31 July 2012

Ignatian guidance

Today we remember Ignatius of Loyola.  As a Spanish officer, he was severely injured while fighting the French.  A cannon ball injured both of his legs.  (If that thing had been a few inches higher—yikes!)  During painful recuperation, he had an awakening of faith.  In time, he founded the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits.

In his handy and very readable book, The Art of Discernment, Stefan Kiechle presents a list of “Ten Guiding Principles of Discernment” drawn from the wisdom of Ignatius.  Here’s a paraphrase of the list:

1.  Stay in touch with reality and what is really going on.  Pay attention to even the small things.
2.  Develop an appropriate internal sense of timing:  do not act in too much haste, but do not drag out decisions either.
3.  Place your thoughts and plans before the critical eyes of your friends.  Seek the advice of wise people.
4.  Listen to what your mind, your heart, and your intuitions tell you.
5.  Be aware that the “evil spirit” often intends to make the decision more complicated than it actually is.  He uses fear.  (By the way, for Ignatius, the “evil spirit” isn’t necessarily the devil or a demon.  It also is an inner disposition or inclination.  It could also be a force in society.)
6.  Do not make a decision when you are immersed in a crisis.
7.  Know your limits; accept and observe them.
8.  Mourn the possibilities you ignored as well as the possibilities you missed.
9.  Jesus should be the norm and image of our lives and decisions.
10.  Once we are involved in the process of making a decision, we will reach a point where we must accept the risks and let go. 

I myself am not a Jesuit, but that sounds like some pretty good guidance.

26 July 2012

natural creation

There is a video featuring Matthew Vines, who is speaking at a Methodist church in Wichita.  He presents what I believe to be a sound Biblically-based theological discussion on the issues that confront him as a gay Christian.  (Including addressing the Genesis creation story.)  The video clocks in at just over an hour, so if that seems to be too long, watch some of it now and some of it later. 

As a person of faith, he understands the need to ground his beliefs in scripture.  As someone who loves the written word and the living Word, I agree.  I suppose I would ask that, even if you staunchly disagree with him, you would at least reconsider your position.  So how about the video?  (There is a link to the transcript at the site.)

23 July 2012

fear not—increase life

“Learning to Live without Fear” is the title of chapter 6 in Beth Tanner’s The Psalms for Today.  She uses Psalm 27 as a case study of how “sin and greed and lack of faith in God and each other” lead to “fear [which] causes us to live reduced lives.” (50, 57)

Why is it important to have faith in God and in each other?  Some would argue that the two contradict each other.  Some would say that having just one of the two is all that’s necessary.  And of course, some see no difference between blind faith and faith that uses its brain.

But what about that other part?  Does fear reduce our lives?  We might think of obvious cases, like phobias—fear of whatever.  We avoid and/or loathe whatever the phobia is about.  Still, in a more fundamental way, can we think of ways in which fear reduces our lives? 

And on the flip side, can we think of ways in which love and (good) faith increase our lives?