Saturday, April 2, 2016

Random Thoughts: The Week of 3/25/16 to 4/1/16


In his Meditation from Friday, 3/25/16 entitled "The View From The Bottom", Fr. Rohr writes:

"Only by solidarity with other people's suffering can comfortable people be converted.  Otherwise we are disconnected from the cross - of the world, of others, of Jesus, and finally of our own necessary participation in the great mystery of dying and rising."

A few thoughts:
  1. The word "solidarity" is a carefully chosen word.  It is not "caring" about other's people's suffering (as in feeling a twinge of emotion or guilt when watching the news or a movie) though this is not a bad thing in and of itself.
  2. It is not simply a long distance financial commitment to the suffering of others (though this is far, far, far from a bad thing).
  3. It is solidarity with other people's suffering.
  4. Solidarity implies that you also will suffer.  You too are affected.
  5. Change that word "you".  I will suffer.  I am affected.
  6. Solidarity leads to suffering.
  7. But I don't want to suffer.  And it seems like the entirety of my life is set up to avoid it.  The "panem et circenses", the "bread and circuses", seeks to define my life.
  8. Solidarity can only happen in love.  And love can only happen in solidarity with others.
  9. Love leads to suffering.  The Way of the Cross.
  10. Love, the manifestation of which is solidarity, also leads to conversion.
  11. This "conversion" itself is a "participation in the great mystery of dying and rising."
  12. Conversion  = participation.
  13. Now what???

Paul Ryan in a recent speech:

"There was a time when I would talk about a difference between "makers" and "takers" in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong. "Takers" wasn’t how to refer to a single mom stuck in a poverty trap, just trying to take care of her family. Most people don't want to be dependent. And to label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong. I shouldn’t castigate a large group of Americans to make a point.

So I stopped thinking about it that way—and talking about it that way. But I didn’t come out and say all this to be politically correct. I was just wrong. And of course, there are still going to be times when I say things I wish I hadn’t. There are still going to be times when I follow the wrong impulse."

It's impossible to pretend that the rhetoric that Ryan seeks to eliminate isn't prevalent.

Biased?  Perhaps.  But the question is not whether there is "bias" in the presentation, but whether the source material itself is real and being used in reference to broad groups of people (as opposed to addressing specific cases of abuse).  It represents a fundamental way of seeing the world, one in which all people get and are getting what they deserve.  Poor?  It's your fault.  The opportunities are there and are available to all without exception.  Government should get.  Out.  Of.  The.  Way.  I'm successful?  Wealthy?  I have earned it.  Me.  The system works!!

This is not true for me.  I have two wonderful parents who stayed married.  My health and basic needs were provided for.  I lived in safe neighborhoods growing up.  I went to safe schools where I could learn effectively.  I wasn't ANY more motivated than any other teenager, but my own lack of motivation was effectively covered up by extensive opportunity.  I was able to get into a good college.  My parents paid for it, and I graduated virtually debt free.    This lack of debt opened up opportunities - to travel a little bit, to buy a house, to save money, etc.  Would I have started dating my wife if I'd been living at home with my parents?  Through all of this, I made TONS of mistakes that I got away with where others haven't.  I have done things that could have ruined my life.

This is not to say that life is just pure randomness with no cause and effect.  It's just to say that where you start goes a long way in determining where you end up.

I'll be curious to see how this plays out within the political world.  Is this posturing, rhetoric and political gamesmanship, or something more?


A walk from Thursday to Sunday of Holy Week with two of my favorite bloggers, Richard Beck and Brian Zahnd:

Thursday: To Hell With Symbolic (Richard Beck)

Friday: Good Friday: A World Indicted (Brian Zahnd)

Saturday: Awake, O Sleeper, And Rise From The Dead (Richard Beck)

Sunday: The Gardener (Brian Zahnd)


Much of what marinates in my mind over the course of a week originates either directly or tangentially in the things I’ve read during the week, some of which is new, some was published earlier but is new to me, and some I’m returning to after having read it some time ago.  Among the dozens of excellent blog posts and articles that I read each week, here are a few that I found to be particularly profound, inspiring, challenging, enlightening, informative, memorable, or provocative for me personally.  I might even reference something with which I profoundly DISAGREE (which I’ll identify accordingly - there won’t be a need to guess!)

Owning Up to Torture (New York Times) – Eric Fair

The growing controversy over Georgia’s Indiana-style religious freedom bill, explained (Vox) – German Lopez

The Self and the Gospel (Eclectic Orthodoxy) – Brian Moore

Traditio Deformis (First Things) – David Bentley Hart

It’s Always Better to be More Gracious than God (Speaking Freely) – Matthew Frost

How the Soul Matures – Fr. Ron Rolhesier


And lastly, a few quotes that I came across this past week:

"Life is lived forward, but is only understood backwards."
--Kierkegaard (as quoted in Walking With Grandfather by Michael Hardin)

"If the skill could not be practiced by anyone, anywhere, then it was useless."
--(Walking With Grandfather by Michael Hardin, p70)

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