Thursday, June 26, 2014

From Good to Great... a different take

Jim Collins wrote the management theory classic Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don’t in 2001.  He writes about “Good is the Enemy of Great,” leadership and confronting the brutal facts. There is much insight. 
Ronald Rolheiser in Sacred Fire also takes up the subject of going from good to great. And not surprisingly he takes a different route.  He shares a story of a group of struggling priests coming to terms with the realities and challenges of their vocation.  One priest (pg. 143) offered this image: “I sometimes picture my soul as a mansion with thirty rooms. I had given twenty-seven of them to God, but I had kept three for myself. Conversion for me meant giving up those final three rooms.”
Going from a “good” follower of Christ to a “great" follower of Christ involves negotiating the self-imposed boundaries and borders of our lives.  We play this game with God, which God must find amusing.  And frustrating. For how can we ever truly hide from the One who knows all and who loves us because and regardless of it. 
A beautiful poem by Margaret Halaska is offered to illustrate the point. And our takeaway, for our reflection: God likes what God sees in us, so why do we hold back?


The Father knocks on my door
seeking a home for his son.

Rent is cheap, I say.

I don’t want to rent. I want to buy, says God.

I’m not sure I want to sell,
but you might come in to look around.

I think I will, says God.

I might let you have a room or two.

I like it, says God. I’ll take the two.
You might decide to give me more some day.
I can wait, says God.

I’d like to give you more,
but it’s a bit difficult. I need some space for me.

I know, says God, but I’ll wait. I like what I see.

Hm, maybe I can let you have another room.
I really don’t need that much.

Thanks, says God, I’ll take it. I like what I see.

I’d like to give you the whole house
but I’m not sure…

Think on it, says God. I wouldn’t put you out.
Your house would be mine and my son would live in it.
You’d have more space than you’d ever had before.

I don’t understand at all.

I know, says God, but I can’t tell you about that.
You’ll have to discover it for yourself.
That can only happen if you let me have the whole house.

A bit risky, I say.

Yes, says God, but try me.
I’m not sure—
I’ll let you know.

I can wait, says God. I like what I see.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Read: Another gem by Ronald Rolheiser

Ronald Rolheiser, a Roman Catholic priest and noted author, is one of my "go-to" sources for wisdom.  

Like Richard Rohr, Rolheiser is very attentive to the season of life. He breaks down the three great struggles of our lives:
     Essential discipleship: the struggle to get our lives together
     Mature discipleship: the struggle to give our lives away
     Radical discipleship: the struggle to give our deaths away.  

Having "gotten my life together" in terms of family, career, house/home, my phase in life is undoubtedly in the middle phase. Giving my life away is a daily happening. 

Yet one clear by-product of the mature phase is a certain restlessness, when as Rolheiser writes: this life cannot give us everything for we which we yearn. 

So we live with frustration and restlessness. 

Question: Consider where and how you might be restless in your life?  

More about Sacred Fire
Beloved author Ronald Rolheiser continues his search for an accessible and penetrating Christian spirituality in this highly anticipated follow-up to the contemporary classic, The Holy Longing. With his trademark acuity, wit, and thoughtfulness, Rolheiser shows how identifying and embracing discipleship will lead to new heights of spiritual awareness and maturity.  In this new book, Rolheiser takes us on a journey through the dark night of the senses and of the spirit.  Here, we experience the full gamut of human life, pleasure and fervor, disillusionment and boredom.  But, as Rolheiser explains, when we embrace the struggle and yearning to know God we can experience too a profound re-understanding to our daily lives.

“What lies beyond the essentials, the basics?” Rolheiser writes. “Where do we go once some of the basic questions in our lives have been answered, or at least brought to enough peace that our focus can shift away from ourselves to others? Where do we go once the basic questions in our lives are no longer the restless questions of youthful insecurity and loneliness? Who am I? Who loves me? How will my life turn out? Where do we go once the basic question in life becomes: How can I give my life away more purely, and more meaningfully? How do I live beyond my own heartaches, headaches, and obsessions so as to help make other peoples’ lives more meaningful? The intent of this book is to try to address exactly those questions: How can we live less self- centered, more mature lives? What constitutes deep maturity and how do we reach that place? And, not unimportantly, what constitutes a more adult, Christian discipleship? What constitutes a truly mature following of Jesus?”

In Sacred Fire, Rolheiser’s deeply affecting prose urges us on in pursuit of the most holy of all passions—a deep and lasting intimacy with God. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Not a blog about gun legislation

When my daughter returned from 10 days out of the country in Germany, she asked what had gone on in the news. I said: more shootings. I am literally losing count. A couple at some schools. Police gunned down in Las Vegas. 

This not a blog about the need for tighter gun laws.  Just a call to reclaim our mission as people and communities of faith. Something is going drastically wrong in our nation that is not happening in the same way and in the same numbers in other developed countries. "Moving to Canada" -- the off-hand slogan of protest -- is not an option. 

I agree with the Bishop of Nevada, who writes in his blog: 

Click here to read Bishop's blog

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Why do I think the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl this past week from captivity by the Taliban is a harbinger for an even more complex and troubled end to the war in Afghanistan?

And what is a Christian to think in the echo chamber that is today’s 24-hour news cycle? -- Beyond partisan politics and debates over Rose Garden optics…

Should it matter if Bowe Berghahl walked off his post? Did he? 

Should it matter if he began to question the war? What was his mental state?

Is there a process in place to adjudicate his case and have him answer to potential charges of desertion? 

What was it like to be his parents during this time?  What is like to be parents of others who serve in the military?  How do they feel and what emotions do this all kick up?

Did other soldiers die searching for Bergdahl? 

Why did the military promote him from private to sergeant if they believed he deserted?   

What should we do with prisoners held in Guantanamo?  Will they or can they ever be released?  How should we think of and treat any prisoner?

What are we to think of others help captive around the world that we do not know about?  Praying for the kidnapped school girls in Nigeria…

It seems to me that the more we walk through this recent news event/controversy, it might be a good time to check in with the core values of our faith.

How is God present on our battlefields and in our prisons?

How is God present in parent’s anguish? 

How do we pay for mistakes we make? 

Is reconciliation possible? Ever?  (Yes, but it's not easy) 

As you can see, I have more questions than answers.  And I pray for an end to war, the safety of those who serve in the Armed Forces, and peace around the world.  No small thing. 

Comments welcome.