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It Seems So Simple...


Raven
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Watching people get their knickers in a twist and try to out-offend each other is just exhausting. I really, really don't understand why it gets complicated for people. Religion might be complicated, but faith shouldn't be - hence my love of faith more than religion.

 

To me, it seems simple:

- Be kind to others - even those who don't deserve it. If that's too hard, stay away from them.

- Don't waste our natural resources.

- Take care of others - your family members, your friends, your tribe/community, and so on, to the best of your ability.

- Have compassion for other people's hurdles and pains; celebrate their achievements.

- Don't worry so much about what other people are doing; what are YOU doing?

- Let your actions speak for themselves.

- Listen more.

- Think twice before speaking. Words spoken can't be taken back.

- Lead by example, instead of pointing fingers.

 

Some might say, "easier said than done," but I have to wonder - is it? Is it really so hard to not talk garbage about people? Is it really so incredibly challenging to engage with others in a meaningful way, understanding that everything is not all about you? Is it so hard to just simply CARE about other people, and their lives?

 

I don't get it. I was thinking today about "the least of these" (from Matthew 25) and the basics - what I believe some may refer to as the Acts of Mercy (is that correct?) and it seems to me that these concepts are what I would use to help define faith in action - in my case, Christianity in action. Not complicated Scripture and dogma, not worrying about this tiny detail or that odd, mistranslated sentence - just simply finding God in the moment-to-moment experience, and have faith by doing.

 

The older I get, the sadder I get at how people will willingly expend energy on hate, prejudice, and arrogance, instead of simply living a life that is purposeful and leaves something good behind.

 

Is it human nature? Is that what makes it hard? I have a tough time believing that selfishness and arrogance is human nature, but maybe I'm wrong.

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If only it was so simple, Raven.

 

I don't know where my fundy friend would fit into this though. He truly believes in the scripture being literal and that we are all sinners doomed for Hell, unless we repent and accept Jesus as Saviour. He firmly believes he has been charged by Jesus to spread the Good News and that those who refuse to listen or try to convince others not to listen are genuinely causing harm (to themselves if they won't listen, to others if they convince them they don't need Jesus, because of the consequences of Hell).

 

To be fair, I think he means well, it's just that he's convinced of this world view and subsequently everything he does is viewed through this lens.

  • So whilst he is often kind to others, he won't tolerate those who try to 'corrupt' others.
  • He generally doesn't 'waste' natural resources but has a firm belief that God gave man 'dominion' over the earth (in th esense that it is ours to control)
  • He takes care of his family but will defend them against 'evil', particularly when this means protesting against laws which he believes contributes to an unrighteous society (contrary to God's will)
  • Compassion is demonstrated but has limits (e.g. if God thinks you should burn forever, then God must be right)
  • Leading by example goes even further - he feels he should be convincing others that his example is what God wants of them too.

Oh if it was only so easy as you suggest.

 

At least it is for us I guess! :)

 

Cheers

Paul

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Raven,

 

Habits, conditioning, prior programming and group expectations are difficult to shake. It seems to me most of us in my experience are for the most part unconscious creatures most of the time. Hence Jesus's words... "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" Life is anything but simple for many. No need to get exhausted for other people being their version of 'human'. (or acting out their part of the story) :)

 

Joseph

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You both make excellent points.

 

My post was a bit rambling and irritated, and I apologise for sounding over-the-top. It was spurred by seeing too much garbage on the internet, especially FB.

 

Paul, thank you for the reminder about interpretation. For example, while your fundy friend might interpret "dominion" as "right," I would interpret it as "responsibility" - as in, we are responsible for the well-being of our environment, the way that a parent has "dominion" over their child, and is responsible for his/her welfare.

 

Joseph - your comments reminded of much of what I studied in university, en route to my Sociology BA. You are right when you say that a person's habits, environment, etc can (and do) play a large part in what we think and do as people. I guess there's a part of me that is frustrated that compassion and fairness are not innate trends. Everyone is very quick to point out when they have been judged, or mistreated - but they don't seem to see it when they do it to other people.

 

I am not content with the way the world is. My heart breaks for the way people treat one another. As someone who is likely to become a parent in the next year or so, I think constantly about what kind of world I want my child(ren) to inherit. Our city is riddled with bullets and our streets are deep with blood. People are so busy trying to hurt each other that they can't be bothered to care about each other. They're too busy nitpicking over things that don't matter, that they don't see the things that do matter slipping away. Hatred and arrogance leave no room for love and humility. It's so sad, and discouraging.

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Raven,

 

I guess it certainly can be discouraging. Still, i also see so much good in the world. It is that which i focus on. I don't deny that those things exist that you mention yet I don't watch the news much because it seems to report only the negative which distorts my own subjective experience of life and reality around me. With the family of friends and acquaintances around me i am shielded from most all those negatives you mention.

 

I will be heading to Florida again for the winter next month and the people i am surrounded by in the campground where i stay are simply wonderful and caring people. There may be some discouraging problems there yet i don't see them in that light and somehow the world i see is not riddled with the things you mention. Perhaps i am not looking for the drama of them?

 

I know there are those who are troubled, hungry and in need in many ways in the world and i do what i can to feed them and supply their needs from my abundance when i can. Still i somehow manage not to get caught up in it all. When i did in the past, i could not see any further than they and that did neither of us any good. Perhaps in a sense, we all do create our own reality and see in others what we project from ourselves???

 

One of my best friends in this area has gotten to the point he sees nothing but error and corruption with country, government, business and people in general, His trust and hope is depleted and his health and family relationship has suffered from it immensely which made things even worse. His circumstances now justifies his beliefs so that we no longer see nor can come to agreement with reality. Who is right and who is wrong? It matters to him but really doesn't matter to me. The world is as it is regardless of my or his beliefs or opinions. Perhaps as Jesus said to his disciples...in effect,,,,, it is good to be 'in the world' without being caught up 'of the world'. .Anyway, be of good cheer, it has many wonderful side benefits. :)

 

Joseph

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Joseph,

 

Thanks for your points. I don't feel particularly that I'm looking for the drama, but simply that it is there, and it bothers me. In our city, we had a particularly violent summer, and that has continued - it's hard not to get caught up in that, when it's practically knocking at the door. When I see people creating drama and negativity for what appears to be just the sake of it, or to make noise, or because being provocative is addicting, it feels like such a waste of time and energy. Our time on this earth may be short - why use it to be negative, when we can do positive things instead?

 

I'm lucky to have a lot of great people in my life, and I try my best not to get caught up in the emotional vampires - in fact, I've cut communication with people I felt were draining my energy and enthusiasms. It was difficult, but necessary. It made things better.

 

I will continue to do what I can to improve things around me, and hopefully help other people find ways to be optimistic and peaceful. From where I'm sitting, it seems so easy - but I suppose everyone feels the same way, from their own seats.

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Joseph,

I'm lucky to have a lot of great people in my life, and I try my best not to get caught up in the emotional vampires - in fact, I've cut communication with people I felt were draining my energy and enthusiasms. It was difficult, but necessary. It made things better.

 

I will continue to do what I can to improve things around me, and hopefully help other people find ways to be optimistic and peaceful. From where I'm sitting, it seems so easy - but I suppose everyone feels the same way, from their own seats.

 

I think that is very wise. It is hard to cut ties with others especially if they are related but sometimes it is necessary for a change to take place in us. Those who we spend much time with seem to have a negative or positive impact upon us so it does seem wise to choose (where we can) our circle of exposure wisely. Inevitably we must enter into those caves briefly but hopefully only to offer rescue to others who are ready for change themselves.

 

Joseph

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. . . it does seem wise to choose (where we can) our circle of exposure wisely. Inevitably we must enter into those caves briefly but hopefully only to offer rescue to others who are ready for change themselves.

 

Joseph, So true. So much truer than many of us realize. I am in the middle of a very interesting book now about the effect of social connections ("Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks" by Chistakis and Fowler). We are strongly influenced in many ways -- physical health, mental health, emotions, happiness, etc. -- by those we are connected to. Interestingly, in some ways, we more influenced by friends than "inherited relationships" like family. And, the influence is not just direct, we are influenced, in declining degrees, by our friend's friends and our friend's friend's friends.

 

George

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  • 3 weeks later...

Paul, thank you for the reminder about interpretation. For example, while your fundy friend might interpret "dominion" as "right," I would interpret it as "responsibility" - as in, we are responsible for the well-being of our environment, the way that a parent has "dominion" over their child, and is responsible for his/her welfare.

 

This is critical for understanding the conversation going on in the world, I think. Biblical inerrantists believe they have made a commitment to the inerrancy of the text of the Bible, but in fact the commitment they've made is to a hermeneutic--an interpretive tradition--about the Bible.

 

Dennis

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Joseph, So true. So much truer than many of us realize. I am in the middle of a very interesting book now about the effect of social connections ("Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks" by Chistakis and Fowler). We are strongly influenced in many ways -- physical health, mental health, emotions, happiness, etc. -- by those we are connected to. Interestingly, in some ways, we more influenced by friends than "inherited relationships" like family. And, the influence is not just direct, we are influenced, in declining degrees, by our friend's friends and our friend's friend's friends.

 

George

 

George,

 

I know and very much respect your keen interests. You might want to look up "Family Systems Theory." Murray Bowen in particular. Bowen Theory brought my own life into focus, but with a price. One of the most difficult courses I took in grad school.

 

Myron

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Myron,

 

I wanted to know more about Family Systems Theory, and found a good intro to Murray Bowen on Wikipedia. Thanks for the introduction. I can see how trying to put his theory into practice would be very challenging, particularly in the relationship between adults and their parents, where ways of avoiding emotional 'danger' can be deeply entrenched.

 

Annie

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Myron,

 

I wanted to know more about Family Systems Theory, and found a good intro to Murray Bowen on Wikipedia. Thanks for the introduction. I can see how trying to put his theory into practice would be very challenging, particularly in the relationship between adults and their parents, where ways of avoiding emotional 'danger' can be deeply entrenched.

 

Annie

 

Annie,

 

I am glad you found the Wiki intro informative. There is also this link ...

 

http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/theory.html

 

There are times I am reluctant to post this kind of information here because of the difficulty in discussing these matters. At the same time, I think Progressive Christians need to keep moving upstream, and should be aware of these theories and the related research.

 

Myron

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Myron

 

Thanks for the link. Yes, I agree that discussing psychological theories, which tend to lead to deeply personal reflection, is not easy - particularly in an open forum such as this. And yet psychological growth seems to go hand in hand with spiritual growth.

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I have been a student of Bowen theory for the last twelve years or so, and I actually provide training in it for a regional Interim Ministry certification program. It has been extraordinarily valuable to me in ministry, but even more so in my personal and spiritual journey. Bowen's student, Edwin Friedman, wrote the book on Bowen Theory in Church and Synagogue (Generation to Generation) but his book, A Failure of Nerve, is an easier read if you already have a handle on the fundamentals. Some of these insights helped keep me sane during a crises years ago, and I've been a strong advocate of this approach ever since.

 

Dennis

Edited by dblad
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