Daily Riches: Silence Shall Be My Answer (Oswald Chambers, John Keats and and Thomas Merton)

“When God gets us alone through suffering, heartbreak, temptation, disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted desires, a broken friendship, or a new friendship–when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are totally speechless, unable to ask even one question, then He begins to teach us. …Jesus cannot teach us anything until we quiet all our intellectual questions and get alone with Him.” Oswald Chambers

“Negative capability … is being capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” John Keats [In this regard] “I am reminded of a Zadie Smith quote on Shakespeare in her essay Speaking in Tongues, in which she praises Shakespeare for “understanding what fierce, singular certainty creates and what it destroys.” J. M. Coetzee

“Questions arrive, assume their actuality, and also disappear. In this hour I shall cease to ask them and silence shall be my answer.” Thomas Merton

“Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child with his mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you come to the place where (at least sometimes, in some measure) you can be “alone with God?”
  • Are you “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries [and] doubts?” …refusing to reach for the security of dualistic or binary thinking? …for the “security” of “fact and reason?”
  • How does certainty help you–what does it create for you? How does certainty hurt you–what does it destroy for you?

Abba, silence shall be my answer.

For More:  Entering the Silence by Thomas Merton

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

Daily Riches: Hearing God’s Voice Over All the Noise (Karen-Marie Yust, Thomas Merton and Chris Tomlin)

“Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.” Thomas Merton

“The danger in the rampant commercialization of abundant life is not so much in the particular value (or lack thereof) of a specific product being marketed, but in the insidious ways in which advertising campaigns steal a person’s ability to discern what is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous. Advertisers kill an individual’s sense of self-worth and uniqueness in the eyes of God by promoting excessive regard for the approval of others and competition for the most stuff, rather than promoting good living as collaboration with each other. …Christians need to embrace spiritual practices that will enable them to identify and resist commercial messages that undermine their primary identity as children of God and disciples of Christ. …One critical spiritual practice for discernment is attentiveness. First, Christians need to pay attention to the number of commercial messages to which they are exposed daily and the common themes embedded in those advertisements. With researchers estimating that individuals view or hear as many as five thousand messages each day, paying attention could quickly become a full-time job! What matters here is not a comprehensive attentiveness but an increasing awareness of the pervasive and corrosive nature of commercial influences. Second, Christians need to pay attention to God’s voice as a counterpoint to the negative aspects of advertising. Such attentiveness can occur when individuals, families, and congregations deliberately separate themselves from the noisiness of everyday life and spend time in the set apart ‘pastures’ [John 10:9] of personal and communal prayer, contemplation, and worship.” Karen-Marie Yust

“life does not consist
in an abundance of possessions.”
Jesus in Luke 12:15

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you see good living as “collaboration” with others rather than competition with others? What does your answer say about you?
  • Do you have practices that allow you to hear God’s voice over the “noisiness of everyday life” and act as a counterpoint to all the “pervasive and corrosive” ad campaigns?
  • Are you fighting this battle alone–with no “communal” support? …just depending on what you receive at church? …failing to seek God for yourself to discern what “is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous?”

Abba, you’re a good, good father–it’s who you are … and I’m loved by you–it’s who I am…. (Chris Tomlin)

For more: Feasting on the Gospels: John (Part II), eds, Cynthia Jarvis and Elizabeth Johnson

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to share something of real value with you in 400 words or less. 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 Most Revolutionary Man on Earth (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“To become free does not mean becoming great in the world, not becoming free from your brother, nor even free from God, but to become free from oneself, one’s lie. It means to become free from thinking only of myself, from being the center of my world, from hate, by which I despise God’s creation. It means to be free to be for the other: the person for others. Only God’s truth can enable me to see the other as he really is. It tears out the twisted image that I have of the other within me and shows him to me in a new light. And insofar as God’s truth does that, it bestows upon me the action, the love, the grace of God. It destroys our lies and creates the truth. It destroys hatred and creates love. God’s truth is God’s love and God’s love makes us free from ourselves for others. To be free means nothing less than to be in love. And to be in love means nothing less than being in the truth of God. The man who loves because he has been made free by God is the most revolutionary man on earth. He challenges all values. He is the explosive material of human society. He is a dangerous man. For he recognizes that the human race is in the depths of falsehood. And he is always ready to let the light of truth fall upon his darkness; and he will do this because of his love. But this disturbance, which such people bring, calls forth hatred from the world. And therefore this knight of truth and love is not the hero that men long for or honor, not one who is without enemies; but one whom they would do away with, outlaw, indeed kill.  The way of God’s truth leads to the cross. From now on, we know that all truth which is true before God must face the cross. The church that follows Christ must go with him to the cross.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
Galatians 5:13
 .

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of sometimes having “a twisted image … of the other”–perhaps based on race, religion or social status?
  • Will you “let the light of truth fall upon your darkness”–to free you to love?
  • How would it make you feel to be described as “the person for others?”
  • Are you free enough of yourself–”from being the center of your world, from hate”–to be that person?

Abba, free me of the lies I tell myself that ensnare me in hatred.

For More: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons edited by Edwin Robertson

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 Thanks for reading and sharing this blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: When God Seems Absent (Philip Yancey)

Job teaches …that we need faith at the precise moment when it seems impossible. When tragedy strikes, we too will be trapped in a limited point of view. Like Job, we will be tempted to blame God and see him as the enemy. Job asked God poignantly, ‘Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands?’ (10:3). The view behind the curtain in chapters 1—2 reveals that Job was being exalted, not spurned. God was letting his own reputation ride on the response of a single human being. At the time when Job felt most abandoned, at that very time God was giving him personal, almost microscopic scrutiny. God seemed absent; in one sense God had never been more present. I hesitate to write this because it is a hard truth, one I do not want to acknowledge: Job convinces me that God cares more about our faith than our pleasure. That statement does not fit with the cloying, teddy-bear image of God often presented by Christians. I may not arrive at such a conclusion if Job stood alone, but think back to the trials some of God’s favorite people have undergone. …Even the Son of God on earth felt a sense of being abandoned by God. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, Jesus went through a trial by ordeal to ‘know what was in his heart.’ Later, in a far more severe trial, Jesus cried out on the cross (quoting Psalm 22), ‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’ Like Job, he continued to trust God despite the God-forsaken feeling: ‘Into thy hands I commit my spirit.’ For him too, at the very moment when God seemed most absent, at that moment the Father had never been more present. Paul tells us that on the cross God was ‘in Christ … reconciling the world to himself.'” Philip Yancey
“Though he slay me,
yet will I trust him.”
Job 13:15
.

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What is your usual response when you feel forgotten or abandoned by God?
  • Does it make sense that God would care more about your growth in faith than your comfort?
  • Have you determined like Job did that you will commit yourself into the “hands” of God no matter what may come?

Abba, I will never not trust you.

For More: The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey

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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)

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

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

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Perhaps the Biggest Shock of Marriage–Encountering Yourself (David Whyte, Larry Crabb, Edith Schaefer and Grant Howard)

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.” Edith Schaefer

“At the heart of every marriage and every committed relationship, there dawns an elemental shock of realization, that we have made vows to a stranger whom we must now get to know; both in ourselves and in the other. Marriage is where we learn self-knowledge; where we realize that parts of our own makeup are even stranger than the stranger we have married or come to live with and just as difficult for another person to live and breathe with or come to know. Marriage is where we realize how much effort we have put into preserving our own sense of space, our own sense of self and our own cherished everyday rhythms. Marriage is where we realize how much we want to be right and seen to be right. Marriage is where all of these difficult revelations can consign us to a sense of imprisonment and distance or help us become larger, kinder, more generous, more amusing, more animated participants in the human drama.” David Whyte

“Every human relationship, especially where the participants long to experience deep closeness, encounters significant conflict. And there is simply no way through the conflict to true connection without divine power. There is no way through without an energy in the soul that is supplied by God, an energy that is stronger and better than the energy that is already there, fueling the conflict.” Larry Crabb

“We have a picture of the perfect partner, but we marry an imperfect person. Then we have two options. Tear up the picture and accept the person, or tear up the person and accept the picture.” Grant Howard

“This is the message you have heard from the beginning:
We should love one another.”
1 John 3:11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you experienced the shocking “self-revelation” to which Whyte refers? If not, why not?
  • Have you made peace with your own limitations as a spouse? …with those of your partner?
  • Is your response to marriage to feel imprisoned or to be challenged to grow?
  • Are you aware of the absolute necessity of divine empowerment in your marriage?
  • Are you “tearing up” the picture, or the person?

Abba, use my marriage to make me larger, kinder, more generous, more amusing and more alive.

For More: The Three Marriages by David Whyte

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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)

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

 

Daily Riches: Marrying the Wrong Person (Alain de Botton)

“We marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us: Perhaps we were in Venice, on the lagoon, in a motorboat, with the evening sun throwing glitter across the sea, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the prospect of dinner in a risotto place a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage. Indeed, marriage tends decisively to move us onto another, very different and more administrative plane, which perhaps unfolds in a suburban house, with a long commute and maddening children who kill the passion from which they emerged. The only ingredient in common is the partner. And that might have been the wrong ingredient to bottle. The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person. We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning. We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us—and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for. …It might sound odd, but [it] relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded. The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently—the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the ‘not overly wrong’ person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition. Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not ‘normal.’ We should learn to accommodate ourselves to ‘wrongness,’ striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.” Alain de botton

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,
because love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you made it your partner’s job to save you from your “emptiness and incompleteness”, from your “grief and melancholy?”
  • Do you expect grace from your partner to cover your “multitude of sins?”
  • Can you embrace your union of imperfections as “normal”–even unavoidable?
  • Will you commit yourself to working towards “compatibility” rather than demanding it as a precondition?

Abba, teach me to love.

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Thanks for reading/following my blog. The length of this post is a rare exception. Debotton’s article was just too important to pass over due to my self-imposed rules on length. – Bill

Daily Riches: Impending Cosmic Disaster (Thomas Merton and Boris Pasternak)

“I know from my own experience that in the last twenty years, the world has moved a very long way towards conformism and passivity. So long a way that the distance is, to me, both frightening and disconcerting. I have been all the more sensitive to it because I have spent this time in the isolation of a contemplative monastery, and have only recently come back into contact … with the America which I used to know as a rather articulate, critical and vociferously independent place. It is certainly not so any more. Not that the people do not complain and criticize, but their complaints and criticisms, indeed their most serious concerns, seem to be involved in trivialities and illusions–against a horrifying background of impending cosmic disaster. It seems to be that for all our pride in our freedom and individuality we have complete renounced thinking for ourselves. What passes for ‘thinking’ is mass-produced, passively accepted, or not even accepted. We simply submit to the process of being informed, without anything actually registering on our mind at all. …If we stop to think about what [Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago] says, we will realize that if Pasternak is ever fully studied, he is just as likely to be regarded as a dangerous writer in the West as he is in the East. He is saying that political and social structures as we understand them are things of the past, and that the crisis through which we are now passing is nothing but the full and inescapable manifestation of their falsity. For twenty centuries we have called ourselves Christians, without even beginning to understand one tenth of the Gospel. We have been taking Caesar for God and God for Caesar. Now that ‘charity is growing cold’ and we stand facing the smoky dawn of an apocalyptic era, Pasternak reminds us that there is only one source of truth, but that it is not sufficient to know the source is there—we must go and drink from it, as he has done.” Thomas Merton (1959)
.
“Sin will be rampant everywhere,
and the love of many will grow cold.”
Jesus in Matthew 24:12
.

Moving From Head to Heart

  • People on both the political “left” and “right” believe they are “thinking for themselves”–and consider others misguided–as passively repeating mere slogans. Do you have a practice that forces you to critique your assumptions?
  • If politics as we know it is a “thing of the past”, and we’re facing “an apocalyptic era”, where do we turn?
  • One thing surely–we must turn to “love”–but not merely as a concept or belief, but as what we “drink”–moving beyond that “one tenth of the gospel.” What might this mean for you?

Lord, help!

For More: Disputed Questions by Thomas Merton

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Thanks for reading! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Worship of Might and the Bitter Irony of History (Abraham Heschel and J. Mullenburg)

“Why were so few voices raised in the ancient world to protest against the ruthlessness of man? Why are human beings so obsequious, ready to kill and ready to die at the call of kings and chieftains? Perhaps it is because they worship might, venerate those who command might, and are convinced that it is by force that man prevails. The splendor and pride of kings blind the people. The Mesopotamian, for example, felt convinced that authorities were always right. . . . The prophets repudiated the work as well as the power of man as an object of supreme adoration. They denounced ‘arrogant boasting’ and ‘haughty pride’ (Isa. 10:12), the kings who ruled the nations in anger, the oppressors (Isa. 14:4-6), the destroyers of nations, who went forth to inflict waste, ruin, and death (Jer. 4:7), the ‘guilty men, whose own might is their god’ (Hab. 1:11) … The end of public authority is to realize the moral law, a task for which both knowledge and understanding as well as the possession of power are indispensable means. Yet inherent in power is the tendency to breed conceit.’ . . . one of the most striking and one of the most pervasive features of the prophetic polemic [is] the denunciation and distrust of power in all its forms and guises. The hunger of the powerful knows no satiety; the appetite grows on what it feeds. Power exalts itself and is incapable of yielding to any transcendent judgment; it “listens to no voice” (Zeph. 3:2) .'[2] It is the bitter irony of history that the common people, who are devoid of power and are the prospective victims of its abuse, are the first to become the ally of him who accumulates power.” Abraham Heschel

My power works best in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Moving From Head to Heart

  • How much of what Heschel describes from the ancient world do you see today? (e.g., the worship of power? the “bitter irony” of the manipulation of the powerless?)
  • Do you agree with the Hebrew prophets “denunciation and distrust of power in all its forms and guises?” How does this affect your reading of the news? … your politics? …your life of faith?
  • God spoke through the prophets, and those prophets often focused on governments and what we might consider “political” issues. Do you think of God as being concerned with the politics of human history? Does it matter?

Abba, may we always speak up for the powerless – never contribute to the exploitation of the weak.

For More: The Prophets by Abraham Heschel

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. By goal is to share something of value you with in 400 words or less. Thanks for following and sharing my blog. – Bill

[2] J. Mullenburg, The Way of Israel

Daily Riches: This Confusion of Images and Myths (Neil Postman, Thomas Merton, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley)

“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t…. we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another—slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. …In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.” Neil Postman

“But how does one stop to separate the truth from the half-truth, the event from the pseudo-event, reality from the manufactured image? It is in this confusion of images and myths, superstitions and ideologies that the ‘powers of the air’ govern our thinking…. Where there is no critical perspective, no detached observation, no time to ask the pertinent questions, how can one avoid being deluded and confused?” Thomas Merton

“What is truth?”

Pontius Pilate in John 18:38

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Moving From the Head the Heart

  • Perhaps both Orwell and Huxley were right. Do you see our world in their prophecies? Have you heeded their dire warnings?
  • Are you sufficiently detached from the culture to have perspective? How could you detach? Do you?
  • Is what you fear, or what you love, preoccupying you so that you have no time to “ask the pertinent questions?”

Abba, deliver me from delusion and illusion that I might be more useful to you.

For More: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

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Thanks for following and sharing my blog. I appreciate it!– Bill

Daily Riches: Attention For the Sake of Love (Alan Jones, Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen)

“In the Divine Comedy, Beatrice uncompromisingly ordered Dante to look and to look well. I too need someone who will relentlessly draw my attention to those parts of my life that remain hidden even from myself, and yet which hold me in their power. The psychoanalyst does this for some people; the holy man or woman for others. …This is how one analyst describes his work:
…all I could do was every now and then direct the patient’s attention to what she was doing in her attempts to keep that stuff from spewing out–something she preferred not to watch. …The right way is just to point out to the patient how he keeps himself from thinking certain things, so that he becomes self-conscious and the evasion doesn’t work so automatically. That’s all. That’s the analyst’s scalpel. He can’t open up his patient’s mind and start tinkering. The only thing he can do is tell the patient, ‘Look there,’ and most of the time the patient doesn’t look. But sometimes he does, and then his automatic behavior becomes less automatic.’
Most of us, however find the command ‘Look!’ hard to obey. This way of naked attention for the sake of love seems impossible to maintain. We prefer to love others by interfering with them. We enjoy tinkering with others in the name of love. We enjoy, above all, being demonstrably useful. All in all, we need rescuing.” Alan Jones
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“He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others. He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambition, his delusions about ends and means.” Thomas Merton
.
“Here lies the center of Merton’s critique of our activism …Activism ultimately places our own unmet longings at the center of our efforts. It therefore does not help others in a wholesome way.” Henri Nouwen

“The truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you adopted a practice (e.g., contemplation, therapy) that allows for God to reveal those parts of your life to you that remain hidden even from you?
  • Are you aware of how ambition and unmet longings sabotage your attempts at loving well?
  • Who helps you to “look well?” …to become aware of your unconscious life?

Abba, help me understand what’s happening beneath the surface of my life.

For More: Soul Making by Alan Jones

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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. Thanks! – Bill

Daily Riches: National Exceptionalism and Divine Providence (Charles Marsh)

“I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” Adolf Hitler

“…the weight of German exceptionalism and the spiritual veneration of military valor were not easy inheritances to disown. In nineteenth-century Protestant Prussia, no less a philosopher-patriot than Hegel resolved that his beloved Machtstaat (the ‘power state’ that was the German imperium) had been chosen by God to rule the nations by example, fiat, or force. It was God’s nature to manifest his will in superior and powerful nations, which demonstrated their providential purpose by imposing their will on their neighbors, as the ancient Hebrews had done. By the end of the nineteenth century, the idea of Germany as such a ‘world-historical nation’ had become as hallowed as the historicity of the biblical narratives. …Seeberg believed he was fulfilling his spiritual vocation by helping the German people discern the powerful hand of God in the new forces gathering to propel Germany to greatness. Among the professoriate there were precious few willing dissenters from this conviction. German Protestant theology from Schleiermacher to Harnack and Seeberg presumed the providential blessings of the warrior God. …In Protestant faculties and congregations, churchmen of fixed and iron-hard purpose who called themselves the Deutsche Christen, the ‘German Christians,’ were pedaling their loyalty to the fatherland. They claimed that God had chosen a new Israel, the German Volk; that the Christian doctrine of revelation had brought about the disinheritance of the Jews and that Jesus Christ had abrogated Israel’s ancient covenant. They wanted a strong church of muscular virtues–a manly church, eine mannliche Kirche–unified by German ideals. They even convinced themselves that Jesus was not a Jew. They boasted of their mission in the most inspiring terms imaginable: as the completion of Martin Luther’s work.” Charles Marsh

“What are nations without justice but large bands of thieves?” Pope John XXIII


“give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,
and give to God what belongs to God.”
Jesus in Mark 12:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • National “exceptionalism”, God’s “new Israel”, “muscular values”– even “the providential blessings of the warrior God”–we’re hearing these kinds of themes again. What is your response?
  • Do you believe it’s “God’s nature to manifest his will in superior and powerful nations which [demonstrate] their providential purpose by imposing their will on their neighbors?” What’s the danger is such a view?
  • Hitler claimed to serve God, and most of the church supported him. What can we learn from this sad story?

Abba, help us discern your hand in power and in weakness. Ground us in reality, truth and courage.

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

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I hope you’ll follow my blog and share it with others.  I really appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: How Good a Christian Are You? (Gregory Boyd)

“John [the apostle] sums up the matter bluntly. ‘Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars’ (1 John 4:20). To truly love God includes loving others with the same love God has for us and the same love God has for them. This is part of what it means to be a participant in the divine nature. It is, in fact, what it means to be Christian (Christ-like). ‘Whoever does not love,’ John wrote, ‘does not know God, for God is love’ (1 John 4:8). Our capacity to love—to fulfill the greatest two commandments—is the definitive evidence that we are in fact abiding in Christ and participating in the perfect love of the triune God. Christians sometimes try to assess how they or others are doing on the basis of such things as how successfully they conquer a particular sin, how much prayer and Bible study they do, how regularly they attend and give to church, and so forth. But rarely do we honestly ask the question that Scripture places at the center of everything: Are we growing in our capacity to love all people? Do we have an increasing love for our sisters and brothers in Christ as well as for those for whom Christ died who are yet outside the church? Are we increasing in our capacity to ascribe unsurpassable worth to people whom society judges to have no worth? If there is any distinguishing mark of the true disciple from a biblical perspective, this is it!” Gregory Boyd

“If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers,
it proves that we have passed from death to life.
But a person who has no love is still dead.”
1 John 3:14
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Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • With what criteria do you measure how you’re doing as a Christian?
  • Do you focus on your beliefs? …the opinions of others? …abstaining from big sins? …approval by your church? …practicing spiritual disciplines? …tireless service to Christ?
  • What would change if you mostly asked yourself, “Am I growing in my capacity to love all people?”

Abba, I’m not too bad at loving those that love me (except when I’m not), but loving others that dislike, disregard or disrespect me–that’s where I need to love like you do. Help me learn that Lord. May that be my “practice.”

For More: Repenting of Religion by Gregory Boyd

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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

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

 

Daily Riches: Attending to Your Implicit Biases (Dana Bowen Matthew)

“Implicit biases can be absolutely contradictory to your express preferences to be egalitarian, …you want to be fair, you want to be a good person, you want to treat people equally, but you don’t acknowledge or know that you have implicit biases. One of the researchers at Wayne State calls that “averse racism.” “Averse racism” because I’m averse to racism, but I have it and don’t realize it and therefore don’t treat it. …In America explicit bias and explicit racism is pretty much out of vogue, most people would be surprised to hear that when you look at the news, but … the racial climate in the United States has grown more complex, and it is implicit, not explicit bias, that is causing the kind of conflict that we have today. So explicit bias basically says I make a conscious choice to make an inferior or negative judgment of someone based on their race, their color, their ethnicity. I choose it–consciously. Implicit bias is much more subtle. It comes from the storage of all my experiences–what I saw on T.V., what I heard in the political debates, my [childhood] experience on the playground, my neighbor’s experience on their playground–and I gather this and store this in my unconscious mind as what we call “social knowledge.” It gets triggered automatically …I walk into a room, I see a person who is a member of a different race, and automatically all of the information that I gathered from living in the United States, from listening to music and news and newspapers and so forth, automatically it comes bubbling up and begins to influence and color my judgments, and my perceptions, and my conduct–my decisions about that person and how I’m going to interact with them. Here’s the rub: it’s more powerful than my explicit preferences. …People act more in accordance with their implicit biases than with their explicit preferences.”

“My dear brothers and sisters,
how can you claim to have faith
in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ
if you favor some people over others?”
James 2:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you committed to treating all people with justice–fairly and equally?
  • Could “implicit bias” be causing you to unwittingly do otherwise?
  • What specific behaviors could you use to “attend to” your implicit biases?

Abba, make me aware of my biases towards others and rescue me from the tyranny of illusion.

For More: Just Medicine by Dana Bowan Matthew (the quote is from a WNYC podcast)

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks 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)

Daily Riches: Embraced By an All-embracing Love (Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Richard Rohr)

“Love people even in their sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all of God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. Little do we realize that God’s love is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another, it means that God is choosing us now and now and now. We have nothing to attain [we need to] …become aware of God’s loving presence in our lives, we have to accept that human culture is in a mass hypnotic trance. We’re sleep-walkers. All great religious teachers have recognized that we human beings do not naturally see; we have to be taught how to see. Jesus says further, ‘If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light’ (Luke 11:34). Religion is meant to teach us how to see and be present to reality. That’s why the Buddha and Jesus say with one voice, ‘Be awake.’ …Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, living in awareness of the Presence, and even of enjoying the Presence. The contemplative is not just aware of God’s Loving Presence, but trusts, allows, and delights in it. All spiritual disciplines have one purpose: to get rid of illusions so we can be present. These disciplines exist so that we can see what is, see who we are, and see what is happening.” Richard Rohr

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the LORD.

…Then I said, ‘It’s all over! I am doomed,

for I am a sinful man, I have filthy lips….”

Isaiah 6:1, 5

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Moving From Head to Heart

  • God loves the whole world “with an all-embracing love”–including “loving people even in their sin.” Do you love the world God has made? …people even in their sin?
  • Are you aware of God maintaining you in every breath you take? …choosing you “now and now and now?”
  • Does your answer to the second question explain your answer to the first?
  • Is your intention to trust and delight in God’s presence daily?

Abba, embrace others with my hands.

For More: Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! – Bill