Month: January 2014

The War We Ignore

A young single father hustles for work. His long story packed into a relatively young life betrays his optimistic demeanor. Hear him describe some of his experiences and it is not hard to admire his determination.

Recently the hustle slowed. The normal avenues through which he was accustomed to paying the bills diminished. Rather than blame an economy or the weather, he got creative. I do not know what trekked thorough his mind as he was assessing his options. One thing is certain he intended to take care of himself and his young daughter, a sweet little girl who seems unaware of the precarious nature of her own existence.

The chosen means to pay bills came rather by surprise. An old hobby of sorts has proven a workable remedy to the slow season for his other sources of income.

We talked before the New Year. He told me how he had decided to give his new venture a try. To his surprise he said, “I sold enough to pay the bills.” Yes, it is legal. Once we discovered what it was we opened up something of a new “market.” Eagerly he aims both to please by assessing customer satisfaction and creatively diversifying his product. I confess to admiration.

This morning I was reading a linked to piece that was posted with a certain air of criticism. As if the systems in which we participate and blinding support are not in some way culpable. Those in the piece found life’s difficulties on a different level but shared a common thread. The way the world is working at present illustrates that desperation is the mother of invention. Rather than critique the details of the posted story I compared the content with the story of the young single father with a young girl. The two groups, if you allow the single father to represent a group, which he does, face the uncertainties of life with an interest to accomplish an internal aim. One group wants to get a college degree that is increasingly difficult to pay for and the other wants to provide the sorts of things young girls long for and see others enjoy while possessing very limited resources.

Common to both groups is their appearance  in an era where it is nearly universally agreed that the number of those with less and less is on the increase while at the same time those with more and more grows. Often our means to address the issue is to appeal to individuality. Work harder. Work better. Maybe one day you too may catch a break. But, what if we stopped long enough to pay attention to those who shout that we are interconnected – and not simply by virtue of inhabiting planet earth in 2014? What if we reconfigured how important others are? Not just talk about it but advocate for it.

The obstacle is our own comfort. Our own satisfaction. It is here I think those who claim Jesus should also claim his way. I read where a high profile former pastor suggested that Christians need to spend more time pointing people to individual experiences of salvation rather than be too involved in chafing the world. The logic is often used that if you want to see change in the world, change people. However, what often happens is that those saved people simply alter their individual perspective. Sanctify selfishness.

When we opt for a high individualism we inadvertently choose low community. The consequence is a loss of interconnectedness. We lose the war agains the very systems, structures, and practices that cheapen humanity in favor of what maintains our individual preferences. There is no dying to self. Or, as was described in today’s Daily Dig,

Daily Dig for January 14

Charles Moore:

It is hard to live consistently, but it is essential if we are to make our world a less violent place. If we are honest, most of us aren’t very willing to give up the good life we enjoy. Consequently, we keep on fueling the very fires of war we wish to extinguish. We want to own what we have, enjoy our creature comforts, maintain our autonomy and modes of mobility, and make sure our bottom line is secure, even when the rest of the world suffers because of it. Why do we war as we do?

Source: “Waging Peace”

 

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Cancer and Theology – Essays In Theologies

Angela was the first. She was not the first I knew with cancer but she was the first I knew while serving a local church. A tumor invaded her abdomen and despite radical treatment she left a husband and two young children. That was more than 25 years ago.

Early on you learn to mimic what you hear said in these very difficult circumstances. After all most of the time one struggles to find the words, any words, that would sound helpful.

It may seem odd that a pastor would suggest it a struggle to find the right words. After all, our vocation is about words. Sometimes we use too many words.

When the memorials and funerals have passed we are left thinking about our words. I have winced a time or two as I replay conversations with family members of those who suffered with cancer. It is not that I chose my size 11 shoes to nibble but that in those quiet reflective moments where you think theologically about what was said, you think to yourself, “Did I really say that? I know what I meant and I am confident I did not convey what I hoped.”

cancerandtheoI thought about those I have known who suffered from cancer and those who live with the threat of its return as I read Cancer and Theology. I recall conversations with family members in the aftermath of both long endurances and short sudden losses. My conclusion is that Jake and Erik have gifted the church, those who face life’s arbitraries trusting in a real God that does real things in the world, with a book of 16 essays offering different theologies of cancer. That’s right, theologies.

Jake does not intend his journey with cancer to be the centerpiece for this project. But that he understands the need and value for a conversation about cancer and theology was apparent long before he invited the included reflections. Jake chronicled his journey in word and video. It may be odd to read but we are the richer for it.

Cancer courses through life with very few predictable elements. One size does not fit all. Our responses most assuredly are as varied as the types of cancers themselves. You will find that apparent as you read the diverse essays.

Click over and purchase a copy of Cancer and Theology. You will be challenged as you read. And, you part of the proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Jake sent me a copy to read. We have had virtual connections for some time. He did not require a review. I gave one anyway.

Thank you Jake and Erik for the fruits of your project.

The Media Thought OU Would Ride In On a Scooter – Instead It Was A Schooner

Many Okies touted bravely that our beloved Sooners would represent in the Sugar Bowl. Privately many of us doubted. The media had us believing we were riding into Bayou Country on a scooter. No way the Sooners could stop the Tide from rolling. McCarron was too good. The Tide D was too stout.

Vegas made money on those who bought the schtick. But, we made it to Aspen!

Instead of the scooter it was a Schooner!

Jim Carey Meets the Sugar Bowl or, How Paul Littleton Views the Matchup

Later this evening the Sooners will play the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. I am not making any predictions except that my brother Paul’s Facebook Page may blow up about 10:30 p.m. CST. Many an Alabama fan will race over to ask what was he thinking when he suggested Alabama give up yesterday.

We are indeed Sooner fans – we Littletons. It does apply that we are Sooner born and Sooner bred and when we die we will be Sooner dead. But, most of us like to temper our enthusiasm with a little rationality. The truth is I did not give the Sooners much of a chance to beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys. But as someone put it, “This is Bedlam.” I was happy with the outcome. I will be cheering the Black and Orange tomorrow evening when they play Mizzou in the Cotton Bowl.

For now I leave you with what must have inspired Paul to go all in with rollicking, inciting posts about the beat down OU will put on Alabama tonight. By the way, I hop he is right. I just think he has gone a little Jim Carey on us.

If Only We Were Persecuted

The Duck Commander dustup inspired impassioned pleas to stand against Christian persecution. Rights became, and still are, the grounding of many arguments. But, what if the Church, and so Christians, were really persecuted. I mean to say what if our actions brought on the sort of scandal and persecution described by Oscar Romero,

romerodailydigjan2

We seem more intent to protect our Christians celebrity assets than anything else. We would be better off being scandalized for our investment and friendships in the very places Jesus’ actions brought on scorn and rejection.