Is Hearing More Important Than Seeing?

“Helen Keller maintained that the gift of hearing was far more important than the gift of sight because hearing allows the gift of speech, and speech allows the nurturing of relationship. language connects us to the heart of others in a way nothing else can.”

This is a quote from “Minute of Margin,” a book by an author that has had a huge impact on my thinking.  My wife and I are currently reading the book together for the second time. It is about overload, burnout, and the peaceful life. Dr. Swenson wrote another book called “Margin” that covered the same general topic. But he turned the content into daily readings for more accessibility. Evidently most of the people that need to hear about rest and margin are too busy to read a whole book on the topic.

Swenson, Richard A. A Minute of Margin: Restoring Balance to Busy Lives. Colorado Springs, CO: NAVPRESS, 2003. Print.

The Blind Condemning The Blind

The Blind Condeming The Blind FB

It is common to look on other cultures, and especially past generations with some disdain. This is almost a requirement for anyone who thinks of themselves as a “modern” person.  We see their flaws so clearly, and congratulate ourselves for our clear vision in areas where they were so blind. How could they have missed it?

But to a thoughtful observer, this experience should be a little terrifying. What if I am not so very different from those barbarians? What if history repeats itself? What if my children will have the same critical thoughts about me that I have about my parents and grandparents? What if my own bias makes me blind to my own moral failings? And above all, what if God sees it all very clearly? Then what?

This was the argument of the Apostle Paul in Romans Chapter 2. He said, “you who condemn another do you not condemn yourself?”  It is too easy to limit the idea of condemnation to moralists.  Our generation readily condemns those guilty of greed, racism, environmental irresponsibility, sexism, etc.  And we do this most readily when looking at past generations. But when we make these kinds of judgments we are unwittingly conceding that there is a standard that transcends generations and cultures. That there is a standard that is not relative, and that applies even when we don’t see it or know it.  And when we are honest, we will have to admit that this law stands over us as well.

CS Lewis ruminated on this 75 years ago:

“If, then, you are ever tempted to think that we modern Western Europeans cannot really be so very bad because we are, comparatively speaking, humane—if, in other words, you think God might be content with us on that ground—ask yourself whether you think God ought to have been content with the cruelty of cruel ages because they excelled in courage or chastity. You will see at once that this is an impossibility. From considering how the cruelty of our ancestors looks to us, you may get some inkling how our softness, worldliness, and timidity would have looked to them, and hence how both must look to God.”

-CS Lewis, from “The Problem of Pain”

Altered photo used by permission from troita_<><  Some Rights Reserved

Prisoners To Our Own Appetites. Now THAT Is A Story

Jail cell

This is an amazing account from Mark Buchanan. It is a strange story that illustrates how we are often prisoners to our own appetites.

“Thomas Costain, in his book The Three Edwards, relates a historical episode from the fourteenth century. Two brothers, Raynald and Edward, fought bitterly. Edward mounted war against Raynald, captured him alive, and imprisoned him in Nieuwkerk Castle.

“But it was no ordinary prison cell. The room was reasonably comfortable. And there was no lock on the door—not a bolt, not a padlock, not a crossbeam. Raynald was free to come or go at will. In fact, it was better than that: Edward promised Raynald full restoration of all rights and titles on a single condition: that he walk out of that room.

“Only Raynald couldn’t. The door was slightly narrower than a typical door. And Raynald was enormously fat. He was swaddled in it. He could not, with all his squeezing and heaving, get himself outside his cell. He might more easily have passed a camel through a needle.

“So in order to walk free and reclaim all he’d lost, he had only to do one thing: lose weight. That would have come easily to most prisoners, with their rations of bread and water.

“It did not come easy to Raynald. Edward had disguised a great cruelty as an act of generosity. Every day, Edward had Raynald served with the richest, sauciest foods, savory and sweet, and ample ale and wine to boot. Raynald ate and ate and grew larger and larger. He spent ten years trapped in an unlocked cell, freed only after Edward’s death. His health was so ruined, he died soon himself.”

Buchanan’s book “The Rest Of God” is delightful and full of great content and excellent writing. It explores something that is oddly missing from many discussions of the Sabbath, the issue of rest.

Buchanan, Mark (2007-03-11). The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (pp. 165-166). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

The Art Of Leaving Things Undone

Noble Art of Leaving Things Undone

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists of the elimination of nonessentials.”

-Chinese author and philosopher Lin Yutang

Maxwell, John C. (2008-11-16). Today Matters: (p. 67). Center Street. Kindle Edition.

One of the Biggest Lies Of Time Management

morning-time-alarm-bell

“Time management has nothing to do with the clock, but everything to do with organizing and controlling your participation in certain events that coordinate with the clock. Einstein understood time management is an oxymoron. It cannot be managed. You can’t save time, lose time, turn back the hands of time or have more time tomorrow than today. Time is unemotional, uncontrolled, unencumbered. It moves forward regardless of circumstances and, in the game of life, creates a level playing field for everyone.”- Myers Barnes

Quoted in: Maxwell, John C. (2008-11-16). Today Matters: (p. 67). Center Street. Kindle Edition.

A New Kind Of War: JFK’s Prophetic Remarks at West Point in 1962

JFK at West Point 1962, forwhattheygave.com

These are some of the remarks that JFK made in 1962 to the graduating class at West Point.  The context was the fight against communism that was raging in Asia. I found this quote in the book “Legend” by Eric Blehm, which tells the story of Roy Benavidez, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. JFK’s words were written in the front of the training manual for the Green Berets.

He points to the fact that America was facing a different kind of war. One with different opponents, different objectives, and different requirements. His remarks were true enough then and he may not have known how much they would describe the evolution of war against extremist forces in the next 50 years.

“This is another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origin–war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat; by infiltration, instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It is a form of warfare uniquely adapted to what has been strangely called “wars of liberation,” to undermine the efforts of new and poor countries to maintain the freedom that they have finally achieved. It preys on economic unrest and ethnic conflicts. It requires in those situations where we must counter it, and these are the kinds of challenges that will be before us in the next decade if freedom is to be saved, a whole new kind of strategy, a wholly different kind of force, and therefore a new and wholly different kind of military training.”

Source: John F. Kennedy: Remarks at West Point to the Graduating Class of the U.S. Military Academy.

Your Anxiety Is Ruining Your Furniture

old chair

A fascinating anecdote from Mark Buchanan about stress and anxiety:

“Anxiety and stress are our number one killers. I heard recently a story about Meyer Friedman, the psychologist who devised the Type A/ Type B personality profiles— where Type B is placid and limber, taking life as it comes, and Type A is two-fisted and bristling, taking life by the horns. Friedman’s initial insight that led to his personality theory came after a discussion with a chair upholsterer. The upholsterer said that most of his business came from replacing the upholstery on the chairs in cardiologists’ offices, the chairs wore first, and quickly, on the front edge. Apparently, heart patients are so impatient that, even while listening to their doctor’s life-threatening diagnosis or lifesaving prescription, they sit taut and restless, poised to flee, chafing at the delay. At the edge of their seats. The very reason their hearts are sick is written in that threadbare upholstery.”

Buchanan, Mark (2007-03-11). The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (pp. 109-110). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Absolute Goodness

Beware

“God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way.”

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

Photo Courtesy of James Quinn. Some rights reserved.

The Owl or the Egg

‘You remember the old puzzle as to whether the owl came from the egg or the egg from the owl. The modern acquiescence in universal evolutionism is a kind of optical illusion, produced by attending exclusively to the owl’s emergence from the egg. We are taught from childhood to notice how the perfect oak grows from the acorn and to forget that the acorn itself was dropped by a perfect oak. We are reminded constantly that the adult human being was an embryo, never that the life of the embryo came from two adult human beings. We love to notice that the express engine of today is the descendant of the “Rocket”; we do not equally remember that the “Rocket” springs not from some even more rudimentary engine, but from something much more perfect and complicated than itself—namely, a man of genius. The obviousness or naturalness which most people seem to find in the idea of emergent evolution thus seems to be a pure hallucination.’

CS Lewis—from “Is Theology Poetry?” (The Weight of Glory)