Walking

“I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour.  If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought, or thoughtfulness.”
– Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Warning

Warning: character, integrity and love do not equal living large, being famous, or doing whatever – aspiring to these may harm your life.

We need to be warned and we must warn others that living a life that longs for character, settles only for integrity and truly loves is not always grand or pretty.  In fact, such aspirations are extremely hard and usually messy.  Often, in this age of twitter, facebook, and blogs, we can be fooled into thinking that if we tweet or post something, it actually is.  And thus, I am a person of character, have integrity and care for others just because I type such sentiments.  Not so.  Life is real and thus to be really lived – with real people, in the midst of their real problems, caring for their real junk, and speaking really hard stuff to them.  To really live may mean our online persona suffers serious harm, our status is not so grand, and our updates are not so frequent.  Be warned, Mike – aspiring to character, integrity and love may mean that you type less and live more, or even stop typing altogether and start really living.

Which Mission? Whose Mission?

The world as we know it is rapidly changing.  Current economic, demographic, technological, and political changes can cause our heads to spin.  Yet, one change that may not be as obvious is that the American context is becoming less and less Christian, especially in the way Christianity has been traditionally understood and followed.  People are asking such questions as “Why bother with church?”  “What has the Christian faith to do with the real problems of life?”  In some quarters, the questions are not as benign.  These people aggressively ask, “Why are Christians so bigoted, narrow-minded, and anti-everything?”  Studies show that while there is a growing interest in matters spiritual, Christianity and the church are increasingly viewed as irrelevant or passé, especially when it comes to our collective lives as Americans.

So, how are Christians to respond to this new reality?  Continue reading

An Amazing Journey

Recently I visited a number of friends who have moved to other countries within the last six months.  They have relocated themselves and now live with new foods, languages, ways of relating, means of transportation, mediums of exchange, roles, and neighbors.  These friends have done well, leaning into so many changes and adjustments.  And yet, the more significant journey they have made has not been to obvious cultural or external realities.  Rather, they are on an amazing journey within themselves. Continue reading

Imagine What Could Be

What is imagined becomes what is and shapes what already exists.  Before we are able to touch, feel, and experience that which is good and true, it is imagined.  Its creation happens twice – first in the mind and then in the world around.  If what is good and true is to remain, acts which mirror goodness and truthfulness must be imagined.  In similar manner, that which is evil and false comes into being and endures through the power of imagination.  Prejudice, hatred, and lies take shape in the mind before finding their expression in slurs, abuse, and trickery.  Such are the forceful possibilities of imagination. Continue reading

You’ve got a Friend?

“Words,” said the Mad Hatter to Alice, “mean exactly whatever I say they mean.”

Life comes undone when the words used to explain and describe reality loose their mooring and float from place to place, meaning to meaning.  A confused Alice cannot make sense of the new reality of rabbits, cats and queens, especially when words point to their own contradictions – black becomes white, tall becomes short, up becomes down. Continue reading

Violent Roots

Church history recounts too many acts of violence carried out in the name of Christianity.  Self-identifying Christians throughout the ages have employed threats, coercion, censure, shunning, imprisonment, and even torture and murder to force conversions, to enforce particular brands of orthodoxy, and to persecute non-believers.  Those who should have known better did not do better.  Instead, they behaved in ways worst than most non-believers and thus betrayed the cause of Christ. Continue reading

What’s Next for American Christians?

What are Christians living in pluralistic, postmodern, and post-Christian America to do in order to overcome the negative reactions they now engender?  This is the central question Gabe Lyons seeks to address in The Next Christians: The Good News about the End of Christian America (Doubleday, 2010, 224 pages).

Lyons addresses this question with inspiring stories of those he dubs as “Next Christians,” and with the promise of what could happen through their words and deeds.  His faith in these Next Christians is boldly asserted in the subtitle on the book’s jacket, “How a New Generation is Restoring the Faith.” Continue reading

Finding their Voice

One of the characteristics of modernity, according to Anthony Giddens (The Consequence of Modernity, p. 27), is the rise of “expert systems” of “technical accomplishments or professional expertise that organize large areas of material and social environments in which we live today.”  These systems and experts allow the layperson to trust in the system and the expertise of the professional and thus stand apart from or live without intimate knowledge of huge areas of life.  So, whether the professional is a lawyer, doctor, or counselor, we trust the expert knowledge of that professional without question. Continue reading

Hope in the Rubble

Growing up I learned via various mediums (church, movies, books) that good and evil existed in separate realms and were color-coded. The good guys had white hats and said certain words and phrases, and the bad guys wore black hats and said the exact opposite of the good guys. And yet, I have since discovered that the world is not so clear and simple. Continue reading