Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Note: I've been thinking lately about what to do with this blog; how to make it worthwhile and not just a place to dump links to my other blog, while recognizing that it would take an impolite dose of self-importance to expect readers to keep up with not just one of my blogs, but two. The happy medium may be to try to revive my pre-B&C feature, the Thought of the Day, making it both shorter and more frequent. That way this blog will be potentially worthwhile but not time-consuming. We'll see how it goes.

Thought of the Day: contemplation as congruence
My query about the contemplative life was unwittingly answered by Eugene Peterson, whom I heard speak on my birthday last week. My report on his talk is here at B&C. But to directly tie it back in to my query, the answer seems to be: yes, I was doing it wrong. "Contemplative" should not mean as monastic isolation, which can degenerate into aimless navel gazing (can you believe that medieval mystics actually practiced fixation on the navel as an aid to meditation?). Quiet moments of meditation still are necessary in a noisy culture, but in moderation. This isn't exactly what Peterson came out and said, although he did tell me afterwards, "It's important not to be too self-conscious ... the emotional experiences [of peace and assurance] come unbidden, they really do." The point of his talk was that the purpose of contemplation is congruence--the alignment of who we are and what we say and do, a harmony of the ends we seek and the means we use to achieve them. This is sounding a little New Age-y, so read the B&C piece for what faith has to do with it.

I'd already been thinking, after spending some days back in Grand Rapids, that I should consider and pursue contemplation less as an end to itself and more as an enrichment of an active social life. I should not only say that I don't like the ivory tower approach to the life of the mind; I should mean it. So I decided to make some changes, including joining a sports league, Fourth Church's volunteer tutoring program, maybe a book club, going to therapy, doing more of my writing in the library and other places away from home, and trying harder to actually stop working when I stop working at the end of the day. This may prove to have the endurance of a quickly-discarded New Year's resolution, but it's worth a try.

Previous Thought: The worth of the examined life

No comments: