Wednesday, August 31, 2011

To Stop and Think, Not Click and Link

Copyright © 2011 by Chris R. Glaser. All rights reserved.

On the occasion of passing the milestones of having had 10,000 hits (not including the 135 weekly subscribers) and six months of weekly blogging, I offer some thoughts about why I am doing this.

The artist who designed my website mentioned when helping me set up this blog site that she used the internet primarily for information, not contemplation, though she became my first subscriber. Probably most people use the internet for information, social and professional networking, their work, arts and entertainment, shopping, and, according to a recent study, a lot of pornography.

A fellow blogger who has encouraged me from the start and given me much useful counsel recently advised me to provide links in my posts. He was absolutely right about a post quoting a New York Times article, and right about the advantage of reciprocity (a link working both ways). But, as I told him, my purpose for this “contemplative blog” is to encourage readers to stop and think, not click and link. This goes against the grain of our ADHD cultural mindset.

Teresa of Avila warned against exchanging “the language of tranquility” for “the language of the world.” “Out goes peace and quiet for the soul and in comes a wearying restlessness,” she wrote in The Way of Perfection. And yet the sentence that follows suggests Teresa may have done quite well in our computer-driven, internet/Facebook/Twitter/texting age: “I only wish I could write with both of my hands, so I wouldn’t forget one thing while I’m writing down another!”

I began this blog partly because someone in publishing told me that there is no market for devotional materials among progressive Christians. I was told the same thing when I began writing prayers and meditations for the LGBT community, but have since published three such books that have enjoyed multiple printings, one of which has been translated into Spanish and now, on a daily basis, into Estonian. I’ve written two additional books of meditations for the general public, one of which is also available in Spanish.

My spiritual discipline of morning prayer has been encouraged by using contemporary and not so contemporary devotionals, so these ventures have been my way of encouraging others to do the same. Beginning my morning reflecting on the larger picture and greater purpose of life anchors me, as well as prompting mindfulness of those I will meet and things I will do that day.

I chose a weekly rather than daily format because I doubt anyone would want to hear from me every day! And because there is a plethora of “Monday morning” meditations available on the web, I chose “hump day”—Wednesday—as a good time to take a break and reflect. I’m glad and grateful that so many of you have joined me along the way. Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. Good Morning!
    Mr. Raven referred you to me. I read several blogs, and he thought I would enjoy yours. At first glance it looks lovely and I like your style and thoughts. I will be back!

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  2. I'm a former Pentecostal turned progressive Christian in a very progressive, expansive-language UCC congregation who has read you in the past and was delighted to find your blog a few weeks ago.

    Can you say more about your morning prayer resources? I'm an oblate inquirer at a rather progressive Catholic women's monastery. One of the things an oblate should try to do is morning and evening prayer.

    I think I'm still trying to find progressive, expansive language morning prayer that works for me. Perhaps the publishing industry doesn't think there is a market for progressive devotional materials but it means that there is precious little of it out there. Maybe it's not selling because it isn't being produced.

    Part of my morning and evening prayer includes praying the Psalms. Many days I argue with them but usually I am able to put them in context. I'm not battling with neighbors, tribes, etc. like the psalmist but there are other things in my life that are interfering with my relationship with God, like procastination, complacency, etc. I sit with God and consider how to overcome my own enemies, which seem to be within myself.

    Still, I'm interested in your devotional resources. Perhaps you should consider Daily Office of and for GLBT people and include words from GLBT people of faith and those sexually marginalized in Scripture and history.

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  3. Thanks, Ur-spo and Sam!

    Sam, you may already be familiar with my 365-day devotional for LGBT Christians entitled "The Word Is Out" each day of which begins with a scripture upon which I reflect and ends with a short prayer. There is also my Advent through Easter devotional called "Reformation of the Heart" written from a gay perspective, as well as my book of prayers "Coming Out to God." For a general audience I've written "Henri's Mantle: 100 Meditations on Nouwen's Legacy" and "Communion of Life: Meditations for the New Millennium." For a general Christian audience, I found devotionals by J. Barrie Shepherd (including one on the psalms)very helpful. I have also used each of Henri J.M. Nouwen's books, especially "The Inner Voice of Love." And in a previous post I mentioned Harry Emerson Fosdick's "Dear Mr. Brown: Letters to a Person Perplexed about Religion," which is dated but demonstrates we're doing nothing new. And of course I love Kathleen Norris's books, such as "Amazing Grace" and "The Cloister Walk."

    Presently I am using "A Little Daily Wisdom: Christian Women Mystics" ed. by Carmen Acevedo Butcher(in which I discovered the quote I used in today's post) and I'm revisiting my own "The Word Is Out," which I'm pleased to discover holds up well.

    I have many more books I could recommend, but this is a start.

    During my morning prayer, I often am using three sources (one is usually scripture). I read them and think about them, especially in relation to one another. Often a single phrase is worth meditating on, as to how it is true in my own life. I thank God for the writers, then pray for anyone with whom I may be having difficulty, then pray blessings on a mental list of people,including people I will see that day, from repair persons to friends. Then I lift details of my day's schedule in prayer and always close with the Lord's prayer, the words of which take on different meanings, given the circumstances. The important thing for me is not to hurry this time, but, as Nouwen has suggested, even "waste time" in what I believe to be God's presence and unconditional love to be found everywhere.

    Thanks for writing!

    warmly,
    Chris

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