Who Was Born on Your Birthday?

Knack for Noticing is Back!

Dear friends and readers,

For some time I wrote a weekly column for Patheos called Edgy Exegesis.

Some weeks it was edgier than others! I stopped writing it a year ago, but appreciate the Facebook messages and emails I continue to get from those who find the archived entries helpful in their sermon preparation or devotional reading.

I’m getting back into blogging now, but am broadening my focus from each week’s lectionary gospel text to reviving my Knack for Noticing blog. Knack for Noticing is my term for hyper attentiveness to how God is at work in our inner lives (inscape), communities (landscape) and biblical texts (textscape). At least once a week I’ll offer a brief (500-800) blogpost on something I’ve noticed. These observations are intended to spark your own attentiveness to the divine in your life in your daily life.

Who was born on your birthday? January 14, 2016

I realized recently that the book on the four virtues of the wise life, which I signed a contract to produce by August 2016, was not writing itself. So I’ve begun getting up a little earlier than usual (I won’t say what time that is) to work on it. While working on the chapter on the third virtue of the wise life (self-control) my difficulty focusing and craving for distraction found me searching the web to see what celebrities might share my birthday (August 17). I discovered that one of my favorite actors, Robert de Niro was born the same day as I was. So naturally I had to post this on Facebook.

Robert De Niro and I have the same birthday. August 17. I just noticed that when randomly surfing the web when I should have been working on my book on wisdom. Just thought the world might need to know that. Hey, I could have been a great actor if anyone had ever encouraged me! Then again, probably not. Ok, back to my book.

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And naturally, since I haven’t figured out how to prevent Facebook notifications from popping up, I had to keep going back and forth from working on self-control (chapter 4) in my book to Facebook to see who was commenting on my crucial post.

40 friends responded (so far), some with “get real” comments about how my success as a thespian was very unlikely. One with the comment that acting and preaching weren’t that different. Not sure where that was coming from, but ok. My cousin from Pennsylvania told me to get off Facebook and get back to working on my book, advice which I appreciated. But most of the comments were from people telling me what famous person they shared a birthday with. The speed of the comments told me that they hadn’t had to do any research. They already knew. A friend, also born on August 17 informed me that Sean Penn, Davy Crockett and Red Sox Dustin Pedroia shared our birthday. Another friend informed the world that he shared both Paul Neuman’s birthday and his animal magnetism! Yet another friend revealed that he shared his birthday with De Forrest Kelly. Each comment remarked on how the commenter possessed one of the positive qualities of the famous person whose birthday they shared.

I guess we must think that if we were born on the same day as a famous person we somehow partake of their positive qualities.

I guess we must think that if a famous person was born on the same day as we were, the date has added significance.

Since we are in the season of Epiphany, when the significance of Jesus’ birth shines out to the whole world, this thought occurs to me.

Jesus is the famous person born into my life even before my birth, at my birth, at my baptism- you pick. He is my significance.

There is a sense in which I was born the same day as Jesus, on Christmas Eve. I refuse to quibble about the year or precise day. The season of Epiphany is one in which we increasingly partake of hi positive qualities. As the significance of the Incarnation takes root and begins to grow in our lives, as the ember of the light that shines in the darkness become a full-fledged flame in our world.

And now I must get back to writing my book. Where was I? Oh, yes, the chapter on self-control.

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  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    It seems a strange coincidence that you published this post on my birthday.