Daily Riches: A King Clothed In Rags (Belden Lane and Flannery O’Connor)

“To the the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.” Flannery O’Connor

“Our image of God doesn’t prepare us for a truth realized in brokenness. We need to be shaken out of our expectations. …The grotesque reminds us who we are, but even more it discloses the mystery of God’s presence. Repeatedly in biblical faith we discover a broken and despised people calling upon a god made accessible in pathos and tears. God is never what Pharoah, Ahab, and Herod expect. There’s a shocking, almost comic quality about the annunciations one finds in scripture. Angels announce to shepherds standing in a field of sheep dung the birth of a king clothed in rags. A figure clad in white announces to John of the Apocalypse the majestic Lion of the Tribe of Judah, but when he turn to look there’s only a slain and bloody lamb (Rev. 5:5-6). In biblical experience what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. This is the mystery of God as Deus absconditus. The God of scripture is equally revealed in vulnerability and in triumph. This is because both actions are rooted in love. God wills us to be broken for the sake of a strength to make whole. Divine love is incessantly restless until it turns all woundedness into health, all deformity into beauty, all embarrassment into laughter. In biblical faith, brokenness is never celebrated as an end in itself. God’s brokenness is but an expression of a love on its way to completion. Hence we never can accept, much less romanticize, the plight of a people rejected by the world as aberrant and unfit. They invite us to share in the ‘groaning of all creation’ for a redemption yet to be revealed (Rom. 8:19-21). The paradox of the grotesque is that it summons those who are whole to be broken and longs for those who are broken to be made whole.” Belden Lane

“His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.”
Isaiah 52:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you familiar with the vulnerable God of the Bible?
  • Do you think of God’s love as “incessantly restless until it turns all woundedness into health, all deformity into beauty, all embarrassment into laughter?” Is God doing that for you?
  • In what ways are you whole needing to be broken? …broken needing to be make whole?

Abba, thank you for your love that will not rest until I am whole.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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

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

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

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

Moving From Head to Heart

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

Abba, let me be an apologist for the weak.

For More:  The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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

Daily Riches: Your Intuitive Prejudice In Favor of Self (Thomas Merton, A. D. Sertillanges)

“To proportion one’s task to one’s powers, to undertake to speak only when one knows, not to force oneself to think what one does not think, or to understand what one does not understand – to avoid the danger of missing the substance of things and disguising its absence under big words: all that is great wisdom. Pride rebels against it; but pride is the enemy.” A. D. Sertillanges

“We ought to have the humility to admit we do not know all about ourselves, that we are not experts at running our own lives. We ought to stop taking our conscious plans and decisions with such infinite seriousness. It may well be that we are not the martyrs or the mystics or the apostles or the leaders or the lovers of God that we imagine ourselves to be. Our subconscious mind may be trying to tell us this in many ways and we have trained ourselves with the most egregious self-righteousness to turn a deaf ear. …One of the effects of original sin is an intuitive prejudice in favor of our own selfish desires. We see things as they are not, because we see them centered on ourselves. Fear, anxiety, greed, ambition, and our hopeless need for pleasure all distort the image of reality that is reflected in our minds. Grace does not completely correct this distortion all at once: but it gives us a means of recognizing and allowing for it. And it tells us what we must do to correct it. Sincerity must be bought at a price: the humility to recognize our innumerable errors, and fidelity in tirelessly setting them right. The sincere man, therefore, is one who has the grace to know that he may be instinctively insincere, and that even his natural sincerity may become a camouflage for irresponsibility and moral cowardice: as if it were enough to recognize the truth, and do nothing about it!” Thomas Merton

“with humility comes wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of your “intuitive prejudice in favor of your own selfish desires?”
  • Do you listen, in the voice of God, others, or your self-conscious such that your “infinite seriousness” about your spirituality could be questioned?
  • How can you refuse to be “instinctively insincere” before God, and thereby learn to practice truthfulness with others about your weaknesses and limitations?

Self-humbling God, help me humbly receive truth about myself.

For More: No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he 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: ‘The Art of Imperfection’ (J. R. Briggs and Robyn Griggs Lawrence)

“According to Japanese legend, a young man named Sen no Rikyu …went to tea master Takeno Joo, who tested the younger man by asking him to tend the garden. Rikyu cleaned up debris and raked the ground until it was perfect, and the garden immaculate. Before presenting his work to the master, he shook a cherry tree, causing a few flowers to fall onto the ground. To this day, the Japanese revere Rikyu as one who understood …wabi-sabi …the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all. When a white pottery bowl breaks, for example, one might glue it back together with white lacquer to disguise the breaks, making it look as new and complete as possible. But in the East the bowl might be glued back together with lacquer sprinkled with gold to highlight the cracks and imperfections. Japanese culture sees the aesthetic value of imperfection in wabi-sabi just as much as the Greeks valued perfection in their art. Wabi-sabi is seen as beautiful because it is imperfect and broken.” J. R. Briggs

Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet—that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time. Bringing wabi-sabi into your life doesn’t require money, training, or special skills. It takes a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are—without ornamentation. It depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting.” Robyn Griggs Lawrence

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
so that the surpassing greatness
of the power will be of God
and not from ourselves….”
2 Corinthians 4:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you “revere authenticity above all?”
  • Can you appreciate things in their simplicity – with signs of wear? of age? without “ornamentation?”
  • Can you “find beauty in imperfection” – in the world? in yourself? in others?
  • What would it mean for you to shift from “perfecting” to “appreciating?”

Abba, show your beauty in my imperfections.

For More: Tinker at Pilgrim Creek by Annie Dillard

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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.”