What is normal? In a statement about the contigencies of human life in his lecture "Learning in a Time of War," C. S. Lewis noted how World War II did not change everything. Rather, the war "simply aggravated the permanent human situation so that it could no longer be ignored." "Human life," Lewis wrote, "is always lived on the edge of the precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself...we are mistaken when we compare war with 'normal life.' Life has never been normal."
I found this quote in the book The Republic of Grace: Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times by Charles Matthews of the University of Virginia. The book is a meditation on Augustine's thought in light of current political and cultural trends. The quote is a reminder about how we can easily get sucked into thinking how much things "change" (a word in constant usage since 9/11) when, in fact, many things have not changed: as Lewis states, we live our lives, whether we want to admit it or not, on the edge of the precipice all the time. We simply don't want to recognize it. War and terror only bring this point into acute awareness.
The gospel, on the other hand, as Matthews and Lewis go on to state, reveals our true condition and provides the courage for facing our "willed blindness," giving us hope for the living of these days. Fear does not have to dominate our response to the challenges that will inevitably come our way. Hope can have the last word.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The following quote by Anthony De Mello has been a favorite for some time: "A neurotic is someone who worries about things in the past that never happened. Not like us normal people who only worry about things in the future that won't happen."
Enjoy and ponder!
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Here is a book I have enjoyed reading as the girls have taken to the pitch this fall: Soccer and Philosophy: Beautiful Thoughts on the Beautiful Game. It is a book with all kinds of insights on the game of soccer and its relation to philosophy. One chapter in particular speaks to the importance that passion makes when it comes to playing this game. The author, A. Minh Nguyen of Eastern Kentucky University, contends that what makes a team great is not luck or talent per se, or chemistry or discipline per se, or team chemistry or coaching per se. Rather, what makes a team great is passion: that special power of the heart that enables teams to stand the heat and show the world what truly matters (p. 265). It is passion that animates the will and arouses the feeling of intensity to succeed. As Nguyen goes on to suggest, it is passion that made the difference in helping the FC Barcelona Team of 2009 take such great trides and become one of the great club teams in European history.
I can't help but notice some parallels here with ministry and mission. We speak of "passionate worship," of course, and the importance of passion for discipleship. Passion is what can make the difference between good and great, and it can provide the kind of heart it takes for making the difference Christ calls us to make. Without a sense of passion we can too easily lose sight of what truly matters, of what truly is important. The question is, How can we demonstrate passion and become the kind of servants Christ calls us to be? How can we go from good to great with passion?