Wednesday, May 27, 2009

contradict reality

'Faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest, not patience but impatience. It does not calm the unquiet heart, but is itself the unquiet heart in man. Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is, but begin to suffer under it, to contradict it. Peace with God means conflict with the world, for the goad of the promised future stabs inexorably into the flesh of every unfulfilled present.'
Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope, quoted in Disciples and Citizens, by Graham Cray.

Bishop Cray says, '[t]he goad was the sharp stick used by an ox-driver or ploughman to stop the animal from wandering.' When Jesus told Paul that it hurt him to kick against the goads I think I always pictured gourds, which are much gentler. I have a lot to learn. And I would probably change the script to read, Would it surprise you to find out you were never alone?

Monday, May 25, 2009

'the pitcher longs for water to carry/and a person for work that is real'

Really good article in the New York Times by Matthew B. Crawford. He presents a compelling critique of many kinds of modern work. His experience does not exactly match mine, though there is a lot that is spookily close. We finished degrees around the same time and maybe felt the same thrill followed swiftly by disappointment when we joined the workforce. A lot of what he writes on work seems right on to me. I especially like the following:

'Further, habits of mind have an ethical dimension that we don’t often think about. Good diagnosis requires attentiveness to the machine, almost a conversation with it, rather than assertiveness, as in the position papers produced on K Street. Cognitive psychologists speak of “metacognition,” which is the activity of stepping back and thinking about your own thinking. It is what you do when you stop for a moment in your pursuit of a solution, and wonder whether your understanding of the problem is adequate.'

And this:

'The good life comes in a variety of forms. This variety has become difficult to see; our field of aspiration has narrowed into certain channels. But the current perplexity in the economy seems to be softening our gaze. Our peripheral vision is perhaps recovering, allowing us to consider the full range of lives worth choosing. For anyone who feels ill suited by disposition to spend his days sitting in an office, the question of what a good job looks like is now wide open.'

He quotes from Marge Piercy's poem "To Be of Use", which is where the title of the post comes from.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

at times

I am definitely going to be facing some change in the next few weeks. This has never been a very comfortable place for me. But there is a lot that is positive about the fact of the change, and about the challenge to self-examination that goes along with this. I am greatly encouraged by Pip Wilson's blog, which I need to write more on some time; he encourages me to welcome the itch that exists in 'the place called uncomfortable'.

Soon I will have a lot more time to write about all of this.

In the meantime, I was struck and helped by this Henri Nouwen quote, which appeared a week or so ago on a couple of blogs I like . I saw it first at Maggi Dawn's site.

I have not been drawing very much, so I thought I would post another page from my sketchbook to show the furthest I have been getting in putting pen to paper. I often do not get this far. But these were good words to come across.

I like that I wrote a verse from Colossians down and then decided to put the next one. And then the next one. This was on one of the days when I was most stressed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

i missed blogging

I have been having a fairly terrible time at work over the past few weeks. This has raised huge questions for me. Immediate ones to do with work and what I will do next. And then there are problems that I need to try and answer in the long now if I am to live with a stronger sense of calling, vocation and purpose.

We went to a panel discussion that involved the very delightful Emmanuel Guibert the evening of the first day that had been really bad for me in my job. The panel discussed this book, which M. Guibert co-authored with the photographer Didier Lefèvre. It was a blessed relief to be taken so far from my own problems and reminded of the wider world out there, full of need and wonder.

I stole this drawing as a way to try and gather my thoughts and calm myself.