When nostalgia isn’t helpful

“In nostalgia, one sacrifices the present and the possibility of the future as one squats in the past. Nostalgia implies that God is present in one moment and not another, or more perniciously, that one prefers to be in a previous, unlivable moment more than the one God has brought them to now . . .

Our participation in the renewal of all things requires remembering the past. When we remember the past, we let the past portrayal of the future inform our present. In other words, when we look to the past, we re-view the present and our world in light of the future. This affects our perception of and action in the present . . .

Christians are called to remember the past, not to live in it. A follower of Jesus is not nostalgic. We do not turn to the past to reencounter or remedy a personal wound like some do in nostalgia. Rather, we turn to the past in order to reencounter healing and reconciliation with the goal of remedying the wounds of others here and now. Incarnational remembrance is sacrificial, not selfish. It minds the past to draw on it; it does not fill the mind with the past in order to reenact or relive it. Incarnational remembrance renews, it doesn’t relive.”
–Kyle David Bennett

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On the pursuit of control

“For more than five hundred years, Western culture has been shaped by the dream of achieving control of an allegedly purposeless nature. But many contemporary thinkers believe that such confidence is waning. Secularized science displaced God in the hopes of achieving human control over all things. But what happens when those scientific systems (including scientific approaches to economic well-being) fail to achieve the levels of control we expect?
Some of our unbelieving contemporaries are beginning to realize that the modern project of comprehensive control may not be possible. Such a realization may drive them to despair, but only because they continue to assume that, if we aren’t in control in this chaotic cosmos, then everything is pointless and doomed. But creation is not meaningless, and we are not called to complete control. As Paul reminds us at the end of Romans 11, there is a purpose being worked out in creation and in history, a purpose that we are not able to comprehend fully. We should be grateful that many people have a dawning sense of losing control; it may be the first step toward personal and cultural repentance.” –Ken Myers

Remember, My Dear

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Remember, my dear, to unfurrow your brow at least more

than half the time, that for all the liberties we fight for

in this world that we insist ought to be just, we should not

forget the right to refuse the oppressive accusation of anxiety.

 

Let the doggone proverbial other shoe drop wherever it may,

but for heaven’s sake let us not hinder the peace that passes

understanding from descending like a deluge where it will.

 

Remember, my dear, the children so carefree they might as

well be living in another world. Remember how we were

children once, more in touch with our preciousness and yet

never hounded by the compulsion, like a dictator, to retain the

status by our performances and endless, vicious, unspoken

comparisons. Who knows when we will become children again?

 

Remember that vengeance is not ours, and yet still that

those who succeed in injustice will not persist, and those who

persist in it will not succeed. That though we work our

butts off precariously toeing the line between drudgery and

insanity, somewhere beyond the horizon is a home cozier

than even a hobbit’s in the Shire.

 

Somewhere farther than we know (but for all we know,

in a sense closer than our own heartbeats), there is a rest

beneath the rest.

 

Remember, my dear, that at the center of the universe,

no matter how hidden it may be—obscured by our unholy

strivings or numbed by our cherished scars—is a face

acquainted with our troubles, but wearing not a frown

nor a smirk but a smile.

 

 

(March 2016, pace Frederick Buechner, Tim Keller, & Loren Eisely)

Making a business out of restraining people’s wants

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A couple of weeks ago, I had a good long chat with a friend who used to be a housemate and who is now engaged in his own business. I was encouraged by his stories of challenge and keeping the faith, as well as his interest in exploring technology to serve real needs, particularly around mobile apps, website development to support local services, and similar opportunities.

I hope this article from Fast Company would inspire him to continue looking for good ideas and have the resolve to turn them to reality. Here’s to you!

People need help saving themselves from themselves, and that presents a business opportunity. What if payroll companies offered “contingent paychecks,” dispersing your earnings only if you met the conditions you’d specified (e.g., taking four hours of Spanish lessons or watching Schindler’s List)? Or imagine that someone set up a national Opt Out of Fat registry, and if you signed up, restaurants would deny your requests for nachos and grocery stores would refuse to scan your Oreos. Might people pay for that?

We admit these ideas are a bit far-fetched and perhaps likely to end in bloodshed. But Milkman has offered more practical suggestions, such as cleverly bundling wants and shoulds. For instance, exercising is a should, so what if your gym offered to receive your magazine subscriptions? That way, to read the new Vanity Fair (a want), you’d have to drop by the gym. Or what if Blockbuster offered you a free tub of popcorn (a want) for every documentary (a should) that you rented?

It’s a compelling idea: Might the future of business lie in encouraging shoulds rather than indulging wants? Could corporations help us bring out our better selves? We hope so. But let’s face it — our wants are powerful and stubborn. Cheetos will not go quietly into the night.

Richard Swenson on Balance

Sobering thoughts from the book In Search of Balance by Richard Swenson:

“People with great gifts are easy to find,” Emerson wrote, “but symmetrical and balanced ones, never.” I wonder if we need more “great gifts” today, or if we need more grace? Where are the symmetrical, balanced people who are great because they have the time and energy to be kind?

The hunger of our day is not for inner-demon-driven, all-stress-all-the-time, switching-focus-at-lightning-speed, constant-rebalancing workaholism—we already have literally millions of twitching rascals with prodigious productivity racing faster than photons. We have enough stuff, we have enough speed, we have plenty of progress, and we especially have a superabundance of more. But will you permit me to inquire about the status of our truth, love, faith, relationships, health, joy, depth, and peace?

What corridor do we choose if we wish to rediscover the green pastures and still waters? What set of priorities will point us in that direction?

Balance is not the Kingdom, but if our priorities lie in that direction, balance can help us sustain our focus all the way Home.