Friday, 9 February 2001
I've watched the last few episodes of 'OZ,' the prison TV show on HBO. Joe has been taping it and passing it around to a few of us in FrontRunners. It is an intense show and, I think, well done. The episode last week had the character of Luke Perry, a convicted fraud and former televangelist and a young Roman Catholic priest as the chaplain. The whole anti-catholic thing came forward when the priest returned after what seemed several weeks of retreat to find an inmate he had befriended involved with Perry's character. The inmate had seemingly been convinced by Perry's character that to be Roman Catholic was not to be Christian. The inmate repudiated the priest and Roman Catholicism and was to be re-baptised. The priest attempted to meet with the imprisoned former televangalist to meet him and talk about the inmate's desire to take correspondence courses at a Bible college to earn a degree. During the meeting, Perry's character pretty much slammed the priest and Roman Catholicism and said that the inmate was now to become a true Christian. There was obviously a lot of interplay between the three characters that I'm not getting into here. All that to say, while there are certainly differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestant Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism, the almost complete misunderstanding between the two camps and the extreme suspicion of most fundamentalists/evangelicals of the Catholic faith is tragic. That's all I want to say.

Joe has also been including episodes from Queer as Folk -- the American version of the controversial British TV show that chronicles the lives of several gay people. The show, in my opinion, tragically presents a sensationalized stereotype of gays, but it has caused me to think. This whole weakness thing brings a number of things to my mind. Looking at myself and what I am prone to and not to do and give into, it makes me wonder about the whole 'in the world but not of it' thing and what I should and shouldn't expose myself to -- temptation. How does that translate into my engagement with people, institutions, or things that present opinions and options that contribute to me doing things I don't want to do and not doing things I want to do? If I am weak and give into a temptation (and it isn't even temptation to do wrong or 'sinful' things) when I am around certain people or in certain situations, how far should I go to removing myself from those people or situations? I think a lot of it may simply be the exercise of discipline -- knowing what I want out of life and simply doing what is necessary, within reason, to accomplish it. In this way, my desires to eat better, work out more consistently, not watch as much TV, keep myself in a good frame of mind, get all my projects done, write letters I need to write, yadda, yadda, yadda, should compel me to not get involved in situations that tempt me to push those things aside. The problem is balance, I think. I think of all those things I know I should do, yet find myself not doing very well or consistently. Then, of course, there is giving into what I know I shouldn't do and what I know hinders my relationship with other people and God; what I would call the abiding and always present temptation to sin. The things I surround ourselves with and the people I regularly engage with obvious effect me. How much am I able to resist the more negative effects? Should I avoid people and situations, or should I buck-up and face them to overcome them rather then hide from them, even though I may face the very real possibility of failure again and again -- the very real possibility to sin. I find myself wanting to face down my demons, my weaknesses, and overcome them. I really do think that is the best way to put those things behind me, yet I also know there are times to fight and times to retreat to regroup. Discerning when one action is more prudent then the other is the hard part and the part that may lead me into areas of my life I would rather not have to deal with. Does that make any sense?

I want to face down my failings and my weakness to over come them. That is how I have always been. I need to obtain wisdom to know how best to do that and to better recognize my own abilities. I know I can't do it on my own, but how much can I do?

Going to New York City scares me. There is going to be lots and lots of temptation! Am I going to become the person I want to be, as much as I am able to know what kind of person I want to be, by living in NYC, or am I going to be swallowed by my weaknesses? Am I going to be able to discipline myself to do well academically, in my own formation, with relationships or am I going to give into my more base and banal nature? What will my desire for a relationship do, especially putting myself in a big and impersonal city? Lots of unanswered questions and uncertainties. I don't fear the unknown or putting myself in a place of hardship, I just fear that I won't be able to rise to the occasion. I fear I will be lost.

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