Mike’s Friday Rumblings – 09-16-22
This is an audio version of Mike Murphy‘s Friday rumblings. This is a regular post on Facebook that I’ve turned into a podcast. I decided Mike’s words needed a wider audience. You may agree or disagree with what he says, but there is certainly much food for thought contained here. You can friend Mike on Facebook for the printed version or read it below
1. In spite of what is being said, to be awakened and labeled as ‘woke’ is a compliment.
2. Rich Villodas, pastor of New Life Church in Queens, challenges us with these words. “The Church is not to be found at the center of a left/right political world. The Church is to be a species of its own kind, confounding left, right, and so-called middle, and finding its identity from the “center” of God’s life.”
We are to be at the “center” of God’s life. It will, indeed, confound many. And if we aren’t at the center, we’re at the mercy of the whims of public opinion.
3. “Love and suffering are part of most human lives. Without any doubt, they are the primary spiritual teachers more than any Bible, church, minister, sacrament, or theologian…
Suffering can lead us in either of two directions: it can make us very bitter and cause us to shut down, or it can make us wise, compassionate, and utterly open, either because our hearts have been softened, or perhaps because we feel as though we have nothing more to lose.” ~ Richard Rohr
Suffering, hardship, a string of bad luck,etc. can either wipe us out or make us stronger. There’s a lot to be said for allowing such things to become our teachers.
Tim Keller writes that “The basic premise of religion is that if you live a good life, things will go well for you“ is wrong. Jesus was the most morally upright person who ever lived, yet He had a life filled with the experience of poverty, rejection, injustice, and even torture …Christianity does not provide the reason for each experience of pain, but it does provide deep resources for actually facing suffering with hope and courage rather than bitterness and despair.” Timothy Keller
Let’s make it our habit to help those suffering to tap into resources of hope and courage. Of course, in order to help them do that we might need to figure it out for ourselves.
4. Because inconvenient truths are considered to be incendiary in places like Florida and Texas and other such states, both young and old won’t have the opportunity to grapple with things that matter – things from the past that still inform the present moment and in many ways influence the future.
Embedded in all this political and educational chicanery is one underlying truth. White people with power and their followers are deathly afraid of losing their privilege. And they will do anything to hold onto it. That includes dumbing down curriculum, erasing what’s uncomfortable, and ridiculing those who ask them to think. They have become the ‘cancel culture’ they accuse others of being.
5. “If so much as a single one of you were missing, there would be an empty place at the great feast of life that nobody else in all creation could fill.” ~ Frederick Buechner
“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something… I’m free to choose what that something is, and the something I’ve chosen is my faith. Now, my faith goes beyond theology and religion and requires considerable work and effort. My faith demands — this is not optional — my faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.“ ~ Jimmy Carter
Carter and Buechner. Lord, if my witness is but a shadow of theirs, I will have lived well.
6. The brilliant comedian and movie actor W. C. Fields was not known as a religious man, but as his death approached he began to look through the Bible. When a friend asked him about this behavior he humorously explained that he was just “looking for loopholes.”
In one way or another, we all do that.
7. “Wherever St. Paul went, there was a riot. Wherever I go, they serve tea.” ~ N. T. Wright
Wright is a very accomplished theologian. He’s making fun of himself here. Perhaps he was in the midst of a self-assessment and didn’t particularly like what he was seeing. Let’s be honest, we’ve all probably been in that spot.
Periodically, it helps to stop and do a life Examen. It might reveal that we follow a rather passive Jesus, meek and mild, eager only for a spot of tea, avoiding anything controversial and certainly not challenging us to be anything more than what we already are.
Paul believed in a Jesus who had some feistiness and who he knew to be controversial, just as he was at times. The religious and political authorities certainly felt threatened by Jesus. He said things that just infuriated them. He even insulted Rome and its Caesar saying in a subtle but nonetheless clear way that Caesar’s claim to divinity was suspect.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Jesus, and for that matter Paul, made time for their personal version of a spot of tea with friends. But there was something else going on. Something that stirred the passions of both friend and foe. Both Jesus and Paul proved to be both provocative and charming, gentle and formidable, determined and easy going.
May it be so for us.
8. President Biden: “I want to be crystal clear about what’s on the ballot this year. Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of our kids from gun violence is on the ballot…. The very survival of our planet is on the ballot. Your right to vote is on the ballot. Even…democracy…The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security. They’re a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace…political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.”
Democracy is indeed on the ballot this fall. There are very real threats to its very existence. And the whole world is watching.
9. At a resort in the Greek isles this sign welcomes visitors: “Create a life you can fall in love with.”
For the most part, it’s the quality of our decisions and our thoughtful response to the decisions of others that create the life we desire.
10. “The Spirit leads us downward. To the bottom, to the place of humility, to the position and posture of service . . . that’s where the Spirit, like water, flows. . . . If you listen to the Spirit you will realize that someone is angry at you or resentful toward you or worked behind your back to do you harm. Everything in you will want you to write them off or get them back. But the Spirit will draw you toward them in humility. . . .If you listen to the Spirit you will see a person or a group being vilified or scapegoated. Everyone is blaming them, shaming them, gossiping about them, feeling superior to them, venting their anxieties on them. . . . But the Spirit will draw you to differ courageously and graciously. And you will risk your reputation in defending the person or people being scapegoated…If you listen to the Spirit, you will be drawn toward an opportunity to serve, even to and with those who frighten or repel you …when you listen to the Spirit it will be a source of great joy—one of the richest blessings of your life.” Brian McLaren
“If you listen to the Spirit” everything changes. If not, nothing does. May we all cultivate that desire and may it become the habit of our lives.