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Dec 01 2012

ClergySpirit: Do a Fly Over Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Original post at http://www.clergyspirit.org/2012/12/we-can-fly-over-stinkin-thinkin.html


Honk! Honk!
In the days when folks were free to smoke everywhere, the most difficult person to be with was not necessarily a smoker but the former one. Did you ever hear one complain about those irritating smokers clogging everyone's lungs?

It's similar to a new religious convert who believes he was wrong about everything before he saw the light. Now, he's suddenly right about everything.      

The "dry drunk" as known in AA, is the one who thinks and can even behave like the worst addict, but is abstinent. The pain brought on by  all-or-nothing thinking can be so tortuous that another cycle of abuse- or the creation of substitute addictions- easily begins. Too, the ceaseless judgmental and condemnatory attitudes and behaviors can drive others to drink, or just run away.  

Some compare the "first stepper" dry alcoholic to a Christian who never goes beyond conformity to the expectations of others. Well- explained by Richard Rohr in Breathing Under Water,  The result is a sacrificial, elder brother religion, driven by resentment and unhappiness- with God, others, and self. The deeper experiences in the classic stages of prayer and faith, such as purgation, illumination, and union, have to be set aside to keep appearances.

Not being able to serve two masters, professional clergy can easily sacrifice genuine spirituality for something that looks good instead. And while looking the part has its rewards, one of them is not progress in loving God and others God has given you to love. Matthew 6:1-18  The Apostle Paul knew that growth in love was the best fruit of our spiritual life, and even if we sacrifice our lives in martyrdom, if not rooted in love, there is no spiritual benefit for anyone, including ourselves. I Cor. 13:3
             
Brown Barr, who wrote his reflections on ministry in High Flying Geese, maintained that it would be a new day for all of us if we could stop asking what was right or wrong, good or bad. He suggested we try to make moral decisions by what is beautiful or ugly. Using aesthetics to inform our ethics provides a vision for the beautiful as God intends our life and all creation to be.        

The truest and best gifts are also beautiful: faith, hope, love, gratitude, joy, peace, gentleness, compassion. And these gifts- virtues- come about as we continue on the journey toward freedom, wherever we are on that road. And "focus your thoughts" on all that is holy, just, pure, lovely. God's peace will be yours. (Philippians 4:8-9, CEB)      

 


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Scott Endress

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