Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Annual Checkups we could all benefit from – by Jim Taylor   Leave a comment

Sunday August 14, 2016

ANNUAL CHECKUPS WE COULD ALL BENEFIT FROM

By Jim Taylor

I had my annual physical checkup this last week. The doctor did all the usual things. He checked my vital signs — I still have them, thank you — and poked and prodded various parts of my body to make sure nothing was going wrong under cover, so to speak. He ordered a series of tests, to ensure he hadn’t overlooked anything.

He asked questions. And he took time to listen to me. To hear what I might have observed about the way my own body functions. After all, I live with it every day. But I don’t always know whether that mole is significant, or how to reduce the pain in my big toe.

Basically, I learned that I am still in good shape. For my age, at least. I can expect a few more years of reasonable health.

In grocery terms, though, my shelf life is limited. And I have certainly passed my “best before” date.

Occasionally, I read that an annual physical is a waste of time. It may be even hazardous. Apparently, the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and aneurysms rises after a medical examination.

 Maybe so. But I still want that annual checkup. I want to know what might be going wrong, before it’s too late to do anything about it.

OTHER KINDS OF CHECKUPS

 I also need other kinds of annual checkups.

 I do get an economic checkup periodically. I keep track of our investments. I know if we spend more than we need, cutting into the funds to sustain us for our remaining years. An investment advisor regularly sits down with us to evaluate our financial well-being.

But what about my emotional well-being?

I have no such thing as an annual emotional checkup. People ask, “How are you?” Or, “How are you feeling these days?” But it’s a courtesy, as meaningless as the supermarket cashier who tells every customer, “Have a great day!” If I take the question seriously, a detailed description of my feelings causes the questioner’s eyes to glaze over. She looks for someone else to talk to. Anyone.

The other day, a friend asked, “So what do you think of our civilization these days?”

“Doomed,” I replied.

Both question and answer were light-hearted. But he heard something more: “That doesn’t sound like the Jim Taylor I know,” he said.

So I probably need an occasional emotional checkup. It’s not something I can do for myself — my own feelings will inevitably colour my perception of those feelings.

And how about a spiritual checkup? Many people might not even consider a spiritual checkup important. And what would one check for , anyway — adherence to a defined set of beliefs? Memorized responses to a catechism?

No, it’s not about whether I believe the right things. It’s about how what I believe affects how I live.

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Weathercock near Waupoos, Ontario

DEEPEST CONVICTIONS

A spiritual checkup would probe my deepest convictions. Why am I here? How did I get here? What am I supposed to do about it?

Those convictions affect how I relate to my family and my friends. How I spend my money. What I do with my time. How I treat my environment.

Don’t confuse those convictions with conventional religion. They may — or may not — relate to my professed beliefs in God or my connection with a church. If the kind of God I believe in influences the way I deal with fossil fuels, human rights, and income disparities, good. But if I don’t believe in God, I still have to deal with those issues. And if the kind of God I believe in doesn’t affect those decisions, why should I bother believing in Him? Or Her — whatever…

These checkups require more than just head knowledge. They require sensitivity to me. I don’t want a medical checkup from someone promoting her own quack cures. I don’t want an economic checkup from a shill for his own mutual funds.

In the same way, spiritual and emotional checkups would require, I guess, someone with extensive insights into theology and psychology, but free of cookie-cutter solutions. Jesus is not the answer, if you haven’t heard the question. Nor is Freud.

As a milestone birthday hurtles towards me, and as I realize that the road ahead of me is much shorter than the road behind, I feel an increasing need to know that I’m on the right road. Or at least, on the road I want to be on.

Aha! That’s what I need to extend my shelf-life — a map reader!
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Copyright © 2016 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.
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Life and Death   Leave a comment

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“When the story of our time here is completed and we return to spirit, we carry away with us all of the notes our song contains. The trick is to share all of that with those around us while we’re here. We are all on the same journey, and we become more by giving away. That’s the essential teaching each of us is here to learn.”

Richard Wagamese in One Story, One Song, page 151

Easter, 2016   Leave a comment

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Sunrise in Toronto: Easter, 2016

“True faith is the antithesis of a triumphant confidence. To be sure, there is a certitude of faith. The certitude of faith is not a matter of demonstration or success, but a matter of trust: trust in the promise of a God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that are not (Romans, chapter 4), a God who creates ex nihilo, who according to the scriptures raised his Son from the dead.”

Douglas John Hall in “Lighten Our Darkness”, page 120

Holy Week 2016 – Good Friday   Leave a comment

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The power that Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate thought they had over Jesus

Turned out to be illusory. 

The Passion story unveils another kind of power at work in the world, and in the Word.

When Jesus said, “All power is given to me in heaven and on earth,” 

He was not talking about domination and control

but about solidarity and liberation. 

At enormous cost

Jesus confronted the life-denying forces of his day and entered death,

showing us that our lives too can confront and overcome the forces of death in our day. “

From the Mission Statement of the Ecumenical Good Friday Walk for Justice in Toronto, Canada.

The Human Right to Peace   Leave a comment

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“War is definitely profitable for the sprawling defence industries around the world. So is the fear-mongering in which politicians indulge when they capitalize on the uncertainties in the modern world.”

Douglas Roche, in “The Human Right to Peace”. 2003, page 25

Giving Up Indifference for Lent   Leave a comment

by Jim Wallis

Here is what Pope Francis said to the world in his Lenten message: “Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.

IMG_0159Instead of giving up chocolate or alcohol for Lent, the pope seems to want us to give up our indifference to others. He continued: “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.

Francis’s focus on the “indifference to our neighbor” hit me hard as I am on the road for my new book America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. We have been to six cities so far — Chicago, the Twin Cities, St. Louis/Ferguson, Atlanta, New York, and Washington, D.C.; next we head to the West Coast. The “town meetings” we are doing have evoked some extremely honest conversation from very multiracial audiences.

 

Read the remainder of the column by Jim Wallis at: https://sojo.net/articles/giving-indifference-lent

Jesus – a political threat?   1 comment

IMG_0027The un-domesticated versions of Christianity, the Christianity that has managed not to be infiltrated by the culture of corporate consumerism, regards Jesus as a prophet.  Jim Wallis appears to be one of these people. In his Christmas, 2015 message he writes:

“At least King Herod got the fact that his political power would indeed be undermined by the coming of Jesus and the new kingdom he would bring. It seems many of our presidential political candidates don’t have a clue as to what the coming of Christmas means for them, judging by the horrible things some of them are saying about the poor, vulnerable, homeless, and refugees all around us today.’

The whole message is available at: https://sojo.net/articles/why-jesus-was-and-political-threat

Merry Christmas.