We Are Not All in the Same Boat

A friend of mine just shared this with me.  Author unknown:

WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT …

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.

For some that live alone, they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others, it is peace, rest, & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment, some are bringing in more money to their households than when they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

Some families of 4 just received $3400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk, and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking; actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.

Unknown author

 

The Elusive First Person Plural

In the past hard times have united Americans across political parties, ethnicity, and social and economic backgrounds.  For a moment or two after 9/11 “we were all Americans.”

For the last few years our politicians have been trying to create and win blocks of voters through whipping up class envy and feeding resentment.  Now, just when we need it most, we can’t pull together because we really don’t trust each other.

In all his last publications English philosopher Roger Scruton emphasized the importance of the first person plural–that little word “we.”  Who do we mean when we say “we”?

We are told that we are all in this together.  I wonder.  What is the effective range of that “we”?  Who does it include?  All Kentuckians?

Though the church is open for prayer all day long and especially for Morning, Noon and Evening Prayers, I have stopped putting out the sidewalk sign, because I don’t want to attract unnecessary attention, since our leaders have encouraged us to report each other.

As of yesterday Kentucky now has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 242 per 1000.  A statistic like that could inspire a unified response of compassion, but it will likely inspire more blame and animosity and division.

I wonder what it would take to make “Americans” out of all of us again?  Is that even possible?

I heard a new word on NPR the other day: “Science-denialism.”  It’s a recognized condition afflicting those who question anything that is called “scientific.”  But it has also become yet another way we can divide ourselves, and attack and ridicule each other. “You’re not a science-denier, are you?!”

With every person outside our quarantine group a potential threat and/or a potential victim, with tightening circles of trust and expanding circles of suspicion, what is going to become of the first person plural?

Is this a Tower of Babel moment?  Back then, God gave the people such a variety of languages that they could not work together on their grandiose scheme to build a tower to Heaven. Unable to communicate with each other they scattered out over the earth in their language groups.

These days it seems that we really don’t speak the same language anymore; the words we say sound the same but have different meanings.  How often have you given up on a dialog, saying to yourself, “There is no we are going to understand each other”?

What do you think?  Will we scatter peacefully in our language groups like our ancient ancestors, or will we turn against each other, try to force each other to speak our language and obey our rules? Or could we find a common language again and bind together?

Under pressure in the past humans have often found unity in their families and clans.  Today not even blood is enough to unite some families.

Jesus prayed that His people would be one just as He and the Father were one.  We aren’t seeing that among Christians right now.

Perhaps we have not experienced enough pressure to find out who will be there for us when things get really rough.

Who is our “we”?  Who are our “people”?  What’s the glue holding us together?

 

A Responsible Bishop

I highly recommend this article from First Things.

Here are a few paragraphs:

We are living under unprecedented measures of social control. They entail the suspension of public worship, deaths without last rites, burials without funerals. The corporal works of mercy are de facto banned by civil authorities, and certainly by the virtue police who patrol social media.

Meanwhile, when asked about a Tinder-arranged hookup, the nation’s medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, opined: “If you’re willing to take a risk—and you know, everybody has their own tolerance for risks—you could figure out if you want to meet somebody. And it depends on the level of interaction that you want to have.”

We can go to the liquor store and transact for a bottle of Jack Daniels. Depending on our tolerance for risk, we can arrange with strangers for a sexual encounter. But it horrifies the consciences of the Great and the Good that a priest should administer communion.

Gradual Growth or Radical Conversion

I was raised in a revivalistic Christian culture with a strong emphasis on radical conversions and dramatic testimonies.  I often felt left out, having been at least externally a “good boy,” never having fallen into drug addiction or crime, or never having been a slave trader like John Newton, or a member of a street gang.

I knew I needed to change, but as much as I sought a “big experience” to make me an altogether new creature in Christ once and for all, these seemed to elude me. I responded to many evangelistic invitations. I felt that God was calling me, and always felt a little better.  God had heard my prayer and forgiven my sins, but it was nothing like what I heard others describe.  I did have many special moments of real encounter with God during my personal Bible study and prayer, but these tended to be far more gentle than violently transforming.

In my frustration the paradigms of discipleship and “spiritual formation” brought hope.  Gradual change through practicing the spiritual disciplines over time was the key.  I embraced this pathway with the zeal of a convert.  But…  the transformation I craved still eluded me.

The sacramental life of the church adds an essential dimension to the spiritual formation approach. You know I believe in it and practice it.  But there is no denying that God often breaks in and breaks through the gradualist/maintenance modes of discipleship. Folks who have walked the sacramental way faithfully their whole lives often encounter God in a way that goes beyond it all.  I don’t quite know what to make of it except that He knows best and if I keep my heart open and humble, and I show up attentively and walk in the light I have been given, I can trust Him to move as He will.

Most of us prefer things to be gradual, but life has a way of throwing things at us.  You don’t gradually get a cancer diagnosis or the 3 AM phone call.  Sometimes we think we might have seen something coming, but that is usually clearer in hindsight.  Just when we thought everything was moving gradually along, something happens.  Or we become aware that the gradual is not going to work.  There is no gradual solution to this problem, this need.  We say, “This one is going to take a miracle.”

This video approaches this reality from a psychological perspective.  I think you will find it fascinating.  I did.

How Much is a Trillion?

We’ve all seen attempts, like this, to make huge numbers more real with graphic representations.  Like eternity, some things just exceed our capacity to imagine. This may be why we don’t really feel the weight of 6 million Jewish deaths or 10 million or was it 20 million deaths attributed to Stalin and at least that many to Mao. Big numbers.  Ten thousand makes a bigger impact that ten million, not because it is bigger, obviously, but because we can understand and feel it.

I tried to explain to a Kenyan friend that America was (at that time) 10 trillion dollars in debt.  Citizens of developing nations are used to feeling stigmatized by being in hock to the World Bank. Those debts often run into the billions.  It was impossible for her to imagine that her dream destination — the US –was really in trouble financially.  All she knew was that life on the ground in America was infinitely more pleasant than her life in Kenya.  That’s all that mattered.  Trillions in debt was meaningless. (Of course, I know everything is relative–national debt to GDP ratios and all that.)

But what is a trillion?  It helps me to think of it as a million million, that’s 12 zeros.  So if you had a trillion dollars, you could give a million dollars to a million people.  If you had six trillion dollars, well…. you know.  And what if tomorrow you suddenly had four more trillion?  And next month another two?

But it’s not just the largeness of the numbers, it’s the fact that there seems to be a limitless supply.  Somehow another trillion, or four, is always there when we need it. And when it is spoken into existence at a press conference the stock market and our retirement funds jump back to where they are supposed to be.

Where does this money come from?  If there is a limitless supply–and it surely seems there is– then the real question is why is our government being so stingy?  And what are they waiting for?  Why not pay off everyone’s loans–all of them, not just school loans, but credit cards, and mortgages?  Why not provide a minimum income for everyone, and free health care?  You can’t blame people who think this way.  They see how it works.  It just isn’t working for them.

Spiritual Communion

This short video was created by one of the founders and first Archbishop of the ACNA, Robert Duncan.  In it he explains the history and meaning of “spiritual communion,” and ancient practice and understanding of the church concerning how those who are separated from the Eucharist physically may participate and receive the blessing spiritually.

Understanding Anxiety in a System

This funny little video is full of valuable insights about how anxiety works in a system of any kind–family, church, business, school, etc.

Our whole world system — and all the sub-systems that comprise it–has been shaken.  We are in a heightened state of anxiety.  Just look at all the blaming going on.  People under stress always start “sharing” their anxiety.  Often it comes disguised in packages of “concern.”

I think you will enjoy this.  It will make sense of a lot — maybe even all — of what we are seeing in the media and among policy makers.

In Time of Great Sickness and Mortality

Here is a beautiful prayer from the BCP.

O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of grievous sickness, we flee unto thee for succour.  Deliver us, we beseech thee, from our peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the sick; prosper the means made use of for their cure; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain life is, may apply our hearts unto that heavenly wisdom which leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen