Repeat, recite, reduce

This saying by Ms. Jackson is surprising for its clarity and its place in the major religions. There is whole lot of reciting and memorizing of what is expected of us and what we think of ourselves.

Our thoughts about ourselves become public when they are the mantra our community treasures. Recently we have seen more than a few outrageous falsehoods take on an urgent and violent mode of operation. Politics and finance are becoming religions: they claim responsibility for human values. Let’s not laugh. Politicians, money-handlers, and preachers are muddying up the water-channels with their claim to mediate noble human characteristics. We must distinguish human values from the values of corporations. The latter may be entities, but they are not persons. Values that rise from the fog of recitation are like wax too close to a fire. God’s kingdom is not a value system. Neither beneficial nor dangerous self talk will bring on God’s rulership of our lives.

Special is “holy”

We tell ourselves that we are unique, and that is absolutely true of every person.  We tell ourselves that we are special, and that is also absolutely true of every person. We look around at our neighbours and peers – if we admit that we do have neighbours and peers for whom we have the requisite respect – and we might think that they too are unique and special. Some of our self-talk can be downright dangerous! We are prone to make comparisons and rank people like Olympic medals.

It is a shocking statistic that nations and political parties seize this we-are-better stance as if it were a virtue.

Class Conflict

We seem the think that we have a choice between a healthy psyche and the persistent idea that we have more uniqueness and more special marks than our neighbours, and it does not seem to bother us that being special does not harmonize with making second class citizens of other people. On that route, esteem of the neighbour deflates and our own realistic profile in the eyes of the One who alone is absolutely unique and special suffers.

Idolizing the Difference

We look at an automobile and we know it did not spontaneously evolve from a metal and plastic soup. There is no fault for crediting the car manufacturer for the existence of automobiles. Humans are slow to recognize the intelligence and might behind our planet, galaxy and the universe. Perversely, we deny God the right to be for us all we need: the essentials being pardon, justification and identify. In creating us (and any part of his workd) God made sure that each carries his stamp. It’s a good thing God has a long record of tolerating insults and wicked speeches. Humans and idols did not make myriad galaxies and they cannot.

Recitation and regular repetition of what we have been told is important does not transform us into what we affirm.  We all know individuals who lack familiarity with the language of the Old Testament and keep saying the words we have learned without ever experiencing the growth or change promised and expected. A person is not what he or she speaks or thinks.  It is evident that we like the easy solution even when it is prone to abuse and has been the subject of wise discourse for thousands of years.  When evaluated for its contribution to salvation and spiritual growth both recitation and repitition are mere human crutches.  They are responsible for elementary human learning.

Excellence is everywhere, not only in the usual holy places like tombs, locations where the wise and holy assemble, but in every atom.

Identifying the holy and the superlative around us may begin, not with reciting ideals and expectations, but with recognizing God’s excellent name in the whole world.