Thursday, November 06, 2008

Who Am I?

As I was driving in to work tonight, I was thinking about the many comments I've heard about the election of our President-elect Barack Obama. There still seems to be a great fear in this part of the country of what lies ahead. I received one doomsday e-mail of the judgments that await our country for the election of this liberal, baby killing, anti-Israel, anti-military, false Christian, gay loving person to the highest office of our country.

The question still comes up, "How can a Christian vote for a liberal, pro-abortion candidate (Democrat) for public office?"

My question is, "How can somebody be so single minded or one faceted?" I know the moral high ground that many want to take and I don't think that there is anything wrong with a person's single mindedness when focusing on God (or whatever/whoever their god is, should it be different than mine). But in this case, we're talking about government and...well you all ready know how I feel about mixing religion and government.

I realize that I am quite the conundrum for many of those that think that they know me. The problem is that they often only know the part of me that fits into their world. I am a very multi-faceted person and most people are only exposed to one or two sides. It occurs to me that readers of this blog may actually have a better perspective of the total me than many of the people that I know personally.

So, who am I? What is it that influences my thoughts, actions, philosophies, beliefs and decisions? How does a conservative, evangelical Christian (not to mention--a registered Republican) end up supporting a Democrat? What other areas of beliefs are influenced by factors that some would view as worldly or ungodly?

I actually think that these are fair questions to ask of an Evangelist. Let me introduce you to myself. I really don't think of myself as a very complex individual. Mostly, I'm just a simple man with simple thoughts and simple needs.

First, you should know that I come from a large (by today's standards) and diverse family. Mom and Dad are both still living and still married after 50+ years. There are six kids, four boys and two girls. I'm second in the birth order. I'm also the least educated or at least the only one without a college degree of some sort. We are a great family, though not a perfect family. Of the six kids, there was one teen pregnancy, one divorce, and one blended family. Two are in the military or guard. Though we were all raised in the Catholic Church, today some are still active and devout Catholics others are Protestant or Evangelical and others are not attending church at all. We live in big cities and rural areas from Oklahoma to the East Coast. We are as politically diverse as you could imagine. But when we are together, we laugh! All in all, there are Mom and Dad, six kids, five spouses and seventeen grand kids...30 total. This alone gives me many perspectives on family and family values.

I've had several different jobs since I entered the work force some three decades ago. Currently, I have a government job. I am an air traffic controller (ATC) and have spent most of my ATC career actively involved with the union that represents the controllers...the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). I have been a state legislative coordinator (Iowa), served on two national standing committees (Legislative and Constitution) and been Facility Representative (local president) at two facilities. I have worked in environments and conditions where the workers flourished and I have worked where the workers have dealt with tactics of intimidation and abuse of power. Labor/management gamesmanship and playing inside or outside the rules is a game that I no longer enjoy. It is a game that I can play very well, but I usually become a person that I don't really like anymore. This is my second union job. I was also shop steward at an aluminum factory and served on the union committee at that plant. Politics from a Union perspective is way different that the politics from a church perspective.

If you were to put me into a religious box, I would best fit into the conservative, evangelical Christian box. I am a Southern Baptist evangelist. I believe that I am called to preach the Gospel of Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. I believe that we are God's creation and that He loves us dearly. I believe that He demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ (Jesus) died for us. (Rom 5:8) And yes, I do believe that Jesus is the only way to get to Heaven. (John 14:6) I also believe that is not my place to judge your testimony. Your belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior is between you and Him.
I keep reminding myself of Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The part that haunts me is when Jesus says that we will be judged by the standard with which we judge others. If that's the case, I want to be judged with a merciful and forgiving standard. I want to be judged in love. I didn't grow up in a Baptist church and so I don't have a lot of the Baptist baggage. I'm not going to say that you can't be a Christian and still drink alcohol or tell you that drinking is the social sin of the day. It's just not that important to me.

I'm also a dad that isn't quite sure of how to be a good dad (at least where teenagers are concerned).
I'm a husband that worries that I'm not letting my wife know just how much I love her and how much she means to me.
I'm a home owner that is absolutely lousy at home maintenance and repair and a man that doesn't know enough or care enough to work on his own cars. My philosophy in this area is: they pay me well to do the job that I know how to do; I should be willing to pay somebody else well to do the job that they know how to do.

Today, I struggle enough with John doing the right thing and I don't have the time nor inclination to make sure that everybody else is doing the right thing. I want to teach my kids to do the right thing and to make good choices.
I like being generous. I think that my kids are generous, too. I like to tip well when we go to a restaurant.
I should probably worry more about retirement and what lies ahead. This may sound incredibly naive, but I really do trust God. I mean I know that I have a responsibility to be a good steward, but I'm not going to spend a great deal of time and energy worrying.
I know that I need to live a healthier lifestyle. I even know a lot about what I should be doing/not doing and eating/not eating. It's just a matter of getting to it!
I like to read and I love to learn.
I like to tell stories. (they don't even have to be true stories!)
I like to smile and I like to make other people smile.
I'm a people person...but I also like to be left alone.
I have an ugly side; a bad temper. I really hate it when I lose control and say something that is hurtful. I'm getting better and lose it much less frequently as I get older.

Some would say that I'm getting more liberal as I get older. I disagree. I'm just less insistent that others agree with me all of the time.
Although religion and politics are often subjects to avoid, I'd gladly discuss them with anybody that would agree not to get mad about our differences.

Now you probably know more about me than anybody could possibly care to know. So if you ever have a comment, question or argument about one of my posts, feel free to discuss it here or by e-mail or phone. My contact info is in the right column.



Amanda said...

Good Morning John, Thanks for sharing so much about yourself. This post was better than any meme floating about out in the blogosphere that supposedly lets readers know more about the blogger.

Kevin said...

Like you, I too have a conservative core. I'm quite sure I'll always be that way. What has changed for me recently is that I'm discovering that people will take advantage of my convictions and use me as a tool to further an agenda which I don't agree with. I'm done being used.

My recent break from the Republican party was one of the more freeing decisions I have ever made. John, you played a part in helping me to understand it was an okay choice to make and I thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

John and John's blog family:

I am one of John's brothers. I bring the east coast, extremely liberal, politically active, non-religious diversity to the family. And maybe I'm the family's only NASCAR fan.

And I'm a huge John Hill fan.

Here's the thing. We can't know who people are by checking off boxes. Evangelical Christian, public employee, parent... here is where those things intersect and this data point allows us to know who this person is.

What we can't know is one's ability to have a satisfying conversation with another person on a topic in which they disagree. Is there space for other views--intellectual space, emotional space, however people want to go about it?

Is the conversation open? Does one express their views in a way that invites conversation? Is there a dialogue, or is it a collection of monologues?

As someone who disagrees with John on a lot of things, I can say that I'm much more open to having the conversation with you and actually hearing what you have to say simply by your manner of presentation. Which I think makes you a great representative of each of those boxes you cared to share with us (evangelical Christian, parent, public employee, spouse...). Particularly the "brother" box.


Rich said...

Yeah, you are indeed multi-faceted... you'd HAVE to be to order only oatmeal from a WAFFLE HOUSE!!!!

Love ya, buddy!

Mike said...

"Who am I?"

Answer - John Hill, unique human being. One out of six billion. (soon to be seven)

Anonymous said...

John - I am amzazed about how much we have in common. It is a little scary since we grew together since kindergarten.

Promise me that if you ever get to Tyler, TX you will call me so we can get together.

However, let me make it very clear that I would NEVER order oatmeal from a WAFFLE HOUSE. That not right.

Pat S.

John said...

Amanda, thanks. So glad to have you as one of my blog friends!

Kevin, it appears that we have quite a bit in common...except for that exercise thing!

Rich, come on man. I'm trying to eat better...besides, I had a side of sausage patties.

Thank you. Definitely the nicest comment I've ever had.

I've learned a lot from Steve. He's never been afraid to march to the beat of a different drummer. He was the first to get his college degree and really did it on his own. I really believe that he is the most socially minded person that I know. He truly cares about others. In the Bible, Jesus talks about taking care of the poor, homeless, needy...well Steve works to take care of the poor, homeless and needy. He has compassion beyond what I can convey here with mere words. And he has passed that compassion on to his kids. In so many ways, he is a better person than I am. He has a great sense of humor and is most likely the biggest reason that we laugh together as a family. He loves to engage people in conversations...about themselves. No wonder people like him. He understands that we have differences...and likes that.
I think that he would win a family election for 'Best Uncle' if all of the kids were to vote.

Like I've said before...It's a great family. I'm glad he's a part of it!


Anonymous said...

"I think that he would win a family election for 'Best Uncle' if all of the kids were to vote."

Steve cheats. Its hard to compete with whoopie cushions. Especially where four boys are concerned.

John's other favorite brother, Mike

John said...

Mike (st louis Mike), you're a pretty unique individual yourself.

Pat S., Would love to see you sometime! and what's wrong with oatmeal?

Mike (brother), I agree, whoopie cushions give Steve an unfair advantage.

Claudia said...

I haven't known you for long, but I am so glad to know you, and to know you better and better all the time! It is so wonderful for Mike to read your theology. Maybe someday as a result of friendship with you, he will truly and joyfully worship God. I might have made more progress toward bringing him into more active participation in our church community if I had been a better Christian communicator years ago. I applaud how well you articulate your faith and how your way of saying things attracts others to hear you. For years, I just knew I believed in God and that God had spared my life many times from accidental death, and that's about all I could tell people. I wasn't much of a Bible scholar until recently, and I couldn't point to anything else very compelling in my life other than my close calls with the Grim Reaper to illustrate why I believed. A scientific guy like Mike isn't easily swayed by such a dramatic testimony, plus he's pretty content with his life; I think he's still wondering what active churchgoing would add to his life except a loss of sleep on Sunday mornings and another bunch of meetings he'd be responsible to attend. But he's not the only one in the family who thinks like that. The truth is, no one but me in most of both his side and mine of our family really has a love for going to church, and it probably hasn't helped them much--except when they need a preacher for a funeral or a chaplain in the hospital--for me to have gone into professional ministry. Although none of them discourages me from doing God's work, I feel badly that I can't persuade my family members to feel enthusiastic about being a part of the church. I often wonder if it's because the church has taken me away from them so much in the past 14 years, and so they may either feel smugly saved through my faith or jealous of the church for replacing them as being the center of my life. Oh well, Jesus told us to take up his cross and not to expect it to be easy. I knew that when I "signed on"!

Mike said...

"either feel smugly saved through my faith or jealous of the church"

Nope and nope.

Anonymous said...

Whoopie cushions? Maybe that contributes to a couple of favorite uncle votes, but definitely not the favorite brother in law (sorry Christine).

I was thinking the faux magic tricks (I love being the bumbling wannabe magician uncle with eyerolling faux tricks to your talented really amazing magician self), the lumpy sofa, and being Laura and Awesome's dad that contribute a vote or two.


Anonymous said...

Or, as Walt Whitman put it in Song of Myself:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Jim S. of "A Waste of Good Cyberspace"