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What is a Hobbit?

March 21, 2010

I love how The Hobbit begins. A description of hobbits, an encounter with Gandalf, then a history of Bilbo explaining his Baggins and Took family roots, and how they come into play with the story. Now that I told you WHAT has happened (IS happening may be a better way to say it), I will now tell you the WHO and later, the HOW.

Two years before I was born, 3 Dog Night had a hit called Joy To The World, with those famous opening words (in case you don’t know it, it’s the first part of my blog title). But that’s not how I got my name. My parents named me after “The Weeping Prophet” of the Old Testament. They were both “saved” in the late 60’s during the Jesus Movement of Southern California.

My mom was raised in a nominal Jewish home, by a single mom with three kids. She her brothers split time between their mom and dad with step-family. My mom and her youngest brother became Christians in their teens, while the middle son stayed Jewish with their mother. My dad was born in a non-Christian home, the younger of two children, whose parents were interested in business and socializing. He became part of the hippie drug culture. He was drafted during the Vietnam War, but never saw action due to  knee injury requiring surgery. The pain meds would end up being his undoing years down the road. While my mom’s conversion was normal by all accounts, my father’s was worthy of at least “honorable mention” by any standard. According to his account, he went to church with my mom while on LSD. During the invitation to “receive Christ” he felt compelled to stand. Upon doing so he says he was instantly sober. From what my grandma told me years later, he had the typical zeal of many young converts- preaching on street corners, telling nominal Christians why they needed to repent, etc.

Like so many of their era, this zeal quickly waned into a Christianity that had a weak form of godliness, with no power. We went from living across the street from our home church – in which my sister and I were both dedicated as infants- to moving to a remote town in the San Bernardino Mountains. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved growing up in those mountains and wouldn’t exchange it for the world. The tragedy is in the fact that they never connected with a church home that held them accountable to follow Christ with holiness. As I mentioned before, my dad was hooked on pain meds, drank alcohol to excess on a daily basis and was generally a verbally abusive husband and father when drunk. Being a kid, I really didn’t notice it much of the time. I’m sure this was due to my mom’s ability to cover up for my dad and stay positive.

When we did go to church, it was R rated shouting all the way there and all the way back, with a thin veneer of spirituality for the hour and a half or so of church. Christianity in our home was all about “being saved” and doing whatever, with no thought of Christ. We presumed upon God’s grace on a daily basis (probably more like minute by minute). Trusting that my own parents couldn’t be wrong about how to live the Christian life, every sermon I heard was filtered by that assumption. Even though I listened to sermons eagerly (I skipped youth group to listen to the pastor with the adults), I would always think, “I can’t live like Jesus commands. Thank goodness I’m saved by grace, or I’d be in trouble.” I have no excuse, because I heard the word of God, but in hind sight, I see more clearly why I thought disobedience was acceptable as a Christian. Interesting thing is (in the light of my journey towards Orthodoxy) I always wondered what the first century Church was really like, and why we lived so differently now.

My other source of learning about Christ was from my grandma (my dad’s parents became Christians when I was young). When I would spend time with her, I would ask questions about God, the Bible, etc. I really loved those conversations. While I later came to find many serious flaws in my grandma’s understanding of Christ, at the time it was a real joy. She gave me my first Bible at the age of 12. I read that Bible every day for years.

Even though I took joy in hearing the Word, the Bible and Church, I got caught up in many sins as a teen. In Jr High I was a disruptive student and in the principal’s office just about every week. In high school I experimented with drugs for my freshman and sophomore years. About halfway through my sophomore year I remember thinking, “I’m a Christian. I need to stop this stupidity and act like a Christian.” While I stopped the drugs, started behaving better in school and went to church more, nothing really changed much in my life. I desired to change, but I felt like in the parable of the sower that I was the thin soil on a rock. I would receive the word with joy, but would be scorched by the cares of this world. I was in a scary place, but didn’t realize how precarious it was. And still I presumed on God’s grace, while living in sin.

My dad spent most of my high school years struggling with pain med addiction. It was a nightmare roller coaster. It seemed like things were far worse than they had ever been when I was younger. My mom continued to enable, my dad continued to be abusive, and I learned to escape into solitude. I was embarrassed of who I was, but never let anyone know it. I had lots of acquaintances, but never let anyone in close enough to be a true friend. I hid in plain sight (to borrow a phrase from Dexter). I knew God saw everything. In fact I had a picture of Christ staring right at you, that was lacquered to wood. But He was always “out there” in Heaven, while I was down here. I never resented the absence, because I knew I was probably too sinful to have God do the things He did in the Bible for me. I just accepted it as normal. “At least I believe in Jesus.” is what I would tell myself. And I accepted that.

I have rambled on, and not even gotten past high school. If you have even read this far, I apologize for being all over the place. I mainly wanted to cover the formative things in my early life. I still haven’t brought it to the present, obviously, but this is as far as I will go for now.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sean permalink
    April 3, 2010 4:10 am

    You are not all over the place. I can assure you there is at least one who is waiting to read more about your journey 🙂

    • April 3, 2010 7:11 pm

      Thank you. I appreciate the encouragement. Between my 3 girls, family time and Holy Week, I have been having a tough time completing my next post. I will try to get it done soon.

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