Thursday, September 17, 2015

Two Authors and an Elitist Attitude

When I was allowed to return in the church in the evening December 31, 2008, I gradually noticed a trend which hits its climax around 2011.  Believe me, I have been vocal about this, hence I’ll not be accused of backstabbing.


This has been our members liking the books written by Dr. John Piper and Bro. Joshua Harris.  For those who are not familiar with them, Dr. Piper wrote the books Desiring God and Don’t Waste Your Life.  Joshua Harris, on the other hand, wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl.  Not only some of the singles of Baptist churches, but also well-intent Christian churches are reading them, even to the point of hero worshipping the authors.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have their books.  I came across Don’t Waste Your Life back in 2008, when one of my mentors, Dr. Abel Bernardo gave it as an encouragement to me.  I bought Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye when I was still one of the Main Leaders in our youth ministry – around 2002.  With all sincerity, intent, and wholesome outlook, I read them.  They are blessings to me, especially during the path of restoration which culminated at the go-signal of my church allowing me to go back.  During this time, I witnessed single professionals reading this book, putting quotes on Facebook mostly associated with these authors or their contemporaries, mostly single ladies and some working bachelors of my time. 


I will not dwell on the Calvinistic theology of both Piper and Harris, neither will I hit them in an ad hominem fashion, just like what some believers and preachers have done to their advocates, just to preserve their position.  I don’t post articles to pick up a fight, both verbal and physical.  Besides, outsiders will deem this article as a jargon.  One more thing: I respect Dr. Piper and Bro. Harris for their zealousness, intelligence, and poetic way of expressing their position on certain issues on Christianity.  In fact, I even share some of their positions.  What I wanted to point out is using certain things, ideas, to establish a sense of elitism.  There are believers that make inside language which mere ordinary looking mortals do not know.  These people have finally channeled the inner pride through patronage of these authors.  However, when you pointed out that you understand their inside language, you’ll be met by either dead silence or a troll label.  Give me a break, you do that even in topics of Christianity?  Let’s respect Dr. Piper and Bro. Harris by reading their works, pointing out their position, agreeing with them, or disagreeing with them.  However, for crying out loud, do not use them as vehicles of ego tripping, displaying attitude of exclusivity, and the likes.  If it really became a blessing to your life and you’re not sharing it, what does it become of you? We become a bunch of inappropriately competitive, proud believers.  Intellectual competitions must be put where it is appropriate, and it’s not in the church.  Their work and pieces of advice are not meant as trade secrets.  It is a shame that even geeks will not hesitate to share their geek lingos or terms to non-geeks, yet some of us didn’t do so in the realm of Christian ideas. Some of us keep it to themselves like a trade secret. Seriously?  Putting the getting ahead mindset even in the realm of spirituality?  Frankly, this elitist attitude must be dealt with indifference.  It is best ignored.  No, I am not referring to misunderstood ideas being tried to share.  I am referring to good ideas used by people with elitist attitude in the process that they’re the only ones who can understand or decipher them.  THEY ARE BEST IGNORED.


Nowadays, I’m glad the inside jargons have subsided.  I’m sad that well-meaning authors are used as vehicles of pride and elitism.  I believe these authors are happy when you share ideas that they also have, but to use their beliefs and books as medium of pride, elitism, and inappropriate intellectual competition?  I don’t think they meant it that way.     


I am always an advocate of transferring knowledge from one person to another.  If it will make someone or a group a better person or group, I will not hesitate to share it, especially if they do not have a questionable agenda.


Fellow brethren, let us have an attitude of positive inclusivity when it comes to Christian ideas.  It’s like food, it’s happier to eat a good food when you share it with someone than eating it on its lonesome.           

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why the organization?

Since July 1, 2014, I am a member of Toastmasters International, specifically Camanava Brunch Toastmasters Club.  Toastmasters International (TI) is known as an educational organization that caters to teach its members the art of public speaking.  I have said this many times: I joined this organization to learn public speaking because I am currently teaching it right now, NOT as a form of bragging rights that I belong.  I want to put it this way: I joined Toastmasters not because I know, but I want to know.  This statement leads me to think of one word: Organization.  In addition, I cannot help but mention some of the reasons why people join an organization.


There are people who joined an organization because they feel these people are their co-equal, like it is cool or elite by being part of them.  In other words, they joined it with an exclusivist and elitist attitude.  When they became members, they produced their own inside terms and language that, sadly, they deliberately let other people hear it.  When you talk to these types of people, the mere mention of the club means, “Here I am.”  I am not mainly like that.  It’s bullying, and I’m not a bully. Another problem with this mindset is intellectual and developmental stagnation.  If you joined an organization with someone of your own level and below your level, you’ll not put yourself to the next level.  Why do international basketball players perform at higher level than those who haven’t experience one despite the latter having more talent and gift than the former?  It’s because the former encountered foes outside his usual, sometimes co-equal, circle.  I’m not saying to avoid people who “are not in your level”. That is pride and arrogance.  What I mean is joining an organization because they are your co-equal is a bad idea if you want to grow as a person.     


There are people who joined an organization because they wanted to meet new sets of crowd or friends.  These people treat clubs as a means of socialization.  I am not mainly like that, although I consider the friendship inside the Club as a wonderful God-given blessing.  Friendship and socialization are not ends in themselves, but when they become the focal point or central part of a member’s mantra, the tendency is to get out of the organization when they felt it’s getting sadder than the usual or well, “boring”.


There are people who joined an organization because they wanted to get something out of it, in a negative way.  Few months ago, a guest of a fellow member asked if I can lend that person some money. Uh-oh. Even until now, fellow members didn’t have any idea who that guest was, because it’s embarrassing on that person’s part, but also it shows that I have a respectful, courteous bone in me. 


I think some of us are familiar with wolves coming in our churches.  These types of people are the ones who victimize the weak. Does sexual harassment ring a bell to you?  How about sexual predators?  Okay, let’s mention something more deceiving yet so divisive when left unchecked: users and manipulators.  This is the reason why I really try to be as wholesome as possible in dealing with other members: because I didn’t join an organization with a negative agenda such as the ones mentioned before this sentence.  By consciously trying to maintain that wholesome mindset, not only you will grow as a person and as a member, but who knows? You’ll eventually notice guests coming in signing up to be your member.  You may even have a celebrity signing up without you knowing it, all because you didn’t join an organization to fulfill negative agendas.   


Some become members of an organization to intentionally proselyte its members on his or her belief.  I am a practicing Christian, and some Christians may disagree with me on this one: not because we are commissioned by Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel does it mean that we deliberately assert to be leaders outside our own local church.  Yes, state your belief, your position on certain issues, even Christianity, but to try to take charge simply because you are a Christian? Man, you are giving an impression that Christians are bossy people.  As of this writing, I’m the Vice President Education of my resident Toastmaster Club (or some of us call it Home Club). Prior to this, in only my 4th month as a member, I became Vice President Public Relations to fill in the void left by a member.  I didn’t do it by putting myself on top.  In fact, I didn’t even intend to be in that position.  All that I did was consistently attend our Club meetings, give speeches (it’s a Toastmasters club; nothing heroic or fame grabbing with that) or do task in that meeting or do both at the same meeting day (speech first, then task later).  I tried to be as wholesome and responsible as possible in dealing, not only with the tasks that were given to me, but also with other members.  Eventually, I saw myself in my current position.  In an educational organization, you don’t need to proselyte to be a guiding light.


There are people who joined an organization or club because they assume this organization or club will teach them a thing or two on the things that they wanted to learn more.  I am mainly that type of person when I joined TI.  Now, this type of mindset is good if an organization is an educational organization.  Hence, it is important to know first what kind of organization you are planning to join. If it’s educational in nature, then study in order to achieve mastery.  If it’s socio-civic in nature, then expect to be on the road.  If it’s a certain common interest group, then check if your interest is in sync with them.      


Bloggers and readers, what drives us in joining and being in an organization? It may not be the things I’ve just mentioned, but definitely, something (or someone) is your driving force. I’ll not question that driving force, but I hope it will be a good one.  Why?  Because your driving force will determine your direction in an organization.