Category Archives: Commentary

Dum Spiro Spero

I’ve been thinking about Easter since this past Sunday, and about the message of Easter. I taught my students this weekend that Easter is all about hope – hope for salvation through Christ. I talked through John 20, where we see the stories of Mary Magdalene, the Disciples, and Thomas specifically, as well as through the story of Peter’s denial and restoration. I focused on how encountering the resurrected Jesus changed each of them:

  • Mary’s grief over Jesus’ loss turned into hope that all would be well, that those we lose aren’t really lost.
  • The Disciples’ fear for their lives turned into hope for salvation, both for themselves and for others.
  • Thomas’ doubt and disappointment turned into hope that Jesus was greater than what Thomas thought he was.
  • Peter’s shame over his own mistakes turned into hope that his story didn’t have to end with failure.

It was a good message, and I was glad to be able to speak it into students’ lives at our Easter services this past weekend.

Then yesterday my wife pointed out the new South Carolina licence plates. To be honest, I like almost everything about the old ones better – the swatch of orange fading into blue behind the palmetto tree, evoking a beautiful South Carolina sunset; the silhouetted terrain at the bottom; even the palmetto tree itself. Side note: I did not like the “travel2sc.com” advertisement at the bottom; it was tacky.

SC old license plate

But the one thing that I truly love about the new license plates is the inclusion of our state motto at the top. Officially, the South Carolina state motto is Dum Spiro Spero, which translates from Latin into English as While I Breathe, I Hope. I’ve lived here 10 years now, and I didn’t know that.

SC Regular Passenger Ver2 with Black AN for JPEG

What a great motto, and what a great message to put on every single car in our state!

You’re probably aware of this, but 2015 was a pretty tough year for South Carolina, especially in the arenas of racial tension and violence. We saw a political fight over the Confederate Flag turn into quite a bit of ugliness on both sides, had a nationally publicized incident of a white police officer shooting an unarmed black man who was running away from him seven times in the back, and had to deal with the horror of a white man sitting through an entire bible study at a black church before pulling a gun and killing nine people. With the possible exception of the kerfluffle over the flag, I must say that we acquitted ourselves nicely.

I have to believe that part of why we were able to come through such a difficult year in the manner that we did is because of hope. #CharlestonStrong started popping up everywhere as a way for people to say, “We are united and strong, regardless of race, color, creed, nationality, or religion. We cannot be broken by one broken person, and we will not succumb to an agenda of fear and hopelessness.”

I’m proud of South Carolina, and I’m grateful for the hope that Jesus’ resurrection brings us. I do hope that we can find a middle ground between the colorful artistry of our old license plate and the statement of hope on the new one, but that’s a discussion for another time…

Peace. And hope.

Dialogue, take two

[DISCLAIMER:] I’m an idiot, and I’m a little embarrassed.

I recently wrote a post on this blog about dialogue in our political system, and how we seem to have lost the knack for it as a culture. I went pretty hard after our current crop of candidates for clownish behavior, and trying to score a rhetorical knockout instead of actually debating the merits of their positions.

The sad irony is that my post was extraordinarily ill-considered, and for a variety of reasons. First off, it crossed the line into being crass – I basically did exactly what I was saying I didn’t like about this election cycle. Second, I didn’t consider my audience – I wouldn’t say things the way I said them to anybody that I know in person. Thirdly, I didn’t consider my platform – 3a is that I’m a pastor, responsible for shepherding people’s spiritual growth; and 3b is that this blog is called “The Pursuit of God,” for goodness’ sake, and my previous post didn’t do anything to pursue God or lead others in that direction.

So, for all of those reasons, I apologize.

I’d like to try again, because I do feel strongly about the importance of being able to hold a civil dialogue. And I do believe that it’s an important skill if you want to pursue God in a deeper way. Read the rest of this entry

Why I’m Leaving WordPress

Just so we’re clear, this picture is sarcastic.

So, I’m leaving WordPress…

I started almost two full years ago here at joerob577.wordpress.com with no real intent. I didn’t have a purpose or a vision or a theme or a niche or anything else that tends to drive a good blog. Sometimes I tried to be funny, sometimes I tried to be inspiring, sometimes I commented on culture…

Then I got a little bit serious about blogging. I got connected with some great bloggers, started working on the look and feel of the blog, bought a domain name and had this blog redirected there. I sort of found a little bit of a niche writing about pop culture, faith, social commentary, and humor. Things were going well.

Then I got a little bit more serious about blogging. I purchased a premium theme and some server space, and switched my free WordPress.com blog over to a self-hosted WordPress.org blog. I set up FeedBurner feeds, Google Analytics stat tracking, and spent hours poring over third party plug-ins, add-ons, etc. I started pouring more into developing relationships with other bloggers, writing guest posts, building my platform, posting 4-6 times each week consistently, and basically doing all the other things you’re supposed to do in order to build a successful blog.

And somewhere along the line I think I just sort of lost interest in it. Somehow I lost track of what was fun and exciting about blogging, and it became more of a chore to try to churn out posts all the time. When that happened, I sort of just stopped altogether. Literally weeks and months have gone between posts for the last 6-8 months, probably. Honestly, I haven’t even kept up with how poorly I’ve been keeping up with things.

The reality is that my initial flurry of blog activity and interactions led me down a path that I’m not sure was ever sustainable for me long-term. I ended up spending more time writing about life and culture than experiencing it for myself. I pushed myself to post frequently enough that I often ended up putting out weak stuff. Then I felt bad for putting out bad material and ended up even more discouraged.

Now, I know you’re an intelligent reader, so you’re probably thinking, “Okay, so why not just push reset and get back to a healthy place as a blogger?” Good question.

The answer is that it’s totally a me thing. I log into WordPress, and I see the oh-so-familiar dashboard design, and my brain immediately goes to a place of stress. Honestly, I can’t look at my WordPress blog today without feeling like I have to make it what it was a year and a half ago. And the truth is, that doesn’t feel right either right now.

Those of you who know me will say, “Well, you definitely aren’t going to stop outputting creative stuff. What are you going to do instead of WordPress?”

For now at least, I’ll be on Tumblr.

Yes, I know that WordPress and Tumblr offer pretty much exactly the same functionality. The big difference is that Tumblr looks fresh and different to me, and that’s what I need right now.

So that’s that. This might not be the end for joerob.com and my WordPress experience, but it might be. I guess my vanity would love for some of you to be sad that I’m shutting this blog down for now, but I know that most people probably won’t care. That’s okay. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next, and recapturing the creative spirit I used to blog with. Hopefully it won’t be too elusive…

Peace.

This Makes Me Sad…

This is from an article in the Christian Post I found on Zite this morning:

Of 370 members of First Presbyterian Church of Longview, 282 voted in favor of leaving the PC(USA) while 84 voted against leaving and six voted to be with whatever side kept the church property.

The emphasis in that quote is mine, not the Christian Post’s. So sad on so many levels, though…

Baseball Quotes – Poetry

Last spring I started a series that I never really finished titled “Why Baseball is Better Than…” Although I do still plan on adding to that, this year I thought it might make for a better and more consistent series if I shared a quote or two about baseball periodically, along with my thoughts about it.

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Let us go forth awhile and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms. The game of Ball is glorious. – Walt Whitman

America’s game: has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere – belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life. – Walt Whitman

 As best I can find, Walt Whitman – one of the greatest American poets ever – never wrote anything about football, or basketball, or hockey, or auto racing. And to me, that says something.

What about you?

Baseball Quotes – “It’s Beautiful…”

Last spring I started a series that I never really finished titled “Why Baseball is Better Than…” Although I do still plan on adding to that, this year I thought it might make for a better and more consistent series if I shared a quote or two about baseball each week, along with my thoughts about it.

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“…it’s beautiful – the way the field fans out, the choreography of the sport, the pace and rhythm of it, the fact that that pace and rhythm allows for conversation and reflection and opinion and comparison…” – Bob Costas

I agree wholeheartedly with Bob Costas. I think one of the main things that sets baseball apart from every other sport except golf is the sheer beauty of it.

There is no man-made structure in existence that is more beautiful than a well-kept baseball field.

There is no motion in sports more beautiful than a great batter’s swing.

There is no choreography of movement in sports that even comes close to a well-turned double play.

There is no sound in sports that is more exciting or fills its hearers simultaneously with great hope or crushing despair than the crack of the bat hitting the ball.

Put all these beautiful things together, and you end up with a game beyond comparison, at least in my opinion.

Thoughts?

Weird News: ‘Piggyback Bandit’ puzzles high school sports officials in Northwest

The

This is just weird. Check out the article:

‘Piggyback Bandit’ puzzles high school sports officials in Northwest – ESPNHS.

I’m dying to know your gut reaction to this story. Best/funniest one gets +25 cool points…

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