How short can a blog be before it becomes a statement? How long can a statement be before it becomes an essay?
Often short glimpses, even though the brevity distorts, can be useful to thinking.
Here are a some short ideas that one day may make it into essays.
1.The art of giving: it's an art, like a painting or music. You can appreciate it, you can learn to do it, and it takes practice. An amateurs expression is wonderful, but may not have lasting value to others even though it's a necessary stepping stone toward mastering the art. The more you practice the more you know where to place the brush stroke, to play the note, and to create something of beauty that helps others.
2. Love: some like to say love makes the world go around, and all we need is love. Be that as it may, accepting love is hard, and we only accept the love we think we deserve. And so, a low self image is happy to accept abuse.
3. Robin Williams said "Just jump, because a net will appear". Sadly some will take that as an admirable principle without any caveats. How stupid can people be?
4. "Beautiful creatures" ... a movie that some Christians would not watch - not a Christian movie - but a movie with some interesting lines to make us think:
5. Wisdom. There's wisdom all around, and fake wisdom too. We can resonate with, celebrate and elevate the wisdom that we find. Yet like a tuning fork we resonate to that note to which we are tuned. When we are tuned to the right note, we don't only respond to that note but also to all the harmonics of the one true note of tuning. And when we resonate to that which we're tuned, then all other sounds are as discords, easily recognizable for what they are. The Word tunes us to the root note of the full chord of creation. The world tunes us, to a discord that dampens our sound, leaves us lifeless and without resonance. Tuned correctly, our notes sound out in harmony with all the true notes around us, and lets us live in an orchestra of wisdom.
6. Belief that leads to the judgement of others is a belief rooted in an unrealized fear of being wrong, and the need to find security in being right. So it is with blind faith, religious violence, and militant atheism. Belief that leads to grace is belief that is secure in the knowledge of truth, understood in both mind and the heart, and thus feels no threat from disagreement. Such belief gives freedom of grace to others and the strength of joy.
This is a challenge for StB. Do you think you could / would do this?
"...he offered [the bracelet] to his congregation with a challenge: go 21 days without complaining. Each time one of them complained, they had to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and start again from day 0. The effects were immediate and life-changing"
Read about it HERE
Last night I had (yet another) discussion about Calvinism, and how it provides (in my view) no compelling reason against hedonism (yes, there are reasons, but irrationally these depend on a broken selfish nature doing the right thing simply because it's right).
It made me think (yet again) about the sad reality that some in Christianity try to isolate themselves from the world (as if Jesus ever did!). These are the puritan recluse who seek to legislate morality in the hope that this will legislate the soul, who shield their children and leave them defenceless for that day when they'll trip and fall into the mire of the world around.
God says be IN the world, not OF the world. That means "Hey you, yes YOU! Get a grip, open your eyes, and look at what you and others are doing, and how you're committed to causing untold suffering both now and in the future!"
One area (of many) where so many Christians are blind, where to our shame the non-Christians are leading the way, is in how we respond to the global rape of God's gift. Be in the world (so you can help) but be not of the world (in perpetuating inequity).
The interesting thing that struck me in going out to Gugulethu for the Change Works project this past Sunday was that Nomaza, the lady whom we helped, could be me or you. But for the grace of God, good fortune or the trajectory of my inherent genes, there go I!
One's origin could be anywhere or anything.
In fact at one time in my life, my health status was a precise mirror image of Nomaza's, but set in another socio-economic space. Post chronic kidney failure in 1987 I was regularly dialysed for 4 hours 3 times a week for 3 years.
So, whilst fiddling with a door lock which, with perseverance, we fitted into a previously abused front door at Nomaza's home, I reflected on our comparative situations. I was fortunate to receive a donor kidney three years after renal failure in 1990 but Nomaza didn't seem to know much about the local transplant program and her eligibility, or in other related areas such as diet, critical when on dialysis so as not to overtax a low or non functioning kidney.
Not to sound grandiose, Jesus often stood in the gap to speak for those disempowered or uneducated and so can we. It was another unintended spin off of our visit. Perhaps I could look into Nomaza's chances of a transplant - to at least communicate with the relevant medical authorities about Nomaza's prognosis and quality of life ahead. Dialysis is effective but very tiring on the body and restrictive as in consuming no more than 500ml fluid (= 1 small pet bottle of liquid) per day.
It was wonderful to see the bustle of activity in carpentry, cleaning, beautifying, cheering and encouraging as a vivid expression of love in action. Somehow it was physically invigorating, psychologically cleansing and spiritually enlivening to come closer to a different world and engage with it more viscerally, and to give of oneself. The camaraderie to get to know one another better, additional to Sunday or Wednesday meetings at St.B, was also of great benefit. In sum, what a lovely, wholesome and positive experience for all !
Praise God for how enriching the encounter was and a great start to a new initiative ! We must follow up these fledgling efforts such that change can be seen to really work !
Best blessings - Gavin.
Mansplaining - one variety of arrogance! If you want a great (and funny) take on mansplaining, read Rebecca Solnit's excellent essay on the topic. But that's just an example of a bigger issue.
Here's another example of arrogance: Stefan Molyneux - who I would class as a libertarian misogynist - was recently quoted as saying at a men's rights conference (!): “If we could just get people to be nice to their babies for five years straight, that would be it for war, drug abuse, addiction, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases,” he said. “Almost all would be completely eliminated, because they all arise from dysfunctional early childhood experiences, which are all run by women.”
That's sick! But quite aside from the incredible and despicable narrow minded arrogance of anyone who would say that, and apart from the disturbing fact that some people need to host a conference on men's rights, the real issue is the disstorted lens of unthinking self-interest.
Here's another example: A climate change blog recently hosted an article on "What really annoys scientists about the state of the climate change debate?" It's a great topic ... I get really peeved with the boorish arrogant comments from the uneducated masses on topics that require expert knowledge (would you ask a plumber how to treat cancer?). But in the article they only asked experts from 1st world developed countries. That's a lens which infers that the greater majority of the world's population is unimportant, with nothing of value to say, second tier citizens in need of charity. Now I'm sure (I hope) that if challenged the authors would acknowledge their article's bias, but it does reveal how we walk around with an unrecognised distortion -- we look through a broken lens.
I know we all love to promote our view on life ... in 2011 flickr.com had over 6 billion photos, and in 2014 instagram had over 200 million users, to say nothing of tweets! There's nothing wrong with that in itself (although I suspect many of these serve as therapy for the need for attention). But promote your own view enough times and you'll begin to believe you're always right.
This arrogance leads to those all too common situations of self-justification to avoid responsibility - from people who justify sexual harassment (or worse) by saying the woman was asking for it, through to children blaming others for their own errors. How often have you heard people justify unacceptable behaviour with "I was just doing it for you", or "I’m only fighting fire with fire", or "It doesn’t hurt anyone", or "Everyone else does it", or even "I deserve it."
At the heart of the problem is, of course, that we allow the brokenness of our human nature to twist our perspective. But we need not be slave to that; "be transformed by the renewing of your mind".
That is, to put it in metaphorical terms: Change the lens!
For the religious this is especially dangerous, for religious people claim that they're on God's side, and so it becomes all too easy to justify behaviour in the name of God. History is largely made up of despicable events that happened in the name of one or other god ... Christians are no exception.
Here's the Christian's additional danger: You can interpret the bible through the lens of your issue, or you can interpret your issue through the lens of the bible. This will usually take you to very different conclusions.
A good example (as seen through my distorted lens as I try and find focus) is this debate between two Christians about homosexual practices. Sadly both participants do little to listen to one another, both avoid some of the very real complexities, both ignore the nuances, both are trying to WIN an argument. And this is the fundamental broken lens problem: we want our lens to be THE lens. As Coleridge said "I have seen great intolerance shown in support of tolerance."
Jesus' lens was one of relationship.
Of course there are many issues (e.g. sexuality) that we need to wrestle with, but their true importance is only visible when seen through the lens of relationship. Relationship does not mean "tolerate everything except intolerance", it's not about that wispy "love is all I need" that some are so fond of (and so poor at doing). The lens of relationship is Jesus saying to the rich young ruler "sell everything and follow me", and to the adulterer "go and sin no more". It's about seeing what is at the heart of an individual, like seeing the heart of the woman at the well (great video!).
How distorted is my view here?