The Last and First Thing We Need
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
The last thing we need is another blog. The first thing is grace.
Yes, we live in a blinding blizzard of information. Almost 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created on the internet every day (Domo), and that's a lot of zeros. It seems strange to be adding yet one more car to the blizzardous information superhighway. Still, I've decided to do just that.
We don't need more words, but we desperately need more grace. It's been my lifelong pursuit to understand something of grace, and in these early retirement years I finally have time for long thoughts about human flourishing, divine love, and amazing grace. Even if my thoughts are long, I'll try to keep my blog posts short.
This post won't be tidy. Maybe none of them will be. Grace is more a swirl than a straight line.
Grace is more a swirl than a straight line
John Barclay, one of today's most prominent New Testament scholars, wrote an outstanding volume titled, Paul and the Gift. When a theologian friend told me, a psychologist, that I probably shouldn't try to wade through the deep theology in Barclay's book, it made me determined to do so. It took three tries, but eventually I made it through and found it meaningful in all sorts of ways. But perhaps the most lasting influence is simply Barclay's book title. The New Testament word for grace is also the word for gift.
Have you noticed how many gifts show up every day? The gift of a new sunrise, the smell of fresh coffee, the delight of a favorite meal, the smile of a stranger. These graces swirl around us like layers of a cinnamon roll, and at least for those of us who are people of faith they remind us we are enfolded in arms of love.
When I first started thinking and writing about grace several decades back, we lived in a time where theological confidence was considered reassuring. Times have changed, and while some may regret the changes I for one find it comforting to think that I don't have to figure out all the doctrinal nuance. It may not be so important to define a thing as it is to rest in the possibility of divine grace, gifted to us regardless of whether we have done a whit to earn it.
If another blog is the last thing we need, the first thing is grace. Most of my long thoughts these days are about the many gifts we encounter in life, and the mysterious giver of those gifts.
It may not be so important to define a thing as it is to rest in the possibility of divine grace, gifted to us regardless of whether we have done a whit to earn it
Positive Psychology and Faith
Positive psychology is the study of human flourishing. As a Christian, I find it especially fitting to consider how God's touch is part of our flourishing. This isn't about some Pollyanna(ish) pretending everything is fine, because it's not. Life is hard. Especially in this covid year our world sags under the weight of suffering and pain, but if we're ever going to experience the crescendo of human flourishing it will be when times are difficult. If we ever need grace, we need it now. If faith is ever going to hold up to the hardest questions life can ask, well, this is the time to be asking those questions even as we recognize the answers may never be as robust as the questions.
So welcome to a new blog. It's about positive psychology and grace and mystery and being open to uncertainty. I hope you find some reflections here worthwhile and helpful. Please enter this space with a heart open to gratitude and hope for what is possible.
There's plenty of anger and vitriol in the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data added to the world every day, but I wonder if we might try something different. Can we look for the gifts all around us, for the grace in which God envelops us every moment of every day, even in those excruciating moments of struggle and suffering? As we do, we might just call forth the best in ourselves and one another.