Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sacred cows pt.2

Have you noticed how some people are affected by our sacred cows (methods of evangelism, prosperity message, etc...) Consider a portion of I Take My Chances by Mary Chapin Carpenter from one of my all-time favorite albums, Come On, Come On:
I take my chances, I don't mind working without a net
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

I sat alone in the dark one night, tuning in by remote
I found a preacher who spoke of the light but there was brimstone in his throat
He'd show me the way according to him in return for my personal check
I flipped my channel back to CNN and I lit another cigarette

I take my chances, forgiveness doesn't come with a debt
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

I've crossed lines of words and wire and both have cut me deep
I've been frozen out and I've been on fire and the tears are mine to weep
Now I can cry until I laugh and laugh until I cry
So cut the deck right in half, I'll play from either side

In Richard Foster's discussion of Formation Prayer (Prayer, Finding the Heart's True Home pp.60,61), he describes the active pursuit of humility. After all formation has to do with conformity to Christlikeness, so could it be that there is an antidote to some of our sacred cows that has to do with humility? He says: simple terms, humility means to live as close to the truth as possible; the truth about ourselves, the truth about others, the truth about the world in which we live...
It does not mean groveling or finding the worst possible things to say about ourselves. Humility is in fact, filled with power to bring forth life. The word itself comes from the Latin humus, which means fertile ground. "Humility," writes Anthony Bloom, "is the situation of the earth." In one sense humility is nothing more than staying close to the earth. The earth, Bloom reminds us, is always with us, always taken for granted, always walked on by everyone. It is the place where we dump our garbage. "It's there", continues Bloom, "silent and accepting everything and in a miraculous way making out of all the refuse new richness...transforming corruption itself into a power of life and a new possibility of creativeness, open to the sunshine, open to the rain, ready to receive any seed we sow and capable of bringing thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundredfold out of every seed." Such is the power of humility.

I want to think more about this power of humility. It sounds like a power for freedom, a power for joy, a power that attracts and makes people curious about the life it enables.


Blogger karl said...

so interesting, the idea of humility/formation. i mostly think of both as an activity i am not doing, vs just being the most truthful or authentic i can.
i will ponder, good stuff....

12:54 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I will talk with you anytime about humility. It has been my active pursuit for over a year. I have found to my surprise, in the fleeting moments that I experience humility I experience immense freedom and strength.

Alas, the fleeting part.

It's interesting that you mention the connection to humus. Lately I have become very interested in "good dirt". In my research, believe it or not, I learned alot about humility and submission for my own good.

There is a perfect design for perfect dirt that just consistently works. The way to get there is just to give in to the original idea. For me, humility is avoiding the urge to improve upon perfection.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Thanks, Karl and Susan. It has seemed to me, too, that humility is more like something that "just happens" as I submit to the idea that things/life are not about ME. Yet, there is an active pursuit described by The Rule of St. Benedict (4th century) in the 12 rungs of the ladder toward humility. By the 11th century spiritual writers were calling this "the 12 steps to humility." that starting to sound familiar--a 12-step program?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I'll have to look up that rule. I keep picking up the St. Bene. book and putting it down. Tough stuff unless you're already free of commitments to family and such.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Found an interesting book that is described as a down-to-earth spiritual adventure, is honest and funny, called Humble Pie: St. Benedict's Ladder of Humility. Check it out here.

10:16 PM  

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