Who Would Jesus Schmooze?

The issue of the previous post touches part of the core of who I am as a person. My life would be a lot easier if I felt I could look in the mirror at myself after "working a room" or something (in fact, then maybe I'd feel like I could be a "pastor" as the church currently seems to define it). To clarify, this "schmoozing" is something I can do and can do well. I say this because I felt like some people in their comments were saying that they used to not be good at it either, but then they learned how to do it, as if that was the issue of what I was presenting. So just to clarify, ability to schmooze and work a room is not the issue. The issue is that I cannot live with myself after I do that, I feel like a total sell-out.

An aspect of a comment I did appreciate, by GetTheWordOut on my other blog, was that sometimes it can just be about getting to know people and love them. And if that kind of thing can really happen at a certain schmooze-fest, then I guess I'm all for it in that situation. But I am very much against using love and relationships as means to ends--sometimes I feel like we Christians dole out our love and time to get someone to change in some way, and in that way it's a means to an end. But to me, love (real love) is an end in itself. Not that we don't want things for people, but that we don't use our love as a "tool." That idea leaves a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

So anyway, here's a question, because I think sometimes I (and maybe you, but I don't want to be presumptuous ) have a tendency to make Jesus who I want him to be, looking at the passages that align with my viewpoint, and conveniently neglecting the others. So, going off of the last post, what kind of person do you see Jesus as (and please include any reasoning you have)--someone who schmoozes and works the room to accomplish his goals? or as someone who abhors that? or a mixture? or...?


Let's Talk About Schmoozing

Here's my hypothesis: There are 2 types of people in the world, 1) people who are comfortable with and feel like there can be some really useful and helpful things about sometimes interacting with others in a kind of "political" way (they might even see this as a valuable type of personal gift or skill), and 2) people who have almost zero tolerance for "political" types of interactions, and have violent delusions involving uzis and grenades when they have to be in these situations.

OK, so maybe there are more than these 2 types (as in, there are several shades of gray in between). But, as you might guess, I am in the second category. And tonight I had to go to a banquet at a club on the 54th floor of a tower downtown and drink Pellegrino and eat scallops wrapped in bacon and salmon and fresh vegetables and chocolate raspberry cake (yeah, I know, hard life)...but a lot of the time I just really felt frustrated there. On one hand I was really grateful for the people there--it was a celebration of scholarship recipients (of which I was one--because of their support I didn't have to take out any loans my 2nd and 3rd years of seminary, which is amazing) and I feel REALLY grateful for the help, and feel like the foundation does a lot of excellent work; so I was glad to celebrate them. But on the other hand, I felt like no one at this event could really be themselves. The recipients had to give the right answers and say the right things to seem worthy of the fellowship, and the people representing the foundation had to play up their philanthropic activities. It just seemed like everyone was selling something and had something to prove.

Afterward I talked with someone about this (not a friend, just an acquaintance I ran into) and, let's just say, he definitely falls into the first category of people. And it was hard because I feel like we each have a strong internal committment to our way of seeing this, and it makes me hopeless that these types can ever really get along together in the world. I honestly don't really trust or respect people in the first category (yes, I think I could grow in this area, God have mercy) and I got a strong feeling that he felt I was naively idealistic and hopelessly lacking "real" people-skills and practicality. The issue is, we define and value "people skills" very VERY differently. He doesn't practice the kinds of people skills I value, and I would rather poke scissors through my thigh than embody the types of people skills he values.

I really don't see a lot of hope for reconciliation here, but I also believe that God is big, and if Jesus can do anything, he can break down these dividing walls. So, which type are you? Do I have to stop reading your blog now? (just kidding)


Observations and Recommendations

As I was driving to Trader Joe's to get some groceries, I passed by two different businesses that cracked me up by their names. Not so much each name itself, but the visual image that came to my mind when I thought about how their business actually worked. The first was called "New Age Auto Repair." Now, it's just a normal car repair place, but I pictured a guy with hippy hair waving crystals and chanting over a broken engine as their method of car repair. Then I saw a water store called "Alice's Store of Living Water" or something. I was like, wait, is that a Christian bookstore or something? Nope. Just a store that sells drinking water. Living water? Odd.

Also, I want to make a couple of media plugs. One for a movie, and one for a CD.

Movie: Dogville, 1994, by Lars von Trier; starring Nicole Kidman and Paul Bettany. This movie is brutal to watch, honestly. It's very minimalistic (the set is just one big soundstage with the rooms drawn on the ground), but after a few minutes of adjusting to it, I kind of liked the effect that had on the movie. But it's brutal because of the storyline--and everything that happens to the main character (named "Grace"...so, it's not overly subtle in its commentary). It raises some really interesting questions, and I would love for everyone to watch it and send me a message on their thoughts about it.

CD: Illinois (Come on Feel the Illinoise!) by Sufjan Stevens, 2005. My friend Aline bought this CD for me and gave it to me over the weekend, and I am really enjoying it. I like several of the songs, but at this point (after only a few listens through) my favorite song is "Casimir Pulaski Day." It's sad, moving, mellow, tragic, somewhat understated, and everything I love in a song. Check it out.

"Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling." -Cake