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pentecostOh Lord we feel the pain of all that perishes and dies.

We suffer and it feels as if your will may be turned against us.

Even in our suffering, we will not fear change, for Christ  is the agency of Creative Transformation.

Heavenly Host, we feel the advent of something new.

We groan inwardly and outwardly to discern what it is. We suffer and it feels as if your will is breaking through us.

Even in our suffering, we will not fear change for Christ  is the agency of Creative Transformation.

Mysterious Holy Spirit, sustain the dance between our intuition and reason.

We suffer to rationalize one and to fully embrace the other.

Even in our suffering to understand, we will not fear the continual birth of your church, for Christ is the agency of creatively transforming all toward your wisdom and way.

Amen.

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presbyopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well – we have missed the formal Presbyopia awareness month.  When you ask?  April is Presbyopia awareness month.  What is Presbyopia you ask?  Presbyopia is the name given to the changes in the eye that happen when one turns 40. Etymologically, the word breaks down like this “presbus”, meaning “old man” and “opia” meaning “eye”.

Turns out, I have Presbyopia.  It was just this year that close reading began to be blurry and produce headaches.  Like many others, I have been prescribed some progressive lenses….or no-line bifocals.  But it has not been the easiest adjustment for me.  I am, at times, confused in my peripheral vision.  With a little research, I learned that to glance too far to the left or right, indeed, to move my head too quickly could contribute to the blurry vision.  The remedy requires careful head movement and attention directly at objects in order to  focus.

You know, now that I think about it, perhaps we have not missed Presbyopia awareness month.  It just so happens that the name of age related eye changes shares part of the name of my denomination…the Presbyterian Church USA.    We gather as a denomination next month to review our life together.  In the review, our assembly will refrain from quick glances.  We will likely even refrain from trying to look too far right or left.  Our job will be to look directly and carefully at important issues facing our church.  Then we will invite the larger church to consider these issues carefully with us…presbytery by presbytery.  Each will negotiate a sort of spiritual presbyopia.

Once I arrive, I anticipate that my perception will have to adjust.  With God’s help, I will move beyond frustration into careful work.  I don’t want to have an inflexible perception as my age advances.  Rather I will be patient through the adjustment because I want a pliable and perceptive faith.   26 days!  May The Spirit move us through Presbyopia!

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The focus of chapter three is that there are individual sensitivities to inequality and those sensitivites offer an explanation for why  living in unequal societies can have such profound effects.  They assert that “Individual psychology and societal inequality relate to each other like lock and key” (33).  They make this argument by citing the effects of inequality and the relationship between them.  The effects of inequality can be found in our psychological state.   

1.  There is a rise in the anxiety levels of populations such as college students and children in the United States according to studies out of San Diego State University.

2.  There is, simultaneously, a rise in self esteem.  “So that despite increasing anxiety, people were taking an increasingly positive view of themselves” (36).  The key here is in the distinguishing of healthy and unhealthy self esteem.  “The healthier kind seemed to centre on a fairly well-founded sense of confidence and a resonably accurate view of one’s strengths in different situations and an ability to recognize one’s weaknesses.  The other seemed to be primarily defensive and involved a denial of weaknesses… People will insecure high self-esteem tend to be insensitive to others and to show an excessive preoccupation with themselves, with success, and with their image and appearance in the eyes of others.”(37).   Thus, there is really a rise in narcissism.

3. Both narcissism and anxiety find their source in social evaluative threat or those threats that created the possiblity for a loss of self esteem (38).

4.  How other people see us matters ultimately.  How others see us determine if we experience shame or pride.  Other people’s view of us determines our social status and if our social status is high we can become anxiety ridden in an effort to preserve the high status.  consumerism plays on this social status reality and consumption is part of the way that we set ourselves apart from others.  “Surveys have found that when choosing prospective marriage partners, people in more unequal countries put less emphasis on romantic considerations and more on criteria such as financial prospects, status and ambition, than do people in less unequal societies.”(44)

Some say that the church is struggling to be purposeful in our culture and society.   Relevance to our tradition and God’s people in society is at a premium in the life of  the church.  In the previous blog, I offered my opinion that churches can get caught up in striving to be “better than” another church or congregation.  If we take what the authors say at face value, it seems that the church has a continued opportunity for relevance. Some say that the nature of all cultures is inequality.  The church’s attempt to provide an environment in which communities can practice equality is a crucial response to the biblical and gospel message. 

But what do we mean when we say  equality?  The authors remind us that concerns about equality are at least as old as the French Revolution.  They cite the slogan of that revolution “liberty, equality, and fraternity” and note that ” ‘Liberty’ meant not being subservient or beholden to the feudal nobility and landed aristocracy.  ….Similarly, ‘fraternity’ reflects a desire for greater mutuality and reiprocity in social relations.  …’Equality’ comes into the picture as a precondition for getting ‘liberty’ and ‘fraternity’ right.”(45).  Said another way and using the language of persuasion and relationship from process theology, liberty requires persuasion and cannot survive coercion.  Fraternity emerges within a society that values mature relationality.  Equality as the prerequiste of both has yet to be defined by the author.  But process theology might invite us to understand equality more fully in an experience of wholeness and unity with the environments and creatures in whose midst we live.

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