“I want to suggest that the idea of practice holds the key to thinking about how people
with multiphrenic* selves may be able to participate effectively and in a morally responsible way in the civic and economic arenas. The critical issue is not whether people change their minds, even if they do so frequently, and it is not whether they draw inspiration from many different sources, rather than one; It is whether or not they take their spirituality and their moral concerns seriously enough to spend time reflecting on them, deliberating over them, and connecting them with their behavior.
Put simply, practice should not be conceived in opposition to theory, but in contrast with flakiness. Practice is the effort that goes into having good reasons for what one believes and that demonstrates the seriousness of these beliefs by thinking about them and incorporating them into everyday life…” Robert Wuthnow
How do we make disciples? Clearly, Jesus did not say: affirm these facts; do as little harm as you comfortably can; when harm is unavoidable without change take up denial as method so that ignorance is mistaken as innocence; and having all you could reasonably do, you will inherit eternal life. What Jesus did say was, “Follow me.”
The truth is that people are not abandoning the church of their fathers in the face of the demands of Jesus. They are leaving the Church (all of it) because we are not Christian enough! As Richard Rohr puts it, “we don’t need more orthodoxy (right belief) but orthopraxy (right practice). He is right.
That is why at Saint John’s we have taken up the method of Renewal Works. The recommendation of the Renewal Team from their work with the survey data was that as a congregation we engage the Bible as we are not conversant with the sacred text. In response to this recommendation we launched the Saint John’s Reads and Bible challenge. 200 adults pledged to read the scripture every day this year; 80 of that number pledged (signed a card even) to read the entire Bible in a year.
A laser is not different light than your garden variety defused illumination; a laser is light that intensely focused. That focus is geometrically more powerful than dispersed light. What is happening among us is not something novel and new, the Holy Spirit is moving us with subtle elegant nudges: a quickening here, an ah-ha there, a bit of insight tucked just so as the view finder is adjusted a slowly, almost imperceptibility the but in real time with real power. The outward sign and the inward spiritual grace is joy! JWS
*Having multiple identities pieced together from the multiplicity of mediated messages in our environments.