For example, borrowing from the work of Paul Rozin, I’ve poured lemonade into a sterile bedpan and have asked students to take a drink. They know it’s just lemonade and they know the bedpan is clean. And yet still they refuse to take a drink. Lemonade in a bedpan just looks too much like urine and reason struggles to overcome our emotional response to that appearance. This is the appraisal of similarity. If something looks similar to a contaminant then it is a contaminant. Even if we know better.
But how? I propose that we do it in exactly the way that Republicans are arguing against. We need to put boots on the ground.
Not to kill Syrians. Not to attack the Syrian Army, or to attack Hezbollah, or Al Qaida. But to keep the peace. Peacekeeping forces should be placed in Syria, with a mandate to actively protect Syrian civilians.
I fear that outrage has become an addiction for many people of faith. I’m caused to wonder if certain endorphins are released when we feel anger over a just cause; an emotional, pseudo-spiritual “rush” that just keeps us coming back for more. In order for us to feel “righteous,” has it become essential that “indignation” be an inseparable companion? “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers… twerkers.” Reread the context of Luke 18:9-14 to be reminded of why Jesus told this parable.
As we sat in Ray Vander Laan’s class, my wife — the mother of four and the person in charge when it’s time for us to pack — asked, “Where did they get the tambourines?” And that’s what Ray asked the class. If you were packing to walk from the Land of Goshen to Palestine, taking only what you could carry, would you pack tambourines? We Westerners wouldn’t.
But Miriam and the other women did. Why? Well, there’s only one possible explanation. They packed tambourines because God was with them, and there’d surely be a need to celebrate! They packed anticipating the need to exalt God on the way. How else could they make it to the Promised Land?
And then I heard them say those very words that must bring tears to the Lord’s eyes … it’s the last 8 words you’ll hear just before they close the doors of their church (or any church) for good…
“But we’ve never done it that way before!”
We weren’t talking unbiblical changes here. I wasn’t suggesting they start sacrificing animals or worshipping a different god, but simple changes that could produce outreach to their community of lost people. I realize that change is a scary word for some long time church members, but our churches constantly must be looking for new ways to meet needs, reach the lost and serve their communities. Continuing to do the same things, they same way, will only bring the same result.
I don’t hear much talk about confession these days. There was a time when any good book on Christian piety dealt with it. Confession used to occupy an important place in the liturgy of corporate worship. But outside of a general admission that we are sinners, or the specific confession of the one “big sin” in our life, confession seems to have become something largely forgotten.
My target isn’t activism itself, but the marginalization of the ordinary as the richest site of both God’s activity and ours. Our problem isn’t that we are too active. Rather, it is that we have been prone to successive sprints instead of the long-distance run. There’s nothing wrong with energy. The danger is that we’re burning out ourselves—and each other—on restless anxieties and unrealistic expectations. It’s an impatience with the familiar, sometimes slow, and mostly imperceptible aspects of life.
Experiencing the death of someone we love causes us mourners to review our beliefs and our personal understanding of death, dying and loss. Our loss experience can cause us to prepare for our inevitable end and for the life which still lies ahead for us. When our grief is short-circuited, we are robbed of the possibilities of navigating grief in a healthy fashion and of seeing life and death with a meaningful perspective.
Again, I don’t have all the answers here. Most parents are doing the best they know how. My best advice is to be intentional. Have a goal and have a plan. For each child. What parent would not want to see the principle of the verse above come true in their child’s life some day? Good parenting should do what works best to accomplish the goal of parenting.
Developers of the unfinished “Walkie-Talkie” building — so called because of its shape — said Tuesday they are investigating the way the building reflects sunlight, after claims that the intense glare melted parts of a luxury car parked nearby and caused a small fire outside a shop.