Okay, I admit it … last week’s A Deacon’s Musing was somewhat of a rant. I am not apologising for The Disciple’s Path blog as much as recognising that, for some, it may have been experienced in that manner. I am also not certain that is a bad thing … especially if it has opened you up to questions, digging and perhaps reflecting about where you are and, more importantly, not only about where you might long to be, but perhaps where you suspect the Holy might be guiding you. And, to be even more pointed, where the Creator might be guiding you, but you are aware that you are – at some level – perhaps resisting …
While I was musing about this week’s blog, I have recognised that I am also blessed as I enter a Learning Circle for the Designated Lay Ministry programme of the United Church of Canada. It is both gift and honour to sit with these men and women who have responded to God’s ever-present whisper. A response that for many that means a second, third or even fourth career! A response that means learning new things, confronting assumptions and maybe even one’s own complicit connexion to human choices that hurt and harms others.
As well, as I walk into the next two weeks, I also note that I myself have gone back to school – perhaps news to some – to pursue Doctoral Studies in a topic that is core to my own Call to ministry: a journey that has and continues to find ways to address the violence that is constantly present in the realities of human choices. For me, responding to this has led me into areas of Restorative Justice and seeking alternatives to processes and systems that often leave one person a loser and another the winner; where one person is a victim, the other the perpetrator; where one is oppressed; and, the other oppressor.
The connexion between the first paragraph and the beginning of this fourth one lies in something that is echoed more and more within the circles in which I walk: lifelong learning. Lifelong learning, as a lens to understand our lives, recognises that this practice is good for us both pragmatically and spiritually. In a time and age when technology continuously reinvents itself, we are constantly forced to do things in new ways. The reality is that necessity leads us to be engaged in ongoing education. What we thought was the way to do it, really is no longer a helpful response to change. And if we are not utilising our grey matter, we can not only become obsolete in an increasingly globalised economy, we get left behind …
Obviously my own slant, however, tends toward the spiritual benefits. The opportunities that arise as people of faith engaged with learning as a discipline are many, perhaps even unquantifiable. The all-ready named pragmatic reason for embracing our journey, as a lifelong-learner, reinforces what has often been a traditional practice for people of faith. Digging into our selves, spiritual practices, faith traditions and Sacred Texts does not stop once you finish Confirmation Classes, though often it might mark a pause for many Mainstream Protestants. The pragmatic reasons for ongoing learning, as people of faith, I believe is required because the tapestry of our culture is constantly changing by the technologies that force even the resistant to learn afresh.
Consider, for instance, the following questions and tensions, which arise for us as a Christian community:
- Where does life begin? When does life begin? What are the ramifications of our understanding of such questions when it leads some to ask questions about a woman’s agency over her own body? How do these very questions, lead us – possibly – back to the temptation of patriarchy and control?
- What is life? How do we measure quality? What do we do when quantity and quality come into tension? What are the ramifications of our understanding of such questions when it leads some to ask questions about a person’s agency over his/her own body? How do these very questions, lead us – possibly –to the temptation of authoritarian governance??
- Where does our species’ well-being meet the well-being of the planet? What does it mean when our technologies implicitly affect our own journey by harming the environment in which we live? How do we address awakening to this interconnected reality, but temptations such as greed and control threaten to only increase harm to God’s creation?
I do not purport to have the answers to these and many other questions that begin to arise as we live into a life of ongoing learning. But I do know that if we are not in fact engaged with intention upon such a path, someone else will make those decisions for faith communities and they may be decisions that stand in complete opposition to who we purport to be as Disciples of Christ …
A Deacon’s Musing blog