Deep Trends & Christian Institutions

For those who have ears to hear… What do you think?  It is my experience, and from what I witness and read concerning leadership in many denominational and even “emergent” structures, that we honestly only want to gather around us those who scratch our itching ears… we don’t want to step back and carefully consider what is going on around us and what then is necessary to do.  If it fits our preconception and personal want, fine, but it if doesn’t, we ignore or reject it – to our own peril.  Click on the link, below, for the article.

Deep trends affecting Christian institutions

What do you think?

Words

Four sets of three words made real change everything:
– I love you.
– You are right.
– I don’t know.
– I am sorry.

One set of four words that proceed and make imminent the above:
– Help me to change.

For those of us who lean toward the mystical, the one set of four words is the beginning of everything – making this real is the profoundly difficult thing to understand and then to do.

Wisdom

“The fear [more like profound respect leading to complete trust and adherence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; she inebriates mortal with her fruits…

“The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish. She rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension, and she heightened the glory of those who held her fast.

“To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom, and her branches are long life.” [Sirach 1:14-20]

Unconditional

There is this little thing called “unconditional love” – this strange, alien, seemingly unattainable thing. To love, unconditionally. To be loved, unconditionally.

Over the last few months, I’ve been made to realize – forced to confront – how very far from this strange, little, glorious, horrible thing I fall. It pains me greatly, daily, this shortcoming, this failure of mine – it is never, ever just about me when such a failing is made real. This isn’t sentimentalism, BTW. It is diminishment all around, however.

Considering an other, one beloved of God, before myself – well, I like to believe it so. How in the world to pick back up, again? Yet, here I am.

We all imagine ourselves to be capable of such a thing, right? I strive for it, but in the end my conditioning in this narcissistic culture of ours, my fear, my faithlessness, my selfishness – all of it – wins the day, and that which gives contentment, gives honest peace, gives life-to-the-full (all for the sake of the other, and to be realized myself as a result) is put off further down the road… so many more miles down the road. It is never, ever just about me.

And we all lose out on a bit more… love. If I want to find my true life, I have to lose my life – give it away. So say we all. Right? How strange, how alien in our day (in any human day), is this unconditional love. I want to try, again.

On Facebook, where the above was first posted, a good friend of High School days responded, and I responded…
Lynn Duskey Gagnon – Most of the worlds greatest literature examines this very longing. I suspect, Bob, you are farther along on this path than you think. . .probably farther along at seeking it than most, and closer to it for the contemplation of it. I do a disservice to those around me by shying away from thinking too deeply about unconditional love, lest I fall into a great abyss of depression at what I might find. After all, is it really possible for humans, or is unconditional love strictly divine?

Bob Griffith – My goodness, Lynn Duskey Gagnon, from disco lessons to wondering whether unconditional love can only be of the Divine. It has taken us a long time to get here, I suppose. I remember when, and correct me if I am wrong, you pulled out of acting as a career partly because of things teachers required of you – limits you would not cross, and rightfully so for you at the time. When I was thinking about the same career path, I wonder now about where my own limits might have fallen – or actually fallen away. This thing about unconditional love – so hard to think of it beyond the conditional… how we’ve been conditioned to understand “love” and the giving and receiving of it. Is there a reckless abandon concerning love that we must give ourselves to, beyond what is comfortable or conventional or expected or accepted in order to find the unconditional aspect of it all? Is that what makes great actors great? Is that what enables one to love, mightily? Is there a limit, a boundary when crossed over, that leads to something destructive, counter to what we truly desire – whether being a good actor or one who might be able to tap the Divine and taste but a bit of unconditional love?

Pulled Out

Somethings, someone unexpectedly enters my life who pulls me out of myself – honestly so. Living in the City, to eke out a bit of “privacy” in the midst of crowds often means I have to kind of ignore others around me (even though I love watching people). Add to that my tendency to be in my head way too much, and then the reality that I have a hard time explaining myself to others so it is just too easy not to bother. Then, I get pulled out of myself and it is a wonderful thing, but it is confusing in the beginning because I’m not used to it and I mess things up more often than not. Yet, it is good to begin to notice all manner of things, once again (like on the subway talking to a Muslim student or the coach and thirty boys of a London Ignatian youth rugby team coming back from a “tedious” Mets baseball game). I am thankful to be pulled out, even in my messiness.