Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Last... no wait, Second To Last Post...

As soon as I signed off last time it occurred to me that I may want to have a place to post my professional writings on the web. As a result, I've begun developing a personal site for my writing - a place to blog about my novel, share my sermons, etc... I'll also be contributing a blog to a new site called WDWHUB.net very soon. So I'm not entirely disappearing.

My next and FINAL post will be to tell you where you can find my professional site when its up and running.

Thanks again!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

So long and thanks for all the fish...

I've run out of things to say in this format. The new Novel is almost finished (two days away). I'm almost done with my CLP training and will soon be preaching and stuff. So, I've decided to bring this blog experiment to an end.

It has been my great honor to write stuff for you all and I'm even more grateful that anyone read it. If you want to keep up with me, I'd suggest finding me on Facebook and hopefully you'll be able to find me in a local bookstore or Amazon very soon.

Thank you for everything.

Will Robison

Monday, March 25, 2013


The further down this rabbit hole I go, the more I realize this is probably a one way trip.

For the past three months, my CLP journey has only intensified. In coordination with the perfect timing of the departure of Lakeside's pastor and the ensuing chaos, stress, and extra work that has entailed, my CLP classes have become more intense and more transforming as well. First there was the Old Testament Class which coincided with the guest preaching of my former youth pastor, Dave Lamb. It added a surreal touch to my classwork to know that I was taking classes to become a "pastor" while visiting with the first real pastor that had started my journey down this path. The following month I had New Testament Theology a week before I was to deliver my own guest sermon, and also for the first time, to plan and lead an entire worship service by myself. As it turned out, this sermon and worship service was a communion Sunday and as I'm not yet ordained, we had a guest pastor - Reverend Calvin Chin (former head of our Presbytery and one heck of a great guy) - and so, in addition to the scrutiny of my church, I also had the scrutiny of a very experienced pastor as well. And then, this month, class fell on Palm Sunday weekend during the most recent divisive issue to hit our church and I had to present yet another playlet that I'd written for the drama team, as well as act in it (if you can call that acting). This coincided with our class on Preaching. Intense classes. Intense church. God has led me through it like a four legged dog tiptoeing through a minefield.

All of that is by way of saying that the further I go, the more changed I become. I'm no longer the elder of Lakeside and I'm not yet a Pastor of Lakeside either. I'm somewhere in between - clinging to my layman's role as long as I can, and yet, becoming aware of how I might react differently as a pastor (and vice versa, how the church is starting to behave differently towards me). I'm now half-way through the classes, and I feel about half-way through the transition process as well.

I guess one of the amazing things I've observed is in realizing how many skills I already have in place for pastoring. I am, apparently, a good preacher. I'm always very reluctant to believe anything people tell me in response to my "performance". It seems too easy to me, and therefore, praise becomes untrustworthy. If there is no struggle involved, how can there be accomplishment? But after taking the Preaching course and discovering that I pretty much knew everything that was being taught (not as a result of some natural gift, mind you, but as a result of a long and difficult journey to perfect my writing ability) I am more ready to accept that, perhaps, the evaluations of my performance might be genuine. I am also quite knowledgeable about the Bible. I guess reading it as many times as I have, it was bound to rub off sooner or later. There are other skills, of course, but as many as I think I have, I know there are others I must master before I am ready to be a pastor of any kind.

I am far too uncomfortable around sickness and grief. I just don't know how to deal with it. I admit that this is a blind spot in my life. Clearly its an area that I will need to improve upon before I can be any sort of pastor. Unless, of course, I put up a sign that reads, Happy People Only...

I'm also not quite able to bury my anger as fast as I need to. My first response is always to rant... then to let logic prevail. At least, I've recognized this tendency now. I told some of the choir members this week that we needed to get the ranting out of our system first, then remember that we were Christians and come up with a sensible solution. Before that, I was leading the group with suggestions of boiling in oil, tarring and feathering, and other variations of A Pox On Your First Born! The reason most people see me as happy go lucky all the time is because I usually leave the ranting to those moments when I'm alone. In the midst of a Session meeting, this might be kind of hard to call for a five minute time out every time someone ticks me off.

Clearly I have a long way to go, but as the song says, Woah oh, I'm half way there...

Thursday, December 06, 2012

To infinity... but beyond?

Dude... will you fight Nazi's, crack your bullwhip, take on sword wielding bad guys, swim through the Mediterranean on the back of a Nazi U-Boat, and then try to blow up the Ark if I asked you to do it?


Would you dig a tunnel under four hundred feet of earth and help some 200 prisoners of war escape through war-torn Europe during World War II even if it meant getting caught in a barbed wire fence while trying to jump it on a motorcycle?

Yes. Especially that last part.

Would you go toe to toe with the dark lord of the Sith with nothing but a lightsaber, the force, and an especially loyal R2 unit at your side even if it meant learning dark family secrets and possibly losing a limb?

That would be very cool.

Would you carry the Ring through thousands of miles of muck, murder, mayhem and orcs and finally climb Mt. Doom and throw the Ring into the fires, only to be possibly consumed by lava afterwards?

One does not simply walk into Mordor, but I would do it for you on my honor.

Would you go and have coffee with a bunch of men, tell them about me, maybe pray with them, console them, and ask them to find a place in their hearts for a relationship with me?

WHOAH WHOAH WHOAH! Let's not get too hasty now...what you ask of me is such a burden?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A little nourishment for Thanksgiving

Just a morsel...

My next paper for my Commissioned Lay Pastor class is on the nature of sin. I was going to title the paper, "Sin is like really, really, bad... m'kay?" Because, honestly, how can you write 2 pages on sin, right? But then, by the grace of God entirely, I had a really profound insight into the nature of sin last night from, of all places, my own sinful bad self doing sinfully bad things.

The actual nature of the sin isn't what's interesting here, so I'll leave out the salacious details. Suffice it to say, I was bored and I was online. No, wait... let me start at the beginning, because it'll make more sense that way.

When I write, I transport myself to another world, walk around for a while, and then write what I see. Like Narnia, to a certain extent, this world has a very powerful influence on me and makes me want to visit it as often as I can - but getting there isn't always the easiest thing. Sometimes I will sit and stare at my computer screen for hours trying to conjour up that one word of magic behind which all other words will flow. I'll put on music. I'll visit facebook. I'll watch TV. I'll play games. I'll read. I'll go back to facebook. I'll play solitaire... and again... and again... I'll be so close to this other world that I can taste it, but that first word will still not come and the writing will not flow. It's incredibly frustrating. It's not writer's block, per se, because that involves more the idea of not knowing what to write rather than not being able to write anything.

And so what happens is that I'm literally at my computer screen for hours straining sub-consciously to evoke this feeling, this connectedness to this other world, so that I can write and all I end up doing is draining my creative batteries and my physical ones as well. Not being able to write is my number one cause of insomnia (ironically, writing too much is my next leading cause of insomnia as I can't shut my mind off).

Last night, I was not being able to write. My mind was blocked. And I felt that longing to be part of that other world where my mind could soar and I could be a part of the word... but I couldn't get there. The words wouldn't come but the longing remained. So I began trying to answer that longing in other ways on the internet. I looked up old girlfriends. I tried to connect with people I hadn't seen in years. Anything I could think of to replace that longing I felt with a sense of fulfillment, of connection. I searched and searched and searched and never did find a connection. I stayed up way past midnight even though I knew I'd be tired the next day, and that being tired, I wouldn't be able to remain sharp and focused so that I could write the next night - thus prolonging my agony over this loss of connection.

It was only after I finally shut down my computer and reluctantly trudged off to bed that I had this sudden and powerful revelation on the nature of sin. Sin is the absence of God. We experience it by turning away from God. We turn away from God whenever we try to fulfill that feeling of love and connection that we experience with God with something human and man-made. Since that substitute experience can never ever come anywhere close to the feeling of fulfillment we get from God, every time we search for something that is Not God, we are disappointed and left unfulfilled - which drives us to seek further and further and further from God until we reach some deep dark corner of our life where we feel surrounded by darkness and utterly alone. That is where sin takes you. It starts out as an obstinate feeling of self, seeking self-fulfillment, and it takes you quickly off to places you'd never imagine going when you start the journey. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and a very powerful feedback loop. Sin leads to more sin, leads to more sin, leads to more sin. Yet turning back to God, coming back to where he is waiting for you, instantly brings you back to your senses - until you sin again.

Anyway... the idea is still a little jumbled in my head. I need to play with it some more, but I'm certain, at least, that I have an interesting framework for a discussion on the nature of sin for my next paper. I've got a little under two weeks to write it.

As usual, I appreciate all feedback... though I find I don't usually have time to respond because by the time I read your feedback, I'm usually neck deep into writing my paper. But I do read everyone's response and I do ponder what you have to say and I really do appreciate your taking the time to comment.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Did I sign up for this?

I lasted all of about two pages into my first CLP reading material before I found my head exploding with newfound insight.

I don't want to change. I like my theology where it is. Its not complicated. I don't need to be challenged.

I've been thinking lately that there was some piece of the equation that I was missing - some elusive tidbit that could help me to understand how come my Christianity doesn't sound like anyone else's description of the religion. Two pages into my first CLP reading and there was the answer. But...

I don't want to change. I like my theology where it is. Its not complicated. I don't need to be challenged.

I was watching Stephen Hawking's latest science program on the science channel explaining why there is no need for God in the equations explaining how the universe was created and how it continues to evolve and exist... except that his explanation was so fantastical that it made most religious explanations for the origins of the universe look almost boring by comparison. How does one explain to a great mind like Stephen Hawking that he may have math on his side, but his explanation of how the universe works makes it EVEN MORE likely that God had a hand in it? Why is it that great minds insist that there is no God when the evidence is all around them staring them in the face? These questions have left me thinking about the short comings of my own religion and wondering how one counteracts the general disbelief in the most obvious things in the modern world... and it made me realize that...

I don't want to change. I like my theology where it is. Its not complicated. I don't need to be challenged.

So here I am... two pages into my first article and I read that our job as theologians is to read the scripture, interpret it, and then seek feed back from the rest of the congregation - to create a dialog with Christ at the center (I'm paraphrasing quite a bit here). It was that last part, the part about the feedback, that suddenly made me realize what piece of the puzzle I'd been missing. I read the rest of the article with great relish... I was actually learning something NEW about religion - something I had suspected was out there but that I hadn't yet articulated in my own mind... And Then The Breaks Went On And...

I don't want to change. I like my theology where it is. Its not complicated. I don't need to be challenged.

What The Heck?! One article and my faith is being changed. One article and my theology is being advanced. One article and my world view is becoming more complicated (and simplified at the same time, but only if I stop resisting). One article and I'm already being challenged! Is this what I signed up for? Is This What God Had In Mind For ME?

I don't want to change. I like my theology where it is. Its not complicated. I don't need to be challenged.

Where is this all going? How much does God expect me to change? Will I become some sort of Christian Zombie parroting back theology to the masses? Will there be any part of Will left? Am I being transformed against my will?

I imagine Frodo was perfectly fine with leaving the Shire with Sam, perfectly fine with packing up his sack, grabbing some maps, taking the ring, and heading for some far off tavern to meet Gandalf. It was probably all perfectly fine until the Ring Wraiths arrived and Frodo had the first inkling that perhaps all was not perfectly fine, that this was a journey that he wasn't likely to embark upon and return the exact same person. This was not some trip to the market, or the bar, or even to visit a distant cousin... this was a journey of transformation. And between running for the Buckland Ferry and dodging dark horse hooves, I wonder if the dawning realization caused Frodo to pause, even momentarily, and wonder if it wasn't too late to turn around and head back to the Shire.

But, of course, he couldn't. And, of course, I can't... nor do we really want to. Frodo must know that this is the time to embrace his destiny... and so, for what ever reason, it is time for me to become whatever it is that God wishes me to become.

I'm ready to change. I'm ready to take my theology to new places. I'm ready to embrace a complicated world view. I'm ready to be challenged.

And so, I say... bring on the next article and let the transformation begin.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Cloud Contemplation #1

Question: Out of the four sources for Christian theology - Scripture, the Christian tradition, reason (and philosophy), and contemporary human experience (including the sciences), which two are most important for you and you do theology, and why?

This is the first question I must answer in my CLP training. Of course, there are readings to read, and lots of thoughts and studies to contemplate before I write my two page double spaced essay, but I was wondering how to answer this question just off the bat. I figure that before I can have my mind changed and my perspective broadened, I need to figure out where I stand in the debate to begin with. And I thought I'd share that with my fellow travelers because I value your opinions and vastly different experiences to help me shape my thinking on the subject. You may not make me see eye to eye with you, but you can at least illuminate corners of the argument that I might miss in the shadows of my ignorance. We'll call this exercise Cloud Contemplation... a modern study method utilizing the latest in social technology.

Hmm... Well, obviously Scripture is very important. Its probably not the only method of knowing God's will, but it's certainly one of the most definitive. The challenge with Scripture is not in its definitiveness, but in its definition. How it is defined seems to be determined mostly by cultural and temporal preferences. The same written passage can probably be interpreted several different ways. It seems that for such an inefficient form of communication to be considered the ONE and ONLY definitive truth of God is asking for theological stagnation and misinterpretation. But then again, perhaps God made the word flesh to transform such an inefficient form of communication into a perfect one. If the written text serves as nothing more than a way to identify Jesus as the one true authority on all things, then it has done its job.

The Christian Tradition is a curious thing in and of itself. I'm not quite sure how to define it. Are we talking about the things we have always done as having some weight over the things we have yet to do? I've found that looking backwards while moving forwards is the one guaranteed way to stumble. On the other hand, while going from Point A to Point Z, it's probably a good idea to remember Point A - if for no other reason than to judge how far you've come. Or are we talking about those things that define us as a religion - church structure and baptism and prayer and the like? To be honest, I haven't really given those much thought. It's sort of like asking a newcomer to the sport of baseball what he feels about the Infield Fly rule. A) It's such a loaded question. And B) Its such an integral part of the game that contemplation of it is way too complicated at this point. I can't weigh how I feel about baptism because I can't separate it out from everything else at this point. Baptism is baptism. Its part of theology to me.

Reason (and philosophy) - I really don't know anybody that goes against their own reason or philosophy when it comes to anything in life. 2 plus 2 is four... but I'll call it five because that's what my Pastor says. Yeah... that just doesn't work. But if you're asking about whether a specific reason or a specific philosophy has any bearing on my theology... that's a good question. I'd say as a starting point that if scripture is cherry-picked for theology that conforms to your own personal world view, then philosophy and reason are torn apart with jackhammers - gleaned cleaner than a grape vine on the day of Jubilee. Reason and Philosophy surely have to be accepted or rejected according to our own personal tastes and then probably modified to fit specific needs as life goes on. As a tool of theology, I think one would have to be careful about using "reason" or philosophy because of its varying nature as life goes on and new views about once strongly held beliefs come to the forefront. This is the one area where hypocrisy is probably most prevalent.

The last is deceptively probably the first - human experience and the sciences - probably informs more theology than anything else. Our lives always form the framework through which we see the entire world and try to make sense of it. Each new wrinkle in our human experience informs our own theology and then, in turn, can be used to do theology with others. Whether we are very good at turning human experience into theology or not, our natural human instinct is to relate life to our theology and our theology to life.

I think I'll leave that off there. Please weigh in while I still have time to chew the gristle of thought-provoking marrow.