Wednesday, March 14, 2007

built in bullsh*t detector

hemingway was recorded as declaring that "everyone needs a built-in bullsh*t detector"

which, to be honest, is a concept that has probably been as formative in my spiritual development as anything by thomas merton or tom wright.

i just see so many people adopt "ways" of being "spiritual" that, in actual fact, seem to divorce them from spirituality rather than help facilitate it.

for example, i sometimes see people trying to practice "being present" with god and with others in each moment [this, btw, is a very noble intention and one that definately honors god]

sometimes people work so hard to "be present" that that's all they think about

so, ironically, by being so intent on "presencing" they actually disengage from what's happening around them

and are not truly present, but are instead "being present"

which often looks like they've become zombies or drones

it's at this point that i feel like hemingway's magical b.s. detector would come in handy

i feel like saying,
"hey - quite presencing and look me in the face, weirdo"

which, i know, sounds harsh
but it just seems so foolish that someone would glaze over in conversation by virtue of trying to be more engaging

there are, of course, a myriad of ways in which people's efforts at being spiritual tend to prohibit them from actually being spiritual, and i gave this example only so i didn't fall into the tired litany of narratives about

1. the prayer-request gossipper, who uses your weaknesses as conversational carpet bombing


2. the friendly-evangelist, who is nice so you'll become a baptist


3. the passionate worshipper/passionate partier, who performs every day of the week but for a different audience


i suppose i'd just like to see more people own up to their shortcomings
without wallowing in them
or reveling in them
or lashing out at others for having them

but instead
demonstrating a willingness to just be who they are
while simultaneously feeling compelled to chip away towards becoming someone of whom
jesus can be more proud

i suppose i really just want this for myself as well

and maybe, to be fair, this is really what the "presencing" people are trying to do.
maybe they're looking at people like my friend randy shafer
who is sick with cancer
and yet maintains a remarkable ability to be present in conversation
and also with god
without falling into the glazed-over-spiritual guy trap
and seeing what it looks like to actually be present
instead of just trying to be present
but the only way to do that successfully is to just try

so maybe [again with the maybes?], i ought to have a little more grace for them in their efforts

but maybe not

'cause maybe we could all get there more truly if we skipped the vernacular
or the "approach"
and instead just did what we felt like the spirit was coaching us to do in the moment

'cause that is different

listening to god
is different
than adopting a mandate of "being present"

the former is a kind of spiritual honesty
the latter feels like a new kind of physical fitness craze that you try out
like atkins
or south beath
until it becomes something you used to do.

and, yes, this post does fall into the category of "useful for no one but me" :)

1 comment:

  1. I actually found it rather useful as well. Thanks.