Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

Looking Ahead to 2013

Some time in early March of this next year,  I will turn sixty-three. As much as I might protest, declaring I still feel like a young man in his thirties, it will do no good to resist. Whether I like it or not, I am steep into the second half, or, to use Wright's language, I am moving into my third third. Little wonder I am reading more and more about this next phase of life.  It started with Buford's book Halftime, a book that had a certain impact on my life in the early 90's.  More recently, Wright's book, The Third Third, has been a helpful read, for it provides a bit of a map. 

And a map is necessary, for you can get lost at this point of life. There are no end to the maps for the front side of life—road maps to the career one should pursue, the university one should attend, the mate one should look for.  But there aren't many maps for this third third. There is this false assumption by some that this period is associated with decline, letting go, waiting it out, and traveling aimlessly. And as a result, I observe a number of people who seem to be lost at this juncture. Now I must also admit that some of the lost seem to actually delight in their lostness. After years in professions where they may have been engaged in SWOT analyses, goal setting, vision casting, and strategic plans, it's nice to get up and enter into another unplanned day, where watches and roadmaps have been discarded.

But I must confess I need a map. I need one because I am convinced this part of life is the most important part of the journey, something affirmed in Rohr's new book, Falling Upwards (my latest read on the subject). As he sees it, the first half of life is merely preparatory for the second half. It is the gate. In this first half, we write the text. In the second half, we write the commentary on the text. Having worked through the necessary questions—who am I? what are the boundaries I must submit to? how can I support myself? if I should marry, who will this be? what are my projects that will bring success?, we move into the second half, where the real issues are sorted out.

Rohr describes this second half as the time in life you begin to learn to hear the deeper voice of God. You have come to grips with reality, with what matters, with what is worth investing in.  No longer are you trying to keep up an image or live up to other's expectations. You are finding what life is like in union with God. Faith is no longer defined merely by rules, but by a deep desire for intimacy with God. There is a certain gravitas that has replaced the thinness. Life is not becoming more confined but is actually becoming more spacious. One is no longer obsessed with being right; rather, one is more interested in being in right relationships. And in these relationships, people have less power to infatuate, less power to control or hurt. 

Not everyone gets to this second half. All too many seek to stay in the securities of the first half, and never grow up. They refuse to drop their nets, as Jesus demands. They avoid the risks—the necessary suffering one must experience to move into the second half. But the truth is, change and growth, death and resurrection must be programmed in. Some falling is necessary.

I will always remember the day I was working with my daughter, helping her to ride a bike without training wheels. She insisted that I put them back on. She did not want to fall, but as Rohr notes, you learn to recover falling only by falling. If one stays in the protective bubble of the first half, you can become a well disguised narcissist, an adult infant. If you are willing to move forward, "fall upward", you will learn to become resilient, age well, overcome adversity, find your way through complexity, and bloom with each opportunity. And it may be that the best opportunities are the ones that come in the third third for those who are looking.

Wright underscores this, though he uses different language. Moving forward, be it to the second third or the third third involves some risk. We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are!  We must journey forward to a place we have not been. Risk avoidance is not for those who live well in the third third. So here's to living well in 2013—receiving all that God wants to do in us!

  • Shoka
    6:43 PM, 23 February 2013

    I love that was able to give toward the Greater Things God is doing at Lifepoint. I only wish I had known you were gonna ask me to shoot a video with you. I would have aualtcly shaved, worn my official clergy vestments and dusted off my big, KJV coffee table Bible to look more pastoral.On behalf of ROCK Church, let me say again, Go Lifepoint Go! We’ve got your back and are cheering you guys on!

  • Arum
    3:29 AM, 24 February 2013

    If Fr. Ruff can quote an ancient hiarctiosl authority clearly advocating free rhythm and departure from the 2:1 ratio, I would be very pleased to see it. Likewise, the Nonantolan and Messine notations most frequently show long signs rather than short signs on syllables with one note (ie, virga with episema rather than a plain virga in the former and a tractulus rather than a punctum in the latter). If they can be demonstrated to show otherwise, I would be pleased to see that evidence. For every melisma on a stressed syllable, I can present a melisma on an unstressed syllable. The paragraph quoted contains no overstatement.The views of Delorme and Vollaerts caused Murray’s views to change towards mensuralism and renounce the alternative. The views of a lot of contemporary scholars are not more important than the factual evidence that such views are either based on or contradict. The fact that Cardine criticises Vollaerts’ view is in itself inconsequential as a fact. The factual validity of the argument of either is what matters, not whether they consider it valid or otherwise.Of course Cardine elevated the manuscript notation above hiarctiosl quotes. That is precisely my point: he interprets the notation the way he wishes against the hiarctiosl descriptions of chant. There is much in the treatises which is quite straightforward in translation and, in the context of rhythm, the words “one”, “two”, “simple” and “double” are such terms. Again, if Fr. Ruff can quote any hiarctiosl source relating to chant rhythm where such terms are not clear in their meaning, I would be very interested to see that.The authorities are united in describing chant rhythms in terms of duple time and some actively criticise departure from that model (such as free rhythm). They do not do so “out of hand”. It would be clutching at straws to describe a passage such as the following by St Augustine as having more to do with “theological cosmology”

  • Irina
    12:15 AM, 25 February 2013

    Mr. Codona,1. Please observe the commnets word limit like the rest of us. If you have posts that long, go start your own blog.2. We might be using some terms differently. Semiology (not semiotics, please note) is not based on Romantic free rhythm. In all the literature I’ve read, free rhythm is the term for the innovation of Old Solesmes equalism over against the mensuralism of the late 19th and early 20th century. There are three different things: mensuralism; Old Solesmes free rhythm (quasi-equalist); semiology. Please don’t conflate the second and the third.3. Frankly, I don’t see evidence that you’ve studed the European semiologists (little of their literature is in English), only that you dismiss them out of hand. This is rather foolhardy, given how numerous are the specialists and scholars holding semiological views. To engage and critique them would be another thing, and I would welcome it.4. I do not wish to join in a debate about the meaning of the treatises. That debate has already been had. I respect all sincere views on the question. You clearly have your position. Fine. I’m happy to leave it at that, since your writing suggests that you mischaracterize views you reject.awr

  • Pokey
    6:42 PM, 16 April 2013

    THX that’s a great anewsr!

  • Rosabel
    4:05 AM, 19 April 2013

    Heck of a job there, it asbloutley helps me out.

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