Amid turbulent times, the need to remain calm and take control as much as possible is a must and a challenge. Remaining calm and gaining […]
Here are five things worth paying attention to this week. These are designed to expose you to a perspective you may not normally come across in your daily lives.
1. Beating Guns: Hope for People who are Weary of Violence. Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin were in our city as part of the national tour for their book. The crowd gathered, Michael took prophetic action with hammer and blow torch; Shane, as usual, was inflammatory with incendiary truth. The witness lives on in this city, where gun violence is a continuing norm. The team of Mennonite pastor-turned-blacksmith and founder of RAWtools and an urban prophet-agitator speaking out on the evil done by the every-person-armed-insanity we share in corporate fear of each other made an unforgettable impact. A hammer blow for sanity. Read the blog RAWtools.org.
2. We have been having conversations with friends who are “Nones, Semi-Nones, Sometimes Nones.” At least on Sunday morning, they opt out of traditional church while they practice Christian discipleship, stewardship and fellowship without it. They contribute richly to events such as service projects, participate in Mennonite Central Committee sales and public witness, but weekly worship seems exhaustingly routine and optional to their practice of faith. Many work for NGOs or church organizations and find active circles of fellowship with other believers. Question: Do we need to plan more inclusive events and celebrations? A good nudge for how we think “church.”
3. The Second Mountain by David Brooks. A fresh metaphor helps us restate what we find important, and Brooks, a New York Times columnist, has refreshed our conversations about life repair at midpoint. The path to such repair is making deeper commitments, covenants to living for relationships, not for self. His simile is, Life is like two mountains: Ego Mountain is climbing toward personal goals such as success and achievement, while Heart and Soul Mountain is embracing the quest for a moral life and living out self-giving service for others. A good starter for conversations.
4. Inspired by Rachel Held Evans has stimulated conversations in Leann’s book club about how to go about meeting the Bible not as an ancient text but as a living document whose stories address current conflicts and guide us into a constructive future. Drawing on the scholarship of people who love the Scriptures enough to study them in depth (meaning) and breadth (historical context) as well as height (the inbreaking of transcendent Spirit), Evans tells of her prickly reception in a traditional community that found it difficult to see beyond the iron curtain of certitude and dogmatism. So, one asks, How did she get so inspired?
5. Troubled and Taught by Travel. Some encounters cannot be dismissed from thought. Walking a mile of Berlin Wall murals leaves after-images, and reading the displays at the Berlin Synagogue museum shakes the soul. Lingering over the giant photos of The Topography of Terror helps make sense of the worldwide surge of far-right groups as people seek to emerge from the quicksands of threat, failure, loss or the fear of any or all of these. Seeing photos of throngs exultant in the worship of “Der Fuehrer” throws light on Hitler’s ascent. May God awaken our humanity.
David and Leann Augsburger are two semi-retired people who co-lead a home base church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.
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