THE TOXIC CHURCH (PART 4)

Today’s Prayer to Passage will be from the book ‘The One Minute Manager’ by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.

I pray, “Dear God, yesterday I had a job interview for a prospective promotion within my company. After the interview, I thought for a moment about how communication plays a role in creating change or powerfully responding to unexpected change. As the ultimate Manager of our lives, what does Your receiving of our communication with You offer?”

Following my prayer, I held the closed book in my hand. I opened it to reveal God’s passage:

“The One Minute Praising works well when you:
1. Tell people up front that you are going to let them know how they are doing.
2. Praise people immediately.
3. Tell people what they did right — be specific.
4. Tell people how good you feel about what they did right, and how it helps the organization and the other people who work there.
5. Stop for a moment of silence to let them feel how good you feel.
6. Encourage them to do more of the same.
7. Shake hands or touch people in a way that makes it clear that you support their success in the organization.”

I like it. I’m going to paraphrase this passage as I see it:

1. Tell God that you are going to be praying more and more, increasing your communication with God.
2. When you see a blessing, a good thing in life, thank God right away.
3. In prayer, offer praise and ample gratitude for the specific blessings you now see in your life.
4. In prayers of thanksgiving, be specific. Tell God what exactly was a blessing for you, how it helped you, how it helped others, and how it may have even helped the entire world. (I believe this attuning to blessings allows God to see that you are ready for greater responsibilities because you recognize the positive outcome of your current communication with God.)
5. Meditate. Smile. Be.
6. Ask God for a continuing relationship with you, and even for a deeper relationship with you. Ask God to use you in a way that is fitting for your purpose here on earth.
7. Praise Jesus.

REED, 31, MUSICIAN:

“…I expected my college religion class to be very experiential. Now, that’s how I teach my music classes. I don’t teach what it is to compose, or what has been done. I ask my students, upon listening to a piece of music, ‘What was your experience of it? How can you apply it in your life and in your own music?’ While teaching history, I don’t want to teach years and dates. I want to talk about how those musicians and composers contributed so my students can get it for themselves.

That’s why I’m not very good at Bible studies, because I have to read, and I have to go along with what’s there rather than what’s based on my experience. Everybody is going to read the same book and have different perspectives on it. These are my perspectives. And they might deviate from normal thought. There’s probably some Bible passage somewhere that says, ‘No. No. You’re wrong, Reed.’ But that’s my experience, because I know that when I have been in that dark place, I’m not with anybody else.

I do that myself. There’s an absence. There’s a definite absence of connection. There’s a definite absence of any kind of interaction or anything like that with anybody else created in God’s image. So, I’m alone. I’ve experienced that. And I’ve also experienced being ultimately connected with somebody to the point where I could actually read his mind.

It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I once did a class exercise where there was a ‘person one’ and a ‘person two.’ Person one would say one of four colors: blue, green, red, or yellow. And then person two would repeat that color as quickly as possible. Person one said, ‘Blue;’ person two said, ‘Blue.’ Person one said, ‘Red;’ person two said, ‘Red.’ Person one said, ‘Yellow;’ person two said, ‘Yellow.’ Person one said, ‘Green;’ person two said ‘Green.’ And we went back and forth, with person one saying the colors in no particular order.

What happened was that after about a minute and a half of doing that, we would get in a rhythm of about one color per second. And we both said the color simultaneously: ‘Red; Green; Yellow; Yellow; Blue; Red; Blue; Yellow.’ We did that about eight times, and I freaked out. I completely freaked out. And I was laughing so hard, because I didn’t know how that possibly happened. That was the experience. And people came up with whatever it meant for them.

If I had that experience with an atheist, his meaning would have been different from mine. I have no idea how that happened. But, to me, it was just ‘Where two or more are gathered.’ It was ultimate connection. And being able to be with it and laugh with it was a good feeling. It wasn’t scary. It was really freaking cool.

And it just makes me wonder what’s actually possible between two people. That connection with another human being was at a complete opposite end of a spectrum from my low, deep, dark depression. That is the spectrum. Because when you’re connected with somebody, there’s no ‘who’ they are. There’s none of your identity and none of their identity. There’s no Christian over here. And there’s no atheist over there.

There’s no gay person over there and straight person over here. There’s just being right there and being connected. There’s nothing clouding the experience. That experience still makes me wonder. Was that untapped energy? Is there an untapped connection available that people are not even aware of?

I don’t understand how that kind of connection is not something that everybody regularly creates. Why isn’t that a fundamental skill taught in the fourth grade or something like that? There was an electricity or something. It felt different. And it wasn’t even a knowing of what they were going to say.

It wasn’t mind reading. We were thinking together. I wanted to continue it. And when it was done, I wanted to do it again. I want to connect with people. Where two or more are gathered, God is there.

The Bible is a foundation for me. As I’ve already stated, I can’t tell where my heritage and upbringing ends and where my own thinking begins, because the Bible is so ingrained in how I was raised. It’s hard for me to recognize when I have a certain thought that is because of what I inherited, or if it’s something else. It certainly will always be there like that. It will always be the place from which my upbringing started. So, I’m never going to lose that.

I’ve never done a major Bible study. I never looked at all the prophets and tracked all of that. If you asked me to go locate my Bible in my house, I’d have to take about a half-hour to find it. It’s down in my basement somewhere. Somebody might say that I’m just not being responsible for finding my own way through that stuff and getting myself to church. I would say, rather, that I’m not doing it the way it was intended, perhaps. Whether or not I see the Bible as truth, as the word, I don’t know.

One’s personal truth is like another person’s demise. Biblically, historically, why did people think that God wanted them to kill people? Truth is a really dangerous thing. And everybody’s got a different truth. I’ve heard things about the Bible and how it was written. Is it the truth? I guess it depends on what you mean by truth.

It’s true for some people. But it can’t be truth. Then it’s not faith. It’s propagandized as truth, as ‘The Word’. People walked around on the earth and made these writings, and the words are here now. So somebody wrote them.

The reason why there is so much violence in the world is that there are too many truths there. Who’s right? Why is it enough for people to kill one another? I guess truth can be a good word if it saves your life. If you’re on your last legs and you’re going to die of a heroin overdose, and you find truth for yourself and it saves you, sure it’s a good word. Truth is nice because it’s comforting. There are no questions.

Because once you’ve found truth, you’ve arrived. There is no longer a journey. There are no more questions to be asked. I don’t think that’s how life works. I think life is a constant journey. You never arrive anywhere.

There are unhappy people in the world with the highest material wealth. What are many of them doing? They’re trying to make more money. They arrive somewhere, but they’re never satisfied. They think they will be. But they’re not on a journey.

They think they’re going to get somewhere some day. And when they get there, their lives are over. Rather than just asking themselves why they are not satisfied — rather than creating themselves as satisfied in the moment, from one moment to the next — they are never satisfied. There is some major manipulation going on when the Bible is being used to divide people. I think that’s one of the natural human tendencies. And the Bible doesn’t explicitly say, ‘Don’t divide.’

But that does not mean that we can explicitly say, ‘You’re not one of us. You’re different. We don’t understand you. Kill!’ There is such a breadth of knowledge that we can learn and receive from each other.”

(TO BE CONTINUED…)

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