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Showing posts from March, 2012

Religion is to blame for its own defeats

In the gospel assigned to be read this Sunday in church, we hear the story of a group of people who approach the disciple Philip and say, "We would like to see Jesus." "We would like to see Jesus." I think this ties directly into the "negativity fast" theme we've been advocating this Lent. Because I think the author Dan Kimbal is right when he says, in the title of his book, They Like Jesus, but Not the Church . People now days -- you and I, and society in general -- like Jesus and are hungrier than ever for Jesus: his compassionate attitude, his expansive nature, his Joy. And at the same time, they -- we -- are as fed up as ever with "the church" in the negative sense of the word: its judgmental attitude, its inflexible doctrinaire nature, its dour humorlessness. See what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes about religion: "It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of re

Which wolf will win?

As I've written about before, we've been trying something a bit different this Lent, and that's to encourage a fast from negativity . I introduced this theme in a sermon two weeks ago . Last Sunday, my assistant Pastor Mary did a fantastic job following up, by encouraging us to "focus less on our problems and more on God's answers" in her sermon. It's not too late to begin a negativity fast. There are still 21 days between this Sunday and Palm Sunday, and almost a full month between now and Easter Sunday. Just the right amount of time, psychologists say, to break old habits and take on new ones. One thing this Lent has taught me is that fasting from negativity is not easy. Especially if you've had a difficult week. And so it's important to remember our response-ability as human beings. Response-ability means that while we cannot necessarily control other people or circumstances, we can control our response. We have, as human b

Fasting from overly focusing on Sin or our brokenness

This Sunday at St. James' , Pastor Mary will continue to unpack the theme we're exploring for Lent this year, that of a negativity fast . Pastor Mary will be referring to this commercial for DirectTV , you know, the one where the voiceover says, "When your cable is on the fritz, you get frustrated, when you get frustrated, your daughter imitates, when your daughter imitates, she gets thrown out of school..." It's a clever and humorous commercial, but - as Pastor Mary will point out - it makes a rather serious theological point. When we make a mistake, or when we fall into Sin, as we all do, there are a couple of different options available to us. One option is to dwell on the mistake, or to focus on our sinfulness. To enter the downward spiral humorously outlined in the commercial: "Omigod-I-did-this-I-can't-believe, how-could-I, I-should-known-better-that-was-stupid-of-me-there-I-go-again..." That's the option prefer