Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: January 2016 (page 1 of 2)

The World is Blue: When God is an ill-fitting pair of pants

One day, after skinny jeans made it clear they were here to stay, I went to one of those trendy stores at the mall to invest in a “nice” pair. I tried on several, and after each pair, the sales girl told me, “nope, one size smaller.” (I know! Not where you thought I was going to go with that one, huh?) She kept squeezing me and squeezing me, trying to convince me that these pants would “stretch out” and become comfortable with time.

What she didn’t consider, however, was my need to move around while wearing the pants as they “stretched out.” I needed to be able to actually put them on in the first place, and based on my first experience with the zipper, it simply wasn’t going to happen. Even if she convinced me to buy them and take them home and perhaps remove the tags, the chances of me getting out of the house with them on my person were slim to nil. She didn’t understand that, for a person who had lived in yoga pants for 3 years, the idea of discomfort in the name of fashion was laughable. She could tell me all the wonderful things about these pants, but the fact remained: the pants didn’t fit.

My believing friends, I think when we talk to younger generations about God, we’re trying to sell them an ill-fitting pair of pants.

The more I interact with people who live with belief systems unlike my own – or, very similar to my own but with distinctly different vocabulary and starting points – I realize how we’re missing the point. We have begun to equate our view of the world with another person’s belief in God. 

For instance, dualism, or the three-level existence of the world. (I know, Rob Bell is scary to many people. He’s honest and poetic, issuing warnings around What Ought Not Be and thus banished by the higher-ups who control mainstream Christiandom.  In my understanding, this is the definition of a prophet.) (Boom! Half my audience… gone. Now we can talk without tiptoeing.)

Most Christians ascribe to this three-tiered worldview because it’s the worldview in which our scriptures were written. This is fine. Go ahead. (Honestly. I’m not being judgey here.) I often operate from here, at least as a starting point. Let’s call this seeing the world red. We look out, and everything has a red tint to it. It’s simply the color of our world.

Yet, this is not the way many younger generations see and experience the world. They live in a different reality. They see blue. Often, then, the starting point at discussing such things like God, Jesus, the Bible or religion comes down to a red person trying to convince a blue person that the world is actually red.  “The world is red!” we say. “And in this redness, you find Jesus here, God there, and it all fits together like this!”

And our confused and slightly worried audience says, “buuuuuut… the world is blue. I don’t see any red. Those are blue trees and blue clouds. Blue.”

Option 1, the most common response, is usually: “Well, actually those are red. But you’ll come to understand it and see it that  way once you believe it.”

I’d like to propose Option 2: “Tell me about God in your blue world.”

Because we talk about the Bigness of God, the Everywhereness of God, the Transcendence of God (if you like those big, theological words). We believe in these things, yes? That God is so very in control, mightier-than and Above All else?

So why are we scared of what God is like in a blue world? Can God not live there? Why do we believe God only exists, as we know Him, in a red world? When did we begin to confuse the way in which we experience the world and what we know to be true about God? Those two things have a symbiotic relationship, for sure. But they are not equals.  I believe the God can exist beyond my own understanding.

Truth be known, the blue generation will someday come up against another trend, the youngsters living in an understanding of yellow. We cannot fathom it, because our understanding is so limited to the here and now. But the world is too big and spectacular for me to believe that we have arrived, that All the Things are known, check please. I have higher hopes for my children and their children and the generations beyond the here and now. And I have faith that God will keep showing up, no matter how the world sees itself.

 


 

Next on my reading shelf is Diana Butler Bass’ Grounded: Finding God in the World – A Spiritual Revolution. If you’d like to read along with me, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. We’ll set up a little FB group for discussion! Let me know you’re interested.

Visit me elsewhere:

The Abscess of Fear

I disappeared from the ongoings of society in November while I sat bedside to my husband as he fought off an infection. He went from some sort of bronchitis, to pneumonia, to coughing up blood in the ER with an abscess in his lung.  Now that normalcy has somewhat returned and I’m gazing at the wasteland of social media, I fear that our society is quite likely to be facing a similar scenario if we don’t stop and take a deep breath.

Literally, a deep breath could change things. My nurse-friend told me most pneumonias develop because people stop breathing deep. A deep breath makes them cough, and they don’t like to cough, so they stay shallow. When breath doesn’t move things around in the lungs, then infection festers.

For JJ in particular, this infection made him sick. He started to get better.  He finished the antibiotics, but the infection, the pneumonia, wasn’t completely gone. The best I can understand – because I deal with the philosophical, not the biological – the cells in JJ’s lungs got scared. They saw the infection, something that is not supposed to be there. So these little white blood cells multiplied and joined forces. The drew together tightly, and then formed the abscess. These cells thought it was protecting the body by surrounding infected cells.

But guess what happened. Inside this cluster a new infection began to develop, this one resistant to the antibiotics. It didn’t even need oxygen, so it didn’t die as the white blood cells believed it would – it thrived. It grew to the size of my 5-year-old daughter’s fist.

The doctors were pretty stumped as to the cause of this abscess. Sometimes a foreign body could cause it, but the bronchoscopy showed nothing but “bread and butter pneumonia”, something a normal 35-year-old man ought to be able to fight off, with the help of antibiotics.

So what went wrong?

To personify it, I think fear made the news in his lungs one day. Those healthy little cells saw that things weren’t as they ought to be and freaked out. Instead of trusting in the good work of tried-and-true medicine, JJ’s body inadvertently went into crisis mode.  Batten down the hatches! Seal all the borders! Nothing in or out! His body turned its own cells against itself.

The pneumonia wasn’t the heaviest threat – another round of basic antibiotics would have finished it.  The problem was the growing infection inside the abscess.

If JJ would have taken deep breaths and opened his airways, his bronchitis probably wouldn’t form a pneumonia. And if his white blood cells would not have closed up, his abscess probably wouldn’t have formed. In essence, JJ’s dis-ease came from closing, shallowing and tightening. The remedy was opening, deepening, breathing.

Fear won’t heal us. Not in our bodies, not in our society.

Instead, let’s take a deep breath. Even when it makes us cough. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Let your breath move around on the insides. Let it keep things moving instead of stagnant; let yourself be full instead of shallow.

Visit me elsewhere:

The Magic Penny and the Ebook

I’m not sure how you most effectively avoid doing necessary work. In the midst of most stressful days or weeks, I tend to take on projects that don’t actually need to be completed. But reorganizing the kitchen utensil drawer or listing our favorite recipes in alphabetical order somehow gnaws at me until it’s done.

So, this week, while I moved my parents into a new house, took on a new work project and revisited my Yoga Teacher Training homework, I decided to author an ebook. Fortunately, it was written, just not created.

It’s a compilation of my most popular pieces of 2015. Maybe you’ve read them. Maybe you missed one. Maybe you’re a sucker for the word “free” and hoard books on your kindle (ahem, I’m looking at you Trevor). In any case, it’s available for you, for free. Because when I went to 4-H camp we sang a little song:

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

(The Magic Penny)

So, there you go. And here you go.  After you can sign up, it will arrive via email.  (No, I will not sell, give or otherwise disperse your email info, especially when I know you keep a special “junk mail” yahoo address for reasons such as this. Well, I might sell it,  if someone offers me One Million Dollars.)

 

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