being

WWJD is the wrong question

When I was a kid I was given a WWJD bracelet. In case you missed this trend, WWJD stood for "What Would Jesus Do?" It was a way to get people to stop and think about what is the action we ought to do - that is what would Jesus do - in a situation. For me it functioned more as a fashion accessory than a Jesus reminder. 

After I wrote this post, I came across  writings from another author . I guess I a not original. 

After I wrote this post, I came across writings from another author. I guess I a not original. 

As I have gotten older it is much harder for me to answer the question WWJD. Frankly I have little idea what Jesus would do in many current situations. Maybe I am the only one, but I have a difficult time imagine what Jesus did much less what he would do. I know how Jesus would respond to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" but only because I have read the story of the Good Samaritan. I am not sure that I would have guessed that if Jesus was asked that question he would have responded by making up a story. 

This leads to the overall problem with WWJD: it leads on to believe that Christianity is primarily a religion of doing things when in fact it is not. Christianity is a religion that is not about doing but about being. And this is where I turn to the desert monastics to help make the point. 

In the introduction of James O. Hannay's book "Wisdom of the Desert", he has this to say about what the desert monastics thought about Christianity's relationship with doing good for others.  

"The hermits were called selfish because they aimed at being good and not being useful. The charge derives its real force from the fact that philanthropy, that is, usefulness to humanity, is our chief conception of what religion is. We appeal to the fact that Christ went about doing good, and we hold that true imitation of Him consists in doing as He did rather than in being as He was. The hermits thought differently. Philanthropy was, in their view, an incidental result, as it were, a by-product of the religious spirit."

WWJD puts philanthropy front and center to the Christian life, but the desert monastics saw philanthropy as a by-product! That is when we try to answer WWJD we are always going to miss the mark. We have no idea what Jesus would do. However, if we stopped trying to guess what Christ would do and spend our energies being as Christ was then we gain a clarity of how to act in the world.

Jesus prayed in the garden to not die. He would not have chosen to die via the cross. Rather, he stepped away from what to do and sought from God how to be. When he was grounded on how to be, what to do was clear. It was not easy, but it was clear.

 

To make didgeridoo players for the transformation of the world

I have no idea how to play the didgeridoo. Until recently I had no clue on what this instrument really even sounded like. But thanks to "Fingers" Mitchel Cullen I know how great the didgeridoo can sound. Take a listen to this video below and prepare for your mind to expand: (Be the way, they call him "Fingers" because of how quickly he plays the guitar)

Now that you have heard him play, I bet you feel qualified to make more didgeridoo players. What if I were to unite you with other people who also liked the didgeridoo and asked your community to make more didgeridoo players. I am willing to bet the first thing this new community must know how to do is actually know how to play the didgeridoo! 

It is darn near impossible to learn to play the didgeridoo by just hearing it. You have to practice it. And when you practice it, you can make beautiful and interesting music, so much so that you may very well inspire others to want to learn to play the didgeridoo. 

It all begins by letting go of focusing on making didgeridoo players and instead focus on being a didgeridoo player. 

On a separate but related note, the mission statement of the United Methodist Church is to "Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." 

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Di...

The Human Being is on the Endangered Species List

In case we all have forgotten, we are all human beings. By that I mean not only that we are all created in the image of God and should therefore endowed with rights and anytime those rights are violated it is an injustice for all. 

It also means that we are human beings as opposed to human doings

As much as we value productivity, efficiency and mastering skills in order to "crush it" in life, these values drown out the value of being. And human being is in jeopardy of extinction to be killed off by the human doing. 

We do not value those things that are not instantly productive - such as taking a class on Shakespeare if you "know" you are going into business. We do not value the face to face time that we once enjoyed because it takes too long to get to the point in a conversation when we can just send texts and exchange data. We do not value sitting and being still, and when you do you are either sick, inefficient or lazy.

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But we are not robots fueled by solar power. We have to take time to rest and recharge - but even that is too much being for us. And so we take our food to go, we answer email while sitting at a stop light, we check instagram when we are in like to get meat at the grocery store (assuming we don't order our groceries online). All of this makes us feel guilty when we step back into being. Guilt follows us everywhere we go tellus us that we are either growing or dying, that we need to work hard in order to prove that we are valuable or at the very least not a slacking freeloader. 

For as much as we need human doings in the world, we need that many human beings. You are more than a doing (like a robot or a computer or a car) you are a being.

Help save the human being