No Longer Asking How I Want to be Remembered

Photo by  Madison Grooms  on  Unsplash

Today marks what is known in the liturgical calendar as All Saint's Day. It is the day the Church remembers the saints who have died and who continue to teach and guide us even as they are no longer walking among us. Those who have come before us have much to teach us, if we could take the time to listen and see. 

Many of us think about how we want to be remembered when we die. This is a fine question. It forces us to consider the ways we live our lives and the story that people tell about us. It is a social check to encourage people to be kind and generous. You don't want to be remembered as a curmudgeon do you? 

Recently, I heard someone say that they used to ask themselves how they wanted to be remembered, but then something dawned on them. How they want to be remembered is not as interesting compared to the question, "Why do I want to be remembered at all?" 

The question of how we want to be remembered challenges our outward actions, but why we want to be remembered challenges our desires and motivations. It is our desires that drive action, thus our desires need to be examined and vetted.

Why do you want to be remembered at all?


Worship: The Anti-Selfie

So it turns out so far in 2015, there have been 12 deaths resulting from selfie mishaps while there have only been 8 deaths resulting in shark attacks. 

We can roll our eyes at the selfie and think that those who take them are a narcissistic bunch. Maybe that is true, but the way I see it, the selfie is less an expression of narcissism and more an expression of how we in the Western part of the world value the individual.

In the U.S.A., the emphasis on the individual has entered into the mainstream debate almost every time you encounter the news.

  • Does an individual have the right to take a gun anywhere they want to, even in places where guns had historically been banned?

  • Does an individual have a right to privacy?

  • Does an individual have the right to refuse a public office if part of the public office violates the individual’s beliefs?

We see the rights of the individual taken to extreme examples when people walk up to celebrities and take selfies with them, without the permission of the celebrity.

In 2006 TIME Magazine declared that the person of the year was “You”.

The rise of the individual has also brought with it a great number of goods. Women’s suffrage, Voting Rights Act of 1965, freedom to choose where and how to worship, social integration, and personal responsibility are just a few ways we are indebted to individualism.

I am not saying that individualism is good or bad, but rather that if we think that the youngest generations are selfish, entitled or freeloaders because they are somehow inferior as a people we may be missing a critical point here. These expressions of the individual may not reflect a narcissistic generation but a generation that has only expanded on the values of individualism they inherited.

And perhaps because individualism is a dominant value of our time is why we worship.

At the core, worship is the anti-selfie. Corporate worship is one of the last places in the world that is designed to de-center us from our own lives

Everything in worship is a de-centering practice. For instance:

  • you follow a script that you did not write

  • you are invited to sing - in public - when you might not normally do so

  • you do not get to choose the words in the creeds

  • you do not get to choose who preaches

  • you do not get to choose where every dollar we give goes to

  • you don’t get to choose how God will speak to us or what God will say

And perhaps because worship is the “anti-selfie” we see a number of people of all ages who do not like worship. Even the very idea of liking worship still places the the emphasis on personal preferences and not on de-centering oneself.

The very act of corporate worship is counter-cultural in the days of individualism because corporate worship forces us to step down off our individual throne from an hour and de-center ourselves.

Being correct and stuck behind a bus

The school bus was stopped and even though the lights were flashing, the door was not opened and the driver side "stop sign" was not out. It was not clear if the bus was waiting for a student or if there was even a driver at the helm. What was clear was that we were all stopped behind this bus. 

We waited there for a while when the driver between me and the bus threw her hands up in the air and looked in her rearview mirror as if to say, "I don't know what to do. I know the five cars behind me are waiting for me to act, but I don't know what to do!" 

Sensing her angst, I looked right at her. I began to nod my head while I gave her a thumbs up with my right hand and a gesture with my left hand motioning to go around. It was okay. Go around the bus. 

Once she as the lead car was went around the bus we could all see the driver was not on board. I could also see the driver in front of me giving me a thumbs up which I interpreted as "Thanks."

This is what happens when we put being correct over being connected.

Many times we are in our little bubbles isolated from one another and just sort of stuck, not going anywhere. We all know that it is correct to not go around a school bus and so we don't go around the bus. We are correct. Stuck and not going anywhere, but correct.

This is the dilemma that I feel like I am in most days. There are people that are hell bent on being correct. Politicians say they are correct while pointing out others are not correct. Fundamentalists (religious and secular) point out they are correct and argue for others to "look at the facts". The journey after truth is so rampant in our time that, frankly, I grow tired of it. 

We are all think we are correct. We all have our sources that support and validate our positions. We all think others who don't see like us are not correct and they need to be converted. So we argue, debate and yell our points thinking that if only we could convey our correctness (and our correct supports) then others will join us.

When was the last time you were convinced by a debate? When was the last time you were swayed to change your mind when you were in an argument? When was the last time you gave way to the other's point of view and adopted it as your own when there was yelling? 

Frankly, I am much more interested in being connected than being correct. When you seek out connection and when you are connected with others you are at your most influential and it is also, in the greatest bit of irony, the time when you no longer are looking to influence people to your point of view.