Daily Riches: The Modern Prejudice Against Joy (Friedrich Nietzsche and Tom Hodgkinson)

“Even now one is ashamed of resting, and prolonged reflection almost gives people a bad conscience. One thinks with a watch in one’s hand, even as one eats one’s midday meal while reading the latest news of the stock market; one lives as if one ‘might miss out on something.’ ‘Rather do anything than nothing’: this principle, too, is merely a string to throttle culture and good taste.  …Virtue has come to consist of doing something in less time than someone else. …How frugal our educated—and uneducated—people have become regarding ‘joy!’ How they are becoming increasingly suspicious of all joy! More and more, work enlists all good conscience on its side; the desire for joy already calls itself a ‘need to recuperate’ and is beginning to be ashamed of itself. ‘One owes it to one’s health’—that is what people say when they are caught on an excursion into the country. Soon we may well reach the point where people can no longer give into the desire for a vita contemplativa (that is, taking a walk with ideas and friends) without self-contempt and a bad conscience.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Well, formerly, it was the other way around: it was work that was afflicted with the bad conscience. A person of good family used to conceal the fact that he was working if need compelled him to work. Slaves used to work, oppressed by the feeling that they were doing something contemptible. ‘Nobility and honour are attached solely to otium [leisure] and bellum [war],’ that was the ancient prejudice. Nietzsche’s point is: if we managed to remove our collective guilt about enjoying ourselves, then the culture of only taking time off when we are allowed by some outside force or by some inner self-controller might be damaged. The word leisure, incidentally, comes from the Latin licere, meaning “to be permitted.” We have given responsibility for our free time to others, and we only have ourselves to blame.” Tom Hodgkinson

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:
for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
Mark 6:31

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • You can see the “ancient prejudice” against work. Can you also see the modern prejudice against leisure?
  • Do you feel you need to justify days off? …recreation? …taking a walk? …a nap?
  • Would you rather “do anything than nothing?” Do you keep moving out of a sense of guilt?

Abba, break my obsession with doing and my pride in rejecting joy.

For More: How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

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

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

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

 

 

Daily Riches: Joining God’s Eternal Dance (Alan Watts)

“The playfulness of the child, the saint, and of God are alike in this; that they are all actions in the mood of eternity rather than the mood of time. In this present world-order eternity is known in its ever-moving focal point–the present moment, and the child in his play and the saint in his holiness both live in the present. Absorbed in twisting string or dropping stones in a pool, the child lives in a timeless realm where a game that goes on and on without goal is like the planets which go round and round to nowhere at God’s command. Following the precept of Christ to learn from the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, the saint worries no more about tomorrow and yesterday, and concerns himself simply with doing the will of God as it is presented to him in the circumstances of each moment…. And in the fulness of eternity the triune God, the Father and the Son in the unity of the Spirit, is ever at the play of love, the divine subsistencies giving themselves one to another in an ageless dance [“perichoresis”] whose finite image is the blaze of aimless splendour that fills the heavens in celebration of the joy of God. This divine activity, the movement of the Spirit, never palls because in eternity there is no yesterday to remember and no tomorrow for which to plan; there is simply Now for ever. …there is so much tragedy on the surface of life that were there not somewhere, right in the centre of things and in the centre of each and every pain, a state of absolute and unconfined joy accessible to all, the whole realm of Being must be damned. The joyous centre is there, and the heart of God is open, in the very midst of every experience that can befall us. To sense and thought it is strait and narrow and impossible to find…. But to love it is wider than space and more enduring than all the ages of time–embracing every creature that was, is or shall be. It is the instant and inescapable presence of the Eternal Moment, the movement of the Spirit of God.” Alan Watts

“In Your presence
is fullness of joy.”
Psalm 16:11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you simply do “the will of God as it is presented … in the circumstances of each moment?
  • Do you think of the trinity as giving themselves to each other “in an ageless dance” of love?
  • Can you access “the heart of God” in the midst of every experience?

Eternal God, I want to participation in your celebration.

For more: Behold the Spirit by Alan Watts

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Thanks for following/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Feeling Joy In a World of Pain (Lynne Baab)

“I find it quite challenging to accept the notion that we have some sort of responsibility before God to enjoy the good things of life. For most of my adult life, I’ve had an inner dialogue running through my brain along these lines: ‘How can I truly enjoy this wonderful event when 22,000 children will die today of the effects of hunger?’ – ‘How can I relish this beautiful weather when 11.4 million Syrians are displaced from their homes?’ Ever since my mid-twenties, I’ve been much, much better at mourning with those who mourn rather than rejoicing with those who rejoice. However, I’m doing better these days enjoying God’s good gifts. I want to reflect on how that happened. …

The Sabbath.  …In Jewish tradition, prayers of intercession are not appropriate on the Sabbath because it’s a day of rest. In contrast, prayers of thankfulness are encouraged. On my Sabbath day, when I start thinking about any kind of pain in the world, the kind of situations that might motivate prayers of intercession, I tell myself, You can think about that and pray about it tomorrow. Today’s focus is rest and being present to all of God’s good gifts.’ Over many years, that Sabbath habit has helped me turn off anxiety and sorrow, albeit briefly, and focus on the gifts of the moment. …

The Psalms. In the Psalms, confession, lament, praise and thanks recur over and over, reinforcing in my mind that there is a time for everything and that life should be lived in a rhythm. Yes, it is completely appropriate to grieve over Syria and to pray for refugees. But it is equally appropriate to stop and look and enjoy the beautiful clear eyes of a small child or a flower newly unfurled.

This reality has become more real to me over time as I have practiced lack of worry and sorrow on the Sabbath and as I have practiced thankfulness. My habits have changed my thoughts. None of the shifts described here happened very quickly for me. But I can see movement over time, and I have to say that after decades of feeling so much sorrow and sadness, having a good number of moments of joy is pretty wonderful.” Lynne Baab

““For everything there is a season…
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you like a break from “feeling so much sorrow and sadness” over our pain-filled world?
  • Do you have a day in your weekly calendar where you can allow yourself to be “sorrow free?”
  • Can you see the value in such a day?

Abba, let me both weep and rejoice as I should.

For more: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog. – Bill

Daily Riches: The Miracles of the Nativity (Martin Luther, Roland Bainton and John Donne)

“Saint Bernard declared there are here three [Nativity] miracles: that God and man should be joined in this Child; that a mother should remain a virgin; that Mary should have such faith as to believe that this mystery would be accomplished in her. The last is not the least of the three. … ‘Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given’ (Isa. 9:6). This is for us the hardest point, not so much to believe that He is the son of the Virgin and God himself, as to believe that this Son of God is ours …Truly it is marvelous in our eyes that God should place a little child in the lap of a virgin and that all our blessedness should lie in him. And this Child belongs to all mankind. God feeds the whole world through a Babe nursing at Mary’s breast. This must be our daily exercise: to be transformed into Christ, being nourished by this food. Then will the heart be suffused with all joy and will be strong and confident against every assault.” Martin Luther

“Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.”
John Donne, “Annunciation”

“the baby to be born will be holy,
and he will be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35
.

Moving From Head to Heart

The hardest thing may not be believing God exists, or that God has appeared among men. The hardest thing may be to believe God is “for you” – that God has come among men intending good towards you.

  • Picture the people you know, remembering that the Son of God came for them and wants to do them good.
  • Look in the mirror and remember that the Son of God came for you and wants to do you good.
  • “God feeds the whole world through a Babe nursing at Mary’s breast.” What can you do in the year to come to be nourished by Christ or help others to be?

Oh, the glory of God become man for us.

For More: The Martin Luther Christmas Book by Roland Bainton

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Thanks for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: A Blue Christmas: Grief, Pain, Fear and Struggle (Peter Smith)

“Congregants heard no triumphant organ fanfares, no joyous Christmas carols, only quiet readings and prayers in a sanctuary lit with votives amid the dusk of late afternoon. The music was a soft guitar strumming, accompanying a humming solo of the hymn, In the Bleak Midwinter. The event was a Longest Night service at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church [in Louisville, Kentucky] — one of a growing number of congregations across the country trying to reach those who feel little comfort and joy amid the celebratory season. ‘It’s a chance to say, “My life is not totally fabulous,” and to hear God is there,’ said the Rev. Martha Holland, children’s minister at St. Andrew. Some congregations call it a Blue Christmas service, reflecting the sadness of the song popularized by Elvis Presley. Others call it the Longest Night because it occurs on or near the winter solstice, with the year’s least amount of daylight. …Some people may be grieving for a loved one with whom they shared Christmases past, Holland said. For others, who may have experienced divorce, abuse or other family trauma, the last thing they want to hear about is coming home for the holidays. Still others simply may be stressed because of holiday expectations. …Blue Christmas services have become more and more common in the past two decades with denominations and other groups even adapting traditional December liturgies for the purpose. At St. Andrew on Wednesday, participants lit four candles on the Advent wreath in honor of grief, pain, fear and struggle, a contrast to their usual representation of love, joy, peace and hope. Such services help revive the historic meanings of the season of Advent, said the Rev. Chip Hardwick…. Throughout history, the season, consisting of the four Sundays before Christmas, was a stark, penitential period focused on a longing for the coming of the kingdom of God — something inaugurated by Jesus’ birth but that awaits a future fulfillment, Hardwick said. But a cultural message that ‘everything is shiny and happy for Christmas’ has overwhelmed the season’s original meaning, he said. … ‘Advent is the time when we wait for the world to be what we want it to be.’ …Some may need the service in a given year while others come annually with some ‘ongoing pain,’ Holland said. The church began the service after a hit-and-run driver in 2008 killed two children who regularly attended. ‘It’s a comfort to a lot of people. A very upbeat, celebratory Christmas is like salt in the wounds.’  …The Rev. Ben Maas, pastor of St. Andrew, said the goal of the service there was not to provide neat answers for why suffering occurs but to assure parishioners of what is ultimately the message of Christmas: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it, no matter how much it seems like the darkness is winning,’ he said.” Peter Smith

“The light shines in the darkness”
John 1:5

Moving From Head to Heart

  • If your Christmas is “shiny and happy” are you making room for those for whom it is otherwise?
  • Is your congregation joining with the church around the world in waiting “for the world to be what we want it to be?”
  • Can you practice waiting in hope, including when there are no “neat answers?”

God of compassion, sit with us in our pain.

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Thanks for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Laughter and Taking Your Proper Place in the Universe (James Martin, Karl Rahner, and David Robb)

“If people don’t have some lightness in their lives then they end up taking themselves too seriously and are unable to move outside themselves. And a great deal of spirituality lies in putting yourself in an appropriate place in the universe. Those who can laugh at themselves can also look at themselves critically, but not harshly, a key element of emotional growth.” David Robb

“The truly holy are humble because they know their place before God. But how, with our accomplishments and our egos, especially in a culture that tells us that we have to be on top, to be number one, to be successful, do we keep that humility before us? Self-deprecating humor … is one way to do this. Laughing at yourself, not taking yourself too seriously, not making every situation about you, not demanding that life adjust itself to suit your needs, and laughing at yourself when you forget all this are good places to start.” James Martin

“Laugh. For this laughter is an acknowledgment that you are a human being. An acknowledgment that is itself the beginning of the acknowledgment of God. For how else is a person to acknowledge God except for admitting in his life and by means of his life that he himself is not God but a creature that has his times – a time to weep and a time to laugh, and the one is not the other. A praising of God is what laughter is, because it lets a human being be human.” Karl Rahner

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”
Psalm 126:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is laughter in your repertoire? If so, how does it help you keep things in perspective?
  • If you can laugh at yourself, you can look at yourself “critically, but not harshly [which is] a key element of emotional growth.” Can you laugh at yourself?
  • It’s not about you. You’re not in control. Can you laugh at yourself “when you forget all this” and let humor bring you back to your senses and proper “place before God?”

Abba, keep me from taking myself or others too seriously. As your people, may our mouths be filled with laughter.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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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 please share it! My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Elusive Joy (James Martin, Donald Salier, Henri Nouwen and Peter Kreeft)

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Ernest Hemingway
“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”  Mark Twain

“Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. …Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event…. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.” Henri NoJoyuwen

“Joy is not simply a fleeting feeling or an evanescent emotion; it is a deep-seated result of one’s connection to God. …Joy has an object and that object is God. …Joy is a fundamental disposition toward God … [having] ability to exist even in the midst of suffering, because joy has less to do with emotion and more to do with belief. It does not ignore pain in the world, in another’s life, or in one’s own life…. Rather, it goes deeper seeing confidence in God–and for Christians, in Jesus Christ–as the reason for joy and a constant source of joy.” James Martin and Donald Salier

“He came. He entered space and time and suffering. He came, like a lover. Love seeks above all intimacy, presence, togetherness. Not happiness. ‘Better unhappy with her than happy without her’–that is the word of a lover. He came. That is the salient fact, the towering truth…. He came. Job is satisfied even though the God who came gave him absolutely no answers at all to his thousand tortured questions. He did the most important thing and he gave the most important gift: himself. It is a lover’s gift. Out of our tears, our waiting, our darkness, our agonized aloneness, out of our weeping and wondering, out of our cry …he came, all the way, right into that cry.” Peter Kreeft

“consider it all joy”  James 1:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you “choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise?”
  • What might happen, if in spite of the world’s pain, you adopt a “fundamental disposition” of confidence in God?
  • What might happen, if in spite of your “thousand tortured questions” you experience the gift of God’s presence?

Abba, may our connection lead to fullness of joy in me.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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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 daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Worshiping a Truly Human Jesus (Edward Hays)

“Since smiling is extraordinarily rare in depictions of divine or savior figures, Buddhist scholars are careful to distinguish the smile of Buddha. They list six classes of laughter, from the most sublime in a descending scale to the most uncouth and crude. They begin with sita, a faint, almost undetectable smile, which is followed by hasita, a smile that involves the slightest movement of the lips, revealing only a glimpse of the teeth. The third classification is vihasita, a broad smile reaching from ear to ear that is often accompanied by laughter. Next comes upanhasita, a broad-faced smile that is accompanied by some laughter. Fifth is apahasita, a smile accompanied by loud laughter so intense as to bring tears. Finally in last place is aithasita, the belly laughter that is so boisterous as to rock the entire body. This wonderful Buddhist catalog of smiles was influenced by the ideals of aristocratic superiority, where only the first two classes were proper for those with refinement. In those circles, the Buddha is shown only smiling with that faint, almost undetectable, sita smile. If artists ever began to depict the joy of Jesus, they will no doubt also limit his expression to a sita smile. The next two classes of smiles, of moderate laughter are those ascribed to the merchant or the average person. The last two classes of excessive and vulgar laughter are reserved to the lower, coarse, and uncouth classes, such as peasants. Yet Jesus of Nazareth was no aristocrat, but a peasant and common workman, so if he laughed, did he do so in a boisterous way? If he did, would a raucous full-bodied laughter diminish in any way his holiness – his intimate union with the All Holy One? While Christianity lacks religious images of …smiling saints, Buddhism has that notoriously happy saintly, old and fat, potbellied Pu-Tai. This famous laughing Buddha is a statue often found at the entrances of Chinese restaurants. He is always depicted laughing with great gusto…. Pu-Tai …spurned the cloister claustrophobia of monasteries to wander the open road. He went dancing down the road to some inaudible music, played with little children in the village streets, and delighted them by acting the crazy fool with joyful, mad humor. Pu-tai, both a wise and holy man, knew that for those living in a village or a monastery the greatest temptation was the craving of the hungry old ego for respect or to be important. [But] Old Pu-Tai was unconcerned if his fat potbelly didn’t make him look saintly, nor that he was the target of the laughter of children and adults.” Edward Hays

“Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter,
and everyone who hears about this
will laugh with me.’”
Genesis 21:6

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you imagine Jesus laughing with full-bodied laughter?
  • Would you still respect and worship Jesus if he had a pot-belly?
  • Pu-Tai reminds me at points of St. Francis, and of Jesus. Must we take ourselves so seriously?

Abba, help me follow my savior into a life of laughter and joy.

For More: The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

 

 

Daily Riches: The Most Infallible Sign of the Presence of God (James Martin, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
 .
“In some religious circles, joy, humor, and laughter are viewed as excessive, irrelevant, ridiculous, inappropriate, and even scandalous. But a lighthearted spirit is none of those things. Rather, it is an essential element of a healthy spiritual life and a healthy life in general. When we lose sight of this serious truth, we cease to live life fully, truly, and wholly. Indeed, we fail to be holy. …People seemed fascinated by joy. It’s almost as if they’d been waiting to be told that it’s okay to be joyful believers. Still, many clergy, as well as some devout believers in general, give the impression that being religious means being dour, serious, or even grumpy. Joylessness is nondenominational and interfaith. Religious organizations seem to reward the more serious types; they rise to the top because their dour attitude is perhaps seen as proof of the seriousness of their intent. People’s past experiences with the clergy leads them to equate ministry with melancholy. But the lives of the saints, as well as those of great spiritual masters from almost every other religious tradition, show the opposite. Holy people are joyful. Why? Because holiness brings us closer to God, the source of all joy. Joy, a characteristic of those close to God, is a sign of not only a confidence in God, but also … gratitude for God’s blessings. …Joy, humor, and laughter show one’s faith in God. For Christians, an essentially hopeful outlook shows people that you believe in the Resurrection, in the power of life over death, and in the power of love over hatred.” James Martin
“You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence….”
Psalm 16:11

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you look at your life for signs of spiritual health, do you look for joy? Do you find it?
  • Have you fallen into the trap of blaming your circumstances or temperament for a lack of joy? Of thinking joy is unimportant?
  • Do you spend time in God’s presence in a way that brings you joy? If not, why not?

Abba, you know I’m too often joy-challenged. Fill me with your Spirit, and with joy.

For More:  Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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

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

Daily Riches: Silence More Powerful than Words (Parker Palmer and Rachel Remen)

“We can be silent at people, as when we give someone ‘the silent treatment’ to convey our disdain, or keep a cowardly silence in the face of great wrongs. Silences of this sort destroy community, and may make us co-conspirators with injustice or flat-out evil. Or we can be silent with people, as in the kind of silence that surrounds reflection and reverence. Silences of this sort are a form of human communion that allow us to connect with each other at depths we can’t reach with words. [In her book My Grandfather’s Blessings, Rachel Remen tells a story from a conference on Jungian dream analysis where] … participants were asked to take a card and write about a dream. ….

One of these cards told the story of a horrific recurring dream, in which the dreamer was stripped of all human dignity and worth through Nazi atrocities. A member of the panel read the dream out loud. As she listened, my colleague began to formulate a dream interpretation in her head…. It was really a ‘no-brainer,’ she thought, as her mind busily offered her symbolic explanations for the torture and atrocities described in the dream. But this was not how the panel responded at all. When the reading of the dream was complete, Jung’s grandson looked out over the large audience. ‘Would you all please rise?’ he asked. ‘We will stand together in a moment of silence in response to this dream.’ The audience stood for a minute, my colleague impatiently waiting for the discussion she was certain would follow. But when they sat again, the panel went on to the next question. My colleague simply did not understand this at all, and a few days later she asked one of her teachers, himself a Jungian analyst, about it. ‘Ah, Lois,’ he had said, ‘there is in life a suffering so unspeakable, a vulnerability so extreme that it goes far beyond words, beyond explanations and even beyond healing. In the face of such suffering all we can do is bear witness so no one need suffer alone.” Parker Palmer

“Everyone should be … slow to speak”
James 1:19

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you experienced the power of silence?
  • Are you learning when to be silent?
  • Have you ever sensed that your words hindered God’s work?

Abba, teach me a silence filled with wisdom, love and power.

For More: A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer

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“Daily Riches” is for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

 

 

Daily Riches: Fun Jesus (James Martin)

“When I imagine Jesus, it is not simply as a person who heals the sick, raises the dead, stills the storm, and preaches the good news. It’s also as a man of great goodwill and compassion, with a zest for life …brimming with generous good humor. Full of high spirits. Playful. Even fun. Interestingly, in the past few decades two images of a joyful Jesus have enjoyed some popularity. The first is The Laughing Christ by Willis Wheatley, a sketch that shows Jesus’s head thrown back in open-mouthed laughter. The second is The Risen Christ By the Sea, a colorful portrait of Jesus wearing a broad smile and standing beside a fishing net, painted by Jack Jewell, a seascape artist, in the 1990s. These two paintings, among others, serve to counteract countless images of the gloomy Messiah. But both images are often mocked in sophisticated religious and academic circles. Admittedly, they are not ‘high art.’ …But I wonder if some eschew these portraits not for the quality of the artistry, but rather for their subject material. Is there something about a smiling Jesus that threatens our understanding of the man?” James Martin

“Jesus frequently called together His disciples, His followers and often strangers to dine with him. It doesn’t take too much imagination to picture these as joyful events – just think of enjoyable dinner parties and celebrations in your own life, full of laughter and good cheer, everyone delighting in one another’s company. There is a reason that one enduring image of heaven is a banquet. Maureen O’Connell, an assistant professor of theology at Fordham University, says, ‘At my house, we often laugh ourselves sick around the dinner table. Isn’t this the point of dinner parties?'” (Martin)
 .

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say,
‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”
Matthew 11:18

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you uncomfortable with a Jesus who is “fun?” If so, can you say why?
  • Have you perhaps created a Jesus in your own image? …serious? …intense? …confrontational? …humorless?
  • It’s interesting to me that a woman says “we often laugh ourselves sick.”  Statistically men have fewer friends than women, and die younger. Men, in the future, will you regret not “lightening up” more – being so serious so much of the time?

Abba, help me not to take myself, or my life, so seriously.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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

Daily Riches: The Acid Test of Theology (Dallas Willard)

“Modern attempts to think about God independently of historical revelation have been thoroughly victimized by currents of nineteenth– and twentieth-century philosophy that simply make knowledge of God …an impossibility.  …This forces one to handle the texts and traditions of Jesus in such a way that he can never bring us to a personal God whom we can love with all our being. But things often turn out little better for theology on the right. It tends to be satisfied with having the right doctrines or traditions and to stop there without ever moving on to consuming admiration of, delight in, and devotion to the God of the universe. On the one hand, these are treated as not necessary, because we have the right answers; and on the other hand, we are given little, if any, example and teaching concerning how to move on to honest and full-hearted love of God. The acid test for any theology is this: Is the God presented one that can be loved, heart, soul, mind, and strength? If the thoughtful, honest answer is; ‘Not really,’ then we need to look elsewhere or deeper. It does not really matter how sophisticated intellectually or doctrinally our approach is. If it fails to set a lovable God – a radiant, happy, friendly, accessible, and totally competent being – before ordinary people, we have gone wrong. We should not keep going in the same direction, but turn around (repent?) and take another road. …The theologian who does not love God is in great danger, and in danger of doing great harm….” Dallas Willard

“If I have the gift of prophecy
and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge
… but do not have love,
I am nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:2

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

Jesus hoped we would know him, love him, and follow him. After his resurrection it became clear we also should worship him. It doesn’t always work that way.

  • Has your philosophy or theology made a loving relationship with Jesus impossible for you?
  • Has fighting for the truth (right doctrine) become more important to you than loving others well (right relationships)?
  • Does your faith rest in a God who is “a lovable God – a radiant, happy, friendly, accessible, and totally competent being?” Will you determine to look “elsewhere or deeper” for that God if necessary?

Abba, may I know you in truth, in spite of your mystery and my hang-ups.

For More: The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

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

Daily Riches: Laughter and Taking Your Proper Place in the Universe (James Martin, Karl Rahner, David Robb)

“If people don’t have some lightness in their lives then they end up taking themselves too seriously and are unable to move outside themselves. And a great deal of spirituality lies in putting yourself in an appropriate place in the universe. Those who can laugh at themselves can also look at themselves critically, but not harshly, a key element of emotional growth.” David Robb

“The truly holy are humble because they know their place before God. But how, with our accomplishments and our egos, especially in a culture that tells us that we have to be on top, to be number one, to be successful, do we keep that humility before us? Self-deprecating humor … is one way to do this. Laughing at yourself, not taking yourself too seriously, not making every situation about you, not demanding that life adjust itself to suit your needs, and laughing at yourself when you forget all this are good places to start.” James Martin

“Laugh. For this laughter is an acknowledgment that you are a human being. An acknowledgment that is itself the beginning of the acknowledgment of God. For how else is a person to acknowledge God except for admitting in his life and by means of his life that he himself is not God but a creature that has his times – a time to weep and a time to laugh, and the one is not the other. A praising of God is what laughter is, because it lets a human being be human.” Karl Rahner

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”
Psalm 126:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is laughter in your repertoire? If so, how does it help you keep things in perspective?
  • If you can laugh at yourself, you can look at yourself “critically, but not harshly [which is] a key element of emotional growth.” Can you laugh at yourself?
  • It’s not about you. You’re not in control. Can you laugh at yourself “when you forget all this” and let humor bring you back to your senses and proper “place before God?”

Abba, keep me from taking myself or others too seriously. As your people, may our mouths be filled with laughter.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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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 daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

 

 

Daily Riches: Elusive Joy (James Martin, Donald Salier, Henri Nouwen and Peter Kreeft)

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Ernest Hemingway
“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”  Mark Twain

“Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. …Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event…. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.” Henri NoJoyuwen

“Joy is not simply a fleeting feeling or an evanescent emotion; it is a deep-seated result of one’s connection to God. …Joy has an object and that object is God. …Joy is a fundamental disposition toward God … [having] ability to exist even in the midst of suffering, because joy has less to do with emotion and more to do with belief. It does not ignore pain in the world, in another’s life, or in one’s own life… Rather, it goes deeper seeing confidence in God – and for Christians, in Jesus Christ – as the reason for joy and a constant source of joy.” James Martin and Donald Salier

“He came. He entered space and time and suffering. He came, like a lover. Love seeks above all intimacy, presence, togetherness. Not happiness. ‘Better unhappy with her than happy without her’ – that is the word of a lover. He came. That is the salient fact, the towering truth…. He came. Job is satisfied even though the God who came gave him absolutely no answers at all to his thousand tortured questions. He did the most important thing and he gave the most important gift: himself. It is a lover’s gift. Out of our tears, our waiting, our darkness, our agonized aloneness, out of our weeping and wondering, out of our cry …he came, all the way, right into that cry.” Peter Kreeft

“consider it all joy”  James 1:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you “choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise?”
  • What might happen, if in spite of the world’s pain, you adopt a “fundamental disposition” of confidence in God?
  • What might happen, if in spite of your “thousand tortured questions” you experience the gift of God’s presence?

Abba, may our connection lead to fullness of joy in me.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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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 daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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