Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Healing and Community

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The description of the Gerasene demoniac was one of someone who was completely isolated, who was out of control and alone and in pain. And if being out of control and alone and in pain was what the demon wanted, then it makes complete sense that the demon feared Jesus. Because in these healing texts, Jesus does not just cure people’s diseases and cast out their demons and then say, “Mission accomplished.” He’s always after something more than that because the healing is never fully accomplished until there is a restoration to community. People are healed of disease, and then he tells the folks just standing around watching to go get them something to eat. The widow’s son is raised from the dead and then he gives him back to his mother. And here the man healed of demons is then told to stay with his people and speak of what God has done. In the Jesus business, community is always a part of healing. Even though community is never perfect.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, p. 88

Focus on What You’re For

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Beware of forming bonds with individuals or groups because you dislike the same people or resent the same things. The trick, once again, is to focus on what you are for rather than what you’re against. Say that an organization against domestic violence keeps its focus on everything that it devalues. Its members motivate themselves with anger and resentment, which they inevitably turn on one another. Such places are notorious for complaints, infighting, backstabbing, and sabotage; they are unpleasant places to work. Advocacy groups motivated by resentment tend to multiply like rabbits without increasing their membership. Disagreements within the groups splinter them into smaller and smaller units, competing with each other for media attention and community resources. The message of the cause becomes secondary to the competition for advancing it. But an organization for something — like safe, respectful relationships — keeps the focus on everything it values. Its members are motivated by passion for what is right — what they stand for — rather than resentment about what is wrong. Such organizations enjoy more cohesion and cooperation, and are simply more pleasant places to work. Bond over what you stand for, not what you’re against. The latter inevitably leads to resentment and aggression, which you’ll automatically transmit to others via the Web of Emotion.

— Steven Stosny, Soar Above, p. 174-175.

True Belonging

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

We’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up, join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.

True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.

— Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness, p. 37

Our Vocation

Friday, August 25th, 2017

The remarkable thing is that the Creator, having made the world to work in this way – with humans functioning like the “image” in a temple, standing between heaven and earth and acting on behalf of each in relation to the other – has not abandoned the project. Yes, it gets distorted again and again. But it remains the way the world was supposed to work – and the way in which, through the gospel, it will work once more. The powers that have stolen the worshipping hearts of the world and that have in consequence usurped the human rule over the world would like nothing better than for humans to think only of escaping the world rather than taking back their priestly and royal vocations.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 80

Seven Billion With Me

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

“When I meet someone,” the Dalai Lama said, returning to what was becoming an important theme, “I always try to relate to the person on the basic human level. On that level, I know that, just like me, he or she wishes to find happiness, to have fewer problems and less difficulty in their life. Whether I am speaking with one person, or whether I am giving a talk to a large group of people, I always see myself first and foremost as just another fellow human. That way, there is in fact no need for introduction.

“If, on the other hand, I relate to others from the perspective of myself as someone different — a Buddhist, a Tibetan, and so on — I will then create walls to keep me apart from others. And if I relate to others, thinking that I am the Dalai Lama, I will create the basis for my own separation and loneliness. After all, there is only one Dalai Lama in the entire world. In contrast, if I see myself primarily in terms of myself as a fellow human, I will then have more than seven billion people who I can feel deep connection with. And this is wonderful, isn’t it? What do you need to fear or worry about when you have seven billion other people who are with you?”

— Douglas Abrams, The Book of Joy, p. 100

Sing Forth Our Joy

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Staying isolated with our joys isn’t helpful either. It minimizes them, thus cheating us out of feeling their full thrill. We deserve joy in our lives — lots of it — because we will have our full measure of pain. Perhaps we fear others will criticize us for being braggarts if we sing forth our joy. But our real friends will sing right along with us. Our joys are deserved; they offset our trials. Telling others about both will let all our experiences count for something.

— Karen Casey, Peace a Day at a Time, June 28

Bringing People Together

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Belief exists inside a person. As such, it has the power and the tendency to separate a person from his neighbors who believe differently. But authentic religion connects people rather than separates them into the elect and the misguided, the saved and those who walk in darkness. The primary function of religion, as Durkheim discovered and taught and as every congregational clergyman of any denomination has discovered for himself or herself, is to bring people together rather than to separate them, thereby increasing their joy and diluting their sorrows. For that to happen, one’s theology has to escape from the prison of the self and translate into sacred deeds shared with others, deeds sanctified by having the fingerprints of God all over them.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 117.

We Need Each Other.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

I’m not exactly sure how all this works, but I think, ultimately, it means I can’t be a Christian on my own. Like it or not, following Jesus is a group activity, something we’re supposed to do together. We might not always do it within the walls of church or even in an organized religion, but if we are to go about making disciples, confessing our sins, breaking bread, paying attention, and preaching the Word, we’re going to need one another. We’re going to need each other’s help.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 255

Grace

Monday, April 18th, 2016

But if the world is watching, we might as well tell the truth. And the truth is, the church doesn’t offer a cure. It doesn’t offer a quick fix. The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 209

Community

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

It may well be the case that the word “religion” is related to the word “ligament,” from the Latin ligare, “to connect.” One might argue that the word refers to beliefs that connect a person to God, but I am inclined to side with Durkheim that the role of religion is to bind us to other people in order to evoke together the sense that God is in our midst. We don’t go to church or synagogue to find God; God may indeed be more accessible in nature on a sunny day. We go to church or synagogue to find other worshippers who are looking for what we are looking for, and together we find it. We become something greater than our solitary selves.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 112