“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” -Matthew 6:22-23
Part of Jesus’ genius teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is the stuff I’ve long believed to be secrets to the universe and humankind. It is against our nature typically, which is what makes the teaching genius. Part of our design is that we are receptors of sights, sounds, smells and personal experiences that affect us and develops our inner world. Our outer world directly influences our inner world. What comes in is what goes out. What we look at and pay attention to, becomes us. We are products of our gaze and desire, it is those things that we worship. So what are you looking at? It is that thing that you worship and are becoming.
This past US election got me wired up, wrapped up, stressed out, anxiety driven and despondent. The rhetoric, the hatred, the lowest forms of dialogue, the 24/7 frantic news streams, Facebook preaching, Twitter sewage etc. It all fascinated me from a historic and culture perspective how we got here as a nation but it’s turned into its own animal. The anxiety of the drama has become too expansive for me, as I’ve taken it in it has become me. I’m turning off my gaze into these melodramas and debates, they don’t have the life I’m looking for and I don’t want that crap in my heart. What I look at and pay attention to, I become.
I need to look at goodness, hope, generosity of spirit, kindness, mercy, freedom and love of neighbor. Those are the things I want to become so those are the things I’m looking at and looking for today. Join me.
Read this today on this blog:
“Riots are about power, and they are about catharsis. They are not about poor parenting, or youth services being cut, or any of the other snap explanations that media pundits have been trotting out: structural inequalities, as a friend of mine remarked today, are not solved by a few pool tables. People riot because it makes them feel powerful, even if only for a night. People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all. People to whom respect has never been shown riot because they feel they have little reason to show respect themselves, and it spreads like fire on a warm summer night. And now people have lost their homes, and the country is tearing itself apart.”
Couple this with the dramatic sell off of the US stock market and the economic global unrest and you have a recipe for fear and pain. When the consumer dream dies, what will it look like? After we are done blaming, pointing fingers, lashing out against races/classes/parties/establishments, what will we do? Will we find a stable center to build from or will we deconstruct to unproductive nihlism? I pray for peace and work towards peace, but I’m afraid this is more than just a blip on the screen, it’s our new reality. Unrest, fear and pain. Where will our healing be found? Are there any carriers of the medicine already planted amongst us? My rebellion is yet for hope and life.
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:1-2)
“High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.”Rulers come and rulers go. Sometimes they are pleasing in your sight, sometimes they are not. If you place your trust in the hearts of men, you have built a house on shifting sand. There is only one high King to whom the universe takes its orders. His name is Yahweh. Choose your King and align your allegiance there. Psalm 115:2-9 (The Message)
” Not for our sake, God, no, not for our sake, but for your name’s sake, show your glory. Do it on account of your merciful love, do it on account of your faithful ways. Do it so none of the nations can say, “Where now, oh where is their God?” 3-8 Our God is in heaven doing whatever he wants to do. Their gods are metal and wood, handmade in a basement shop: Carved mouths that can’t talk, painted eyes that can’t see, Tin ears that can’t hear, molded noses that can’t smell, Hands that can’t grasp, feet that can’t walk or run, throats that never utter a sound. Those who make them have become just like them, have become just like the gods they trust. 4-9 God is higher than anything and anyone, outshining everything you can see in the skies. Who can compare with God, our God, so majestically enthroned, Surveying his magnificent heavens and earth? He picks up the poor from out of the dirt, rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash, Seats them among the honored guests, a place of honor among the brightest and best. He gives childless couples a family, gives them joy as the parents of children. Hallelujah!”
When an individual or an organization states what they are “for”, are they really just using language and rhetoric for what they are “against”? Continuing on in Hunter’s “To Change the World”, in essay II he brings up the dynamic of Ressentiment.
Ressentiment originates with Nietzsche from the French word where we get the English root of resentment. But it is more than that. Hunter says: “Ressentiment is grounded in a narrative of injury or, at least, perceived injury; a strong belief that one has been or is being wronged. The root of this is the sense of entitlement a group holds.” (p. 107)
In the land of American politics this plays itself out with Right-Wing Christians saying that we have lost our way, that what we have now is not the Christian nation our forefathers established. Their ressentiment is that this is a new holy war, to take back what is rightfully theirs that has been hijacked. With Left-Wing Christians, they see the inequality of power and wealth and long for justice. They are done with the zealots of the Right defining what Christian political activism is and want to argue for the “right” way, which is one of a more elite and refined intelligence. Equality and justice over capitalism, they are the voice of the poor that the Right are involved with perpetuated their suffering. Hunter also takes on what he calls the “neo-anabaptists. Those that see all power structures and things of this world as evil and seek to be separatists of it. Their ressentiment leads to a complete uninvolvement in the issues of their day and they find they cannot fully detach themselves from the fabric of the networked institutions they want no involvement with. Ultimately, Hunter would say, their goal is futile. They aren’t detached, they are just acting in ressentiment towards the establishment.The idea of ressentiment is strong social theory. Nothing will get the masses fired up more than a perceived enemy that is aggressively seeking your deterioration. The idea that “they” are out to get us is a powerful one and you can find it on any of the 24/7 news networks, regardless of their leanings.
Hunter states: “The sense of injury is the key. Over time, the perceived injustice becomes central to the person’s and the group’s identity . . . Cultivating the fear of further injury becomes a strategy for generating solidarity within the group and mobilizing the group to action.” (p. 107-108)
This is a good challenge to me as a passionate irishman. It doesn’t take much for me to get fired up, have an emotional response and retaliate in real or perceived ressentiment. Playing the martyr and dehumanizing our opposition can take the place of real dialogue of the issues and our difference of views. This is the same for the arena of politics, church, education, civil issues, workplace and recreational organizations.My reflection to this issue as a leader is: “Articulate yourself for what you are for, not what you are against.”peace,Marshall
New video images of the Sun from NASA here. I am just in awe of this kind of stuff. I don’t mean to get political, but we are specs in a grand and mysterious universe. Do we really think we have much impact as humans on something as colossal as global warming or climate change? Most times I just think we are full of ourselves. History has shown man as a proven narcissist. Believing the universe revolves around us and is dependent on us. The more I see, read about, study and wonder . . . the more it can’t be about us, it’s just absurd. We are grains of sand in relative to the mysteries and galaxies beyond us. The universe is immense, we are not. And if the universe is immense, spectacular and mysterious? What does that say about it’s author? Does God need to fit our systematic theologies so we can have it all figured out? Again, more absurdity. I am all for the search for knowledge, but it needs to begin with a sense of humility and a thirst for things truly wonderful and incomprehensible. In my elder years, (now that I”m 37), I want to conclude less and wonder more. These pics today just make me wonder. peace,marshall
Isaiah 40:21-26 (The Message)
21-24Have you not been paying attention? Have you not been listening?Haven’t you heard these stories all your life? Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?God sits high above the round ball of earth. The people look like mere ants.He stretches out the skies like a canvas— yes, like a tent canvas to live under.He ignores what all the princes say and do. The rulers of the earth count for nothing.Princes and rulers don’t amount to much. Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted,They shrivel when God blows on them. Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind. 25-26“So—who is like me? Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy.Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this?Who marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off, calls each by name—so magnificent! so powerful!— and never overlooks a single one?
I mostly sit back and just watch the political climate of America. I vote, I can give my opinion on matters of practicality, economic trends and my preferences, but that’s about it. Most fundamentally, “my kingdom is not of this world”. I don’t expect it to be, I don’t want it to be. My identity is set in a world that has come and a world that is yet coming. Deep rooted in my beliefs is that the King is coming back with a new heaven and a new earth, that is where my hope lies. I cannot buy into the church’s affiliation with political power systems, it is the worship of a foreign idol. Be it Republican, Democrat or Tea parties . . . they do not make the sun rise nor the seas roll. The One who does brings perspective. The manic pursuit of foreign idols is a life of being tossed back and forth by the wind with no center, nothing that gives gravity to one’s life. Root yourself in the one who doesn’t change. Root yourself in the one who is King of all reality, not just the land you happen to live in at this point in time. Root yourself in the One who gave you being, not the one who wants your vote and your treasures. Worship the one true God and you find living water that your soul thirsts for. Worship a foreign idol and you drink dry sand. I guess my heeding is be careful where you put your ultimate hope. God has reigned over the universe before America, and God will reign over the universe after America. We are but chapters to a greater story. With what little time we have, let’s not live it with all the wrong dreams. I swear singular allegiance to the the King. peace,marshall
Rarely do I get too political, but this caught my eye today: GMAC bailout. I don’t get why we are so afraid of allowing the free market to open and close doors for businesses. I thought the free market was part of the American Dream. If you work harder, have a better product, deliver it better, then you get to thrive. If you don’t, you are on your way to extinction. This American Entitlement to existence will be our downfall, just ask Rome. At the end of its days, Rome spent more resources consuming and less and less resources producing. There was free bread in Rome, so why protect the boarders.? Their enemies crossed boarders and closed in like a hot knife through butter, they got soft. (this is not a boarder/immigration issue, this is just basic economics) America is soft, run by those who profit off of the masses who feel entitled to their inflated ways of life and doing business. A free market is harsh, but it’s real and it’s free. But it will be the ideals and tenets of a free market that I will teach my children, for a borrower is always slave to the lender. peace,marshall