Posts

Showing posts from December, 2010

When Joy is Hard, II

Image
Allowing ourselves to mourn develops our capacity to feel life’s joys. I believe that positive and negative emotions are two sides of the same coin. Of course, many of us would prefer to experience and deal with only positive feelings. We often feel uncomfortable with our own or others’ sadness, anger, disappointments, fears. . . . As we learn to feel all our feelings, we explore what it means to be fully human, to be all that God created us to be. —Mary Lou Redding
The Power of a Focused HeartI came across this from doing the Beth Richardson online retreat, "Unlcuttering Your Heart during Advent and Christmas." It speaks to the psychology of joy- that true joy comes in the context of experiencing pain, not as an escape from it. Of course, the cultural expectations are all about turning on happiness with a click of the "joy app" brought to you by the Christmas machine.
But we're human and not wired machines. Our resources include that which is not accessi…

When Joy is Hard

Image
One Advent a few years ago a spiritual director said to me, "Maybe this year, instead of going to Bethlehem, you need to meet Jesus at Bethany with Mary and Martha, at the tomb of Lazarus, their brother and friend."

I'll always be grateful for that guidance. Those words invited me to be myself, to be present with the grief and loss I was experiencing. The truth is, the season's theme of joy can be an especially a heavy weight for those who are marking loss instead of celebrating new beginnings. Feelings of isolation and loneliness may be experienced by those who must work through the holiday so that others can celebrate Christmas- church professionals and clergy are among this group. Sometimes glad tidings just cannot be heard no matter the regularity or the volume with which they are made.

In many a devotional guide, this week, the third week of Advent, has a mini-break intended to help us breathe a little easier. If words of joy are difficult to hear, you may need t…

2010's Trite and Worn Words & Phrases

Image
In grades 7-9, I used a progression of marvelous texts called Word Wealth to expand vocabulary. So I should know better if and when I use any of these overused words in the next few months.

on steroids/
counter intuitive/man up/
friend-ed/ life back/it's all good/
leverage/transparency/it is what it is

* Please feel free to add your own phrases you find mildly irritating.


On Church-ese

Image
When God closes a door, does God open a window? Here's your answer!

Cleveland, You Still Rock, and You've Got Company

Le Quitness doesn't get why all those people in Memphis kept booing him. He didn't do anything to them. Every city that's not a top market has an automatic affinity for the fan-dom of Cleveland, Ohio. It's all about knowing what it's like to be treated as second class and third rate.

There's no sense in cataloging much history here, because Cleveland's experience is the norm and not the exception. (By the way, it's the Mistake ON the Lake- not the Mistake BY the Lake. Know the difference). It's just that, when sports franchises want the economic support of their community, they like to tout the importance of fan loyalty. But, when it's time for a franchise to leave, or a player to be let go or traded, it all suddenly becomes about running a business and market-size. There is no city that hasn't felt that empty feeling of losing a team or player or coach the fans once passionately followed.

The same week that the player returned from South B…

It's Time to Flush the Hallmark Theology

Image
Consider it your calling to debunk, in every way possible, the seasonal onslaught that's trumpeted in every piece of media, from the Grinch to the latest Hallmark special. The sad thing is, we so buy into it! What happens when we end up pinning all our hopes on whatever we can somehow produce on our own, whether it be good intentions or good actions?

We look back at another December and wonder why we feel so empty and exhausted. Maybe it was the toxic theology that we first ingested along with the primal Christmas special and the Thanksgiving turkey.

We don't have to swallow whatever anyone has to say about God. In fact, it is faithful pastoral work, as well as self-care, to disqualify some claims- to refuse them as sub- Christian. When someone says that God has a reason for the death of your loved one, instead of getting mad at God, learn how to get good and angry with that kind of this-for-that theology! But don't let that be an excuse for you to resist the life- infusion…