The Narrative Illusion

*What is your “narrative?”  If I hear this word one more time I believe my head will explode!  Everyone and everything must have a “narrative” today. Education, politics, Celebrity, Sports, Movies, the list is exhausting.

An image based culture communicates through narratives, pictures,  and pseudo drama.  Scandalous affairs, hurricanes, untimely death, train wrecks…these events play well on the computer screen and television.  International diplomacy, labor union negotiations, and convoluted bailout packages do not yield exciting  personal narratives or stimulating images.  A governor who frequents call girls becomes a huge new story. A politician who proposes serious regulatory reform or advocates curbing wasteful spending is boring. Kings, queens, and emperors once used their court conspiracies to divert their subjects.  Today cinematic, political, and journalistic celebrities  distract us with their personal problems and sports have become, as they were in Nero;s time interchangeable.  In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality.  Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion.  We ask to be indulged and comforted by clichés, stereotypes, and inspirational messages that tell us  we can be whatever we seek to be, that we live in the greatest country on earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities, and that our future will always be glorious  and prosperous, either because of our own attributes or our national character or because we are blessed by God.

In this world, all that matters is the consistency of our belief systems.  The ability to amplify lies, to repeat the and have surrogates repeat them in endless loops of news cycles, gives lies and mythical narratives the aura of uncontested truth.  We become trapped in the linguistic prison of incessant repetition.  We are fed words and phrases like war on terror or pro-life or change, and within these narrow parameters, all complex thought, ambiguity, and self-criticism vanish!

*Chris Hedges

ANCIENT SPIRITUAL WISDOM

ON SOLITUDE

“Solitude is the place of purification and transformation, the place of the great struggle and the great encounter…..the place of our salvation.”

ON SILENCE

“First, silence makes us pilgrims. Secondly, silence guards the fire within.  Thirdly, silence teaches us to speak.”

ON PRAYER

“The pryaer of the heart opens the eyes of our soul to the truth of ourselves as well as to the truth of God.  The prayer of the heart challenges us to hide absolutely nothing.”

*Henri J.M. Nouwen

Illusion of The Good News

In a few years we will celebrate the second millennium of the Christian Era.  But perhaps the question is:  “Will there be anything to celebrate?”  Daily we hear voices wanting to know if we can survive our own destructive nature.

As we see increasing poverty, hunger, the rapid escalation if violence and hatred in many countries including our own, we slowly realize that the world has begun a suicidal path.

It seems that the darkness is thicker then ever, that the powers of evil are more blatantly visible then ever…so what is the “‘Good News” in all of this?

During the last few years I have been wondering what it means to be a minister in such dire circumstances, were few see the Gospel as anything good or offering hope.  What is required of men and women who want to bring light into darkness…”to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty ti captives and to the blind new sight, to set those oppressed free?”  What is required  of a man or woman who is called to enter fully into the turmoil and agony of the times in which we live and speak a word of truth?

In the coming days I will elaborate on this topic.  We will consider Solitude, Silence and The Furnace of Transformation!