Tuesday, October 25, 2016
A lot of young people don't even think about God. It is not that they have lost interest or rejected God. They never had an interest. Clergy are not getting the memo on this one either. We are like physicists talking about neutrinos. The physicist is all excited about neutrinos and wants to explain it all. But a lot of people, like me, are not interested in neutrinos. We neither think about them or find them at all important in our daily living. We don't care. God and neutrinos are taking a big hit nowadays. I find that I cannot begin talking about God with the idea of God's existence, as if that is a given. I have to start out with someone's experience. Too many clergy dismiss a person's experience, as less than important. If you want me to be interested in neutrinos you had better start out with my experience of daily life, and then connect me with the importance of neutrinos. See if the light goes on.
Monday, October 24, 2016
Some of the health issues that I now have, originate in bad habits, or unhealthy patterns of many years ago. I look back and remember when I used to smoke, sunbathe, eat lots of sugar and drink. When I first began any of those things they seemed to be pluses or at least harmless. Having a nice summer tan, or better, a winter tan from vacation, made me look good. Sunlight is a good thing, right? Alcohol at parties and sport events made things more fun. Sugar always tasted good in whatever form, except fruit. It caught up with me. Even bad habits, stopped long ago, seem to be having their effect. I puff and pant when I run. My dermatologist is always having to do something with my skin. Now if bad habits have long term effects, what about good habits? Maybe I might start a good habit, like a daily reflection/meditation time. At first, maybe no seeming effect. But over time, I suspect good habits will have lasting effects, just like bad ones. Never too late to start a good habit, and drop a bad one.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
The nuns always told us to wash our hands. Dirty hands were unacceptable. Why? Jesus did not mind dirty hands. What were those first disciples doing when Jesus called them to "come follow me?" They were cleaning their nets. They had just finished handling dead fish. Not only did they have dirty hands, but their working class dirty hands made them ritually defiled. They were simply outside the law, kind of low life, or you might say working class trash, if you were an uppity temple priest. Jesus did not say, "Wash your hands first and then come follow me." He invited them to come as they were, imperfect and all. So the next time some Catholic school teacher or Christian parent says dirty hands are unacceptable, just pull one of those WWJD (What would Jesus do). Don't tell them I said this. It will get me in hot water and wrath. How you look is of little importance to Jesus.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
It is one thing to be anti-culture and another to be counter-culture. Someone who is anti does not want to have anything to do with the surrounding culture. They generally would not read the local news or participate in local events. They participate in their own world that does not depend in any way on the wider cultural world of sports, concerts, festivities and seasonal gatherings. Consequently, they have very little influence on the larger cultural. Counter-cultural people are ones who do participate but with their own set of values that might go counter to the prevailing mores of the larger world. The more immature person thinks this means that they dress differently, or look a certain way, or act a certain way. They have no influence on the larger world. The young person who sits at the mall dressed in black, tattooed, unemployed, along with like people would be one example. So what might be counter cultural that would make others pause and think? At times, carry no cell phone. Take the bus or train. Read opinions that disagree with your own. Eat meals as a family. Avoid plastic. Watch a sunrise or sunset. Work in a community garden. Give to the "undeserving" poor. If you run a consumer business sell at lower prices than supply and demand would fetch. Monasteries do this. Periodically, have a day of fasting. Become willing to suffer from aging or illness as an opportunity to witness to life on life's terms. Don't drink or drug when everyone else is getting wasted. If in a college dorm, go to bed earlier than others and get up earlier to have some quiet time, maybe going out to look at the stars before dawn. Drink only as much caffeine so that were you to stop you would not get massive headaches. Study without headphone music. Practice a little silence and solitude each day. Offer rides to people in your high end luxury car. It will make their day. Read poetry.
Friday, October 21, 2016
A nitch parish is one that offers itself as a product, a high end product. It is for people who want to feel special, "better than," more advanced in some way. This would be a parish that specializes in doing things a certain way that would appeal to but a few people. It is a bit like selling a high end car, like a Rolls Royce. There are a few people who want it and are willing to do what it takes to get it. It makes them feel special, as if they have arrived. It sets them apart. Usually, this is a sub-group in a larger, more ordinary parish, because the nitch is so small in numbers that it could not maintain a whole parish, nor would it want to. Generally, they are not much for joining the larger parish which is tainted with too much ordinariness, and mediocrity. They would well admit that they are sinners, but not quite as bad as those "others."
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Some parishes believe that they are offering a service. They begin with, "How can I help you?" In the Catholic church we have certain standard things, such as seven sacraments, and mass schedules. The service model of parish realizes that not everyone fits into a pre-planned product. The religious order run parishes are generally more service model than diocesan parishes. The service model parish is usually a better listener to people who don't fit in, or see themselves on the outside looking in. The focus is somewhat less on law, rules, and customs or "the way we do things here." So I have found it.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
I find that churches vary as to whether they see themselves as offering a product or a service. In the Catholic experience, when a parish has a product mentality, it seems to say, "We have this or that for you. If you want it and qualify, you can have it." The "it" is generally a sacrament such as holy communion. It is a top down organization of people who are pretty set in their ways. There is not much going out to find new members. New members are welcome so long as they don't upset the way things are done by the longterm members. There is a core group of believes who talk to one another and like things just the way they are. This is the product variety parish. Tomorrow I will talk about the service model of parish.