We also know that these great ideas come from people, human beings just like us.  We commend those who come up with great ideas with any sort of consistency and describe them as genius or brilliant.  But the truth is, great ideas usually come from moments of inspiration.  And, most often, moments of inspiration are the result of the long and arduous process of working to make a better idea out of a bad one.

We see the moments when they receive their Nobel’s and Pulitzer’s and we watch as they captivate us on ted.com but what we don’t often see are the long, lonely hours spent researching, experimenting, reworking, crafting, fine-tuning, failing, etc.  We celebrate and desire the glamorous moments of triumph for ourselves but so few of us are willing to put in the hours and the labor.  So instead, we take the easier route.  We find the bad, the wrong and the imperfect in the hard work of another and we appoint ourselves commentators.  We critique and criticize because it makes us feel like we’re part of the conversation and gives us the false sense that we’re actually contributing to moving the dialogue forward.  While constructive criticism can be helpful, it’s not enough.  Like Kevin Kelly says, the proper response to a bad idea is a better idea.  

So let’s stop criticizing just to be heard.  Let’s stop huddling up in our lazy circles, mocking those who took the risk of putting an idea out there, shallowly affirming each other with our negative judgments.  Let’s stop talking about how much better something should be.  Instead, let’s start dreaming about how much better it could be and then go about the difficult work of making it a reality.  Let’s not just make ideas better – let’s make each other better.  Let’s collectively, humbly and passionately pursue a better world together.

Instagram, Jesus, and The Power of Words

This is my first blog entry in almost two months.  Some of the blame goes to the fact that I’ve been working on a church plant launching in a few weeks while also finishing up my last few seminary classes.  But equal blame must be given to Instagram.  After years of relenting, I finally bought an iPhone a couple of months ago and then immediately downloaded Instagram.  It seems that I simultaneously forgot how to write.  This blog went untouched and unchecked.  My twitter went from being a place to share my thoughts in prose to a digital art gallery of 5-megapixel snippets of my uneventful life, gussied up with “this-isn’t-really-as-cool-as-it-looks” filters like X-pro II or Hefe.  So instead of writing about my thoughts on God, faith, hope, love, etc., I’ve spent my time recently bringing you thoughtful pieces such as…

Hairs on Faces in Strange & Lovely Places

Tapatio Versus Dinosaur on Volcanic Rock

My Imminent Future

I’ve missed writing.  For me, writing is an exhale of thoughts, ideas and questions.  Not writing makes me feel sick.  It takes a while but eventually I start to feel an emotional nausea, as though the stuff rumbling around inside starts to spoil.  So here I am, writing again and it feels great.

The phrase A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words is said to find its roots in advertising.  It’s catchy and clever and memorable.  At times it’s romantic.  But it’s incomplete.  Advertising is by nature incomplete.  A picture may very well be worth a thousand words but the truth is, a few well written or well spoken words can paint a thousand pictures.  Words have erected and toppled empires.  Words have inspired and broken hearts.  Words have spoken into life both good and evil over the course of human history.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John begins his Gospel this way.  Logos [λόγος] is Greek for word.  This is how John describes Jesus.  Words are relational by nature.  When a word is spoken or written, its significance lies not in its utterance or written form in and of itself.  Rather, its significance lies in what the word does when it reaches the listener or reader.  Words come to life only in as much as they affect those for whom the word was given.  And in Jesus, the Word that was with God and the Word that is God, we receive the most powerful word ever spoken.  It is a word of grace and hope and love.  Regarding this passage at the beginning of John’s Gospel, N.T. Wright says:

John is consciously echoing the first chapter of Genesis: In the beginning God made heaven and earth; in the beginning was the Word.  When the Word becomes flesh, heaven and earth are joined together at last, as God always intended.

And so God speaks his Word to us in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son and his Son, the Word, brings it all together.  The Word of God mends back together the fabric of reality that was torn in the Garden.  The Word restores the union that was always intended for heaven and earth – that they would be one and the same, God with us, walking in the cool of the day as he did in Genesis 3.  May this be a reminder to us that words matter.  Our words, whether spoken, written, or otherwise expressed, matter.  What we say to God and what we say to others – it all matters.

So speak and write words that mend and restore.  Your words have the power to heal.  So speak and write them well.  Join together the broken things of this world with your words.  Speak light into dark places.  Write joy into the hearts of the hurting.  Put down your phone, stop living 5-megapixels at a time, and spend some time on crafting words of life that just might help change the world.