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Posts Tagged ‘osawatomiepresbyterian.org’

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

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I enjoyed writing these prayers after reading very helpful commentary from  The Interpreter‘s Dictionary of the Bible vol. 2 “Holy Spirit”  and The Lord of Life:  Perspectives on Constructive Pneumatology David H. Jensen Editor and specifically chapter five “Guests, Hosts and Holy Ghost: Pneumatological Theology and Christian Practices in  World of Many Faiths” by Amos Yong.

 

 

CALL TO WORSHIP:

Leader: Some say that faith, in the larger world,  has lost its tact.

People:  Our parents always told us to mind our manners.

Leader:  Minding manners allows individuals to arrive at shared understanding and behavior.

People:  Even in Jesus’ day there were a diversity of beliefs and this required etiquette and manners.

Leader:  There was no Emily Post, but there was and is attunement to the Holy Spirit.

All:  Let us reconnect with the Holy Spirit who inspires bold tact, as we worship the God of Jesus.  Amen.

 

PRAYER OF PRAISE:

Holy Host, you are not an ethereal ghost but a salient connector.  When we have a need to be loved, you connect us with those who need love from us.  When we need adventure, you connect us with demanding individuals and circumstances that build stamina.  When we are in need peace, you present us with people in need of comfort that only we can give.  Hear our praise that when you connect us though we seem to be meeting the needs of others, our own cup runneth over.  Continue to come and connect our lives o Great and Hospitable Spirit.  Amen.

 

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“Complexity Perspectives in Innovation and Social Change” second chapter written by Dwight Read, David Lane and Sander van der Leeuw charts the history of human tool making as a fundamental innovation.  Noting the span of some 200,000 years, the authors expediently detail the challenge of human beings had to conceptually manage their material world.  Many of us know of paleolithic tool making but the chapter provides an appreciation for its “grinding” emergence.  The ability to create the tools and “… the ‘invention explosion’ of the Neolithic is related to their conceptual abilities to conceive of space in four nested dimensions across a wide range of spatial scales (from the individual fiber or grain to the landscape), to separate a surface from the volume it encloses, to use different topologies, to distinguish and relate time and space, to distinguish between different cause and effect, and to plan, etc.” (97)  In essence human beings gained a bootstrapping process that allowed them to gain an edge over other species.

Bootstrapping is defined in five steps

  1. a trial and error process that summarizes observations and experiences in an efficient manner.
  2. as more dimensions are available there is the ability to ask more questions
  3. a capacity of abstraction  allows for greater connections between different circumstances and domains of knowledge
  4. individuals who are exercised in this way have an increased “problem space” when compared to others and the increase “problem space” and the curiosity within it gives these individuals an advantage over other individuals and non-humans.
  5. “….each solution brings its own unexpected challenge, requires more problem-solving, and a more costly conceptual and material infrastructure in which to survive” (98)

The authors then follow the evolution from toolmaking to the more sociological development of urban environments and towns.   It is here that they distinguish themselves from the establishment on what drives the urban development.  Typically urban development is understood as dependent upon “a food surplus so that those ‘in power’ would not have to provide for their own subsistence and could harness some of the population at least part of the time to invest in collective works” (100)   To the contrary, the authors argue that urban societies coagulate because of “the problem-solving control loop” that conserves energy.  Such a control loop is described in the bootstrapping steps above.    (In order to substantiate this, they note that matter and energy are subject to the law of conservation but the flow of information is not subject to this and therefore is a more likely driver of urban development.  Energy and matter are more likely constraints for sociological organization).  While it too 200,000 years to master matter….human beings conceptual work related to information only took 8,000 years to conserve energy.

At this point, I would like to recognize the church as a facet of urban development.  And rest upon the work of the authors that asserts matter and energy as constraints but the flow of information as a driver in our development.  Very often in the church, we are trying to reproduce our population through an accumulation of members who are enculturated by tradition, denomination, context.   Our best intentions are masked by our own collusion with the Darwinian model wherein we equate reproduction and imitation of behavior as adequate enculturation and then we hope for vitality.

If we trust what our author’s excruciating work regarding matter, energy and bootstrapping, what we must conclude is that organized life does not derive vitality from imitation and reproduction, we derive vitality from the emergence of problems and the conceptual exercise to approach those problems with both life experience and openness to novelty.  If congregations are looking for vitality programs and ministry would not be efforts to repeat and reproduce (how guilty I am of this!).  Rather we might be looking for our most tenacious problems of politics, sociology, psychology and be a junction box for the flow of information (members and nonmembers alike), conserving energy while contributing to innovation.  Although it would not be enough, I might just be a  bootstrap that Jesus could endorse.

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I am no expert yogini…but I do love yoga.  I love yoga because it is slow and gentle on my 42-year-old body.  I love yoga because as I perform the stretches and breathing I acquire flexibility.  I love yoga because it is fundamentally an act of mindfulness.  When I practice yoga no matter how I try to stay focus on my breathing….my mind always stretches itself into my relationships.  Yoga moves me  from the deepest place of my human body to the farthest recesses of my relationships.

When I engage my ashtanga yoga practice, I am primarily interested in places of resistance.  Muscles that have recoiled because of my length of time in an office chair or my sudden day-long cleaning frenzy.  My ashtanga yoga practice is influenced by Melanie Fawer who was a student of the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.  In her DVD Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga, Melanie will calmly encourage careful and daily practice.  She explains that while many believe they will never attain certain poses or positions, that if one practices each and every time they are given the opportunity the pose and position will come.

The physiology of the body is the foundation of her promise.  There are two types of muscles, extrafusal and intrafusal.  The extrafusal muscles are what we most often imagine as muscle fibers.  The  intrafusal are also called muscle spindles and they run parallel to the extrafusal fibers .  Intrafusal are also called stretch receptors.  These receptors are the primary pathways for how we perceive our body’s position and movement.  If muscles are jerked and stretched quickly, it is the stretch receptors that cause the muscle to contract or recoil in response.  However, stretches that are held for prolonged periods allow the stretch receptors to adjust and decrease their signals to recoil.  The result for the faithful practitioner is greater flexibility.

Some have said that relationships are what a lot of  leaders think about when they are alone.   There is  rehearsal in the mind about how the leader or the other person behaved.  Leaders think about how individuals within relationships might have behaved or otherwise responded differently.  Some say that good leaders are different because they will think not about what the other person SHOULD have done to make the leaders life or job easier.   Rather good leaders think about how their own responses could have been modified.   In essence, good leaders take a situation or moment of their lives and imagine stretching, twisting and breathing into it as many different ways as they might imagine.  Suspending a voice of judgement, good leaders effectively  remain more open to even the most complicated and resistant of relationships.

If our physiology is of divine design….perhaps there are clues there for our spiritual lives as well.   I grow weary of feeling recoiled and tight against all that is complicated in my life.   I am at least the leader of my self. Can I be a good leader for myself?  Can I stretch my spirit through complicated resistance and enjoy an oxygenated, purposeful peace?

Otto Scharmer in a recent global classroom experience of  the Presencing Institute, reminded us that it has been said, ….if we wonder what our purpose is in life, we can find the answer by going to the places of greatest resistance.   I am sure this involves a stretch.

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