Thursday, July 18, 2024

Thursday Theology

Today's text is from Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
When I read these today, the cynical part of me wonders if the Christian nationalists or evangelicals of today would follow this same Jesus, or if they would stand back and criticize him for enabling the poor and healing the sick. 

I know that my own biases of today's church are a part of my thinking, but far too many people I personally know have been victims of the outright hatred that is portrayed as hard love by the self-righteous conservative Christians.

I suppose that if today's churches were the places where the poor and sick went to for help and if they were met with compassion and service, it would be overwhelming and unsustainable for most churches to help them. The simple reality is -- most churches ignore the people that need help and live nearby. 
I mentioned in a post last winter that of the 600+ churches in Springfield MO, only a dozen participated in sheltering the community's homeless population during the coldest of nights. 
That whole Matthew 25 and "whatever you do to the least of these" kind of gets glossed over or simply ignored by most churches. And if the churches as organizations won't help, why would any of the people that attend there feel like they need to help?

I honestly feel like my Thursday Theology posts have become too negative and think that if I can't somehow turn that around I need to end this weekly post. I wish I could say that my distrust of people is fading and I always see the good in others, but that simply isn't the case.

Maybe it would help if you shared something good that somebody did for you or for somebody else. I am in need of a people-don't-really-suck kind of story.

John

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Wednesday Wisdom

No cute meme or inspirational quote for today's Wednesday Wisdom post, just a bit of friendly advice -- Be flexible.

Today I skipped my normal routine. I was supposed to go into Springfield for an early morning tour of the Child Advocacy Center, but opted out and enjoyed the gentle rain while drinking my coffee on the deck. I also skipped scrolling on my computer while I read for a couple of hours and finished reading my latest library book, David Baldacci's The 6:20 Man.
I have a few books ready to read and may opt for a non-fiction next. Maybe I'll go back to reading more than one book at a time.

I do realize that I have the privilege of being more flexible than most. My mornings are pretty routine and today wasn't vastly different from most days, but I do hope to spend way less time on social media in the coming days and weeks. I have enjoyed spending more time reading over that past several weeks, especially when it is too hot to be active outside. Reading for education instead of entertainment is something that I need to add to my day, and cutting time on social media will help with that.

Another flexibility thing --
I'm not always at my best around people, but I have been working on it. Maybe I need some semi-regular outings or encounters with people. It is sometimes difficult to convince myself to leave the quiet and comfort of the deck. People encounters are mostly pretty meaningless as they are usually with clerks at stores or something. I rarely meet with people for genuine conversation. 
I should probably be more flexible about that even though it is a lot of work for me.

I struggle to find volunteer things to do because volunteering usually means doing something that meets the needs of other people, and it's being around people that keeps me on the deck.
I know -- I need to take my own advice and be more flexible!

This turned out to be way more than I was planning on writing for today. Flexibility is sometimes just going with flow. I hope you are managing to flow through your week. Maybe I'll see you for Thursday Theology; maybe I won't. I'll see how flexible I am tomorrow.

John

Monday, July 15, 2024

Monday

It's another Monday morning here in the Ozarks. I've been in a bit of a writing funk lately and have skipped my Monday and Thursday posts for a couple of weeks. In an effort to get back to writing I decided to skip the meditation post and just write about some random stuff in my head.

I believe that part of the writing funk has to do with frustration over our country's current political landscape. I have tried to stay away from political posts for some time, but I think that may change a little bit in the coming months. I will try to keep from being divisive or controversial and work on being more informative, knowing that even facts have become controversial since 2015 when alternative facts became a new name for outright lies. 
I recently downloaded the 900+ pages of the Project 2025 pdf and plan to read and share my understanding of the entire document. So far I've only read the intro and credits part. What I've read about the document is pretty scary, but usually biased from whatever source is sharing info, so I thought I would be better off reading it myself. 
You should probably do that, too.

In other reading...
After finishing the medieval fantasy series, The Ravenglass Chronicles (1800 pages) on my Kindle app, I went to the library and am back to reading actual books. I finished two Jack Reacher books this past week and will start on a David Baldacci book today. I may work in some non-fiction reading, as well, but I think I'll hold off on the P2025 stuff until I finish my current library stack.
I have done absolutely nothing when it comes to magic or ukulele playing and am probably more likely to continue in that trend than I am to pick up either of those things. I'm okay with that.

What are you reading?

John

Thursday, July 04, 2024

Thursday Theology

I'm skipping the lectionary schedule this week to take a different, more personal look at Thursday Theology.

It has been a little while since I have been a regular attendee at Sunday morning church. I think a big part of that is that church no longer feels like a time to worship God, but is more of a gathering of people doing church-y things -- shake hands and hug a few people, grab coffee and a donut, sing a few songs, listen to announcements, listen to a message from the pastor, talk to a few more people, go have lunch.

I don't know. It's probably just me, but I get a much better feeling for the presence and holiness of our Creator right here on my deck. I still enjoy the wisdom and lessons of Sunday morning sermons, but it just doesn't feel like worship. In fact, I don't think it is designed to be worship. I think it's designed to be like worship, but geared more to being pleasurable to us rather than pleasing to God.
I don't know if that makes sense because it is difficult to express what I'm feeling in words.

I think I'm the antiquated one. I think I'm still expecting Sunday morning church to be a time of worship and it isn't even called that anymore. It's service time or a gathering, not a time of worship. Honestly, I'm not that into gatherings or large groups of people. 
I am no longer certain of what church is supposed to be. The idea of the Church (big C) being the collective body of the followers of Jesus isn't really identifiable with so many false followers. And the local churches (little c) are more interested in getting butts in the seats and dollars in the collection than in actually doing that love your neighbor thing.

Avoiding all of that doesn't seem to be very theologically sound, but it is where I find myself. If anybody has some good advice or words of wisdom to pull me out of this religious funk they would be greatly appreciated.
It's pretty sad when it's easier to love the neighbor outside of church than it is to love your more religious, church going neighbor.
(heavy sigh)

John

Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Wednesday Wisdom: Learning patience

Why does learning patience take so long?
Gardening is a good teacher.


I wonder what our place will look like in a few years.

John

Monday, July 01, 2024

Monday Morning

I'm not really doing much meditating this morning. I'm enjoying my morning coffee and looking out over the back field and small flower bed. In the past I have mentioned wanting to turn a portion of the field into a native meadow but research has made me realize that it will be no small project. This once pasture land is primarily fescue grass which is not a native grass and is a very dominant grass. 

I had asked (on a gardening page) if I could just over seed with my native grasses and wildflower mix or if I would need to do a shallow till first. The response was that it will be a big project that will take a couple of years to do right. Killing off the current fescue grass seems quick and easy, but it is hardy and so are the seeds that have dropped and will germinate when the soil is disced or tilled.
Two years of work just to get rid of the non-native invasive grass that our European ancestors brought over and now covers the pastures of the Midwest.
Sacrebleu!

I am going to have to rethink this project.
For now, I will tend to the flowers that I have and enjoy working the environmentally altered land that I have. 

John

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Not much theology today...

I've read this week's gospel reading in the lectionary schedule and I don't feel like I have it in me to try to figure it out. It's an account of two of the miracles of Jesus and you can read about them here

With all of the people that follow Jesus seeking healing and other miracles, I sometimes wonder how he decided who would receive a miracle and who would be left to suffer without. 
I'm reminded of the story of the man that is walking along a beach covered with starfish that have been left by the receding tide. One at a time, he is picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean. Looking at the vast number of stranded starfish, an onlooker challenges the man saying there are too many to make a difference. The man bends down, tosses another starfish into the ocean and says, "I made a difference for that one!"

What if there isn't any deep theological meaning to these stories?
What if Jesus is just making a difference one person at a time?
What if the stories are given to us so that we would do the same -- make a difference to the people we encounter, one person at a time?

Honestly, I know that nobody really comes here for theology since I am most definitely not a theologian. I'm not really a student of anything, much less a student of God.
I am, however, an observer of people, and it just may be that while few of us are equipped to go out and change the world, we can each make a difference if we just focus on doing it one person at a time.

Chances are pretty good that the few people reading this will be the only people that I have any kind of interaction with today. Maybe one of you will think -- yeah, I can make a difference for one person today! That would be cool -- to have done something positive for one of you.
Otherwise my day will be working on some positives for the bees and butterflies as I do some work in the yard and in the flowerbeds.

John 


Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Enjoying the morning rain

Yeah, there really is nothing like sitting on the screened in, covered deck while it rains gently on the land. The thunder is rumbling through the clouds, but I haven't seen any lightning yet. Occasionally the wind picks up a little bit and the rain pours a little harder, but it's still quite nice from my morning point of view. With the wind primarily blowing in from the north, the back deck stays dry from the rain spray that blows in when the wind is from the south or west.
It looks like it will rain on and off for most of the day.

I am happy that I won't have to water the new flower beds today. There is nothing like rain water to stimulate plants into growing. I had planned to mow the field today, but that will have to wait for another day.
Today looks like a good day to read and enjoy a good smoke.
I should probably do a little writing, as well.

If you came here looking for some Wednesday Wisdom -- be grateful.
Be grateful for the rain.
Be grateful for the sun.
Be grateful for the way they both work together to bring us food, beauty, and life.

John

Monday, June 24, 2024

Monday Meditation

I'm going to do today's meditation a little differently.
I really do get a good feeling from working in the various flower beds around our yard. There is something about digging in the dirt that stimulates the internal energy of our bodies. I have read about the +/- electrical energy of the earth and certainly believe in the benefits of grounding, but working to bring forth the beauty of the many varieties of flowers is something more than just that.

I'm up early today so that I can work before the day gets too warm to enjoy working outside. I hope to manage a few hours of work before then. I have a large area where the weeds have taken over. I am always amazed at how well certain plants grow unwanted and without cultivation while I struggle to get other plants to grow and thrive. 
Nature can be such a beast.

I am also fascinated by how much pleasure I get from watching our flowers grow from seeds or bulbs into fully blossomed plants. 
Truthfully, our yard is not a well manicured, well designed landscape of flowers and shrubs. It is a haphazard bit of work that brings me pleasure. I enjoy the butterflies, birds, and bees that it attracts. And while larger flower beds mean less mowing, I'm not certain that the work exchange works in my favor. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the opposite. (sigh)

That will be my meditation for today.
That and relaxing with a cigar and drink later this evening!
Where will you find your peace or purpose today?

John