Daily Riches: The Lens Through Which We View the World (Thomas Moore and Chris Hedges)

“If we could all feel the suffering of humanity we would become the persons we are destined to be. But we typically protect ourselves from this transformative knowledge. We pretend to be children in a nursery kept at a distance from the real world.” Thomas Moore

“Those who fail to exhibit positive attitudes, no matter the external reality, are seen as maladjusted and in need of assistance. [We’re told that] Their attitudes need correction. Once we adopt an upbeat vision of reality, positive things will happen. This belief encourages us to flee from reality when reality does not elicit positive feelings. . . . It argues that we attract those things in life, whether it is money, relationships or employment, which we focus on. Suddenly, abused and battered wives or children, the unemployed, the depressed and mentally ill, the illiterate, the lonely, those grieving for lost loved ones, those crushed by poverty, the terminally ill, those fighting with addictions, those suffering from trauma, those trapped in menial and poorly paid jobs, those whose homes are in foreclosure or who are filing for bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills, are to blame for their negativity. The ideology justifies the cruelty of unfettered capitalism, shifting the blame from the power elite to those they oppress. And many of us have internalized this pernicious message, which in times of difficulty leads to personal despair, passivity and disillusionment. . . . This is the twisted ideological lens through which we view the world. ” Chris Hedges

“But if your eyes are unhealthy,
your whole body will be full of darkness.
If then the light within you is darkness,
how great is that darkness!”
Jesus in Mt. 6:23 NIV

Moving From The Head to The Heart

  • Does Hodges’ strident language and biting critique turn you away? . . . prevent you from hearing the argument? If so, what does that say about you?
  • Do you tend to blame people for their problems (homelessness, poverty, addiction, bankruptcy, divorce, abuse, unemployment, foreclosure, etc.)? Could that be subtle “cruelty” on your part that lets powerful oppressors off the hook?
  • Might it also let you off the hook–absolving you from the need to care, to help, to intervene?

Abba, help me to see through the hype, the spin, the propaganda, the disinformation, the misleading reporting–the lies–and past the verdict of “It is what it is.”

For More: Happiness Consultants Won’t Stop a Depression” by Chris Hedges

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Daily Riches: “The Unfamiliar Jesus” (David Brooks, Romano Guardini)

“My background is Jewish. So I see Jesus through a Jerusalem lens. To see him in that lens is to see him embedded in the Jewish world of 2,000 years ago. That world is nothing like the peacefulness of an American church pew. It’s nothing like the quiet domesticity of a modern Bible study. It was a world of strife, combat and fractious intensity. The Holy land then, and it is now, was a spiritual and a literal battleground. The primary factor was foreign occupation. Jews and Jewish homeland had been oppressed and occupied for centuries. The Babylonians, the Syrians, the Romans–certain questions would have been electric in the air: Why are we oppressed? Who amongst our people is betraying us and collaborating? How do we survive as a people under the crushing burden of their power? Everything was fraught, semi-hysterical and tension-filled. Desperate gangs roamed the land. Minor league revolutionaries were perpetually rising up. N. T. Wright lists seven separate revolts between the years 26 and 36, about the time of Jesus’s ministry. . . . When you see Jesus in this context, you see how completely bold and aggressive he was. He lived in a crowded, angry world yet took on all comers. . . . Jesus walked into a complex network of negotiated and renegotiated power settlements between various factions. And he . . . pierced through them and went right to the core. At a moment of elite polarization, he was bringing access to the kingdom directly to the poor. He was offering triumph directly to the downtrodden. [He taught] . . . another way, another path, a higher serenity. [The Beatitudes] were an inversion of values. They were beauty in the storm. Romano Guardini put it beautifully–in the Beatitudes, something of the celestial grandeur breaks through. There are no mere formulas for superior ethics, but tidings of sacred and supreme realities entering into the world. Jesus was love and beauty in the midst of muck and violence and the most difficult circumstances imaginable. You don’t have to be Christian. You can be atheist, Jewish, Muslim–whatever, and you can be astounded by this man and astounded by the faith he inspired. . . . [and] these are the acts that have the power to shock . . . a revolution in our culture and in our consciousness.” David Brooks

“Behold, the Man!”
John 19:5 NIV

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Was the Jesus you know an “agitator”–challenging and offending the political and religious leaders of his day? –often rocking the boat?
  • Have we somehow pared Jesus down to make him more acceptable–more manageable–less demanding?
  • Have you turned to his story lately (as an adult)?

Abba, guide me into “good trouble” (John Lewis), and truth seeking just like Jesus.

For More: David Brooks at the National Cathedral in Washington

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Daily Riches: A God Familiar with Confinement, Torture, Disrespect, and Abuse (Willie James Jennings)

“We know too much to ever be fooled into believing that prisons are natural or normal.” Willie James Jennings

“Arrest, incarceration, and imprisonment have never been and never are neutral processes, functioning according to basic rules of justice and human utility. Incarceration is a process at the disposal of the rich and powerful . . . . The prison has never been about criminals but about societies. As this story of Paul and Silas [Acts 16:16-40] indicates, the prison is a tool for control and containment. The question we must continually ask is, Who desires to use this tool? This question turns a searchlight toward finding who, how, and why the prison gets used. . . . This is why we are told to visit those in prison as though we ourselves were imprisoned with them (Heb. 13:3). We must be present in the prison to destroy its anthropology and challenge its false morality and to witness to all those incarcerated a God familiar with confinement and torture, disrespect and abuse. Yet we must also be present in all the places where laws are made and modified to advantage some and disadvantage others, and to challenge social policies that align those already suffering under poverty on a pathway to prison by strangling off the resources and social services they need in order to build a flourishing life.” Willie James Jennings

“But Saul began to destroy the church.
Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women
and put them in prison.” Acts 8:3 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you think of prisoners, do you think not only of Alcatraz and Rikers Island but also of John Lewis, John Donne, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Richard Wurmbrand, Adoniram Judson, William Tyndale, John Knox, Martin Luther, John Hus, Joan of Arc, George Fox, John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, William Penn, Meriam Ibrahim, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus himself? . . . Do you think of people you know? . . . family members?
  •  Do you think of prison as a necessary cure for the problem (as “inevitable”) or as contributing to the problem (“unjust” or “a tool for control/the “rich and powerful”)?
  • Does God care about prisons and love prisoners? Does our society? Do Christians? What are your “trigger” feelings when you think about it?

Abba, may I never forget that I worship “a God familiar with confinement and torture, disrespect and abuse.”

For More: Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible by Willie James Jennings

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Borrowing the Eyes of God (Dorothee Soelle, Kerry Walters, and Robin Jarrell)

“Society’s conventional image of a mystic is that of a person who withdraws from the world in order to journey inward. . . . The mystic is stereotyped as a guru sitting in splendid isolation on a mountaintop, utterly unconcerned with the world’s affairs. But theologian Dorothee Soelle, herself something of a mystic, argued that . . . the mystic is uniquely motivated and qualified to respond to social and economic injustices. Genuine mystics . . . says Soelle . . . have been liberated from the three powers that typically hold humans in bondage: ego, possession, and violence. . . . The genuine mystic understands that his or her connection with the divine is likewise a connection to all other humans and, indeed, to all of creation—a relationship, as Soelle said, that ‘borrows the eyes of God.’ Patterns of opposition and resistance bred by the division of I and not-I [therefore] collapse to be replaced by ones of mutuality and community. . . . [Soelle] grew up under the Nazi regime and, like many Germans of her generation, never got over the shame of belonging to a nation that willingly collaborated with mass murderers. She was especially worried by the acquiescence of so many people who claimed to be Christian, and eventually concluded that part of the explanation was that they had compartmentalized their faith, transforming it into a private and ‘otherworldly’ thing. Convinced that such privatization is a perversion of faith, Soelle worked as a theologian to demonstrate the social responsibility of religion and as an activist to put her theology into practice. She became one of the Cold War’s leading anti-nuclear voices, a dedicated opponent of both [U.S.] involvement in [the] Vietnam War and Soviet-style communism, and a proponent of liberation theology. The spiritual fuel of these activities was her conviction that the mystical worldview is revolutionary enough to resist ‘powerful but petrified institutions’ that trade in oppression and violence.” Kerry Walters and Robin Jarrell

” . . . a person is considered righteous
by what they do and not by faith alone.”
James 2:24 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your version of Christianity address the powers of ego, possession, and violence?
  • What powerful, petrified institutions trade in oppression and violence where you live?
  • Imagine living with the guilt of “belonging to a nation that willingly collaborated with mass murderers.” Do you honestly face up to the shadow side of your country’s history?

Father, may I be a mystic who makes a difference in this world of people loved by you.

For More: The Silent Cry. Dorothee Soelle. Trans. Barbara and Martin Rumscheldt. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2001.

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“Indiscriminate Hospitality” (Dorothy Day and Robert Ellsberg)

For Dorothy Day . . . “spirituality and her social witness were equally rooted in the radical implications of the Incarnation. In Christ God assumed our humanity. And we could not worship God without honoring God’s image in our fellow human beings. We should feed them when they were hungry; shelter them when they were homeless. We should not torture them; we should not kill them. In the 1950s Day and the Catholic Worker took on a more activist profile. She was repeatedly jailed for refusing to take shelter during compulsory civil defense drills in New York City. In the 1960s her activities reflected the turbulence of the times—protesting the Vietnam War, fasting in Rome during the Second Vatican Council to advance the cause of peace. She was last arrested while picketing with the United Farm Workers in 1973 at the age of seventy-five. By this time she was widely honored as the radical conscience of the American Catholic church. But her life was not primarily occupied by activism or protest. She was a woman of prayer, beginning each day with meditation on scripture, attending daily Mass, and reciting the breviary [daily psalms, scripture readings, and prayers]. By and large, her life was spent in very ordinary ways, her sanctity expressed not just in heroic deeds but in the mundane duties of everyday life. Her ‘spirituality’ was rooted in a constant effort to be more charitable toward those closest at hand.” Robert Ellsberg

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement
give you the same attitude of mind toward each other
that Christ Jesus had . . . .” Rom. 15:5 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Imagine the cognitive dissonance required to claim faith in God, while at the same time torturing or killing creatures made by God, loved by God, precious to God.
  • The simple daily life of Dorothy Day was both “ordinary” and “heroic” because she practiced something “ordinary” (hospitality) in a “heroic” manner (indiscriminately). Can you be indiscriminate when it comes to hospitality?
  • Is there a quiet, prayerful side of your life that enables you to rise to the mundane duties of everyday life in a simple, and perhaps even sometimes, heroic way?

God, help me to honor those you love without any preconditions.

For More: Modern Spiritual Masters: Writings on Contemplation and Compassion. Ed. Robert Ellsberg. New York: Maryknoll: 2008.

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Richer by Far: The Death of Jesus as a Cautionary Tale (Eugene Debs, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, John Howard Yoder)

“To do evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right. In every age there have been a few heroic souls who have been in advance of their time, who have been misunderstood, maligned, persecuted, sometimes put to death. Long after their martyrdom monuments were erected to them and garlands were woven for their graves. . . . Twenty centuries ago one appeared upon earth whom we know as the Prince of Peace. He issued a command in which I believe. He said, ‘Love one another.’ . . . He espoused the cause of the suffering poor . . . . It was not long before he aroused the ill-will and the hatred of the usurers, the money-changers, the profiteers, the high priests, the lawyers, the judges, the merchants, the bankers—in a word, the ruling class. They said of him just what the ruling class says of the Socialist today. ‘He is preaching dangerous doctrine. He is inciting the common rabble. He is a menace to peace and order.’ And they had him arraigned, tried, convicted, condemned, and they had his quivering body spiked to the gates of Jerusalem. This has been the tragic history of the race. . . . The men and women who have been in advance, who have had new ideas, new ideals, who have had the courage to attack the established order of things, have all had to pay the same penalty.” Eugene Debs

“Jesus’ cross was the price to pay for being the kind of person he was in the kind of world he was in; the cross that he chose was the price of his representing a new way of life in a world that did not want a new way of life. That is what he called his followers to do.” John Howard Yoder

“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin
were looking for false evidence against Jesus
so that they could put him to death.”
Mt. 26:59 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine doing evil and thinking it good? (I’m asking you to wonder about yourself, not those who oppose you.)
  • Have you ever read the gospel accounts of the murder of Jesus as a cautionary tale about what happens to those who won’t conform?
  • Does state sponsored violence or deadly religiously motivated hate seem to you like a calibrated response to dissent?

Abba, grant me the courage to live like Jesus in a world that scorns him and his way.

For More: “Address to the Jury” by Eugene Debs

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Richer by Far: The Men in the Vat (Upton Sinclair)

“Inanimate objects are classified scientifically into three major categories: those that don’t work, those that break down and those that get lost.” Russel Baker

“Some worked at the stamping machines, and it was very seldom that one could work long there at the pace that was set, and not give out and forget himself and have a part of his hand chopped off. There were the ‘hoisters,’ as they were called, whose task it was to press the lever which lifted the dead cattle off the floor. They ran along upon a rafter, peering down through the damp and the steam; and as old Durham’s architects had not built the killing room for the convenience of the hoisters, at every few feet they would have to stoop under a beam, say four feet above the one they ran on; which got them into the habit of stooping, so that in a few years they would be walking like chimpanzees. Worst of any, however, were the fertilizer men, and those who served in the cooking rooms. These people could not be shown to the visitor,–for the odor of a fertilizer man would scare any ordinary visitor at a hundred yards, and as for the other men, who worked in tank rooms full of steam, and in some of which there were open vats near the level of the floor, their peculiar trouble was that they fell into the vats; and when they were fished out, there was never enough of them left to be worth exhibiting,–sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out to the world as Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard!” Upton Sinclair

“Do you see someone skilled in their work?
They will serve before kings;
they will not serve before officials of low rank.”
Prov. 2:29 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • It’s so unpleasant even to read these things. Imagine going to work at Durham’s each day.
  • Who do you know that has their safety or health endangered by their work?
  • Why are the men at Durham’s treated like “inanimate objects?”
  • No matter how skilled, these workers will never “serve before kings.” Why is that?

Abba, as a consumer, make me aware of how I contribute to the exploitation of others.

For More: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. New York: Doubleday, 1906.

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Thanks for reading my blog. Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.

Daily Riches (CV Era): That Filth on the Street – Brennan Manning

“Ironically it was April Fool’s Day, 1975, 6:30 a.m., and I woke up in a doorway on Commercial Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was thick in an alcoholic fog, sniffing vomit all over my sweater, staring down at my bare feet. I didn’t know a wino would steal my shoes during the night to buy a bottle of Thunderbird, but one did. I had been out on the street for a year and a half, drunk every day, sleeping on the beach until the cops chased me away. You could find me in doorways or under the bridge, always clutching my precious little bottle of Tequila. And it wasn’t just that this good Franciscan priest drank too much. I broke every one of the Ten Commandments six times Tuesday: adultery, countless acts of fornication, violence to support my addiction, character assassination to anybody who dared to criticize me or remonstrate with me. The morning I woke up in the alcoholic boozy fog, I looked down the street to see a woman coming toward me, maybe twenty-five years old, blonde, and attractive. She had her son in hand, maybe four years old. The boy broke loose from his mother’s grip, ran to the doorway, and stared down at me. His mother rushed in behind him, tucked her hand over his eyes, and said, ‘Don’t look at that filth. That’s nothing but pure filth.’ Then I felt her shoe. She broke two of my ribs with that kick. That filth was Brennan Manning, thirty-two years ago.” Brennan Manning

“’For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison
and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you,
whatever you did
for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.’”
Jesus, in Matthew 25:35-40 NIV

 

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Notice how the woman saw the man as a “that.” Do you assume, like she does, that you see things just as they are?
  • Do you assume, like she did, that you know just what to do? . . . who needs to be punished?
  • In Matthew 25 Jesus identifies with those like the man who was kicked. Imagine, breaking the ribs of Jesus with your kick.
  • Many people are going to have it very rough during the coronavirus era. Can you see them without judging? . . . and have compassion? . . . perhaps help in some way?

Abba, teach my eyes to see the precious person behind the distressing disguise.

For More: The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

Song for the Day: The Prayer – Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli

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Daily Riches: Religion and Established Privilege (Thomas Merton)

“Of course, it is true that religion on a superficial level, religion that is untrue to itself and to God, easily comes to serve as the ‘opium of the people.’ And this takes place whenever religion and prayer invoke the name of God for reasons and ends that have nothing to do with him. When religion becomes a mere artificial facade to justify a social or economic system–when religion hands over its rites and language completely to the political propagandists, and when prayer becomes the vehicle for a purely secular ideological program, then religion does tend to become an opiate. It deadens the spirit enough to permit the substitution of a superficial fiction and mythology for this truth of life. And this brings about the alienation of the believer, so that his religious zeal becomes political fanaticism. His faith in God, while preserving its traditional formulas, becomes in fact faith in his own nation, class or race. His ethic ceases to be the law of God and of love, and becomes the law that might-makes-right: established privilege justifies everything. God is the status quo.” Thomas Merton

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –
his good, pleasing and perfect will. “
Romans 12:1, 2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your religious experience “deaden the spirit” rather than invigorating it? Does it squelch individuality and produce conformity? Does it discourage imagination and curiosity?
  • Does it tend to prop up some unjust “social [or] economic system? Does it support the “status quo” as a way that is out of step with the Bible’s insistence upon justice?
  • Has your faith in God become “in fact faith in your own nation, class or race?”
  • Has your religious ethic somehow become something other than the “law . . . of love?”
  • Are you comfortable with your answers to these questions? If not, what can change?

Abba, help me to speak to the status quo instead of being shaped by it. Strengthen me to question established, unjust privilege and work to undo it. Work in me your earth-changing “law of love.”

For More: Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton

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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 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: What Will Be History’s Verdict On You? (Dan Clendenin)

“The church has a checkered history in its relationship to the state. Some have followed Amaziah [see Amos 7] and traded religious legitimation for security, power and privilege – the German Christian movement that supported Nazi ideology, the Dutch Reformed church that supported apartheid in South Africa, and Russian Orthodox priests who collaborated with the Soviet KGB. But there are also many inspirational examples. The Archbishop and martyr of San Salvador, Óscar Romero (d. 1980), wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter that he could have sent to any number of our military or political leaders: ‘You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here, because they use it only to kill my people.’ Romero is only one of many brave saints who chose Amos over Amaziah. Consider the Confessing Church in Germany that opposed Hitler, nationalism, and anti-Semitism; the black pentecostal pastor Frank Chikane who in 1985 gathered more than 150 clergy from 20 denominations to draft the Kairos Document that protested South African apartheid; father Gleb Yakunin who insisted that the Russian Orthodox Church publicly repent of its ties to the Soviet regime; the culturally marginal and politically powerless Quakers who helped to abolish the British slave trade in the 19th century; and Morgan Tsvangirai who sought ‘divine intervention’ to end Robert Mugabe’s three decades of thugocracy in Zimbabwe. There’s the Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan (b. 1921), who did time in prison for his civil disobedience against American policies on racism, nuclear proliferation, and Vietnam…. When asked by Nora Gallagher how many times he had been jailed for subverting caesar because of Jesus, Berrigan responded, ‘Not enough.'” Dan Clendenin

“Righteousness and justice
are the foundation of your throne.”
Psalm 89:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • In the moment, it can be hard to know who is “on the right side of history.” God often uses outsiders–unexpected and despised voices–and we often embrace the biases and accept the rationalizations of our culture. Are you striving to know who speaks for God today? . . . and who is being sinfully silent?
  • The Biblical pattern is for God to be against Empire since the absolute power of empires predictably leads to profound corruption. Do we need prophetic voices to speak against Empire today? If so, against what “Empire” and for what reasons?
  • Who is speaking out for God today? From where would you expect to find such voices–conservatives/liberals? . . . insiders/outsiders? . . . admired/despised? . . . . . . . marginalized/prominent?

Abba, give us your eyes to see our world, and your loving heart to care for it.

For More: “Journey With Jesus” by Dan Clendenin

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I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill

Daily Riches: “Finally, The Woman Died” (J. Peter Holmes)

“There is good news here [Luke 20:27-40] about the status of women. Jesus was saying that in the resurrection, there will be no more giving women away as if they are property. Women in the resurrection will be persons, just as men will be persons. Paul picked up on this when he wrote, ‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus’ (Gal. 3: 28). Jesus’ response was a call to kingdom thinking—on earth as it is in heaven—and a reminder that all things shall be made new. Jesus’ response is also good news for slaves, for those oppressed by race, class, creed, or any other box in which they have been confined: too big, too young, too slow, poorly educated or learning disabled. Whatever the box, it will not exist in the resurrection. Though the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, many others believed that eternity would be a continuation of things as they had been on earth. Jesus came to say, ‘No. Open your minds and hearts, because what is coming will be so much greater. . . .’ The Sadducees’ question showed very little sympathy for the sorrow this woman had faced. In two verses, they described a woman losing her husband, then remarrying his brother and losing him and then the next brother, and on and on: seven weddings followed by seven funerals. If Jesus sounded exasperated by their telling of the tale, perhaps it was because they did so without an ounce of empathy. How did the men die? How did she get through it all? Maybe they were all wonderful husbands who cared for her tenderly, and yet she had seven marriages and not a child to care for her after her husbands died. It was all so sad. . . . No one empathized with that woman more than Jesus. The tale unfolded so quickly that just as he might have said, ‘Take me to this woman,’ they announced in their insensitive voices, ‘Oh yes, the woman is dead now too’ (the sense of v. 32).” J. Peter Holmes

“Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be,
since the seven were married to her?”
Luke 20:33 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Did you ever read this story and feel the heartbreak of this widow? I never did.
  • Women have been treated poorly (e.g., like property) for most of recorded history. What would Jesus say?
  • Do those who share your faith honor women and advocate for them because of it? Do you?

I can do better Lord. Help me.

For More: Feasting on the Gospels–Luke, Volume 2, by Cynthia Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson

 

 

 

 

Daily Riches: The Approachability of Jesus (Shannon Jung)

“People were bringing even infants, presumably those so young that they needed to be carried, and other children to Jesus ‘that he might touch them.’ Perhaps they had heard of Jesus’ miraculous healing powers and wanted to gain some of that for their children. However, that is partly to impose our more caring view of children onto first-century people. The literature on how children were viewed then suggests that people then did not value children very highly. Children were, in one interpretation, seen to be on the same social level as slaves: with few rights, open to abuse, and lacking protection under Jewish law. Other, more moderate views are that children were merely treated with indifference. . . . Clearly there is more than a metaphor here; there is an emotional image for us who would be disciples to imitate. There is something about Jesus that is a blessing, a hospitality, an approachability, a charisma that draws others into him. Luke the author wants us to get that image. . . . No one can merit or achieve the kingdom; it must be received without merit, as a child receives everything. . . . We, like the disciples, are to welcome as Jesus welcomed. We are to follow the example of Jesus, who called the marginal and the despised to himself. What we can do out of gratitude is to call the socially rejected to physical and spiritual life in Christ. Like the early church, we are to transform society by not just accepting but seeking out the outcasts and the marginalized. We are to treat them as Jesus did the children. . . . Ministry to, with, and for those who are on the margins is our response to God’s welcome of us. . . . What is the quality that commends children? Precisely their dependency. Their dependence on adults mirrors our dependence of God; that is one of the marks of the kingdom, which belongs to them (v. 16b). Here is exemplified the equal unworthiness, marginality and dependence of us all before God.” Shannon Jung

“Whoever does not receive
the kingdom of God as a little child
will never enter it.”
Luke 18:17 NLT

Moving From Head to Heart

  • What would a church look like that called the “socially rejected to physical and spiritual life in Christ?”
  • How would that impact it’s philosophy of ministry? . . . congregational demographics?
  • Have you ever been an outsider? Are there many socially rejected people in your congregation? . . . in your list of friends?

Abba, thank you for our approachable Jesus.

For More: Feasting on the Gospels, Vol. 2 by Cynthia Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson, eds.

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Daily Riches: If You Lose Your Mind (Janice Hicks)

“Early Christian theologians generally attributed the image of God ( imago dei) in humans to the mind/spirit or soul, which was ranked higher than the body. Basil said that ‘the rational part is the human being.’ Augustine believed the mind has two parts: ‘The higher part contemplates eternal truths and makes judgments’ and God communicates with us through it. French philosopher René Descartes further emphasized the supremacy of rationality with his dictum ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Many of us today still fall into the Cartesian idea that the rational part, thinking, defines ‘who I am.’ Rationality is important, but rationality as a determinant of the status of personhood is greatly problematic. . . . Seeing a person as ‘less than’ promotes an attitude of stigma . . . . Contemporary theologians have developed a more balanced view of what makes us human. In Eccentric Existence, theologian David Kelsey proposes that the basis for the value and relationship of the human being lies in God, that is, outside the human beings themselves. Kelsey says that personhood is ‘a status before God’ dependent on God’s relating to who I am . . . . ‘Personhood is not even a function of how we relate to God,’ Kelsey writes. Our ‘personhood is entirely a function of how God relates to us in creating us . . . and hardly at all from anything else.’ God’s relating to us is surely not lost in dementia [for instance] or any illness. According to Kelsey, other qualities beyond rationality make us human, including emotion, love, spirituality, awareness, and courage. These traits have been observed in people with dementia . . . . When a person develops dementia, are they less of a person? Do they lose their connection to God? Indeed, we value infants, and infants are not rational. We are all dependent at times. We are all limited. . . . Perhaps those with dementia remind us of our limitations and that makes us uncomfortable.” Janice Hicks in Sojourners

“We turned our backs on him
and looked the other way.”
Isaiah 53:3c NLT

Moving From Head to Heart

  • In truth, do you see (or treat) stigmatized people as “less than?”
  • Imagine if “our personhood is entirely a function of how God relates to us” rather than of how we relate to God. Imagine what that means.
  • Do you hope others will still treat you with dignity if you live long enough to lose your memory? Can you give such dignity to others now?

Abba, may I look with compassion on those less “able” than me.

For More: Redeeming Dementia by Dorothy Linthicum and Janice Hicks

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Sources:

Linthicum, Dorothy and Janice Hicks. Redeeming Dementia: Spirituality, Theology, and Science. Church: 2018.

Also helpful:

Dettloff, Dean. “After Deadly Van Attack . . . .” America. May 28, 2018.

Keenan, James F. “The Francis Effect On Health Care.” America. May 28, 2018.

 

Daily Riches: Having the Courage To “Go There” (Katie Couric)

“I learned the story of Elizabeth Lawrence, a schoolteacher in Birmingham who scolded a group of white children after they threw stones at her. The children told their parents. A mob came to her home, murdered her, and burned her house down. I learned the story of Thomas Miles, Sr., of Shreveport, Louisiana, a black man who was accused of writing a letter to a white woman. After a judge acquitted him, he was abducted by a mob outside the courtroom and taken to a tree where he was beaten, stabbed, shot, and hanged. I learned the story of Mamie, who was a child in Mississippi when her father and his friend were threatened with lynching. Mamie’s family fled; her father’s friend stayed and was hanged. . . . Lynchings occurred at any time, for many reasons: allegations of a serious crime or a casual transgression, fear of interracial sex, or desire for public spectacle. The terror it induced is impossible to describe, a burden still carried today. We haven’t learned to talk about lynching–or the nation’s racist history–in an open and honest way. It’s difficult to face the past, to acknowledge the role of some of our ancestors in the brutality inflicted upon their fellow humans. Despite what we were taught in grade school, our collective shame does not fit neatly in the time period between the Civil War and the civil rights movement. It’s time to understand the complete picture of our history, to have the courage to go there, to absorb it.” Katie Couric

“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man,
so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”
1 Corinthians 14:48b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The deaths by lynching of 4,400 people, mostly in Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, have been documented by the Equal Justice Initiative. If we were going to talk about this, who would talk to who, and about what?
  • Jesus Christ came into our world to “set the captives free” (Luke 4:18), and as an act of love for all our world’s people–the kosmos (John 3:16).  Jesus practiced and emphasized loving those in great need (Luke 10). In the verse above, the Apostle Paul argues that “we” (any who bear Adam’s image) are equal candidates to bear God’s image. Given just these few facts, can you think of a way to justify 4,400 lynchings?
  • If our culture won’t have the courage to talk about this, can at least the church model how to “go there?”

Abba, may we do what we can that these dead shall not have died in vain.

For More: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Couric, Katie. “Hallowed Ground.” National Geographic (April 2018): pp. 150-151.

Staples, Brent. “When Southern Newspapers Justified Lynching” New York Times, May 6, 2018.

Daily Riches: “. . . Until All Of Us Are Well” (Krista Tippett and David Hilfiker)

“Two decades ago Dr. Hilfiker gave up his medical practice in the Midwest and moved to Washington, D.C. . . . drawn to the idea that God is somehow revealed in the poor. . . . Dr. Hilfiker and his wife Marja helped to found a medical shelter for chronically ill homeless men who were turned away by hospitals. They lived with three other doctors and their families above the shelter called Christ House, in community with their patients. Later, he and his family founded Joseph’s House, a supportive residence for homeless men with AIDS. Dr. Hilfiker came to understand, he says, that his spiritual well-being is wrapped up with the poor.” Krista Tippett
 .
“The original concept intellectually came from Dorothee Soelle, a theologian. And the concept is that when an affluent person benefits from structures in society and when those same structures oppress other people, then the affluent person experiences a degree of alienation from himself, from God, that he may or may not be aware of, but is there. And I think what Marja and I were experiencing was that sense, something is wrong here. . . . we live so easily in a society in which other people don’t have a chance, and there’s something wrong with that. Martin Luther King said, you know, ‘None of us is well until all of us are well.’ And I think that captures it. When we live in a society with such deep injustice as ours, you suffer spiritually. Now, again, I believe many people aren’t aware of the suffering that they experience because of this structural injustice, but I believe it’s spiritual reality. Certainly when you examine the Christian spiritual tradition, you find just every place this notion that God’s kingdom cannot tolerate injustice. . . . We do not want to be the causes of injustice or even benefit from injustice. . . . So the way that you overcome that, or at least one of the ways you overcome that, is to put yourself in solidarity with those who suffer from the same systems that benefit you. I can’t give up my privileged position. I’m educated, I’m white; those are things I can’t, you know, give away. But I can do what I can to put myself into solidarity with folks, to get to know them, and that makes a difference.” David Hilfiker
.

“If you, even you, had only recognized on this day
the things that make for peace!”
Luke 19:42
NRSV

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you believe that “God is revealed in the poor?”
  • . . . that your spiritual well-being is wrapped up with the well-being of the poor?
  • . . . that you need to be in solidarity with the poor?

Abba, help us love as you love us.

For More: Not All Of Us Are Saints by David Hilfiker

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Thanks for following and sharing my blog! – Bill

Tippett, Krista. Interview with David Hilfiker on Speaking Of Faith, broadcast August 24, 2006.

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