6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Easter 2021, in the Christian calendar, is now history. Some, confusing Easter with bunnies and eggs, put away the seasonal decorations as if this were Halloween or Father’s Day.
13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Yesterday a friend of mine told me about “One-way Missionaries.” In the early 1900s there was a group of missionaries who, when they were about to embark on a mission to a foreign land, would not pack a suitcase as most people would. Instead, they took a coffin which they packed with their belongings, along with a one-way ticket. By so doing, they demonstrated their intention to die sooner or later in the new land they were adopting.
I notice that a fairly high percentage of people don’t seem to know how to nourish a conversation. By “nourish” I mean using skills that encourage and foster deeper, longer, more interesting exchanges between people. This skill is useful and leads to better interviews, smoother working relationships with others, and long-term friendships with people that will surprise one.
I became aware of this when I used to belong to a business networking organization. One of our tasks in the group was to schedule a “dance card” with each of our chapter associates. A dance card was simply a coffee appointment or maybe even lunch, and during that hour we were to find out how we could assist each other in business connections.
In 1922, at the University of Toronto, scientists went to a hospital ward with children who were comatose and dying from diabetic keto-acidosis. Imagine a room full of parents sitting at the bedside waiting for the inevitable death of their child.
On that day in 1921, Dr. Frederick Banting and his medical student, Charles Best, went from bed to bed and injected the dying children with their new purified extract – insulin. As they began to inject the last comatose child, the first child injected began to awaken. One by one, all of the children awoke from their diabetic comas. A room of death and gloom, became a place of joy and hope.
I’ve been reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a handbook that seems, most obviously about developing a life of artistry, but hiding within its lines are secrets about life in general. The book has prompted me to think more seriously about my own life and what I want to accomplish in the future.
Simply stated, I want to write more. Of all the writing I have done, my greatest affection resides with poetry. But, poetry is a stern task master and will not tolerate inattention. She has taught me some lessons that I believe are life lessons as well. There are six of them.
In 1947, the year I was born, television had been invented and was being used in some U.S. households that could be measured in the thousands. However, by the late 90’s, 98% of U.S. homes had at least one television that was one for more than 7 hours per day.
At 2801 S. Taylor Street in Little Rock I had a world of wonder at my doorstep, and I don’t remember ever telling my mother that I was bored. A huge white boulder in our back yard was a horse or a jeep. A short flight of stairs led up to the attic of our small house where my dad kept his WWII souvenirs: a Springfield military rifle, a pineapple hand grenade emptied of its powder, an opium pipe, my dad’s dog tags, and a kimono, among other things.
Robert Bellah, with a group of coworkers, wrote a 1985 blockbuster book called Habits of the Heart. This great book is arguably one of the best critiques of modern American society – a quest for a democratic community.
William Placher wrote in Narratives of a Vulnerable God, “The interviews that Robert Bellah and his coworkers conducted for Habits of the Heart indicate how pervasive individualism has become in religion and every other aspect of American culture. Page 138.
The well known Sheila Larson, became the central exhibit for Bellah’s observations about the passive individualism of American Culture. Young nurse, Sheila, described her religious belief as “Sheilaism.”
In words that have become iconic of our national point of view, Sheila Larson said, “My faith has carried me a long way. It’s Sheilaism. Just my own little voice…It’s just try to love yourself and be gentle with yourself.” Bellah and his co-writers described Sheilaism as ” a perfectly natural expression of current American religious life.”
Of course, Jesus counters the Sheilaism of our time by saying, “take up your cross.” No place in his economy for the self-absorbed and nor indifferent. Bellah is still current. So is Jesus.