From Things Need to Change, quoting Rick Warren (via):
The American church as a whole needs to move from selfish consumerism to unselfish contribution. Those are poles apart. To start with a woman who’s most interested in how many diamonds she’s got in her tennis bracelet, and move her to sit under a banyan tree holding an AIDS baby- that’s a giant leap.
One of the things that frustrated me the most about the Orthodox church I initially encountered was (as this observer also noticed) what seemed like a lack of concern for the poor. In the nine or so years that I’ve been Orthodox, I’ve come to understand the situation a little better, but I still see a need for more awareness. That said, I witnessed just such a transformation in my local church. The church is not poor and has several lawyers, doctors, and business owners in it. Many of these people have homes worth half a million or more dollars. But every year, a group of people from our church joins Project Mexico in building modest homes for the poor of Mexico. This year, one of those lawyer and his family went. After they come back, the people who participated in the project all give a little speech in front of the church about their experience. Most everyone else had gone once before, but what this family said was amazing. “Before we went, we would invite friends over to check out the new addition on our house or our new plasma TV. But, in Mexico, we built a home for people without one! The difference for them is so much more significant than anything we could buy for ourselves!” They had gained an incarnate understanding of poverty. Yeah, this is just another example of the the failing Church. And how people in the Church are saved from failure.
In this excellent little message to baby boomers and gen-xers, Steve Olson writes:
When I mention that you refuse to let your kids ride their bikes to the park, you say, “Things are different today. There are more crazies out there.” Yep, and the crazies are us. Middle-aged people are so riddled with anxiety we are eating Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac like Copenhagen at a rodeo.
He points to Mike Males op-ed on risk-takers:
Today, the age group most at risk for violent death is 40 to 49, including illegal-drug death rates five times higher than for teenagers.
I knew this generation was more protected from risk than those before it. I didn’t realize that the older generations were still taking (and losing) such big risks. (via) Now, don’t misunderstand me. I think people should take risks. I think young people and children should be allowed to take more risks. I think my children should be allowed to take more risks, but I’m not the only one who has a say in that.
Father Stephen writes:
When we look across the Christian scene, however, we should be accurate in what we see: failure. Not by counting numbers (they may tell us very little), but by how well Christians in fact show forth the faith that is within them. That the Church is a mess is a good description of history. The Catholic Church says one thing, but has a hard time finding a parish that actually believes and practices the magisterium of the faith. Protestants have launched into a sea of splintering that can only be justified by positing a deficient ecclesiology. The Orthodox, despite the accuracy of their historical claims, remain in the backwash of collapsing empires (both the Byzantine and the Russian). … The failure of the Church, to put it clearly, is a result of works – a triumph of flesh over Grace.
Read the whole thing (plus the comments, which include how the Orthodox fail the poor) and then read Why I am not Concerned.
This past year or so, I’ve been working at home with my four children (three school-age, and home-schooled). Besides the kids, who really aren’t that bad, I have the struggled to avoid the distraction that is the Internet. I instinctively compare myself with my heros, and, of course, my heros always win the comparison. Sacha Chua is one such hero of mine. While seeking out ways to be more productive, the gregarious filipino has evangelized PlannerMode like no one else could have. I’ve always admired her energy, drive and focus. She seems to accomplish so much, so easily. I have potential, but I’m have an extreme lack of focus. Finally, this week, while being distracted, I came across this on Digg: “Plan your day the night before” Doh! It finally clicked. I saw how everything I knew about planning would actually work. I had found the missing ingredient. I did it that night. I planned my next day’s tasks. Until then, I’d been using Planner primarily to keep track of the billable hours I worked. This week I finally understood how to really use all the scheduling and planning aspects of Planner. I had tried it before, but it didn’t work — because I didn’t do it the night before. Maybe someone said it and I missed it. Maybe I wasn’t properly motivated before. Doing it the night before means I’m anxious to get to the things I’ve scheduled. I’m motivated to do them because my subconcious has been dwelling on them for eight or so hours. Sacha Chua has been writing about using PlannerMode and Emacs for productivity for some time now. Shes written a lot of code snippets and done some heavy lifting with PlannerMode itself. Finally, she is combining her enthusiasm, her skill at writing, and technical saavy to write a “Wicked Cool Emacs book” that will cover PlannerMode, OrgMode as well as many other bits of Emacs. I wish I could pre-order a copy now!