The Failure of Religion

1412713_28106567Recently I was reading some of my notes on Abraham Joshua Heschel’s excellent book “God in Search of Man”.  I came across this quote that I’d wrote down. I thought I would share it because of its depth, its challenge, and I think its truth:
“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion – it’s message becomes meaningless.”
What do you think about it? When I read this quote, it so convicted me as a pastor, because the life of faith shouldn’t be dull or insipid. But I wonder how often faith moves from a living fountain, to a dead pool? I also wondered how am I ensuring that the faith I preach is living? That the love I espouse is active? That the relationship I have with God never becomes irrelevant, dull, or oppressive. These are the questions that this quote brings up for me that I’m thinking through today.
What about you? What do you think about it? What questions does it bring up?

Chasing Bubbles ~ Developing Wonder

I’m just going to state the obvious. My son has more fun than me at any given moment. Seriously. My life compared to his is dull, dreary, and lacks luster. Any parent knows immediately this truth: kids love to play with bubbles proportionally more than we really like to do anything. Bubbles bring out this amazing sense of play, awe and excitement in my son that happens so naturally and easily.

This is important to note because Jesus says in Luke 18:16, “The Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” And as I ponder this verse in connection with my son I’ve realized something. He has more wonder than me.

I think this is part of what Jesus is saying in this verse and that if we are to become childlike I believe it means, in some sense, to regain our sense of wonder. Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “The whole earth is full of his glory, but we do not perceive it; it is within our reach but beyond our grasp”. He continued to write of the importance of wonder, awe, and astonishment. I believe children grasp what we do not perceive as adults: that there is wonder, awe, and God’s presence all around us. If we want to grow closer to God we need to allow a spirit of wonder to capture us. Heschel says, “The insights of wonder must be constantly kept alive. Since there is a need for daily wonder, there is a need for daily worship”.

This is what I am learning to do through Hudson. I now stand in awe of bubbles as they move, sway, and swirl through the sun. We stare at the stars in amazement as he yells “that one, that one, that one”, as he personally seeks to discover each star in the sky. We slow down and watch butterflies dance across the sky holding our breath in excitement.  And as I do this with him he is teaching me wonder, and teaching me to find God…

So today do something that is truly “wonder-full” and seek to discover God as a child would, with wonder, awe, innocence and joy. Then share where you found wonder or who it was with. For me obviously the best “wonder-hunter” in the world is Hudson. So today we’re going to explore this world together and find God in the midst of it…go have fun!