Daily Riches: Pray For the Church As For a Terrible Sinner (Dorothy Day and Romano Guardini)

“The Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified.” Romano Guardini

“I felt that the Church was the Church of the poor, that St. Patrick’s had been built from the pennies of servant girls, that it cared for the emigrant, it established hospitals, orphanages, day nurseries, houses of the Good Shepherd, homes for the aged, but at the same time, I felt that it did not set its face against a social order which made so much charity in the present sense of the word necessary. I felt that charity was a word to choke over. Who wanted charity? And it was not just human pride but a strong sense of man’s dignity and worth, and what was due to him in justice, that made me resent, rather than feel proud of so mighty a sum total of Catholic institutions. …When I see the church taking the side of the powerful and forgetting the weak, and when I see bishops living in luxury and the poor being ignored or thrown bread crumbs, I know that Jesus is being insulted, as He once was, and sent to his death, as He once was. The church doesn’t only belong to officials and bureaucrats; it belongs to all its people, and especially its most humble men and women and children, the ones He would have wanted to go see and help…. I am embarrassed–I am sickened–when I see Catholics using their religion as a social ornament. Peter [Maurin] used to tell me that a good Catholic should pray for the church as if it is a terrible sinner, in bad need of lots of prayers. I remember being surprised for a second to hear him say that; he was such a devout Catholic. But then I realized that it was precisely because he was so devout that he said what he said. …I think the life of our Lord is constantly being lived out: we are betraying Him as well as honoring Him–we in the church as well as those who are outside of it.” Dorothy Day

“I will build my church,
and all the powers of hell
will not conquer it.”
Jesus, in Matthew 16:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you be honest about the failings of your church, or do you insist on leaving this to outsiders and haters?
  • Can you see the church as “a terrible sinner” and still love and pray for her?
  • Can you see in yourself, a member of the church, how you both constantly honor and betray the Lord?

Jesus, as your church, may we set our face against the social order.

For More: Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion by Robert Coles

_________________________________________________

Thanks for sharing/following my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

P.S. I’ve been working on a book that would be a collection of 365 daily readings–similar to and based on this blog. I’m looking for a publisher for this complicated project. If you have a contact or advice, please contact me.

Daily Riches: Christianity’s Apologia for the Weak (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“Have you ever seen a greater mystery in this world than poor people, ill people, insane people–people who cannot help themselves but who have to rely on other people for help, for love, for care? Have you ever thought what outlook on life a cripple, a hopelessly ill person, a socially exploited person, a coloured person in a white country, an untouchable–may have? And if so, did you not feel that here life means something totally different from what it means to you, and that on the other hand you are inseparably bound together with such unfortunate people, just because you are human like them, just because you are not weak but strong, and just because in all your strength you will feel their weakness? Have we not felt that we shall never be happy in our life as long as this world of weakness from which we are perhaps spared–but who knows for how long–is foreign and strange and far removed from us, as long as we keep away from it consciously or subconsciously? …Christianity has been blamed ever since its early days for its message to the weak: Christianity is a religion of slaves, of people with inferiority complexes; it owes its success only to the masses of miserable people whose weakness and misery Christianity has glorified. It was the attitude towards the problem of weakness in the world, which made everybody followers or enemies of Christianity. Against the new meaning which Christianity gave to the weak, against this glorification of weakness, there has always been the strong and indignant protest of an aristocratic philosophy of life which glorified strength and power and violence as the ultimate ideals of humanity. We have observed this very fight going on up to our present day. Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its apologia for the weak.–I feel that Christianity is rather doing too little in showing these points than doing too much. Christianity has adjusted itself much too easily to the worship of power. It should give much more offence, more shock to the world, than it is doing. Christianity should take a much more definite stand for the weak than to consider the potential moral right of the strong.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Rescue the weak and needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Where is the Christian apologia for the weak today?
  • Has the Christianity you know “adjusted itself … to the worship of power?”
  • Is your church standing for the weak? Are you?

For More: The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

_________________________________________________

Thanks for following and sharing my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Christianity’s Apologia for the Weak (Bonhoeffer)

“Have you ever seen a greater mystery in this world than poor people, ill people, insane people–people who cannot help themselves but who have to rely on other people for help, for love, for care? Have you ever thought what outlook on life a cripple, a hopelessly ill person, a socially exploited person, a coloured person in a white country, an untouchable–may have? And if so, did you not feel that here life means something totally different from what it means to you, and that on the other hand you are inseparably bound together with such unfortunate people, just because you are human like them, just because you are not weak but strong, and just because in all your strength you will feel their weakness? Have we not felt that we shall never be happy in our life as long as this world of weakness from which we are perhaps spared–but who knows for how long–is foreign and strange and far removed from us, as long as we keep away from it consciously or subconsciously? …Christianity has been blamed ever since its early days for its message to the weak. Christianity is a ‘religion of slaves’ [Friedrich Nietzsche], of people with inferiority complexes; it owes its success only to the masses of miserable people whose weakness and misery Christianity has ‘glorified.’ It was the attitude towards the problem of weakness in the world, which made everybody followers or enemies of Christianity. Against the new meaning which Christianity gave to the weak, against this glorification of weakness, there has always been the strong and indignant protest of an aristocratic philosophy of life which glorified strength and power and violence as the ultimate ideals of humanity. We have observed this very fight going on up to our present day. Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its apologia for the weak.–I feel that Christianity is rather doing too little in showing these points than doing too much. Christianity has adjusted itself much too easily to the worship of power. It should give much more offence, more shock to the world, than it is doing. Christianity should take a much more definite stand for the weak than to consider the potential moral right of the strong.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:4

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Where is the Christian apologia for the weak today?
  • Has the Christianity you know “adjusted itself … to the worship of power?”
  • Does your church stand for the weak? Do you?

Abba, let me be an apologist for the weak.

For More:  The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

_________________________________________________

Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Nonviolence, Courage and the Beloved Community (Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis)

“It must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. …[It] is ultimately the way of the strong man. It is not a method of stagnant passivity… For while the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and his emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong. The method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive non-resistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil. …Nonviolence … does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that these are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness. …Nonviolent resistance [requires] a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation, to accept blows from the opponent without striking back… The nonviolent resister is willing to accept violence if necessary, but never to inflict it. He does not seek to dodge jail. If going to jail is necessary, he enters it ‘as a bridegroom enters the bride’s chamber.’ …Nonviolent resistance … avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“But Peter and the apostles replied,
‘We must obey God rather than any human authority.’”
Acts 5:29

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Will you resist evil–and pay a price if necessary?
  • Is Jesus’ ethic of love the “center” of your life? (returning good for evil)
  • Are you working to reject even an “internal violence of spirit?” (bitterness and hate)

“[May we] …move our feet, our hands, our hearts, our resources to build and not to tear down, to reconcile and not to divide, to love and not to hate, to heal and not to kill.” (John Lewis)

_______________________________________________

Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: How Is the State of Your Heart? (Joshua Becker)

“In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, ‘How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?’ When I ask, ‘How are you?’ that is really what I want to know. I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul. Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence. Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch. …I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing. I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart. How is the state of your heart today?” Joshua Becker

“So stop telling lies.
Let us tell our neighbors the truth,
for we are all parts of the same body.”
Ephesians 4:25

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you be “present” to yourself? …aware of the state of your heart?
  • Can you be honest with another? …revealing the state of your heart? Do you long to do that?
  • Think about others who long for a real human connection. Are you available for that?
  • How does your life with God affect the state of your heart?

Abba, I want to be a safe person for others who want to be real.

For More: A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy by Joshua Becker

________________________

Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill

 

 

Daily Riches: You Give Them Something to Eat (Rachel Held Evans and Pope Francis)

“[Millennials are] tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for …not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask. …Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity …We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity. …we’re looking for Jesus–the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places he’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.” Rachel Held Evans

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. …More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37).” Pope Francis

“‘Send the crowds away
so they can go to the nearby farms and villages
and buy something to eat.’
But Jesus said,
‘You feed them.’ ”
Mark 6:35-36

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church focused on “starving people” or mostly on blessing members?
  • Can people talk about difficult topics (religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, social justice)? Is conversation characterized by loving listening and allowance of diverse opinion? Is doubt permitted?
  • Are church people leaving their comfort zones to minister–and sometimes getting bruised, hurt or dirty in the process–or is there a culture of “playing it safe?”

Abba, help me find Jesus in all the “strange places”–as I meet him there anew.

For More: Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to give you something of real value in 400 words or less. Thanks for reading /sharing my blog. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: The Church of the Future (Joseph Ratzinger)

“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes … she will lose many of her social privileges. …As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members…. It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek…. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret. And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.” Joseph Ratzinger (These words are from 1969.)

“At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, ‘Are you also going to leave?’”
John 6:66,67

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If the church shrinks through atrophy and persecution, so that only those who are truly committed to Christ remain, will you still be there?
  • Would you still be a Christian if it didn’t come with social privileges and power? …if it meant being part of  something “weak”–”a little flock of believers?”
  • Think of your church. Does it need to become “poor” before it can rich enough to be seen as “man’s home?”

For more: Faith and the Future by Joseph Ratzinger

________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: The Church as Refuge (Rachel Held Evans, Kathy Escobar and Dallas Willard)

“Any successful plan for spiritual formation . . . will in fact be significantly similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous program.” Dallas Willard

“As a counselor, Kathy had encountered Christians who kept their battles with pain and depression a secret from their churches, so she helped found and pastor The Refuge, an eclectic and growing faith community in Denver inspired by both the Beatitudes and the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Kathy discovered that when a church functions more like a recovery group than a religious organization, when it commits to practicing ‘honesty for the sake of restoration,’ all sorts of unexpected people show up.

People who make $600 on mental health disability and never graduated from high school are hanging out with friends who have master’s degrees and make $6,000. …Suburban moms are building relationships with addicts. People from fundamentalist Christian backgrounds are engaging those with pagan backgrounds …orphans, outcasts, prostitutes, pastors, single moms and dads, church burnouts and everything in between are all muddled up together…. It’s wild.

…Rather than boasting a doctrinal statement, the Refuge extends an invitation: The Refuge is a mission center and Christian community dedicated to helping hurting and hungry people find faith, hope, and dignity alongside each other.

We love to throw parties, tell stories, find hope, and practice the ways of Jesus as best we can. We’re all hurt or hungry in our own ways. We’re at different place on our journey but we share a guiding story, a sweeping epic drama called the Bible. We find faith as we follow Jesus and share a willingness to honestly wrestle with God and our questions and doubts. We find dignity as God’s image-bearers and strive to call out that dignity in one another. We all receive, we all give. We are old, young, poor, rich, conservative, liberal, single, married, gay, straight, evangelicals, progressives, overeducated, undereducated, certain, doubting, hurting, thriving. Yet Christ’s love bind our differences together in unity. At The Refuge, everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable.

Imagine if every church became a place where everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable. Imagine if every church became a place where we told one another the truth. We might just create sanctuary.” Rachel Held Evans

“I will build my church.”
Matthew 16:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church a place where “everyone is safe?”
  • Is your church a place where “no one is comfortable?”
  • Do others experience you as a “safe” person? …as comfortable with discomfort?

Abba, lead us into good places.

For more: Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. – Bill

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Only Love Can Do That (Parker Palmer, Martin Luther King, Thomas Merton and Carl Jung)

“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking.” Carl Jung

“Violence is any way we have of violating the integrity of the other. Racism and sexism are violence. Derogatory labeling of any sort constitutes violence. Rendering other people invisible or irrelevant is an act of violence. So is manipulating people towards our ends as if they were objects that existed only to serve our purposes. …Violence is not just about bombing or shooting or hitting people. To create peace in our lives–and our world–we need to be able to sit with frustration and hold the tension of opposite views.” Parker Palmer

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The child is totally available in the present because he has relatively little to remember, his experience of evil is as yet brief, and his anticipation of the future does not extend very far. The Christian, in his humility and faith, must be as totally available to his brother, to his world, in the present, as the child is. But he cannot see the world with childlike innocence and simplicity unless his memory is cleared of past evils by forgiveness, and his anticipation of the future is hopefully free of craft and calculation. For this reason, the humility of Christian nonviolence is at once patient and uncalculating. The chief difference between nonviolence and violence is that the latter depends entirely on its own calculations. The former depends entirely on God and on his word.” Thomas Merton

“How I wish today that you of all people
would understand the way to peace.”
Jesus in Luke 19:42

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have the humility required to “hold the tension of opposite views?”
  • Is your past flooded with forgiveness so that, like a child, you have “little to remember?”
  • As you anticipate the future, are you depending on “your own calculations” or depending “on God and on his word?”
  • How can you begin practicing a new “way?”

Abba, help me understand the way of peace.

For More: “The Violence of Our Knowledge” by Parker Parker

_________________________________________________

Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: A Shallow Between Two Deeper Zones (Rebecca Solnit)

“Previous technologies have expanded communication. But the last round may be contracting it. The eloquence of letters has turned into the nuanced spareness of texts; the intimacy of phone conversations has turned into the missed signals of mobile phone chat. I think of that lost world, the way we lived before these new networking technologies, as having two poles: solitude and communion. The new chatter puts us somewhere in between, assuaging fears of being alone without risking real connection. It is a shallow between two deeper zones, a safe spot between the dangers of contact with ourselves, with others. … A restlessness has seized hold of many of us, a sense that we should be doing something else, no matter what we are doing, or doing at least two things at once, or going to check some other medium. It’s an anxiety about keeping up, about not being left out or getting behind. … I think it is for a quality of time we no longer have, and that is hard to name and harder to imagine reclaiming. My time does not come in large, focused blocks, but in fragments and shards. The fault is my own, arguably, but it’s yours too—it’s the fault of everyone I know who rarely finds herself or himself with uninterrupted hours. We’re shattered. We’re breaking up. It’s hard, now, to be with someone else wholly, uninterruptedly, and it’s hard to be truly alone. The fine art of doing nothing in particular, also known as thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being, was part of what happened when you walked from here to there, alone, or stared out the train window, or contemplated the road, but the new technologies have flooded those open spaces. Space for free thought is routinely regarded as a void and filled up with sounds and distractions.” Rebecca Solnit

“Yahweh is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.”
Psalm 23:1-3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you using new technologies to “assuage [your] fears of being alone?”
  • Are you using them to avoid “risking real connection?”
  • Does your pace and your approach to the day allow for “time for thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being?”

Abba, help me to be real and quiet in this world of illusion and noise.

For More: The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness by Rebecca Solnit

________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

.

Special thanks to that amazing online resource Brain Pickings.

 

Daily Riches: A View from the Bottom (Richard Rohr)

“In almost all of history, the vast majority of people understood the view from the bottom due to their own life circumstance. Most of the people who have ever lived on this planet have been oppressed and poor. But their history was seldom written except in the Bible (until very recently in such books as Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States). Only in modern times and wealthy countries do we find the strange phenomenon of masses of people having an establishment mentality. This relatively new thing called ‘the middle class’ gives many of us just enough comfort not to have to feel the pinch or worry about injustice for ourselves. Most of us in the Northern Hemisphere have a view from the top even though we are nowhere near the top ourselves. The mass of people can normally be bought off by just giving them ‘bread and circuses,’ as the Romans said. …Only by solidarity with other people’s suffering can comfortable people be converted. Otherwise we are disconnected from the cross–of the world, of others, of Jesus, and finally of our own necessary participation in the great mystery of dying and rising. In the early Christian Scriptures, or the ‘New’ Testament, we clearly see that it’s mostly the lame, the poor, the blind, the prostitutes, the drunkards, the tax collectors, the sinners–those on the bottom and the outside–that really hear Jesus’ teaching and get the point and respond to him. It’s the leaders and insiders (the priests, scribes, Pharisees, teachers of the law, and Roman leaders) who crucify him. That is evident in the text. …After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the first Christians go ‘underground.’ They are the persecuted ones, meeting in secrecy in the catacombs. …The Church was largely of the poor and for the poor. The turning point, at which the Church moved from the bottom to the top, is the year 313 A.D. when Emperor Constantine supposedly did the Church a great favor by beginning to make Christianity the established religion of the Holy Roman Empire. …As the Church’s interests became linked with imperial world views, our perspective changed from the view from the bottom and powerlessness (the persecuted, the outsiders) to the view from the top where we were now the ultimate insiders (with power, money, status, and control).” Richard Rohr

“Once you were not a people”
1 Peter 2:!0

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you have friends on the “bottom” or “outside?” What does your answer say about you?
  • Compared to the world’s population, do you have “power, money, status, and control?”
  • What “bread and circuses” could be distracting you from harsh realities?

Jesus, convert us, your comfortable people.

For More: Scripture as Liberation by Richard Rohr

_________________________________________________

Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Religion and Violence (Jonathan Sacks and Dan Clendenin)

“Sibling rivalry is ‘the most primal form of violence,’ and ‘the dominant theme of the book of Genesis.’  We desire what others have, become rivals for it, and then fight to get it in what we wrongly think is a zero sum game. And so Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim to be the one, true heir of Abraham. We fight to be the sole inheritor of the divine promise. The stories are familiar to those who know their Bibles, but in Sacks’s ‘close reading’ of them, he offers new interpretations in which sibling rivalry is revealed and then subverted. With Isaac and Ishmael, God chooses Isaac, but he doesn’t reject Ishmael. The story of Jacob and Esau is ‘the refutation of sibling rivalry in the Bible.’ Recall how Jacob returned the blessing that he stole from his blind father Isaac. The story of Joseph and his brothers who tried to kill him takes up a third of the book of Genesis—in the end, the victim forgives and the perpetrators repent. Rachel and Leah exemplify the ‘rejection of rejection.’ Sibling rivalry is natural, says Sacks, but these stories remind us that it’s not inevitable. Human beings cannot live without a group identity, and religion might be the most powerful of them all. By definition, groups require an Us and a Them. …There’s no middle ground, no subtlety or nuance, only black and white, in and out. By nature, we extend altruism toward my In group, and hostility toward my Out group. Here again the Hebrew revelation subverts our natural inclinations by commending a radical role reversal. Do not oppress the stranger, the people outside your group. Why? Because you know what it’s like to be oppressed as a stranger in a strange land (Exodus 22.21).  …have mercy on them, remember that you too were once aliens. …Protect the weak, care for widows and orphans, help the poor, speak up for those who have no voice. Do justice, love kindness. Don’t long for power, for you can’t impose faith or truth by force. Religion, argues Sacks, is an anti-politics that lives without power. Instead, it persuades by example.” Dan Clendenin

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite,
but love your neighbor as yourself.
Leviticus 19:18

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Does your religion subvert the tendency to create “insiders” and “outsiders?”
  • Does your religion persuade by power … or example?
  • Is there any good reason why Jews, Christians and Muslims must fight with each other? Can you imagine ways we might be able to learn from each other?

Abba, help me see others as insiders, included with me in your love.

For More: Not in God’s Name by Jonathan Sacks

_________________________________________________

Thanks for reading/following my blog! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

 

 

Daily Riches: The Only Thing That Matters (Brennan Manning)

“The apostle Paul may have understood the mind of Jesus better than anyone who ever lived. He sums up his whole understanding of the message of Jesus in Galatians 5:6 when he writes, “the only thing that matters is the faith that expresses itself in love.” According to Paul’s criterion … the person who is the most Christlike, closest to the heart of Abba, is not the one who spends the most time in prayer. It’s not the one who has the most PhDs. It’s not the one who has the most responsibility entrusted to his care. It’s not the pastor of the biggest megachurch. No, it’s the one who loves the most. That’s not my opinion. Those are the words in Galatians 5 that will judge us. According to that mysterious substitution of Christ for the Christian, what we do to one another, we do to Jesus.  …Jesus expected the most of every man and woman, and behind their grumpier poses, their most puzzling defense mechanisms, their coarseness, their arrogance, their dignified airs, their silence, and their sneers and curses, Jesus sees a little child who wasn’t loved enough–a least of these who had ceased growing because someone had ceased believing in them. How have we gotten it so screwed up?” I was speaking to the Navigators not long ago and they asked, ‘Do you have a word for us?’ I said, ‘Yes, I do. Instead of being  identified as a community that memorizes Scripture why not be a community of professional lovers that causes people to say, ‘How they love one another!’ Why do we judge Jesus’ criterion for authentic discipleship irrelevant? Jesus said the world is going to recognize you as His by only one sign: the way you are with one another on the street every day. You are going to leave people feeling a little better or a little worse. You’re going to affirm or deprive them, but there’ll be no neutral exchange. …We’re denying to the world the one witness Jesus asked for:

“Love one another as I’ve loved you.” Jesus, in John 15:12

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are lots of people in your church working really hard to become “professional lovers?” Is your pastor regularly calling for that?
  • Your church is probably great (as are the Navigators), but have you settled for something other than loving the least?
  • What would this look like in a church? How would you have to change?

Abba, let me be known for love.

For More: The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: Drowning Out Cries of the Oppressed with the Noise of Hymns (Abraham Heschel)

“In [ancient] Israel … sacrifice is an essential act of worship. It is the experience of giving oneself vicariously to God and of being received by Him. And yet, the pre-exilic prophets uttered violent attacks on sacrifices (Amos 5:21-27; Hos. 6:6; Isa. 1:11-17; Mic. 6:6-8; Jer. 6:20; 7:21-23; Isa. 61:1-2; Pss. 40:7; 50:12-13). Samuel insisted: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams’ (1 Sam. 15:22). However, while Samuel stressed the primacy of obedience over sacrifice, Amos and the prophets who followed him not only stressed the primacy of morality over sacrifice, but even proclaimed that the worth of worship, far from being absolute, is contingent upon moral living, and that when immorality prevails, worship is detestable. Questioning man’s right to worship through offerings and songs, they maintained that the primary way of serving God is through love, justice and righteousness. …Of course, the prophets did not condemn the practice of sacrifice in itself; otherwise, we should have to conclude that Isaiah intended to discourage the practice of prayer (Isa. 1:14-15). They did, however, claim that deeds of injustice vitiate both sacrifice and prayer. Men may not drown the cries of the oppressed with the noise of hymns, nor buy off the Lord with increased offerings. The prophets disparaged the cult when it became a substitute for righteousness.” Abraham Heschel – The Prophets

“I hate all your show and pretense—
    the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
    I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
    an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:21-27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you think of the “worth of your worship” as being “contingent upon [your] moral living?” …as an individual? …as a congregation?
  • Do you live as though “the primary way of serving God is through love, justice and righteousness?” If not, what is your primary “way?”
  • Is your congregation perhaps satisfied with and distracted by “the noise of hymns”, and oblivious to the “cries of the oppressed?” …are you?

Daily may we hearken to you, O Yahweh.

For More: The Prophets by Abraham Heschel

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Inaccessibly Transcendent Christ (Charles Marsh, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Myles Horton)

“A Union student from east Tennessee named Myles Horton met him after he returned from his first visit to Abyssinian [Baptist Church.] Bonhoeffer, Horton recalled, was in an expansive mood and eager to talk. Horton accompanied him on a most animate walk down Riverside Drive, the whole way Bonhoeffer speaking excitedly–in both English and German, which Horton did not understand–of the preaching, the congregant’s participation, and ‘especially the singing of black spirituals.’ He conveyed the thrill of the flock voicing ascent with the preacher. Completely unguarded, at one point Bonhoeffer stopped abruptly and told Horton that this morning in Harlem was the only time ‘he had experienced true religion in the United States.’ Indeed, he had never seen such joy in worship anywhere before, certainly not in the melancholy north German plains. Bonhoeffer concluded that ‘only among blacks, who were oppressed, could there be any real religion in this country.’ His presence at Abyssinian that year coincided with important changes in Powell’s vocation as an urban minister. A skilled administrator as well as an eloquent preacher, Powell had already been senior pastor at the neo-Gothic church for more than twenty years. But with the Great Depression sweeping over the neighhorhoods of Harlem as bad as anywhere, he felt summoned to new convictions. For most of his ministry, he had traded comfortably on a notion of Christ as inaccessibly transcendent, the God-man in majesty. Lately, he had begun to dwell on Jesus as the one who wandered into distressed and lonely places to share the struggles of the poor as a friend and counselor. Bonhoeffer’s later formulation of the ‘Christological incognito’ bears the impress of Powell’s decisive awakening, of Christ going incognito into the world, ‘an outcast among outcasts,’ hiding himself in weakness.” Charles Marsh

“Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem”
Isaiah 53:3

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Does your understanding of Christ make him so lofty and powerful that he seems distant and inaccessible? Is there a place in your religion for the “despised” sufferer of Isaiah–who “shares the struggles of the poor as a friend and counselor?”
  • Would the Christ that your congregation worships have sufficed for Harlem’s forgotten people in the midst of the Great Depression?
  • When you think of Jesus, do you think of “an outcast among outcasts … hiding himself in weakness?” Would making room for such a Jesus lead you to some kind of “awakening?”

Abba, grant me a decisive awakening to Christ incognito in my day, in my world.

For More: Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. – Bill