Showing posts with label change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label change. Show all posts

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Morning Church Rant

I didn't go to church today because I couldn't face another stripped-down summer liturgy. Bleh.  Recycled sermons, vacationing preachers, substitute organists, empty pews, last moment lectors, absent acolytes, no choir, no coffee hour. The church on vacation isn't pretty. 

But that's not our only problem. We have a problem of relevance. We are trying WAY too hard to find it. When church leaders chase the latest opinion polls, and change their main Sunday liturgies to meet the "market," those who have been shaped by the liturgical traditions of the past are left to embrace the change or leave. What seems to have been left out of the rush to seek the seeker is that the Church was never more embracing or growth-filled as when it was the keeper of mystery, ritual, prayer and sacrament and served the community. (1st - 3rd Century CE)

It will be a sad, sad day when a generation hence American mainline churches are empty (like Europe) and leadership wishes we had hewed to liturgical practice, embraced social justice, and welcomed the stranger and the familiar at the same time.

Am I really all alone in my grief at the demise of the weekly Lutheran and Episcopalian Sunday liturgy -- the ritual of action, listening, singing, silence, Word and Meal that has sustained me spiritually all my adult life?

Are there no clergy around me who think that the rush to reinvent the church by changing worship is getting at the problem from the wrong end? Is technology in the sanctuary really All That?

You'd think with all the gutting of worship tradition that all following Jesus ever meant was showing up for church, and that Church meant getting people in the doors on Sunday morning. I always thought living the faith was what I did with my life the rest of the time, out in the world. Worship was what pulled me back into the tradition of the mothers and fathers, helped me remember, fed me at the Table, grounded me in the mystery.

I'm sad the scramble for growth, money, resources, and relevance has meant the suburban churches in my area are always riding the wave of the Next Big Thing. I've been around long enough to know that there is always a next big thing.

The rush to relevance has left me cold. It's exhausting (no wonder the church heaves a huge sigh during the summer). Think I'll go read Morning Prayer (BCP, p. 75) and have my own church today.

Signed,

Wish You Were Here. 



Thursday, March 14, 2013

You Gotta Have Hope

It's true that all we have is the now. Every moment, lived now, is how we put together a life. Living our mental time too much in the past, or too far into the future, is a sure fire recipe for suffering.

In a previous post I wrote about a few important aspects of changing our body experience in the present: focusing on actions we can take to change our inner world: good nutrition, daily exercise, quieting the mind through prayer, ritual, or meditation, and focusing our time on mutual, healthy relationships.

Here I'd like to talk about the mental attitude of hopefulness, a necessary ingredient to creating a more positive outcome to our efforts toward change.

Have you ever noticed that while you are in that awful process of really being sick with an infection or injury, trying to decide whether to make an appointment or get to an urgent care center, the anxiety about your situation amplifies your suffering? In the same way, I wonder if you have noticed that once you make up your mind to take action, and put yourself in a situation where you can receive medical help, your symptoms begin to subside even before you are examined?

This lessening of anxiety and its effect on our suffering once we are confident we will be helped is known as the placebo effect: the way that hope for change creates an increase in well-being and a lessening of suffering.

That is how powerful the emotional experience of hopefulness is. Part of the therapeutic process, whether in a hospital room or a counseling office, is sustaining hope for change. I believe that human beings can change; I have changed, and continue to work on my own change processes. I have helped many people create their own change, and witnessed healing of heart, mind, and body all my life.

Hope is the confidence that the suffering of the present can be relieved, and that there is a path that can be relied on to attain healing. It is what can carry us through the work of the present to a new future. It's the most necessary mental ingredient I know when taking on the challenge to create something new in our lives.

If you have hope for a different future, you can often endure the suffering of the now, the work necessary to change your circumstance, and launch yourself into a different tomorrow, next week or next year.

Want to change something now? Grab onto your hope for change and don't let go.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Disorders of the Will : Happy New Year?!

On this day when so many of us are glad for the blank sheet of paper, the turn of the calendar, the new year's fresh start, I continue to wonder about how people change. That, after all, is what people are really after when they seek therapy. Some relationship, some turn of mind, a problem beyond their experience to avoid or help draws them to consider the time apart, the confidential help that therapy provides.

After years of reading, debating, writing and anguishing with others about this human problem, I believe that change requires a combination of pain, hope and resources. Personal pain to want to create difference, hope that will pull us forward even when we continue to fail, and the resources that help us act against habit, behavior, will, environment and even genetics. One of those resources is imagination; another, time; yet another, self control.

It's that self control that is such a stinker for us all. And to that point, I was reading an online excerpt today on the NY Times book review from a new book I may have to purchase soon. This paragraph really stood out; it's commenting on why disorders like anorexia or ADHD are such common diagnoses now. We have such a wide-open, tolerant culture, that restraints against human desire are fewer and fewer to find:
Maybe this is one reason disorders of the will are so much more common than they used to be. Anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorder, both still relatively rare, are nonetheless much more common today than they were fifty years ago, not to mention the explosive growth of attention deficit disorder and addictions of all kinds. Some of this boom is just more frequent diagnosis, but it also reflects changing circumstances. That it’s now possible to be addicted to cocaine, shopping, or sex is evidence of how far we’ve moved beyond the constraints of budget, custom, and embarrassment. There aren’t many compulsive eaters, video game addicts, or — God knows — anorexics — in sub-Saharan Africa, but in the West men and women can be consumed with almost anything, including not eating, because here you can get or do almost anything. Opportunities for obsession abound. 
          from the new book, "We Have Met the Enemy" by Daniel Akst  (Penguin Press, c. 2011)

So, good luck with those resolutions. One of mine is going to continue to be curious about human will (I think Martin Luther may be right: he wrote that our wills are in bondage....) and what to do about those wills when they stubbornly, dangerously, get us into trouble. Happy New Year!