Sunday, January 17, 2010


I teach a small Bible study class and, in order to have a plan, I use the Lifeway material. I study it but then go off in the direction that the text is sending me. This week the lesson (as always on the third Sunday of January) was about being "pro-life."

My thesis to the class was that to be pro-life is to be pro-people; that you really aren't pro-life if you aren't pro-people, as the book of Mark shows Christ to be. It is easy to say, "I'm against abortion," or "I'm against Roe v. Wade" and to vote that way and talk against more liberal/progressive/secularist politicians who support abortion on demand. It is something else to be totally and truly pro-life.

Translating faith into real, wise, effective, loving action is the great challenge for the Christian today, at least for those with a good theological background. (of course, the majority of professing Christians have minimal Biblical knowledge, nonexistent theological knowledge, and negative numbers level when it comes to knowledge of their faith traditions.) It is easy to hide, to recuse ourselves from action. Action does not have to be revolutionary, showy, large; it needs to be intentional, visible, committed, consistent, followed-through-on, and done for its own sake, not for our self-aggrandizement.

I am reading Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain. He is/was a phenomenal writer, moving, and makes me see prayer in a different light, although what he writes often gets under my skin. His choice to go into a contemplative life is perhaps good for the literary world, but that avenue really makes little sense to a dyed-in-the-wool Protestant like me. (Neither does his choice to be in a monastery where silence is the goal, and yet he writes so much--what's the difference?). It is easy for me to criticize that he was hiding from serving the real world in a monastery, but I have to remind myself that we hide from serving the real world, just in noisier ways (as in behind Facebook, blogs, TV, and movies).

Merton is encouraging me to simplify, simplify, simplify. That is part of being pro-people and pro-life as well. So instead of reading five books at a time, I'm going to read one book at a time. I was doing five at a time because it seemed more intellectual to say you are reading five books at a time (people-pleasing pretentiosity) and that you can feed your ADHD-ness that way.

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Attention, Ego, Spirituality, and Drugs

This title may seem really odd coming from me, but this article has some interesting things to say.