Thursday, July 19, 2012


After my last post, Lobbie made the following comment about obedience: 
I was listening to NPR interview one of the nuns in the middle of the Catholic Church scandal, and the interviewer asked her what she thought it meant "to obey" since that was one of their covenants. The nun said that "obey" was rooted in the Latin word for "listen." She then talked about the importance of listening to God and the needs of those around you as a part of that obedience. It made a light go on in my head. Even w/in the church we sometimes get confused with the worldly idea of obedience meaning we don't even think about what's being asked-we just do it out of fear or intellectual/emotional laziness. To me that's not really listening, that's the following blindly thing. To listen is to really take in what's being said and try to hear and understand-and that it's a process of understanding/listening that comes in the doing of what we hear being asked. That to me is an essential part of a cooperative community.
I thought that was a beautiful thought when I read it yesterday.

And then today was one of those days where one thing reminds me how many people are giving up on the gospel and another thing reminds me of how easy it is for someone to make a serious mess of their own life and the lives around them once they decide to "free their minds" and throw humility and responsibility out the window.

So today I went back and re-read Lobbie's comment because I needed it. I needed to know that the quiet, insistent vision of a different way of relating is still alive.

And as I read, a verse from Sikh scripture came to my mind:
By listening: dive deep into an ocean of virtue.
By listening: become a true scholar, become a real saint.

By listening: even the blind find the path.
By listening: even things beyond touch can be grasped. 

O Nanak, the faithful are forever in bliss!
By listening, pain and sin are erased.
We need people who live the gospel so that they can teach generations yet to come how to build lives around quiet moments of listening to the divine. People who understand that even in the moment before God appears, the harmony of a simple grove of trees is already sacred. People who treat the food they eat and the hands that prepared it as living messages to be grateful and giving.  

People who: 
Let go of pride.
Let go of resentment.
Let go of the clamor around them.

And listen.


  1. That just made a light go on in my head too. Thanks, James and Lobbie!

  2. Hey, I want to just say thanks for your blog. I ran across it one day when reading a bunch of bloggernacle stuff, and I really appreciate your consistent positive attitude. It's easy to get bogged down with all of the critical, sniping people out there that always assume there's a problem that needs fixing. You've shown me a good way to be thoughtful about the Gospel while always keeping a faith-filled perspective. So thanks.

    1. I was talking with some friends yesterday about how we've become a society of engineers rather than of saints. No offense intended to engineers--I have several in my family and they do important work--but because of their success in so many areas, we seem to assume anything difficult is a design problem: someone ought to fix this!

      The gospel, though, is supposed to change us. So if we treat every difficult part as a problem, we run the risk of wrecking it.

      Another thought:
      When we're talking about a system of interlocking truths and practices as complex as the gospel, it's probably best not to jump in and meddle casually because we've noticed something in our way. We know this about God's physical creation: it would be a serious mistake to raze the rainforest to get rid of a few bugs. When we take hasty action on our limited perspective, our "wisdom of the wise" is likely to be made foolishness.

  3. In the same vein as David above, I am grateful for your blog. I appreciate that you think about the gospel with faith and fearlessness.

  4. This post was a much needed balm after reading that The New Republic essay. Thank you.



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