- asking you to imagine losing a sheep, going out searching for it, and upon finding it, hosting a joyful celebration for friends and neighbors;
- asking you to imagine a woman losing a coin, and upon finding it, throwing a celebration for her friends and neighbors;
- asking you to imagine a father who loses two sons, one of whom was prodigal (wastefully extravagant) the other of whom was dutiful, obedient, and hard-working. Upon the return of the prodigal son, the father throws a celebratory party. Again, in the context of religionist grousing and the other two parables, it's the refusal of the dutiful, obedient son to join the celebration-of-generosity-party thrown by the father that is the point of the story; arguably, the prodigal son is only a foil to set up the real point of the story, which is the grousing, anger, resentment, and jealousy of the other, every-bit-as-lost older brother.
But I'm re-thinking that this year.
What I'm fasting from this Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
(Let me be clear: that does not mean giving up news or otherwise burying my head in the sand: it means staying informed while finding ways not to get pulled into a downward spiral of feelings of numbness and helplessness; it means giving up unproductive feelings like hopelessness and resignation and taking on visible behaviors like giving encouragement and taking action.)
It means making visible -- here, on my blog, and even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories…