Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Highlights and Thoughts Provoked from Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith, In Random Form of Course

I wanted to try something new. I read a lot, and I always take notes. I'd love to share some of the points that really stuck out to me, some of the things that I'm still chewing on because of this book.

I'm going to try to paraphrase some of these things. I don't think posting these few quotes from the book will diminish the overall reading experience. The book is really about a journey. I don't think you can even say that it's about a journey to faith. The conclusion is really left to the reader in that respect. It's more like a journey through certain revelations for the author.

Most of these lessons I'm about to list are actually from Mitch's rabbi, The Reb.

  • Things that grow slowly are more formidable. Things that grow quickly, crumble easily.
  • If you're going to lead or teach people spiritually, there is no room for cynicism.
  • Life holds a lot more hope when we believe God has chosen to answer our prayers negatively instead of believing He isn't out there listening in the first place, especially when sudden death or illness is concerned. I have atheist friends, and I wonder how they feel about things like this. If life is pointless. We're here by accident for no real reason. We die, and it's done, then how much more pointless is all this suffering?
  • "The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within." Mohandas Gandhi
  • Olam Habah - the world to come. This sticks out to me because I recently read an argument that the Christian faith is a faith mainly concerned with the future. It's not about what we are, but what we're becoming. That's not to say that we sit back and let the future unfold, or that we're in any way responsible for creating the final outcome. By participating now, we're becoming now.
  • The creation story that Judeo Christian traditions follow does not mention the word 'bad.' God did not create bad things. I study the creation story regularly, and this never occurred to me. I think he's talking about inherent goodness or badness here. We all have this choice. We weren't made bad.
  • When you worry about God's judgement, you shouldn't worry about you versus the other guy. You should worry about God measuring you against you - how far you've come compared to where you were.
  • Start any reconciliation with humility, "I've thought things over, and in some ways, you might be right." Even if you don't believe it. From my experience, this is great advice. I've often been labeled a diplomatic guy. I've helped facilitated a few reconciliations in my day, and I can tell you, humble keeps people listening. Anger does not.
  • The take away from the book: Even if you're not actively seeking a faith, God, etc… if you know people that are obviously enamored with God, try to take some time to have a conversation with these people. You might walk away experiencing something beautiful. Ask them some tough questions.
  • I'm starting a file of my own, titled simply, "God."

Other Random Thoughts, Non-book Related:
  • Sorry salespeople out there, I hate the phrase, "It's a No Brainer." What it implies to me is, don't even bother thinking about all the angles. Just go for it. Living in this economy, no brainers often lead to more jobs for repo men.
  • What's acceptable to wear after Labor Day? How about clothes? Don't we have enough to concern ourselves with already without worrying about whether or not white is acceptable? And Acceptable to whom?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Random Stuff on God, Faith, and My Kids

  • If you were to start a file titled 'God,' what would you put in it?
  • I should write a sermon on that one. Would you guys read my sermons?
  • Have you ever had a week that seems to have a theme, like God is shouting something at you? For about a week now, my theme, the word that keeps being repeated over and over again in differing forms is: ritual.
  • I'm reading more than one book right now. One is about the ways that we should approach Bible study. The other is about finding faith. They're actually, on the surface at least, oceans away from one another. One is more instructional. The other is more of a memior. They're both bringing me back to this idea of ritual, or habit.
  • My own local pastor mentioned something very similar in his sermon last Sunday. He was talking more about habits that keep you growing spiritually, but to me, that's the same thing. Here's a link to that sermon - click here.
  • Ritual. Ritual. Ritual.
  • In the more memoir oriented book, the author asks a great question: If you wanted to connect yourself to anyone in the past through ritual, who would it be? Would it be a group? The idea being, you would mimic their behavior or rituals in hopes of seeing some truth that they obviously knew. In a way, ritual can be like time travel, you can connect with people that are no longer among the living.
  • Ponder that for a month.
  • In the same book, the author stopped running from God around the year 2000, the basic same timeline that I stopped running from God.
  • Thinking this over, it's staggering to think about where I was then, at the beginning of faith, and where I am now. How many books have I read on the subject since then? How many articles? Not to mention all the things that have come and gone in my life: A house, two kids, a dream job gained and lost, a community of people I'm now connected with, friends come and gone.
  • Staggering.
  • The other book, the one that's just trying to lead to a more open minded reading of Scripture, it's a dense book. Full of tons of ideas and tangents, but they're all great fun and somewhat revelatory. It's hard to put down, but full of things that I could ponder for hours and hours on their own.
  • One of the big ideas I think the author is trying to get at is the idea that we should take care not to make more of the Bible than we do God. Don't let the Bible itself become an idol to the point that we ignore what we know about God.
  • If we know and experience God in a positive, loving way, why are we so easily convinced that God isn't loving when we encounter Scripture that appears to portray him as less so?
  • He highly recommends further study, especially in regards to context, history, culture, and even possible problems with translation errors when we're talking about the English language.
  • None of this is exactly new to me, but he does have some amazing illustrations that he uses to make his points.
  • If curiosity has gotten the better of you, the authors I'm currently reading are Peter Gomes and Mitch Albom - again, in many ways, oceans apart. The books, The Good Book, Reading with Mind and Heart and Have a Little Fatih, A True Story. The latter is available right now at a local, going out of business, Borders store near you at a very reasonable price.
  • I've gotten back in to some of my rituals this week.
  • I may do another random post soon based on the Albom book. I'm only about a quarter of the way through the Gomes tomes, they're going to be a while.
  • I like to face my fears. I don't want my life to be ruled by fear. Here's the thing though… I'm terrified of whales. I don't think I can face that fear. They're down there in the deep, big enough to swallow a person whole.
  • My kids ask for broccoli when we're grocery shopping. I'm proud, but it's also weird. I'm sure it's our fault too.
  • Has anyone else experienced this? We've bought about a hundred ink pens in the past two years. Do you think I can ever find one? My kids love to draw, so they're always snatching the pens, but what are they doing with them? Are they somehow falling into the foundation of my house? Is the upholstery of our couch packed with pens?