The critical optimist…

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Giant Asian Tiger Shrimp

Like “Jumbo Shrimp” life is full of oxymorons, and life in a foreign culture that much more.  In this first post of 2016, I have taken some time to define and re-think what and how this blog is going to communicate.  And as I did so, these tensions…these seemingly incompatible partners, strangely enough, like a marriage or friendship of opposites find themselves constantly working together, and surprisingly successful at it.

I had thought of making this blog very clean cut: a devotional reflecting on Biblical tid-bits, a commentary on life in Central America, a personal or political or religious commentary.  But, in all these, I think it would fall short.

So I have decided on the “Critical Optimist.”  This is partly due to how well it fits the role of “missionary.”  We are here to assist and encourage, plan and organize, bring unity…etc. the list is long.  In order to do that, there are a large set of seemingly contrary skill sets that work together, and the one that I will use for this blog is “Critical” (one who sees through the good to strain out the bad, who can find a problem with every solution and never is satisfied with results) and “Optimist” (one who always sees the good, the potential and thinks the best in every situation and of every person even if they have shown themselves otherwise).

The Missionary as Critical Optimist: They love and appreciate their new culture, even the craziness is funny and unique, the things that don’t make sense, are ridiculously ridiculous, and the weaknesses of individuals and cultures are still just different ways of doing things.  And yet, with this great appreciation and desire to preserve a culture, their assignment is to strain out the bad, to bring order, and that nasty word CHANGE in this midst of another culture who will be suspicious, sensitive, feel threatened, resistant, often opposed to and regularly hurt by any suggestion in doing so.

Some more Oxymoranical Tensions: 

  1. Nostalgic Non-Conformist: one who appreciates “vintage” yet longs for something different.
  2. Graceful Truth-Teller: one who will not gloss over the truth, but does so with deep love and respect.
  3. Progressive Historian: one who studies and dives into the past, while pressing untiringly towards the future.

What to expect in 2016:  This year, as last, I will share pictures, updates and interesting stories from Central America.  We may occasionally get a commentary on things that related to current events.  One week we may have strictly a devotional.  But in all these, I hope to communicate through a lens of one working on the other side of the fence.

Many serious issues face us currently: immigration, global violence, ethnic tensions, political deceit, spiritual laziness and conformity, undermining of the word of God, Spiritual warfare, the battle for the hearts of our youth.  All these are as relevant here in El Salvador as in the United States, and as we look at these through a different lens, we will see what God would have us do in response.

Be blessed this week and I will see you next time!!

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