The following quotes strike me as being particularly relevant to Christians living in 2016. Wherever we live, we are constantly confronted with violence, abuse, war (declared and undeclared), crime, massive greed, hopelessness, depression, and cynicism, lies and propaganda, hunger, the rape of our planet. These well-known and long-respected authors have some potent words to say about our response to the values of our time. I encourage you to learn more about them and dip into their writing. (See more information on all three below quotes.
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“It is not only true that if we say Yes to God, we must say No to evil. It is also true that if we refuse to say No to evil, we cannot say Yes to God” (Robert McAfee Brown in Saying Yes and Saying No).
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“Guilty than others, there is no point at which any of us may claim total exemption. Some are directly guilty, for example, of the ongoing humiliation of people of color—they pass anti-racial laws, or they refuse to enforce existing nondiscriminatory racial antagonism, or they speak and write against minority groups. While some are directly guilty of such things,all are responsible for their continuing. Those who acquiesce in the evil done by others bear responsibility for that evil. Those who remain quiet when the demagogue speaks give their support to the demagogue. Those who remain indifferent to the quiet voices of hatred encourage such voices to speak more loudly” (Robert McAfee Brown in Saying Yes and Saying No).
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“Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to. Our anger may be a message that we are being hurt, that our rights are being violated, that our needs and wants are not being adequately met, or simply that something is not right. Our anger may tell us that we are not addressing an important emotional issue in our lives, or that too much of our self—our beliefs, values, desires or ambitions—is being compromised in a relationship. Our anger may be a signal that we are doing more and giving more than we can comfortably do or give. Or our anger may warn us that others are doing too much for us, at the expense of our own competence and growth . . . . Our anger can motivate us to say “no” to the ways in which we are defined by others and “yes” to the dictates of our inner self” (Harriet Lerner in The Dance of Anger).
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“The One who made us, who has every right over us, profoundly respects us, as no one else so fully does. He knows the greatest thing about us is our freedom, our power to choose, to love. Therein, precisely, lies our particular likeness to the divine. And he will never violate that freedom, no matter how badly we choose to abuse it. He will never force his way into our lives” (M. Basil Pennington in Centering Prayer).
Robert McAfee Brown (1920 -2001) was a Presbyterian minister, a theologian, teacher, and author. He was an advocate for social, economic, and gender issues who believed “we are here to share bread with one another, so that everyone has enough, and no one has too much.”
Harriet Lerner, PhD is the author of eleven books including the Dance of Anger, the Dance of Intimacy, the Dance of Fear. From 1972 to 2001 she was a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas and a faculty member and supervisor in the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry. She and her husband are currently in private practice.
M. Basil Pennington O.C.S.O. (1931–2005) was a Trappist monk and priest. He was a leading Roman Catholic spiritual writer, speaker, teacher, and director. Pennington became known internationally as one of the major proponents of the Centering Prayer movement begun at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, during the 1970s.