Daily Riches: The Soul-wrenching Work of Letting Jesus Deal with Our Stuff (Jayson Bradley, Neil Postman, Matt Groening, Louise C.K)

“One way of looking at the history of the human group is that it has been a continuing struggle against the veneration of ‘crap.’” Neil Postman

“For most of recorded history, you couldn’t get away from it. The farmer, monk, chef, and seamstress all worked in relative silence within the rhythms of the day, month, and year. Gradually, technology intruded upon those rhythms and upset that silence. Electric light extended the evening and absconded with our rest. Radio introduced constant chatter, and television doubled down on that chatter requesting our total attention. …When I was a teen, I was excited for the ability to listen to a portable cassette; now I carry thousands of albums around with me. …Do you know those people who seem to carry with them an inner stillness? …Most people I know (myself included) are overstimulated and overwhelmed…. We scroll through a vast network of news stories, updates, and information responding in ways that seem more conditioned than reflective, our minds abuzz with constant distracted activity. …Louis C.K. nails the problem here.

…In the most profound way, Louise C.K. is totally right. [We think] ‘…It’s that God-shaped vacuum. He just needs Jesus to fill it up.’ But Christianity alone doesn’t just fill up that emptiness. Christians are as guilty as anyone else of looking for a shortcut to fill that hole …and, despite what we say, we fill it with the same exact things as everyone else. We may be able to curb that hollowness for a while, but eventually it catches up to us…. We run headlong into that void without the discipline to navigate it, and it consumes us. …It’s like the whole of our psyche has followed Marge Simpson’s advice to Lisa, ‘Take all your bad feelings and push them down, all the way down past your knees, until you’re almost walking on them. And then you’ll fit in, and you’ll be invited to parties, and boys will like you. And happiness will follow.’ Silence is the tool that brings to the surface all that stuff we’ve buried or lies hidden from us. The silence we need is more than an absence of sound; it’s a break from constant stimulus and activity. It’s about allowing the tangled cords in our spirit and mind to unravel and be stilled. It’s about stopping the constant need to control our surroundings with our actions and words in a never-ending quest to drown out the unrest in our hearts. It’s about facing the dragon of emptiness, loneliness, frustration, anger, hurt, and need head on . . . and doing the soul-wrenching work of letting Jesus deal with it.” Jayson Bradley

  • Do you still yourself to let difficult emotions surface?
  • Are you willing to do “soul-wrenching work?”

Abba, still my soul.

Daily Riches: Suicide Dives, Collision Courses … and Sabbath (Mark Buchanan)

“There’s an exercise that some pilots go through late in their flight training. The student pilot gets the plane airborne, at cruising altitude. Then the instructor places a loose-fitting, thick-woven sack over the student’s head, so the student can see nothing. The instructor takes the controls and starts stunt-piloting. He loops the loop. He pushes the plane, Turkish-headache-style, skyward, then flips belly-up and swoops earthward. He rollicks and spirals, careens and nosedives, tailspins and wing-tilts. He gets the student utterly discombobulated. Then he puts the plane in a suicide dive, plucks the bag off the student’s head, and hands him the controls. His job: to get the plane back under control. The exercise is called Recovering From an Unusual Attitude. To keep Sabbath, most of us have to recover from an unusual attitude. We find ourselves disoriented, in vertigo. We’re dizzy with all our busyness and on a collision course.” Mark Buchanan

“When salvation comes to your house [like it did with Zacchaeus in Luke 19], first you think differently, then you act differently. First you shift the imagination with which you perceive this world, and then you enact gestures with which you honor it.” Buchanan

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord!
Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor,
and if I have cheated anybody out of anything,
I will pay back four times the amount.’”
Luke 19:8

“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
but the folly of fools is deception.”
Proverbs 14:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you “dizzy” with your busyness? Are you on a “collision course” with reality? Are you too busy for deep thought but wide open to “deception.” (self-deception)
  • Have you “enacted gestures” for your days to allow you to “shift your imagination” and “give thought” to your ways? (e.g., practicing something like the Daily Office, the examen)
  • Have you enacted gestures for your weeks, to allow you to “recover from an unusual attitude” that may be spiritually suicidal? (e.g., keeping a weekly sabbath)

Abba, help me as I embrace new rhythms that create space for me to contemplate my course, your ways, and the foolishness of my noisy world. Deliver me from an unexamined life.

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For More: The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan

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“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.” (Marie Antionette) , and thus “Men more often require to be reminded than informed.”  (Samuel Johnson) The purpose of Daily Riches is to return again and again to a list of critical concepts at the core of the spiritual life. “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you [may] already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.” (2 Peter 1:12)  I appreciate your interest! When you find this helpful, please share! – Bill