Wear Your Diagnosis Lightly – It’s Not Really You

A lot of us have “been diagnosed” with specific personality or mental conditions. I don’t formally have such a diagnosis (I’ve not yet seen anyone qualified to do it for me); but I’m sure there are several people around who’d be glad to offer suggestions! The thing I worry about is the effects I have seen such diagnoses have on people – the self-defining, self-shaping label it provides. It does affect one’s self-perception, expectations of what they can probably do, or not do, and how they are likely to behave. It really does, in my experience. So it narrows a person’s view of themselves and their world – and thus clearly restricts their potential. … Continue reading

The Two Most Obvious Facts of Life

Here’s my ex-temp ramble in response to the line “momentum succumbs to entropy” seen elsewhere . . . + and you can say entropy succumbs to momentum. – but you have to have an energy source for momentum. + well, the plants and animals find energy to bloom and bear seeds and run and climb; so can we – but they all die + and more come – but the energy-supply machine (the sun) is running down

Private Prayer and the Stupidities of Public Life

Connie and I recently watched Karol: A Man Who Became Pope. It portrays Karol Wojtyla’s life from his late teens, when the Nazi’s invaded his city and nation, through WWII, then through decades of Communist rule (as a satellite of the Soviet Union), up to the day he became Pope John Paul II (1978). I. A Real-life Example: The Future Pope Working Under Nazi and Communist Oppression in Poland Karol Wojtyla, (pronounced something like “VoyTEEya”) was known as a man of prayer, and it seems to me that his life-long habits (and style) of prayer – developed in his late teens – were a key factor in his effectiveness in the real world and in his continuing rise to greater and greater worldly power. He was introduced to “mystical prayer” early in WWII by an older man (Jan Tyranowsky) who became a spiritual mentor to several young adults. I was familiar with the story from previous study, and though this version is a movie, not a documentary, it still rings pretty true. One poignant scene shows him discovering a poster announcing the murder (“execution”) of a good friend, a young priest, by the Nazis. Wojtyla sinks to the ground … Continue reading

What Do We Want in 2009?

Here’s the article I wrote for our church’s monthy newsletter for January. We need, want, and should want lots of good things. But I was looking for a list specific to a local church’s situation. This is derived from the first of the two letters we have from Paul to the church of the Thessalonians. While it is local-church specific, it seems to me to have profound applications and implications far beyond that scope. What Does God Want To Do Here in 2009? That question – What does God want to do here in 2009? – no doubt has some answers we cannot figure out here in January. But I think God has made a lot of it pretty apparent. Here’s a short Bible study from I Thessalonians – looking for what had been seen, or would be seen, as desirable developments in the believers in Thessalonica. God wants to see more people doing / experiencing these things, and these things being done better and more consistently. What do you think of this list? Does any part of it particularly stand out to you? PEOPLE WITH FAITH AND LOVE. … Continue reading

God – Comfort and Radical Challenger

Here’s a 24-year old (“Jeff G.”) talking about his relationship with God. God, for me, is like someone who’s already up when you’ve come downstairs in the morning and you’re stumbling to get that cup of coffee and he’s already there with his. And you sit on the front porch in a rocking chair and the sun is just starting to rise over the horizon and he says, ‘It’s a beautiful sunrise!’ And I say, ‘Yeah.’ And that’s it. Yes!

And Now? Hard Times and Good News.

Bad News Warren Buffett, the widely respected Omaha multi-billionaire, used the phrase “Pearl Harbor” to describe the significance of our nation’s current economic crisis, a phrase he has never before used about the economy. Many other very reputable people feel the same way. “Pearl Harbor” was a very damaging air attack on our forces in Hawaii and it got us involved in World War II. It was a surprise, deadly, and very frightening It took a demanding and costly effort, but we did pull out of it. The sense of things now seems to be that again we are in for some rough years, … Continue reading

The Quiet Place(s) in Our Lives Make Our Public Activity Safer

Contemplation and Public Action The public good is most in danger when the voluntary visits to contemplation are neglected in favor of immediate communitarian action. That’s from James V. Schall, Professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University [in his Another Sort of Learning, 1988, Ignatius Press]. We don’t have to go off and become full-time contemplatives. But times of stepping aside from the race do help provide for safer involvement in public life. He says, in fact, that “the public good is most in danger” … Continue reading

World’s View of Christians – A Problem With Fruit [Update 9/9/08]

How does “the world” see us? Recently I wrote about David Kinnaman’s treatment of that in his book, unChristian, based on an extensive research project by The Barna Group. Remember, Kinnaman is writing from within the conservative Christian establishment. He’s writing about himself, about us … Continue reading

6 of My Favorite Scriptures, with Questions: A Guided Reading (Meditation)

Daily Bible Readings, with Questions (These are handed out in the bulletin on Sunday mornings; I select the readings to follow up on the sermon. The questions are just to help us get into each selection. This is the list from Aug 24 when I was not here and did not know what the sermon would be. There are more of these at fbchastings.org) MONDAY:   Psalm 27:4-5      1. This man (King David) is very much a political and military activist. What does he say is the “one thing” he asks for?      2. What good will that do when he is under attack? … Continue reading

How Goes Your Pilgrimage?

Sometimes the pilgrimage does not go so well. Sometimes we wonder if we’re still moving forward at all. In the tradition of pilgrimage, … hardships are seen not as accidental but as integral to the journey itself. Treacherous terrain, bad weather, taking a fall, getting lost – challenges of that sort, largely beyond our control, can strip the ego of the illusion that it is in charge and make space for the true self to emerge. There are indeed times when developments in our lives force upon us the awareness that we are not really in charge, maybe an awareness that we seem to have no control at all. That awareness can be resisted, apparently. But it seems … Continue reading