If you are actually here at the blog, and not on the RSS feed, you'll have noticed that a few weeks back I changed my profile pictures. The reason for this was that my old picture, from a few years ago, showed me with short hair. But I'd been growing my hair long for about three years. So I looked very different from by blog picture. In light of that, we had my friend Tammy, a local photographer, take some pictures of what I look like right now. Thus the sidebar photo update.
Now I must say that living with longer hair has been a bit of an adventure. For example, Trisha, my administrative coordinator, seems to alternate each day between calling me "Jesus" and requesting that I "get a haircut." But what if I like looking like Jesus? That's the real question...
Speaking of looking like Jesus, a few weeks ago Josh Graves visited our church and gave a sermon about how the Lord's Supper is a participation in the ongoing eschatological wedding banquet of the Lamb. You can listen to his sermon here on the Highland podcast site. Anyway, Josh wanted to have a bit of drama to go along with his sermon, a kind of visual parable of what he was talking about. So he sends out a request to the Highland office for a "modern looking Jesus." And, of course, my phone rings.
So as a part of this visual parable there is a banquet table set up at the base of the stage. And when Josh hits a certain point in his sermon I'm to go forward, as Jesus, and wait by the table. After a few moments other volunteers in the audience come forward to the table. And as the Jesus-figure I hug them, welcome them, and invite them to the table. And these people are dressed to signify a wide range of demographics: A doctor, a mother, a solider, a mechanic, etc. They all come forward and are welcomed to the table by "Jesus."
But here's the deal. Josh isn't paying any attention to this scene playing out in front of him. The dramatic move here is to have this scene "play out in heaven" as he's preaching. Like a video montage playing silently in the background.
It all works after it becomes clear what is going on. But for the first two minutes all the church sees is me walking down to the front, fussing with some chairs (as I get ready for the guests), and standing there. Again, Josh isn't looking at me at all. And he gives no verbal cue that what I'm doing is a part of his sermon. It looks like he is ignoring me. And in light of that lack of recognition from the pulpit, because I'm almost standing right in front of him, people jump to the only conclusion that seems reasonable:
Richard Beck has lost his mind.
Seriously, for the two minutes I stood up front alone people literally thought I had lost my mind. That I had had a mental breakdown or something and was just wandering aimlessly around the auditorium. And that Josh was heroically carrying on with his sermon with this lunatic wandering around on the stage.
"Poor Jana," they whispered to each other. "We saw this coming. But we didn't know it would happen so soon."
In fact, it was so bad that when the first person--a leader in the church--came down to be greeted by Jesus, many people thought he was coming down for an intervention, to gently lead me off the stage and into a mental institution. So they were very surprised when I hugged him and led him to a chair at the table.
All this because I have long hair.
And speaking of looking crazy, here's a related story. Last fall I was at my son's school around lunchtime. I was early for my appointment so I do what I often do. I sat down and opened a book. Well, it was a windy day and my hair was just flying around everywhere. You could hardly see my face.
Anyhow, a small child saw me and felt compassion. "Teacher," she said, "do you see that homeless man over there? Could I go give him some of my lunch?"
The teacher looked over and said, "Sweetie, that's so nice. But that's not a homeless person. That's Dr. Beck. Aidan's daddy."
Yes, this is my life.
One final story about looking like a crazy person. This one is from last night.
Occasionally, you see really cool, artsy blog pictures of people and want to imitate them. I saw one the other day that I really liked. The person had close-cropped their photo where you only saw the top-right 25% of their face. You see crops like that a lot, with only half or a part of the face in the photo. Feeling artsy, I tried to do a crop like that on one of the photos Tammy had done for me. But looking at the crop I was unsure about it. Do I look like an idiot? Does it look like I'm trying to be too cool? Facing these questions I do what I often do: I go ask Jana. And the conversation goes like this:
Me: "Hi Sweetie. If I ask you something, will you give me an honest answer?"
Jana: (looking worried) "Yes honey, I will give you an honest answer."
Me: "Okay, what do you think of this picture for my blog?"
(And I show her the following picture.)
Me: "Yes, honestly."
Jana: "Well, you look like a crazy person living in the woods about to jump out and kill someone."