Tag Archives: jesus

thoughts on 12/14/12

Today is not the day for problem-solvers to get into debates about causes and solutions.  I understand that people grieve in certain ways, but, debates are the absolute last thing that grieving families, whose hearts are screaming out against evil and injustice, who are crying in pain, want to hear, and need to hear.  They don’t want solutions; they want and need love and compassion.  They don’t need to hear about gun-control, or stronger security measures; they need emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological support.  While problem-solving has an appropriate time and place, its time is not now.

So, for the love of God and love of neighbor, mourn with those who mourn.  

Love.  Pray.  Listen.  Pass the peace. 

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

pessimism, her cohorts, and her enemies

Pessimism

I’ve always viewed myself as an idealist. I can dream up ideal situations of any kind. I dream of a utopia, where everything works as it should, people treat each other with respect and kindness, and give God’s creation the care that it should receive. I dream a lot.

In my mind, I am aware of the reality of sin, but that reality hasn’t sunk in. It remains a concept that lives only in my head, for the most part.

You can imagine what happens when actual reality, the kind that doesn’t live in head, collides with the utopia I have inside my head. It’s not pretty. It usually results in pessimism and loss of hope, which eventually leads to a wicked cynicism.

Picture this:

A tranquil, bright blue body of water surrounded by trees, birds singing, the sun shining brightly but not too hot. You are in a canoe, humming happily, peacefully paddling to nowhere, but eventually hoping to reach the other side of the water. Suddenly the water becomes very murky and thick, and it becomes harder to paddle. The water is almost like mud. You furiously paddle harder and faster, and only manage to inch along. About twenty feet later, a fin pokes its way through the surface on the right side of the canoe, and on the left side, you glimpse a crocodile snout. Losing all hope, you stop paddling. What’s the point? You’re just going to be eaten, anyway. And nobody will come to help.

After my ideals collide with reality, I begin to dream again. But these dreams are not happy dreams. In these dreams I imagine everything that could possibly go wrong, and WHAT IFS flood every space in my imagination. It’s paralyzing.

It’s difficult for a person in this situation to actively cling to hope. And I’m not even speaking of an individual who is going through legitimate suffering.

This applies to my current writing habits. I try and think of things to write, and then promptly shoot them down with the excuse that better people are already thinking and writing about those things, and much better than I ever could. Thus, I don’t write. Other criticisms emerge, such as: don’t use your blog as a journal, that’s sappy stuff nobody wants to read. Don’t blog that, that doesn’t sound theologically coherent. And the list goes on.

Pessimism2

It’s easy to to abandon optimism and hope in exchange for pessimism and cynicism.

But, and this I tell (and pack the punch to) myself as well as everybody else who struggles with pessimism (you might even be reading this, who knows?): abandoning hope is stupid. Abandoning joy is stupid. Especially if you believe what scripture says is true. You have the best Hope of all hopes to cling to, and it’s the last reason in the world to give up.

So, don’t give up. Don’t give in. Pursue joy like you’re training for a marathon, and cling to hope like a gnarly burr on a wool sweater. And dwell on this with me:

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (!) 1 Pt 1.3

Tagged , , , , ,

on apathy and action

I like Seattle.  It is home to some of my favorite coffee shops, favorite bookstores, favorite ice cream, favorite scenery, favorite buildings, favorite people, favorite chocolate, favorite weather, among other things.

In this city, I can usually share about my faith in a nonchalant manner, and receive neither an overtly negative nor positive response.  This usually results because someone, (who sits, or stands across or beside me as we wait for some function/event, or stand in line, or share a coffee shop table, or wait for the bus) in doing their small talk duties, will ask about my background.  After I respond, they nod and say, oh, that’s nice! and perhaps inquire with a benign, follow-up question or two.

I spoke with a woman the other night.  A very intelligent, congenial, beautiful, older woman.  I remember her green eyes and dyed red hair, but  I don’t know even know her name.  She sat next to me and began to talk animatedly, as we anticipated the introduction of an admired philosopher, underneath the starry ceiling of a temple.

She began with chit-chat topics, and eventually got to the infamous “what do you do.”

Most people do not expect from the likes of me the kind of answer I give them.  MDiv student, yadayada, books, etc.  Oh, what will you do with that? they ask.  Be a nun?  (Okay, actually, that’s not fair.  I’ve only gotten that response a couple times.  But still.)

Instead, this woman was very attentive and wide-eyed as I explained my aspirations, and she was full of encouraging words as she proceeded to  relate to me how her parents had been missionaries in Japan for over 40 years, but she and her late husband were not particularly “religious.”  She remarked that in her life observations, it did not seem to matter what kind of “faith” someone claimed to have; no matter what their religious alliance is, that faith has been rendered null and void unless that person’s life reflected change.  Claiming a faith means nothing unless others can see what tangible difference it makes in your life.

Quite an accurate and interesting observation, from someone who claims no faith.   I thought she was just repeating James, you know.  But the manner and content of her communication did not relay such knowledge.  She was earnest with that statement, and she hit the nail on the head.

Then I got to thinking…perhaps…this is WHY it’s so easy to be open with one’s faith around here.  Nobody cares, because it’s mostly just talk. So, who gives a fig about what you believe?  It’s fine to be “spiritual” anyway you like….right, ’cause everybody knows you won’t truly act on it.  Laziness and apathy.  Apathy and dishonesty.  Hypocrisy.  Ouch.  In the end, apathy becomes our greatest enemy.

Something is very wrong with that picture, people.  Especially if you claim to know, love, and follow Jesus, yes?  Do others see that?

…yes?  How do you know?

…no?  Well, what in the world are you going to do about it?

I hope you act prayerfully.  If you don’t want to act, I suggest you have a good, long conversation with God about why.

And let’s keep this kind of stagnate-producing-apathy at bay.

Tagged , , , , ,