Tuesday, March 29, 2011

From a secular source...

I've been reading Hemingway's account of life in Paris in the 1920s, in his book, A Moveable Feast. In one section he writes, "It was all part of the fight against poverty that you never win except by not spending. We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other."

Perhaps overly romanticized, but Hemingway's words make me think that would be a good life. If we live and love simply, is that not the basis for doing considerable good in the world for others? And yet the poet Linda Weltner writes that the consumer culture shouts at us from every vantage point, saying "Not enough, not enough," and torturing us with all those things we have not yet bought, not yet acquired.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What can I do?

Radical, individual heart change is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for the advancement of justice. Injustice thrives because too many of us do nothing about it. We do not hold injustice clearly, unmistakably, and urgently in our field of vision.

There is a great distance between the privileged world we inhabit and take for granted, and that other world where tragedy, disease, destitution, and oppression are rife. We misperceive suffering as their problem, not ours.

We live with a clear conscience, believing that we are not the perpetrators of injustice while also believing that injustice is beyond our power to change.

Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor

Monday, March 7, 2011

A class this long? Surely not!

The prominent theologian Stanley Hauerwas attempted to join a Methodist church some years ago. The pastor told him that before he could join the church, he would need to attend a new member's orientation class that met each week for a year. Hauerwas replied, "I dutifully and gladly did this."

It is rare for a pastor to lay down this requirement for a prospective member. But there is little doubt that the experience is life-changing. Even the very existence of such a program is likely to create congregational renewal.

From the editorial, Going Deeper, The Christian Century, February 22, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

A miracle!

In the early 1920s, my grandmother, a template Methodist, was smitten by and betrothed to an Irish Catholic. She converted, somewhat reluctantly. The priest splashed a little water on her and said, "Geraldine, you were born a Methodist, raised a Methodist. Now, thanks be to God, you're a Catholic."

Some weeks later she was grilling steaks in the backyard on the first Friday in Lent. A neighbor, smelling the barbecue, upbraided her for fixing meat on Friday. She got the garden hose, sprinkled a few drops of water on the sirloins and said, "You were born cows, raised as cows. Now, thanks be to God, you are fish!"

Thomas Lynch, The Christian Century, February 22, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Back in the saddle...

My apology to readers for being offline for about a month. I'm cranked up again, and ready to continue my conversations with hearty church souls. Please check in at least weekly.