Outlawed hearts

I shall tell you of Blind Harry the Minstrel.

Harry was a 15th century Scottish Poet. The author of The Acts and Deeds of the Illustrious and Valiant Champion Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie, also known as simply The Wallace. It was the second most popular book in Scotland (after the Bible) for hundreds of years. Written about 170 years after his life, the poem is twelve volumes recounting the heroic deeds of William Wallace. It is historical fiction. Meaning it was loosely based on history, but a lot of it never really happened the way he said it did.

It was the inspiration for the 1995 film, Braveheart, which won the Oscar for Best Picture that year. It has been my favorite movie of all time, up until the point where I discovered history didn’t actually happen that way. Most of it was just like Blind Harry’s Epic, fiction loosely based on historical events. Now it’s my favorite movie of all time, just a little less enthusiastically. The film diverges from history most notably when it comes to the character of Robert the Bruce, one of Scotland’s greatest kings. He never betrayed William Wallace (the two likely never met), never fought for the English against his own people in the battle of Falkirk. And although he was rather flip-floppy in the beginning, it was he who led the Scots to freedom from English rule on the fields at Bannockburn.

He was the real Brave Heart of history, partly because while he was alive he was a heroic warrior and king, but also because upon his death, he ordered for his heart to be removed from his body and carried by his lieutenant, Sir James Douglas, into battle “against God’s foes.” Douglas carried the King’s heart with him in a silver casket on a crusade to the Holy Land. Robert the Bruce quite literally gave his heart away for the people and cause he believed in.

One of the most moving scenes in Braveheart is early on in the film. William Wallace’s father and brother have been killed by the English. After the funeral, late at night, you see men in the mist and shadows of darkness, playing a mournful song on their bagpipes. When young William hears it, he asks his uncle what is going on, what these men are doing. His uncle responds, “Saying goodbye in their own way. Playing outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes.”

Fascinating. You can make all the laws you want, attempt to marginalize people, make them feel inferior, refuse to see them as equals, strip them of basic freedoms. And people will always find a way. It’s part of the beauty and strength of the human spirit. We have this innate sense that we were created for more. Created for freedom. And we refuse to yield. We always find a way.

You can’t legislate the way people mourn, how they treat others, what they love, the things they put their faith in. It’s when the government tries to control these things that free-minded people have always been stirred to revolt. Somehow we still haven’t learned this. We continue to try and force everyone to believe what we believe, to think how we think, to live how we think they should live. We politicize issues that are so ingrained in people’s hearts that politics and laws can never even touch them. Our impassioned speeches, fiery sermons, and firm convictions continue to fall on deaf ears.

By refusing to try and understand others, by ignoring the truth that we are all a mess and therefore all equal before God, by believing that we’re right and consequently better and have the inside track on all things spiritual, by continuing to be haughty and arrogant throughout the battle, we marginalize those who don’t believe what we believe. We make them feel like they’re on the outside, forced into the foggy mists of life, into the shadows of night.

Outlawed hearts playing outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes.

We can’t fool ourselves into thinking that this is the way of Jesus. Any honest reading of the gospels makes it clear that Jesus spent his time with the marginalized, the outsiders, the oppressed. He hung out in the mists, in the shadows, on the margins. He loved everyone, but he associated with the people who were shunned and looked down upon by the religious people who were saying and doing all of the right things. Jesus was a brave heart who had fiery battles with the haughty and arrogant types who believed their inside track to God gave them license to act as if they were better than everyone else.

He modeled for us the truth that the only way to make a difference in the world, the only way to restore hope, the only way to redeem what has been lost, the only way to life, is not insisting on your rights, but to actually give your heart away. To sacrifice, to put your own agenda aside, to lay down your life for the life of another. Even if they don’t believe what you believe, even if they don’t live how you think they should live, even if they think you’re crazy.

This is the heart of Jesus.

Now carry the heart of your King into the battle.

Outlawed Tunes On Outlawed Pipes

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Humility Lane

“You wanna go where people know, people are all the same. You wanna go where everybody knows your name.” – Cheers

The other day I was riding in a car with a friend. We were driving from the city we work in to a community close by to grab something to eat. Or a cup of coffee. I can’t remember which. Anyway, as we were rolling along, we passed a street that was called Humility Lane. True story. It’s off of Ashford-Dunwoody Road in north Atlanta, Georgia. When I saw it, I was intrigued. And, to be honest, my immediate thought was, “hmmmph, don’t know many people who live there!”

Which was a really prideful assumption to make.

Assuming that the majority of people are prideful is about as prideful as it gets. You know, like they say, those who bristle the most at people with big egos are other people with big egos. I’ll never be able to move into this neighborhood with that kind of judgmental attitude. Which would be a shame, because I bet some pretty cool and kind people live there. Let’s take a drive down the street…

  • Old Man Integrity is over their cutting his front lawn. He and his wife have been married for more than sixty years and yet they hold hands like they just started dating.
  • The Peacefuls are having a cookout on the deck. The kids are actually laughing and getting along, playing a game of Uno cards together.
  • Ms. Grace is back by the huge swimming pool in her backyard. It’s big enough for the whole neighborhood. And she doesn’t care what your background is, or how long you’ve lived on her street. Anyone can come swimming anytime they want. The water is deep and so refreshing.
  • The Understandings are out on the front porch swing at their house in the middle of the street. If you’ve got an issue that needs an extra set of eyes and ears, you’ll want to stop in on your way home. They’re always ready and willing to listen.
  • The Compassions are cooking up a meal in their huge kitchen. Anyone who’s hungry can come on by any time and eat until their belly is full.

As you drive around, you can’t help but feeling like this is how community is supposed to be. And just imagine when the neighborhood hosts a block party and all of these families come together at one time. It’s really a beautiful thing.

It seems to me that more and more of us need to think about taking up residence in this cul-de-sac.

I mean, we could occupy Wall Street, Sesame Street, or even Herbstreit.

But what I’m talking about is moving into a different kind of neighborhood. A place where integrity, peace, grace, understanding, and compassion are always close by. And it’s not that hard to find, really. It’s just over yourself and through the woods.

Will you join me?

Let’s occupy Humility Lane.

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Me and Ms. Kardashian

Friday was a big day. Huge. Enormous.

It was Kim Kardashian’s birthday.

The lovely and talented Ms. Kardashian

It was also my birthday. And sharing the same birthday with one of the most high-profile celebrities in America got me thinking. Because she’s famous for, well, being famous. And I’m not famous because, well, I’m not famous. Whoa. That’s another similarity between us. This is getting weird. Both of these startling truths started to make me wonder…

What else might Ms. Kardashian and I have in common?

1. Neither of us has ever watched a reality show about the other’s life.

2. Both of us, apparently, are finding it difficult for people to keep up with us.

3. We were both initially excited about the potential of Reggie Bush, but ended up being disappointed (note of explanation: I’m a life-long Miami Dolphins fan)

4. Her last name is Armenian for “son of a stone mason,” and I am the son of a mechanical engineer. Stone mason’s and mechanical engineers both build things, I think. Never mind that her actual father was a well-known attorney. They build cases, don’t they?

5. We’re both the second of four children (middle children, unite!)

6. We both have 2 sisters and 1 brother.

7. She’s alleged to have had success on what is known as the Cookie Diet. And I, too, at times, have been on a heavy cookie diet.

8. We both blog about important issues.

9. We’re both terrible dancers. (sorry, no video footage of me dancing is available).

10. Both of us are loved by God.

The point of all of this, I guess, is that we probably make a lot of snap judgments about people, for good or bad, based on what we think we know about them. Or what our television and/or gossip mag tells us about them. Truth is, we probably don’t know that much at all. And we probably have a lot more in common with important celebrity-types than we realize or they may be willing to admit.

We’re just people.

People made up of the same things, with the same wants, needs, and issues. People with the potential for disappointment or greatness, depending on how we use our God-given gifts and abilities. People who can’t fix any of the world’s problems, because we can’t fix ourselves. People who were created in the image of a Being so luminous and resplendent that it would burn our eyes to look at Him.

People whose only hope is the gospel of Jesus.








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