"Unapologetic Theology: A Christian Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation" is the title of a book by my beloved theology professor and friend, the late William C. Placher. It is also now the title of this blog, a place where I hope to add a Christian voice -- God knows, not "the" Christian voice, but "a" Christian voice and not just any old voice, but a distinctly Christian voice -- to the pluralistic conversation going on about just about everything.
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Tis’ the season for making
At least for those of us
who welcome (and need!) a reason for making a fresh start, the beginning of a
new year is the High Holy Day of Resolution-Making.
Again this year, like
previous years, I’ve thought about making all the normal, predictable
·Lose ten pounds.Well, actually more like fifteen pounds,
since I’ve been conducting an experiment on myself since Christmas Day: to never
say “no” to a Christmas cookie, chocolate, or glass of egg-nog, on the theory
that I will get so sick and tired of sweets that I will be ready for and
actually welcome salads, skim milk,
and raw vegetables in 2012.(This “binge”
theory, by the way, has, as far as I know, absolutely no basis in any
scientific research. And it probably horrifies ever y nutritionist,
psychologist, or dietician out there. And
come to think of it, it doesn’t really even work: I just end up missing all
that stuff even more. But it has made
the past five days a lot of fun!
·Exercise more.I like
to run, but because we all tend to stick to doing what we like, this resolution
really means adding things that I don’t like, such as stretching (I’m about as flexible
as a Tea Partier negotiating on taxes) and strength training (it is
embarrassing, at the bench press, to have my starting point be the bar, alone,
with a goal of actually getting to add, you know, weights at either end…)
procrastinating (which has been my goal since 1978; I’m getting to it…).
more money.(This resolution is actually
very easy: now with two sons in college, we have gone from eating out about a
week to splurging about once a week on something that does not involve Ramen
But again, this year, like
the past few years, I’ve had a strange experience on my way to making my
And that’s this.I’ve asked myself: “Wait, are those
resolutions, even if you could keep them, really going to make you--or the
world--a better person or place?”
And so – while keeping
these resolutions at some level – I’ve been inspired, once again, to make
different kinds of resolutions. Ones
that, to the degree I can keep them, will “scatter joy.”
And so – again – here are
my thoughts about making “scatter joy” resolutions:
First, we make a
distinction between joy and happiness.
Joy can be found in all
Joy is an inside job.
It has virtually nothing
to do with our external circumstances. People can be full of joy in prison, or
hungry, or broke, or even while going through great personal tragedy.
Happiness, on the other
hand, is tied to circumstances. It’s dependent on externals.If the day is going well, we “feel happy,”
but all it takes is someone to be rude to us or something going wrong, and our happiness
That’s why changing our
external circumstances in the hope that doing so will “make us happy” is
foolish. A change of circumstance is no
guarantee of happiness.
So the secret to joy is to
realize that joy is available to us.That joy is a gift from God planted deep within our heart, but
It’s accessible to us when
we recall not just WHO we are, but WHOSE we are: children of God. Beloved
sinners. Imperfect, but treasured
Joy is accessible to us
when we cultivate “an attitude of gratitude,” looking for things in each day—each
hour—for which we can be grateful.
it sounds— perhaps the easiest and most effective way to access joy is
by simply smiling.
You might want to try it:
Smile more often. Or at least realize the degree to which your
“default mode” has become a slight frown, a tense, serious, look. And then pause.And smile.
Why? Because, as Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist/Christian
philosopher has written,
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your
smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
No one can -- and I certainly don't want to try -- to unpack every tweet the person currently holding the office of President of the United States sends out.
No one has the time to respond to every one of his tweets on just one issue. Although I wish I had the time on the issue of the Executive Orders recently issued in regard to refugees.
But every so often I feel I MUST respond to at least SOME of those tweets, lest I grow accustomed to them as normal. And I refuse to normalize the abnormal.
Take one of Saturday's tweets, for example: in response to Judge Robart's temporarily stopping an Executive Orders, there was this:
“What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?”
Let's unpack: "What is our country coming to..." Does that lament sound familiar? Ask yourself: who often says it, where do you hear it from the most? Is it a positive, hopeful line of thinking? I wil…
A sermon preached January 29, 2017 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the p…
Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal Falls
Church, Virginia James
7:24-37 In case you’re confused by the service leaflet,
where it says Kelly is supposed to be preaching today, well, she was, and she
was planning to. But yesterday she came down with the stomach flu, and of
course we encouraged her to stay home until she’s 100%. (And to think I came this close to getting out of having to preach on a couple of very tough passages…) (Kelly’s sermon, by the way, was written well ahead
of time and is, as we have already come to expect, excellent. And inspiring – I
was inspired reading it.* Hard copies are available, and will be made available
on line.) What you’re going to get from me today is a little
different than a normal sermon. Today I want to tell you a story – a bit of my own
family history -- and then read you a poem. And then show you how I think that
story and the poem relate to today’s lessons and to current events. …