Mike’s Rumblings – 01-27-23
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. “Turn our lives around, God. Help us to identify in ourselves those parts of us that need to change if we are to experience your joy. Too long we have been hiding in the shadows, reluctant to express our faith. Too long we have shunned the light, afraid of what might be exposed. Too long we have avoided people with whom we have a quarrel, refusing to build bridges across our differences. Save us from ourselves so that we may enjoy your realm. In Jesus’ name.” Amen. ~ Prayer of Confession, Church of the Palms, Sarasota
2. “I think about things I love … birds, trees, wetlands, forested mountains, coral reefs, my grandchildren … and I see the bulldozers and smokestacks and tanks on the horizon. And so, because I love, I am angry. Really angry. And if you’re not angry, I think you should check your pulse, because if your heart beats in love for something, someone, anything … you’ll be angry when it’s harmed or threatened…when I or someone I love is in the company of insult, injustice, injury, degradation, or threat, anger awakens. It tells me to change my posture or position; it demands I address the threat…
Anger does its work. It prompts us to action, for better or worse. With time and practice, we can let the reflexive reactions of fight/flight/freeze, mirroring, and judging pass by like unwanted items on a conveyor belt. Also, with practice, we can make space for creative actions to be prompted by our anger … actions that are in tune with the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22) … actions that overcome evil with good and bring healing instead of hate.
So, yes, you bet I’m angry. It’s a source of my creativity. It’s a vaccination against apathy and complacency. It’s a gift that can be abused—or wisely used. Yes, it’s a temptation, but it’s also a resource and an opportunity, as unavoidable and necessary as pain. It’s part of the gift of being human and being alive.” ~ Brian McLaren
When I’m perturbed and when anger rises up I have to be careful. How do I make that anger redemptive? Is it rooted in a ‘holy discontent’ or just one of my moods? There’s a difference. A big difference. My response is different.
In the face of dramatic wrongdoing and pure hate in our world it would be easy to either overreact or to just ignore what’s going on in our world. Overreaction isn’t particularly redemptive. And if I just ignored what is going on I’d have to twist myself into a moral pretzel to defend and justify some really awful things and people. I know too many who have done just that and they’ve become a shadow of who they used to be.
McLaren is right. Seeing anger as an opportunity and resource takes us down a much better path. It doesn’t mean our response won’t have some bite to it. It just means our anger will be fueled by our desire to make our discontent, holy.
3. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. ~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
This particular book has touched the lives of many and Frankl’s take on “the last of the human freedoms” has shaped me in all kinds of wonderful and challenging ways.
4. In Florida, AP Black History is on the chopping block. The DeSantis crowd wants nothing less than curriculums that don’t intrude upon the fairy tale takes on history white people favor. DeSantis and cronies seemingly care very little about the dissonance that occurs in the lives of Black students when their history is dismissed because White people feel threatened.
5. I saw that a big time evangelical conference just signed their last speaker. The publicity commended the size of his congregation, the media network he oversees, and the books he has written and sold.
It strikes me as odd that the evangelical church still hypes the very things that got them in so much trouble in recent years.
6. “We yearn for intimacy, belonging, significance, transformation, power, and eternity. This longing is written in capital letters onto the emptiness of our souls, the pain of our lives, the struggle of our relationships, and the strife of our shattered communities.” ~ Trevor Hudson
I believe this. I believe there is a whole lot of emptiness in our world. I think that’s why I admire those who keep seeking all the best God has for them and even when that seeking looks messy.
I have a soft spot in my heart for those who are honestly deconstructing their faith in the hope of building it back up but perhaps in a very different container. They’re questioning the institutions that once nurtured them and the professional Christians who gave way too many simplistic answers. They are reading authors who were once considered taboo. And they’re fuming a bit about the form of Christianity that emboldens white nationalism. Working through all that takes time. I think there is something holy about those who dare to do this kind of hard work. I have to believe that God will honor their search.
Faith requires movement. The questions we ask matter. Our doubts can be disturbing to some, but not to God.
8. Our basic desire should be to “walk and talk” with God and then find ways to do just that very thing. When our desire doesn’t lead to finding a ways and means to achieve it, then we will rightfully be labeled a fake and a phony.
9. One day, on their way from here to there, the Master told his disciples this parable. “In the home and office of two influential men, classified documents were found. Those documents should not have been there. One went afoul of the law because of his sloppiness, the other was deliberate in his intentions. The one who was deliberate became belligerent, doubled down on making a fuss, fought like mad to hold on to the documents and the authorities were forced to conduct a raid to obtain them. The other man, despite being horribly embarrassed about his sloppiness, did not make a fuss and cooperated with the process to get those documents back where they belonged.
Which man took the nobler path?”
The disciples pondered this and said: “Master, the one who cooperated despite his embarrassment.”
“Yes, the embarrassment means he was paying attention to his conscience. His cooperation means he was trying to right a wrong.”
10. “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.” – René Descartes
Why would we ever want to deny access to anyone who wants to be part of this centuries long conversation? I know the answer. It’s fear. There are folks who will do anything to keep their world from being rocked.
The good news is there’s more of us who know our world actually needs rocking. Can I get an ‘amen’?