Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Of Biases and Assumptions

Let's start here...
Biases and assumptions, we all have them. To say otherwise would be disingenuous and unhelpful. They are the lenses through which we learn to see and experience the world. Our first set of biases and assumptions are given to us by those closest to us and are shaped by our own limited experiences. As we grow and change, our biases and assumptions shift as well. However, they remain impacted by our oringinal set as well as our still very limited experience. We never have a full picture of how the world really is no matter how old we are or how broad our experiences.

The danger of our biases and assumptions rests not in having them, but in not doing the hard work of acknowledging  their existence, naming them for what they are, and allowing them to be challenged. Unacknowledged, unnamed, and unchallenged biases and assumptions can lead to false binaries and dangerous black and white thinking in a technicolor world. This then becomes the breeding ground for misunderstanding, fear, discord, and hatred. 

It is hard, unending, and often uncomfortable work to acknowledge, name, and challenge our biases and assumptions. However, it is necessary. We are seeing the fruit of the alternative in our current culture of division and tribalism. The wisest among us do this hard work daily and have learned how to suspend their own biases and assumptions and hold their tongue as they learn about others. May we all pursue such wisdom and honor each other's experiences along the way.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Not Just the Heart

"Have you asked Jesus into your heart?"
So goes the ubiquitous question at many Christian conferences, camps, and youth group meetings. The response to which gives measurable results of the "success" of such gatherings and ministry. As if giving assent with raised hand or an emotional walk down the aisle was the end goal toward which we are working and for which the Christ lived and died.
The focus on a raised hand response has left us in the shallows of measurable results. We are called into deeper waters. Waters that seem to have an unfathomable depth. 
Faith is more than a heart thing. It is more than putting a date on a calendar when Jesus came into my heart. Faith and discipleship must be about a transformation of not just our hearts, but our eyes, our hands, and our minds, as well. 
Faith must lead to a transformation of the manner in which we see our world and the individuals we engage around us every day. 
Faith must lead to a transformation of the manner in which we engage our world through the work of our calloused hands and the journey of our blistered feet. 
Faith must lead to a transformation of the manner in which we think about all things bringing an end to convenient categories and tribal thinking. 
As Richard Rohr writes, "Transformation begins with a new experience of a new Absolute, and, as a result, your social positioning gradually changes on almost all levels. Little by little you will allow your politics, economics, classism, sexism, racism, homophobia and all superiority games to lose their one-time rationale. You just 'think' and 'feel' differently about most things...Your motivation foundationally changes from security, status, and sabotage to generosity, humility, and cooperation. If you do not want to go there, you'd better stay away from the Holy One" (Authentic Transformation).
This is the good news for which the entire world waits. May we be completely transformed - not just in our hearts, but our eyes, our hands, and our minds, as well. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Today, I Choose Love

There seems to be nothing but fear all around us.
From the unexplained things that go bump in the night and the imagined situations that clutter the day to the newest sound bite from the loudest voice pointing out the next and newest source of anxiety, life is full of fear. 
That is the poisonous mixture found in the snake oil we have been sold?
That is the pot of stew for which we have traded the promise?
Despite what the hawkers say the snake oil leaves behind nothing more than a vile odor. 
Despite how good the stew might taste going down it cannot satiate the hunger that inevitably returns.

In a culture dominated by fear,
perhaps it is time. 
Time for a different story. 
Time to choose "the more excellent way."
Today, I choose love. 

Love instead of hate. 
Love instead of misrepresentation. 
Love instead of othering. 
Love instead of objectification. 
Love instead of seeing the speck in your eye when I have a log in my own. 
Love instead of crossing to the other side of the street. 
Love instead of "I'm not a racist but..."
Love instead of "Did you hear that she..."
Love instead of ignoring hate speech and odious rhetoric. 
Love instead of that divisive post that just popped up on the newsfeed. 
Love instead of nationalism. 
Love instead of religousity. 
Love instead of denying the privilege which I have been afforded. 
Love instead of considering whether there is anything in it for me. 
Love instead of telling someone how they should feel. 
Love instead of worrying about the gender of the person in the next stall. 
Love instead of deciding who gets what rights. 
Love instead of not demanding the same rights for everyone. 
Love instead of self righteous indignation. 
Love instead of dehumanization. 
Love instead of inaction. 
Love instead of sitting down when I should stand. 
Love instead of standing when I should sit. 
Love instead of being silent when I should speak. 
Love instead of speaking when I should simply shut the hell up.
Love instead of fear. 
Love instead. 

Yes, this is an incredibly risky proposition. But consider where the alternative has led. Fear has no answer for that which ails us. Only love has anything to say. And there is no fear in love. For love that is perfected in us casts out all fear (see 1 John 4). 

Today, I will do my best to live into this promise. 
And after failing and falling often, I will get up and try again tomorrow. 
Today, I choose love. 

What would you add to this list of "Love instead..."?