“Politics—government—does not exist for itself and, if it does, that is precisely when it becomes at least death-dealing if not entirely evil. Nation-states and empires have all “died the death” in the wake of such power run amuck, of such distortion of human community” (Sister Joan Chittister, quoted by Richard Rohr in his Daily Meditation for November 20, 2019).
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
“In North America and much of Europe, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in ‘nones,’ people who don’t identify with a particular faith tradition. While I ache for those who have been wounded by religion and no longer feel at home in church, the dissatisfaction within Christianity has sparked some necessary and healthy changes. Episcopal Bishop Mark Dyer (1930–2014) aptly called these recurring periods of upheaval giant “rummage sales” in which the church rids itself of what is no longer needed and rediscovers treasures it had forgotten” (Richard Rohr, Daily Mediation, October 27, 2019).
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
“Conservative tendencies often signal that fear is outweighing hope. We get defensive. We hang on. We hoard. We try to collect manna for tomorrow, today. We don’t believe that God’s future will be as great as God’s past, that what God will do can be as great as what God has done. There is a distrust of God in a lot of our conservatism. We must conserve, protect, and maintain, because God, it appears, is not doing it adequately. We do not like the future that God has in store, apparently” (Steve Mathonnet-VanderWel in Reformed Journal: The Twelve, October 22, 2019).
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
“[Building spiritual resilience] could mean that when you are in worship or in another gathering or conversation and one of the preachers or one of your fellow congregation members makes a comment that causes your stomach to get tied up in knots, or makes your face flush with anger, or just increases this sense of tension in your soul, because you know you do not agree with what was just said—with this developed spiritual resilience, you could still be fully present in that service or gathering or conversation. With that kind of spiritual resilience, even in your disagreement, you could still honestly try to listen deeply for what they really mean, without needing to prove you are right or trying to throw them off the cliff.
We need to develop this kind of resilience for each other sooner rather than later, because, friends, we are called to lift up our voice. We are called to be a public witness. We are called to live with and in this tension. The issues and the struggles will change but not the call. It is who we have always been” (From a sermon by Shannon Kershner, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, October 6, 2019).
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
“You cannot, in the same moment of thought, wish to do something good to someone or to harm that person. Those are mutually incompatible, like hot and cold water. So the more you will bring benevolence in your mind at every of those moments, there’s no space for hatred. It’s just very simple, but we don’t do that. We do exercise every morning, 20 minutes, to be fit. We don’t sit for 20 minutes to cultivate compassion. If we were to do so, our mind will change, our brain will change. What we are will change” (Matthew Ricard is a French-born, Tibetan Buddhist monk. This quote is from an interview with Krista Tippett which originally aired on OnBeing on November 12, 2009).
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
“I have thought with renewed amazement lately about the clear patterns in scripture: God is always working with remnants, the most unlikely people, the most unlikely things, the losers and the people without power. Little seeds, mustard seeds. That’s how God likes to work. Reformed folk tend to love big systems and big dreams. We do quite well with institutions. That’s our Kuyperian heritage, perhaps. And our systemic thinking is one of our most important distinctives. We perceive systemic sin and we set out to battle it—with God’s help. We perceive systemic possibility and we set out to build it—with God’s help. That’s all good. But when we face so much disruption in our social and cultural infrastructures—including our churches—we have to remember how God loves to work. We may be watching it crumble, but meanwhile, God is creating those little refugia” (Debra Rienstra in The Twelve blog, November 23, 2019).