Category Archives: Spiritual Notes

19 Struggles Of Having An Outgoing Personality But Actually Being Introverted

19 Struggles Of Having An Outgoing Personality But Actually Being Introverted

Like many categorizing systems, the separatist thinking behind them attempts to firmly place us in one container or another.  The flaw in these types of systems is that they don’t always take into account the middle areas of the spectrum.  And any system is just that: a spectrum.  I’ve long stated with unequivocal certainty that I’m introverted.  My friends, however, look at me askance, because I’m actually very fun-loving and outgoing when I need to be.  So on that introvert/extravert spectrum, I fall somewhere to the introverted side, but exhibit limited extroverted tendencies.  Here is an article found online that I have updated to reflect this spectrumized system.

1. You’re not anti-social, you’re selectively social.

2. At any given point, you have one (maybe two) best friends who are your entire life. You’re not a “group of friends” person. You can’t keep up with all that.

3. Social gatherings that are supposed to be “rites of passage” like prom and dances and other such typical nonsense is just… not for you. You don’t understand it. You want nothing to do with it.

4. When you do choose to grace a party with your presence, you are the life of it. You’re dancing on the table and doing body shots until 3 a.m.

5. … You then retreat into three days of complete solitude to recover.

6. You go out of your way to avoid people, but when you inevitably have to interact with them, you make it seem like there’s nothing in the world you’d rather be doing.

7. Dating is weird, because you’re smiling and laughing and talkative at dinner, and then you don’t want to answer their texts for four days, because like, you just want to be left alone…

8. You’re accused of being flirty with everybody, which is hilarious, because in reality, you can only tolerate like four people.

9. You retain an air of mysteriousness about you, completely unintentionally. (There’s no mystery. You just feel no need to update the social sphere on what’s going on in your life every two hours.)

10. Not to mention the fact that you either have days in which you’re tweeting and status updating every five minutes… or you delete your accounts for a month.

11. You become unintentionally awkward because you at once feel the need to be a social life jacket for other people, though you’re just as uncomfortable yourself.

12. You’ve never really understood the whole “introvert vs. extrovert” dichotomy (can we call it that?) Because you’re… both…

13. You’re always run through the ringer because people think you’re best suited to be the one who gives the presentation, confronts the boss, gives the speech, etc. Meanwhile, you’re practically throwing up over the thought of it.

14. You ebb and flow between wanting to be noticed for your hard work, reveling in the attention and achievement you receive, to sinking and panicking over the thought of somebody else paying more than 30 seconds of attention to you.

15. The entirety of your being is a conundrum, so needless to say, indecisiveness is your Achilles’ Heel.

16. You’re at your happiest in places like coffee shops and cafés: surrounded by people, but still closed off and keeping to yourself.

17. You prefer to travel alone, but meet up with people once you’re there, on your own terms and at your own speed.

18. It’s taken you years to figure out that you’re different than many introverts you know. Literal years.

19. While we were chastised as children for daydreaming, we do so deliberately as adultsas our inner lives are rich, fertile, and sustain us.

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What the Pope’s popularity says about American culture

The pope's popularity counters the narrative that American society opposes Christians because of their religion. | Photo credit: Catholic Church England and Wales - (

As if we needed one more reason to love Pope Francis.

On Monday, the pope said the Catholic Church should “weep and make reparation” for its sexual abuse crimes. In a series of strong comments made at a Mass with abuse victims, he said the church’s actions had taken on the dimensions of a “sacrilegious cult.”

The pope’s actions are only the latest to be praised by both secular and religious journalists and commentators who join the masses of adoring fans around the world. He always seems to be hugging a disabled child, washing the feet of prisoners, embracing a disfigured person, or making uncommonly compassionate comments about a marginalized people group, and scooping up people’s adoration as a result.

late 2013 CNN poll found that 88 percent of American Catholics approve of Francis’ handling his role. But most notably, three in four Americans said they view him favorably. Even many atheists have expressed their affection for the leader. Not only was the pope the most talked about person on the Internet in 2013, he was also named person of the year by The Advocate, a leading LGBT publication.

What does the pope’s popularity—even among secular populations—say about broader culture? For one thing, it says that American society is actually more open and amenable to Christians and the Christian faith than some assume.

From the military to the halls of institutions of higher education, some Christians claim that they are being derided, marginalized, and flat-out discriminated against. Brietbart’s Austin Ruse—who once stated that gay people were “intrinsically disordered and abnormal”—has argued “Christians are now in hostile territory at work.” In fact, 71 percent of evangelical Christians said secularism was the greatest threat to religion according to Pew Research in 2011.

The country’s nearly ubiquitous adoration of the pope challenges such assertions. Marvin Olasky, for example, warns of an anti-Christian bias in American news media. How does he make sense of the pro-pope coverage in mainstream outlets? Conservative web site claimed that Time magazine was also anti-Christian. Then why would the publication name Pope Francis its 2013 person of the year?

And what about those who claim that Hollywood is rabidly anti-Christian? How do they reconcile this with the blossoming faith-based film boom happening within many major movie studios?

What is happening across culture is, per usual, more complicated than some assume. Americans are not intrinsically allergic to Christians, but rather certain expressions of Christianity. The pope’s popularity helps us understand exactly which types of Christianity people resist.

Americans accept Christians who advocate for the marginalized.
Americans resist Christians who seek power to marginalize others.

Americans accept Christians who want to serve society.
Americans resist Christians who want to be served by society.

Americans accept Christians who are as clear-eyed about the failures of their community as well as others’.
Americans resist Christians who are partisan and tribal.

Americans accept Christians who are compassionate and speak with humility.
Americans resist Christians who are cantankerous and speak with hubris.

This is not a uniquely 21st century trend, of course. Rewind to the 1990s: Mother Teresa vs. Jerry Falwell. The point is that people don’t like mean people and judgmental people and power-hungry people, regardless of their religion. Most people dislike Christian jerks because they are jerks, not because they are Christian.  (According to a 2013 Barna poll, about 51% of self-identified Christians are characterized by having the attitudes and actions that are “Pharisaical” as opposed to “Christlike.”)

But misdiagnosing the impetus for society’s rejection of some Christians is advantageous for those who have a vested interest in the matter. Perpetuating the everybody-hates-Christians narrative allows people to victimize themselves, demonize others, incite fear, and raise truckloads of money.

Some secularists and atheists, of course, despise Christians just for being Christians. But the Richard Dawkins brand of adversary is the outlier and the exception. The far-reaching popularity of the pope proves that there is more at work in the minds of the masses than an intrinsic, irrational hatred of the Christian faith.

Recognizing the complexity of this cultural narrative provides an opportunity for those who call themselves “Christians” to reflect on why they are actually encountering some resistance from some sectors of society. Is any of it deserved? Which opposition can be written off as irrational disdain and which is legitimate defiance to a malformation of the faith? When is the social tension a necessary result of speaking prophetically and when are we paying a price unnecessarily?

American Christians should be asking these questions frequently, but most aren’t. It’s easier to swallow the pill of a simplistic narrative than reflect on the complexities of reality. But living a life of faith demands the latter.

– See more at:

Andy Alexander, S.J.

Andy Alexander, S.J.
University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office

Dear Lord, let me place my trust in you more deeply today. Let me turn my attention, from time to time today, to your presence with me. Let me place my small efforts in your care, to grow, to be effective, to share your love. Let me be patient and trust in your ways. Free me from my need to fix too much, to control too much, to adjust your ways or to manage the outcome too much. Let me simply love those you have called me to love, to hear and care for those around me who are in need. Let me never forget the unjust social structures around me, my role in dismantling them, and to never forget those who are suffering because of these social structures that need to be changed. Let me be an instrument of your justice for everyone on the margins. May your Kingdom come and your will be done, through my hands and with your grace. Amen.

Out of Control By Tom Ehrich

November 13, 2012

When Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” (Mark 13.3-4)

After my recent surgery, I peppered my surgeon with questions. When will I be back to 100%? When can I resume doing this or that?

I didn’t have a calendar to manage. I just wanted a sense of control. Surgery had put me out of control, and I wanted control back.

The doctor wisely said, Who knows? It depends. Weeks, maybe months. In other words, non-answers to nonsense questions.

Bodega_02Now, in the strange ironies of a strange year, he could be asking the same question. For his hospital, one of the city’s finest, was clobbered by Hurricane Sandy and might not reopen for months.

As the disciples of Jesus dealt with the realities of their master — not the imagined benefits, not the romance of a new David, not the grand procession to power, but a suffering servant whose trajectory was toward tragedy — they, too, sought a sense of control.

“When will this be?” they asked. “What will be the sign?”

Christians have been asking those questions ever since. Every time we glean the truth about Jesus, we reach for the control switch. Make the enterprise about us, we say. Satisfy our desires. Build our edifices. Crown our kings. Anoint our prejudices. Soothe our fears. Make us right.

Then we turn our assurances into what we really want: power, wealth, comfort, admiration. We claim to be seeking the glory of God. But there is nothing in the Jesus story that requires grand cathedrals, well-attired clergy, fights over doctrine, property disputes, budget battles, or divisions along every conceivable line, from race to tenure to taste in music.

That is all us, all the time. That is our addiction to control. That is our delusion: if we knew exactly when and what and how, we could rule the world. Or at least sleep well at night.

Following Jesus has always meant stepping beyond self-interest and safety, and following one who hurries toward danger, not away from it, whose heart is fundamentally oriented toward the victim and the outcast, not toward the righteous.

Then and now, following Jesus means uncertainty, not certainty, and conflict, not peace as the world knows peace. Following Jesus means going out to serve, not staying inside to enjoy. It means forming odd alliances in pursuit of justice, not wrapping ourselves in the mantle of tribe. It means constant change, not carefully measured change. It means responding to needs, not scheduling meetings to talk about needs.

In Jesus’ company, there is no control. There is only a journey onward to a land that God will show us.

Mystery Unraveled: How a white, moderate, churchgoing, middle-class, middle-aged woman could vote for Obama

Mystery Unraveled: How a white, moderate, churchgoing, middle-class, middle-aged woman could vote for Obama

‘We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin

If there’s one word that seemed to characterize Romney supporters’ immediate reaction to Obama’s victory, it’s “shock.”

A conservative Facebook friend posted this status: “For the first time in my life I am at a loss for words…absolutely baffled by the electorate and the election results, especially considering the current state the country is in.”

A radio reporter interviewed a woman at the Romney campaign party in Denver shortly after the election was called. Her response simmered with anger as she pondered the reality of how more than half the nation had voted: “What don’t they see?? It’s mind-boggling!”

What they don’t see are people like me.

I’m a 50-year-old white woman who lives in the swing state of Colorado. I’m married, I’m a mom, I have a PhD, and I’m a Christian. In Boulder. I can’t imagine trying to explain the world without faith and science. I’m upper middle class, but I come from blue-collar stock. I believe in capitalism, but I also believe its inevitable excesses must be tempered with regulations – you know, Genesis, original sin, the human propensity for greed and all. I’m pro-life in the fullest sense of the term. I’m happy for my gay friends who want to marry – I’m all for commitment when it comes to sustaining the social fabric. My evangelical grandmother, whom I treasured, was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. I’m a Democrat who likes hymns and red wine. Try squaring all that when it comes to putting me in a political box.

Like a great many voters who helped tip the election to Obama, I see social complexity that the poles refuse to acknowledge. I’m a reasonable centrist. And I think Republicans write us off at their own expense.

If one had spent the campaign watching only Fox News, following only conservative pundits and pollsters, it’s no wonder the election results seemed so inscrutable. Daniel Larion, doing some Wednesday morning quarterbacking in The American Conservative, observed that the entire Romney campaign was organized on “flawed assumptions.”

“Romney and his allies not only didn’t understand their opponent, but they went out of their way to make sure they misunderstood him, and in any kind of contest that is usually a recipe for failure.”

Likewise, Romney supporters misunderstand many of us who sent Obama back for four more years. Why on earth, given this economy, would tens of millions of Americans choose to do that?

The right-wing radio blowhards think they have it figured out: we’re dupes of the mainstream media, a giant liberal-elite faction engaged in a conspiratorial embrace with the Left; Hurricane Sandy and turncoat Chris Christie joined forces in an eleventh-hour PR move for the president; or – and this is emerging as the dominant narrative – we simply want more stuff that we don’t have to work for. We’re takers, not makers. Romney was right when he talked about the 47 percent, only it was 51 percent – apparently there were more slackers in the country than he counted on.

All of those explanations are as wrong as they are offensive.

I would like for my bewildered Republican friends to know how I could possibly have voted for Obama without being a far-left ideologue who is simultaneously blind, immoral and lacking in patriotism.

Here are five reasons. And I’m pretty sure I speak for the bulk of the moderates who broke for the president on Tuesday night.

1) I don’t believe Obama is a closet Muslim with a radical socialist agenda to undermine America. I don’t believe he has a false birth certificate and a fake Social Security card. I think he is a deeply sincere, smart, principled man who is far from perfect but deserves a chance to continue what he has tried to begin.

2) I’m more comfortable taking a risk on Obama’s economic agenda than Romney’s. The numbers are starting to look up. I’d rather hedge my bets with Keynes than Adam Smith. Mitt wants to cut spending and slash taxes, and give most of those tax breaks to the richest Americans. That doesn’t square with my sense of what’s rational or what’s just. We’ve tried that before, and that Kool-Aid does not trickle down for me.

3) I’m willing to take a chance on Obamacare. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than a system that excludes millions and is dedicated to lining the pockets of insurance companies whose primary mission is not to cover care but to deny it. The Affordable Care Act is not “socialized medicine” in which the government dictates my health care. It’s a hybrid system that worked in Massachusetts; I’m ready to see how it goes in the rest of the U.S.

4) I care deeply about protecting this planet, our home. How could we elect a president who is so cavalier about God’s creation that he wants to dismantle the EPA? Really? The clean air and clean water acts established under Richard Nixon aren’t important to keep for our kids? I can’t imagine a world leader not grappling with the problem of global climate change. Solyndra was a debacle, but to suggest that we ought not to pursue green energy isn’t just short-sighted, it’s grave foolishness.

5) I believe a graduated tax system is the most moral means of structuring an economy. I think that rich folks who benefited so disproportionately from a wildly deregulated Wall Street need to return to shouldering more of our shared burden. Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Now, plenty of wealthy business owners are going to argue, ‘This wasn’t given to me, I built it.’ Yes, you did, with a public infrastructure supporting you. But until we have genuine equality of opportunity in this country – including equal pay for equal work – some people can build a lot more than others.

There are parents who hire me for $50 an hour here in wealthy Boulder to coach their kids on college application essays. They fly to visit schools so their kids can interview in person. You think that teenager of a single-mom Wal-Mart clerk struggling to pay her rent has the same crack at a premier college education and the connections that come with it? Where is the equal opportunity?

And don’t tell me that working woman is a sponger. Don’t tell me that Diego who painted my house or Beatriz who sometimes cleans it is a freeloader. As a Christian, I am told to care for the least of these. When I vote, their self-interest should be as important as my own. “Sink or swim,” or “Go home even though you’ve lived here since you were two” is no more a path to economic autonomy than a government check is.

The fact is, we are all in this country together, and we have different needs and means, and we have a lot in common when it comes to teaching kids, fighting fires, cleaning up after storms or caring for our national parks. Those who have more need to do more, as we work to give the rest not a handout, but a hand up. As for me, I went to college on Pell grants, work-study, scholarships and summer jobs. That combination of my own hard work and a little help from a society that supported my potential is what got me a college degree. That powerful model – public and private in synergy – remains most compelling to me and is the most fundamental reason I voted for President Obama.

Clearly, the Right and Left perceive the role of government differently. We may ultimately be captives of a postmodernist analysis that says there is no way outside our own subjectivity to view the world through another’s eyes. If that is so, then empathy is a casualty and our divisions rigidify.

I refuse to concede that. I’d rather share the prophetic words of Abraham Lincoln, speaking to a deeply divided America in his 1861 Inaugural Address:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

May we each appeal to the better angels in one another as we start healing the wounds of this election season.

Needing to Receive

September 25, 2012

Needing to Receive

By Tom Ehrich

Jesus said, “For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” (Mark 9.41)

Jesus told his followers that they would need water and that others, sometimes the most unlikely souls, would bring them cups. They wouldn’t be self-sufficient, above the fray, at a safe distance from personal, emotional and spiritual destitution.

They would fall and need to be helped up. They would go blind and hungry. They would suffer for their faith and would need — not just dispense in noblesse oblige but actually need — help in their travail.

Humility, you see, isn’t just stooping to give. It is also raising one’s broken heart to receive.

Submission by Tom Ehrich

The answer lies in Mark 8.34. If we had truly wanted to follow Jesus, we would have had to deny ourselves, accept , and follow Jesus on his road: away from home, out among the needy, speaking truth to power, and sacrificing everything.


September 13, 2012


By Tom Ehrich

Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8.34)

After all this time — after two thousand years of Christian history, millions of sermons preached in millions of churches, countless study groups and institutional consortia, after the expenditure of billions in church budgets, the ordaining of clergy and canonizing of saints — you would expect the world to be a better place.

Cozad_02Progress, however, has come mainly from science, technology and philosophy. With some notable but rare exceptions, Christianity has been either an obstacle or a bystander. Our wars have stained the ground red; our arguments have sent seekers elsewhere.

Why is this? The answer lies in Mark 8.34. If we had truly wanted to follow Jesus, we would have had to deny ourselves, accept , and follow Jesus on his road: away from home, out among the needy, speaking truth to power, and sacrificing everything.

Instead, we have approached religion as one more avenue to meeting our needs and saving ourselves.

“Does this faith agree with my views and interests?” we ask, when we should be asking, “Have I given up everything for Jesus?”

“Do I like the new pews, the new pastor, the new music?” we ask, when we should be asking, “Shall we praise God together on our knees?”

“Am I getting what I want and meeting people I enjoy?” we ask, when we should be asking, “Am I doing your will, Lord? Am I standing in solidarity with people whom you chose for me?”

When Christianity becomes, for us, a path to self-fulfillment, carried out among like-minded people, bounded by traditions we savor and practices we favor, aimed at winning our loyalty, what could God possibly do with us?

When the Gospel is used to justify whatever we want justified, to win whatever battle we want waged, and to celebrate our tastes and wealth through handsome facilities and pleasing words, what have we to say to anyone?

Jesus made it quite clear what faith in him would mean. There’s no mistaking his call: serve with me, suffer with me, die with me. Until we try that call, the world is unlikely to get any better. That’s the long and short of it. Christianity has had little impact on the world, except for some handsome buildings and lovely art, because Christians haven’t yet, in most places, given Christianity a try.

I teach church development. But I recognize that better practices can only do so much. Our future as people of faith, our future as faith communities, and the future of our troubled world depend entirely on submission.

Will we continue to satisfy ourselves, or now, at long last, can we deny ourselves and follow Jesus on his road?


Waiting by the Phone by Tom Ehrich, September 12, 2012

People are waiting to see if they can pay their bills and keep food on the table. They wait to be told whether they have value, and they wonder if they ever had value. If their work can be taken away so easily, was any of it ever real?

The anxiety of waiting corrodes the human spirit. The shame that keeps us from sharing our pain with others corrodes human community.

When Jesus warned his disciples that he would suffer, be rejected and die — and so, by extension, would they — he was talking about exactly this dynamic. When people have power over us, they will abuse that power. The powerful and privileged will always make sense of their own lives by denying safety and basics to others. Call it addiction, call it human depravity, the evil of power-abuse is always with us.

The answer to power-abuse isn’t the “human thing” of seizing power and changing places with the oppressor. A society at war over power will destroy everyone in it.

The”divine thing” is to relinquish power, to move beyond control and money-generated security. The divine thing is to break through the fog of suffering by trusting in God, doing God’s work, letting God make sense of our lives.


Jesus and the rich young man

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chinese depiction of Jesus and the rich young manBeijing, 1879.

Jesus and the rich young man (also called Jesus and the rich young ruler) is an episode in the life of Jesus in the New Testament that deals with eternal life[1][2] and the World to Come.[3] It appears in the Gospel of Matthew 19:16–30, theGospel of Mark 10:17–31 and the Gospel of Luke 18:18–30. It relates to the Evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a rich young man asks Jesus what actions bring eternal life. First Jesus advises the man to obey the commandments. When the man responds that he already observes them, Jesus adds:

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.[4]

The Gospel of Luke has a similar episode and states that:

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”[5]

The disciples then ask Jesus who then can be saved, and Jesus replies: “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

This parable relates the term eternal life to entry into the Kingdom of God.[6] The parable starts by a question to Jesus about “eternal life” and Jesus then refers to entry into the “Kingdom of God” in the same context.[6][7]

See also


  1. ^ Matthew for Everyone: Chapters 16-28 by Tom Wright 2004 ISBN 0-664-22787-2 page 47
  2. ^ The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament: Volume 1 by Warren W. Wiersbe 2003 ISBN 1-56476-030-8 page 251
  3. ^ Mark 10:30
  4. ^ Bible gateway
  5. ^ Bible gateway
  6. a b Matthew by David L. Turner 2008 ISBN 0-8010-2684-9 page 473
  7. ^ The Westminster theological wordbook of the Bible by Donald E. Gowan 2003 ISBN 0-664-22394-X pages 296–298