We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Liked it, except for the appalling word "missional". What is it with professionals and jargon words...I have tried never to use a technical term without definition in a sermon or discussion. It is bad English, and distancing.
Perhaps I sound nit-picky, but honestly, if Bird Dog hadn't recommended the post, and I had found it surfing myself, I would have stopped reading at the first "missional". If Brian is afraid to use the word missionary because some twits have negative associations to certain historical or current missionaries, he should just use it and torpedoes be damned!
I wonder if he is the same guy (with a different pen name) as the Brian McLaren I had recommended to me... when I just spent time last month with my closest friends from our youth in grad school. They are wild with enthusiasm for all this emerging church stuff (which I am ashamed to say I hadn't even heard of)
These days I just go to a very evangelical church, do stuff there, and invite people to church and offer encouragement and support lunchtime to the people I work with (the majority of whom are unchurched). Pretty pathetic advertisement for my faith. The one exciting thing in my spiritual life is a new bible study some teenagers asked me to lead them in. None of them churchgoers, several Jewish, all highly critical of the institutional church. But entranced by the language and stories and ideas in ithe Bible, and they keep circling around God like children fascinated by some big, slightly alarming but fascinating visiting relative. Most of them had never read the Bible before. This week we are discussing "What does the Bible have to say about being rich?" So for a couple of hours a week, I feel alive again... In youth I did missionary work,and ministered in churches and hospitals. The proverbial best years of my life...
The only way I know to bring my faith into my dull secular job now is to work as hard and as carefully as I can, even tho it's sometimes hard to stay awake over the computer, to work uncomplainingly, try to be positive and not join in office plotting and politics, be honest, and kind. Because my coworkers know I am very "religious" I try not to act like the jerk I really am. But it's discouraging as I'm not as good at the secular work as I was at the church work, so I feel both less useful and less inspired than I used to.
Truth be told I think that most people's jobs may be honorable if worked at in the right spirit, but most of them involve what Pink Floyd sang about in another context in my youth "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way..." Not everyone can be an Indian chief, or a physician, or a farmer or a professor or minister all their life. For most of us, our jobs are just a way to earn a living, feed our kids, and afford precious few opportunities to live out the Christian faith. Of course, one tries to be a good worker, a decent person. But there's nothing distinctively Christian about that.
In my limited experience (chiefly observation many years ago of how uncomfortable my spouse's financial colleagues used to become when they heard that I worked in the ministry) many corporate and financial types are made exceptionally nervous by religion anywhere except in their church on Sunday, and perhaps their wife's Bible study group and their men's fellowship breakfast. It doesn't help that so many ministers are so appallingly ignorant about business (either lefty hostile, Trollope inspired Anglican !@#kisser of the richest parishioners, or sycophantic fundamentalist cheerleader).
The only church I have ever belonged to where there seems a healthy relationship between people's faith and secular work is my present one, and I don't quite understand how it happens. For some reason (unlike at my other churches), the men actually attend church, and participate, and enjoy it. It isn't just a congregation of frustrated hens and loser guys and a preening rooster minister.
Here are a couple of links to books recommended by my friends, not yet read by me as I can't afford to buy them and the library obviously doesn't stock them (why are the library's shelves groaning under the weight of garbage like Danielle Steel and other trash novels for frustrated housewives, but God forbid that they should stock current Christian theological or spiritual works?!)
At one point I begged our local community college-educated librarians, who selected books based on what a library journal recommended, to let me help pick out the latest religious and psych books that might interest our patrons. I said that I would do it on my own time, for free. "OH no, you didn't go to library school..." Presumably a graduate degree from a rather famous institution having devoted much time to those subjects didn't count...
Anyway, libraries these days stock and retain books based not on a canon or excellence but on political correctness and circulation statistics. I have seen Plato's Republic on the discard shelf because nobody checks it out! Plus the PCers who hate all religion would rather have ten books on sex hormone therapy for menopausal women than any books on how to get right with God, understand Scripture, change your life, be a better person. Go figure...)
Reading that article actually reminded me that I have no excuse to just be a passive Christian consumer. Salutary. God calls all of us to advance His Kingdom, wherever we have ended up, no matter if it feels as if we are just running on a gerbil wheel.
I don;t know if it is genuine, but I have always loved a quote I attribute to Jonathan Edwards about how "we contribute to the glory of God." I don't know if I got it right (it seems odd, given the rest of his theology) but I like to think that what it means is that although His glory shines on this wicked world, regardless of our sins or virtues, He requires all of our best efforts to work towards the world's greater appreciationoof that glory, and to spread the love that Glory points to. Spiritual topdressing, if y'all aren't offended by God's grace and judgment being likened to peat moss and manure....That we day laborers had better spread diligently.
When the party and delights of self indulgence are over, most of the world is like a hungover person sleeping til noon on Sunday, with the blinds drawn, depressed and wanting to curl up with a bottle and see no one. What did I do last night? Who do I have to apologise to?
The Christian who is called to be salt and light is not to just be a salt rim on another margarita glass, but rather to draw the curtains despail howls of rage from the slugabed. Called to cheer up the miserable one, make coffee, encourage, drag the despondent friend out and about, and show them the blossoming apricot tree, a love letter from God right outside their bedroom. In such small ways we are called to contribute to the glory of God. Just as mothers of toddlers are continually pointing out amazing things to their kids "Look..." Or as the railroad crossing sign warns "Stop, look, listen" Because we are our brother's keeper, not his cheerleader. We are put on earth to help heal it, protect it, redirect it away from a path that leads to certain destruction. We contribute to the glory of God by pointing it out, helping people look up who have spent a lifetime eyes on the sidewalk. And the blind see.
Ho hum, time to do the dishes. I am not spiritual enough to do what some Buddhist converts I know do, and "mindfully" wash each dish by hand with great attention and joy. Ick! I just swoop the overly curious ginger kitten out of the dishwasher, crash the dishes in without (sin of sins in my OCD husband's eyes) rinsing them, start the thing and pray they get clean enough for goverment work...I once had a shrink whom I nearly threw something at when he gently suggested that it was my job to keep house better...