Life Changers – 5/15/15

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Before I begin with Life Changers this week, I wanted to highlight a piece of my writing elsewhere on the internet today.

I have been a faithful reader of Red Letter Christians for a long time, so I am honored and excited to join their contributor line-up with this post. I joined the SheLoves Red Couch Book Club last month to read a book I’ve wanted to read for a while, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. If you like reading and book clubs, the Red Couch consistently has solid recommendations spearheaded by avid reader Leigh Kramer, join us! Just Mercy was a stunning and heartbreaking read about racial injustice in the incarceration system of the South. I had one nagging thought after reading the book which I wrestled with in this piece. Please head over to RLC to check it out!

I think at the core of our engagement with stories, something has gone awry where we have come to prize sentimentalism over substance. We want feel-good stories and we align ourselves to the protagonists of a story instead of letting the story critique us as potential perpetrators of evil.

Onto other Life Changers this week. The big news on Christian Internet this week was the release of the latest PEW research which highlighted religious trends in various demographics in America. There has been a flurry of analysis and responses from various reporters of every tribe, ranging from fearful to reasoned to apathetic. I just had a snarky response on twitter:

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I also really appreciated Zack Hunt’s perspective, particularly form the angle of Youth Ministry. As always, Zack presents reasonable arguments while inspiring us to greater faithfulness. Check it out, A Faith Worth Believing In And A Church Worth Belonging To:

I am convinced that a major reason the number of self-identified millennial Christians are leaving the Church is because they haven’t been presented with a faith worth believe in, a faith that challenges them and equips them to face the increasingly complex challenges of life.

Have you been reading John Pavolovitz? You really should! Here’s a great post on Why The Devil Probably Didn’t Cause Your Flat Tire. I love JP because I mostly agree with what he posts, but also for his pastor’s heart. I find that he approaches very controversial topics with a lot of grace I hope to emulate. It’s not easy writing with nuance and kindness on the internet, so I am always looking for good examples to follow.

What all this armchair theological speculation can end up doing is over-spiritualizing our lives so that we no longer live them with any sort of pragmatism or common sense. It can distract us by glossing over really difficult questions about the problem of Evil and the darkness of our own hearts, and about the clear cause-and-effect of us being terrible, mean, or irresponsible human beings.

Instead of forcing us to take a hard look at the way we live, we can use the Devil as a scapegoat and pass the buck to him.

I have kids. They are pre-teens. One of them already has a smartphone. I am a parent. I worry. Here’s a post where I express my fear. But this article sheds another issue of concern: How wealthy kids’ use of social media sets them up for a more successful future.

What’s notable is that these low-income teens do not use the social media in ways their wealthier peers do. One of our interviewees notes that she doesn’t use social media at all. “When I’m on my phone, I’m either reading or texting,” she said.

It’s no secret one of my favorite writers is Anne Lamott. She graciously shared the commencement speech she gave at UC Berkeley ten years ago on Facebook, and it is filled with wisdom delivered in her classic wit and irreverent reverence. Also, congratulations to the Class of 2015 everywhere!!

In my 20s I devised a school of relaxation that has unfortunately fallen out of favor in the ensuing years — it was called Prone Yoga. You just lie around as much as possible. You could read, listen to music, you could space out, or sleep. But you had to be lying down. Maintaining the prone.

I mean, what other commencement speaker will advise you to begin your foray into the real world by lying down? Genius, that woman.

I may be taking her advice, right now.

What changed your life this week?

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