I recently finished reading The Solace of Fierce Landscapes, by Belden Lane. It’s an exploration of “desert” and “mountain” spirituality in the church fathers, combined with personal reflections from visits to monasteries around the world, and his own mother’s slow journey toward death.
One of the ideas in the book that really engaged me was that part the training we undergo in the “desert” is learning both attentiveness and indifference.
God brings us into the desert so we can learn to pay attention to what’s actually happening around us and in us, becoming present to the here and now instead of obsessing about the past (regret) or the future (worrying). At the same time, we learn to become indifferent to our egos… letting go of our passions and desires, our anxieties about how others feel about us, how others affect us.
The desert fathers teach us that when we practice attentiveness and indifference, eventually what is birthed within us is love. In our sentimental age, it seems counter-intuitive, but it is nevertheless true that only when we are indifferent to the opinions of others can we truly love them.
It’s something I’ve begun to specifically ask God for, and something I think is especially needed in these times when there are more pressures than ever on leaders. How is God training you in attentiveness and indifference, so love can be birthed in and through you?
The curated links for the week are below. I pray they equip you engage culture today in faithfulness and compassion.
- In our efforts to be a people of justice, how do we go beyond merely posting rants on social media? On our podcast this week, Mae Cannon helped us see how to move beyond “hashtag activism” and become people of holistic, biblical justice.
- Esau McCaulley reveals that black Christians have long understood that the New Testament has a strong theology of law enforcement: Paul’s Word to Police: Protect the Weak.
- Karen Swallow Prior on Liberty University: “When is a sex scandal not a sex scandal? When the scandal—and the sex—are the result of absolutely unchecked power.”
- Mike Frost with a fascinating observation: Coronavirus has unveiled the liturgical poverty of evangelicals.
- Our very own Matt Tebbe was a guest on the Pure Social podcast recently, talking about race, justice, and theology.
- The cultural events of the past few years have revealed that American Christianity has a white supremacy problem. Understanding how history, theology, and culture have all contributed to the racist attitudes embedded in the white church is vital for Christian leaders today (especially white Christian leaders).
That’s all for now, folks! I leave you with a quote from aforementioned book I recently finished by Belden Lane (The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality).
It’s the perennial temptation of the acquisitive self, trying to ‘cultivate pseudo-experiences’ that will fill an inner void so as to make even emptiness an ‘object of experience.’ We never tire of the effort to manipulate and possess idealized states of consciousness. Many people would rather have an ‘experience’ of God than God himself.
Grace and peace,
Ben Sternke (for Gravity Leadership)
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