So, Lent is under way and I have heard from many of you that are reading the Lenten Book, “Now You See It.” I have been inspired by some of what you say you are getting from it and I hope you will share those on this blog. Along with that, some are reading “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Anderson as a specific case for our need to “relearn” as Cathy Davidson speaks to us in “Now You See it” Her book starts off with the intriguing story about the gorilla, and the failure to see it when it walks right through a group working on a focused task. This is attention blindness and what she wants to do is take this negative, and try to turn it to our positive. I think that story is a good place to start. I speak of it a bit in the video which has been up on our diocesan website, on You Tube, or you can click below.
Davidson writes: “By one recent accounting, in the last decade we’ve gone from 12 billion e-mails sent each day to 247 billion e-mails, from 400,000 text messages to 4.5 billion, from 2.7 hours a week spent online to 18 hours a week online.” Is it any wonder we have more to be blind to? She goes on to write, “Here is the real-life benefit of the gorilla story: If attention blindness is a structural fact of human biology equivalent to, say, our inability to fly, then that means we are faced with the creative challenge of overcoming it. It might take some thinking; it might require humility about our rationality and our vaunted self-reliance; it may require rearranging our twentieth-century training and habits; and it certainly will require lining up the right tools and the right partners. But once we acknowledge the limitations we’ve been living with, we can come up with the workaround.” (page 7 and 8)
So, this is an example of where I think the book can be used to look at our context, our church community context, the way we go about following Christ in this world, and even more being the beacons of light revealing His Church to the world. There are key words worth looking at in this paragraph above. What would it mean for us, as the Church to have “humility about our rationality and our vaunted self-reliance?” or “rearranging our twentieth-century training and habits?” and who, now, for us are the “right tools and the right partners?” We are not going to be able to keep doing this the way we have. The attention spectrum is totally different and has changed recently in ways the printing press changed it, but now it is exponential and far more rapid, with such a change happening every decade if not sooner.
In the prayer book, some of you know, my favorite prayer is the one always prayed at ordinations. It speaks of the Church as God’s “wonderful and sacred mystery” and it says that “things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new” What is being cast down, or needs to be? What has grown old? What do you think is our gorilla, the things or things we are missing that are right in front of us? It’s not easy to see, we are human, but we have to find a workaround!
And now, for the book review,
A Book Review: The Soul’s Journey
As we begin our Lenten journey I would commend a new book, just out, “The Soul’s Journey: An Artist’s Approach to the Stations of the Cross” by Kathrin Burleson, with contributions by our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori and many others from across the church that will inspire you both in sight and words. As you might expect the book is beautiful, just to hold and look at, but the writings do in fact live up to the subtitle, an artist’s approach, and I would say a very refreshing one as well. One example of this comes from the seventh station, “Simon of Cyrene assists Jesus”
Burleson writes, “this station reminds me that we all have crosses to bear, and more importantly, these crosses all relate to our walk with Christ. This takes my problems, my pains, and my disappointments and puts them in a new perspective. In shouldering the burden and taking the responsibility, I am walking the Way. I am not saying that we’re always called to take on other’s burdens, but rather that we should not live life simply as an observer. This deep involvement in life-our own and that of others- gives us meaning and moves us closer to God. ”
The Stations of the Cross are quite moving to me. When I am in the Holy Land the Via Delarosa, with the sights, and sounds, and smells of the Old City, the very journey Jesus took through those streets, always calls me back to faith. This book provides a visual journey that is a close second, and a new way, to see and journey on THE Way. I commend it to you this Lent as we journey toward Jerusalem.