For my American friends on Thanksgiving today (and indeed for others), here are two very different reflections on gratitude.
The second comes from a tradition very different from my own. Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast claims there is a lot of common ground between Christianity and Buddhism – a view of which I am sceptical.
But gratitude is a big theme of his. He is a co-founder of ANG*L (A Network for Grateful Living) and here is his TED Talk on how gratitude leads to happiness. See what you think.
Whatever you think, may you give thanks to the One who is worthy of all thanksgiving.
I’m not the world’s biggest Seth Godin fan, but this is one of the funniest things I’ve seen on the Internet for ages. It raises questions about what is broken in our lives – and, given the focus of this blog, the church.
- We have a broken understanding of church leadership that still thinks we are in Christendom, and all we have to do is call people back to their latent faith.
- We have a broken understanding of ministry that thinks one person can be apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher and not have the first name ‘Jesus’.
- We have a broken understanding of mission that thinks people will just come and join our club.
- We have a broken understanding of organisation that thinks we can simply transfer secular management theories to the church and all will be well.
Add your own examples …
In the context of the video above, there are people who let these broken things slide, because it’s not their job. There is a lot of ‘I’m not a fish’ around – things designed by people who would never use them.
What a wonderful talk by Kathryn Schulz from TED2011. Essentially, her reasons why we try to maintain we are right amount to various ugly forms of pride. And the Gospel says, that pride needs to be brought low in the humility of saying in confession to God, “I was wrong.” Then, it is God who makes us right – in theological jargon, he ‘justifies’ us.
I would add to that an issue of fear: when we are afraid of how someone might react, we defensively entrench ourselves in our position of ‘rightness’, even when we know in our hearts we are wrong. So how liberating the Gospel is that we can confess our wrongness to a God of grace and mercy. It is the character of God that makes an admission of our wrong more possible.
Then note how right at the end of the talk she links her theme to the rediscovery of wonder. To quote her exact words:
if you really want to rediscover wonder, you need to step outside of that tiny, terrified space of rightness and look around at each other and look out at the vastness and complexity and mystery of the universe and be able to say, “Wow, I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong.”
That’s profound, isn’t it? We don’t get to a true sense of wonder through our own rightness. It involves acknowledging we are wrong – just as major scientific advances often happen not by incremental improvement on previous foundations, but on paradigm shifts from what was previously accepted. In Christian terms, it again goes hand in hand with accepting God’s outlook on things.
Or am I wrong? 🙂
Just found this wonderful video of Eddi Reader singing a song I didn’t know by Si Kahn called ‘What You Do with What You’ve Got’, thanks to an email from Tia Cox on the Boo Hewerdine email discussion group.
There are lyrics here. I loved
It’s not how big your share is
It’s how much you can share
What’s the use of the finest voice if you’ve nothing good to say
UPDATE: WordPress won’t post this video, because it’s not compatible with their ‘shortcodes’. However, click here to see this glorious performance of this beautiful song.
UPDATE #2: Found a version of the video on YouTube, to make it easier for you all …