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Archive for December, 2013

egg whitesThey say that egg whites make up two-thirds of an egg’s weight.  92% of the egg white is water.  Its primary function is to protect the yolk and provide some additional nutrients.  Some of my favorite things to eat ask for attention to the egg white.  You know, the light and airy recipes of meringue and angel food cake.  It is the whipping that can now be left to machines (that my grandmother Murphy and grandmother Cox used to do by hand), that I think about when I think about egg whites.  While whipping is vigorous and violent to the egg white, my grandmothers did not mean malice, they had the recipe in mind.

Some decide to avoid recipes that require whipping.  It’s a lot of work requiring extreme energies.  For after the egg whites are whipped, they require a very different energy to follow.  There must be a gentle folding into additional ingredients.  If one vigorously mixes them into the recipe, there will be no rising up of the meringue or cake.

And what of the human being?  What rises up allowing us to live appropriately delicate and vulnerable lives worthy to be referred to as faithful?  Many say that when a human being checks their ego with ethics and an informed religion, there is the greatest chance that they will rise up living appropriately delicate and vulnerable lives.  Somewhat like the egg, our ego is protected by what Freud referred to as ego defense mechanisms.  These defense mechanisms include:  denial, projection, rationalization, repression and at least a handful of others.  These defense mechanisms can be helpful but may also become insulating problems in and of themselves without the strength of our community around us.   A little like the refrigerated egg white around an undeveloped yolk.

Now there are many recipes that call for the entire egg and there my analogy breaks down.  Let your mind go where it will.

But the recipe that  we are looking for is focused on no one egg and one that results in the appropriately delicate and vulnerable life.  There is just something about living in a community that involves whipping.  Our defensive mechanisms become ingredients for another end.  There is just something about being in community that keeps us from stale insulation.  The experience of whipping our ego defenses  is always painful but often it is the intuitively communal mindset that means no malice.  (note we are not talking about whipping the ego itself….violence against the human being is never okay).   The  communal mindset that whips the ego defenses has, even without full awareness, the recipe in mind.

It might be why folks choose against intimate community.  Or why they choose very large communities in which they can function anonymously.  But they are missing out on the rigor of living a multi-dimensional life.

I know what it is to have my defenses whipped.    The whipping of the ego defenses is disorienting and takes up volumes of space in my heart and mind.  The beginning of the experience can produce desperate thoughts:  “Things are not right!”  “I am misunderstood.”  “How can I return to a good and familiar feeling within myself?”  And should an individual, living within a community, act on any of the desperate thoughts or speak them out loud? Well, it might be something like violently and prematurely stirring in what is “in process” for the other ingredients of my communal life.  When our ego defense have been whipped it requires prayerful incubation and trusted conversations.  Trusted conversation happens with those who have a larger recipe in mind.

In such prayerful incubation and trusted conversations, a still small voice reminds me that the recipe promises an appropriately delicate and vulnerable product.  I have to be reminded of this all the time.  And with the recurring reminder, I remember that to be well insulated and protected is not the point of faith.  Rather the point is that all my defenses, once whipped, promise a levity with a communal recipe.

God is abundantly generous.  I find there are ample opportunities to fold in all that has been whipped.

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The Church’s Place

body of christPerhaps it is not enough to say that the church should be the central place of people’s lives.  The church has never, effectively, been a “should”.  Rather, the church rose up out of a compulsion and a curiosity.

Today there is much for the church to be curious about.  After all, its congregants and visitors are very interested in research and findings of the various sciences.  People talk all day long about the political and social dynamics of our global society.  While some might say that the science and politics are outside the scope of religion, there are many who say that these issues are at the heart of our biblical canon.

The church stands as it has always stood, a place where the salient issues of life converge and where crowds gather to consider life’s meaning.  Those who gather long to understand their life under the authority of scripture….or they would not come.  In order for this to be accomplished….the pulpit and Christian education classroom must continue their good work to consider more than the biblical text in isolation.  They must be places of convergence where the authority of the science, politics, culture are respectfully considered.  They must continue to be places that understand tradition and the novelty of culture as hot spots our Living Gods emergence to our awareness.

The Body of Christ is a convergence of concerns.  The church of Jesus Christ must be a student in a larger classroom than its own tradition in order to deserve its space and authority.   I think Jesus studied a fair amount as he traveled, took supper and mingled with the crowds.

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