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Pastor, Writer, Contemplative

Archive for Christianity

How Do You Sabbath, Sabbatical, Rest, Play, Refuel, Re-energize?

Today’s talk on Sabbath & Burnout  was not new; it is a talk I give every year, and it is completely necessary. After the service I sat in circles and listened to stories of people burning / burned out by life, work, circumstance and so on. It was tragic. The overwhelming sense I had as I pronounced the closing benediction was God saying, STOP. TAKE A DAY OFF. – and that’s exactly what I said. There is a way to burn for God, or for work, what we do, our passions in life. And then there is also a thing called foolish burning. Many times I find that we are our own enemy; the unstoppable drive is like a tank, bulldozing over our own health, our relationships, our well-being.

So I’m re-posting these thoughts below about burnout and depression; mind you, depression is not always emotional; I believe there are also physical depressions (a depressed body or a depressed immune system), spiritual depressions. And I think these thoughts below, posted from my years in seminary, are very instructive and helpful…

February 19, 2009

Darrell Johnson gave a stirring talk on depression among the clergy today – and personally I think he should blog. So I transcribed some notes and reflections – from my own experience mingled with some of the theologies he presents concerning this “shame-based killer”. I’ve come to see depression among the clergy as a form of self-martyrdom – an unholy dying (in some cases, not all) – because it is often at our own hands, and before the idols of our own hero-worship (ourselves). More thoughts here:

Depression is symbiotic.It is never exclusively an inside-the-skull thing, Dr. Packer talks about the three-ness of human being; body, mind, & spirit (he doesn’t hold to the soul/spirit bifurcation). When depression hits, it is so often on all three fronts @ the same time, even though we can’t see it right away. For me the formula was like this:

Body – deteriorating health / not taking care of how I eat, sleep & exercise / unhealthy rhythms (or no rhythms at all)

Mind – continually denying myself and depriving myself of my inner-most needs and joys. This is a form of self-induced schizophrenia.

Spirit – not having a clue as to what I was made for, what I was called to, how I was designed. What a shame that this is so epidemic.

Depression is intense. I’ll never forget those plunges I first felt sitting on the 7 train on the way home working in NYC, exhausted. It sucked, quite literally.
Depression comes about by Great Expectations – Darrell’s insight here – we think we are more than we are – saints – in the hagiographical sense. The problem begins not in our striving to be great but rather in our idolizing; thus the original sin is placing human beings on pedestals and trying to attain these impossibly high notions of greatness.
Depression can come from “sedentary habits” – DJ cites Spurgeon here. I’m still guilty of this. Hoping between semesters to lose some pounds and get back in shape. Hold me to this.
Depression is better prevented, not cured. We’re better off pre-empting this killer than trying to deal with it at its height. No one likes having their hard drive crash only to be survived by that one, lone, blinking light of the will.
Depression is treated by “pacing” – this is me. Actually I get this from a quote from OM founder George Verwer who says that “burning for Christ” is a good thing – but we are to burn as coal – long and deep – and not like petrol – which flares up like a flash in the pan and fizzles out fairly quick.
A moving story of depression – as told by Gerry Sitzer, A Grace Disguised. DJ recommends this book by a prof @ Whitworth in Spokane who witnessed the deaths of his mother, wife and daughter in a split second. Moving story.

Anyways. My thoughts. Does this sound familiar to u?

Post-partum Christmas depression, good-bye forever.

sorry kids, time to pack up the tree -jk

As I’ve been crafting our Advent series @ Harvest, I’ve been making a few life-altering discoveries about Christmas that on the one-hand, ruin everything – and on the other hand, redeem it completely and make it much more meaningful than it has ever been. Here they are, in numbered order:

FOUR DISCOVERIES ABOUT CHRISTMAS THAT RUIN EVERYTHING:

  1. The season of Advent runs for 4 weeks – from the first Sunday after Thanksgiving right up to Christmas Eve – 4 Sundays.
  2. Advent is principally about WAITING – not celebration. So we hold our breath, bated, poised for just two more weeks – trust me, this is excruciating, even for me.
  3. Christmas is about celebration – so once Dec 25th rolls around, let your hair down, invite some friends over, pop the cork, reunite with loved ones. This is what it’s all about! I call it “practicing reunion.”
  4. The season of Christmas lasts 12 days – from Dec 25th to January 6th (the start of Epiphany) – hence, (BIG discovery!) the “12 days of Christmas” are not the 12 days leading up to Christmas, but rather, the 12 days after Christmas, encompassing the entire Christmas season.

Now you’re starting to think “OK, this means a few things” Allow me to spell them out: Read the rest of this entry »

Is Eastern Culture Demonic? (a commentary on Mark Driscoll’s allegation that “yoga is demonic”)

It’s been awhile since I’ve been incensed about something like this and so I wanted to weigh in on this issue from what I think might be a little different slant:

THE ISSUE:

A recent article in the Seattle Times details how a few prominent evangelical Christian leaders have sketched the practice of yoga as something “demonic” – says Mark Driscoll, a prominent mega-church pastor in Seattle: “Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic… If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.” Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological adds his voice to the mix in an online essay last month: “Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding… Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God” (there are so many theologically jacked-up things about this statement BTW that it merits a separate blog post – won’t even get into Mohler’s distorted views about the human body and the logos, although I am seriously tempted to. In the least I don’t see at all how this statement incriminates yoga at all).

So, to summarize, the issue is the demonization of yoga. Read the rest of this entry »

Art and Incarnation: Mako Fujimura

We had a discussion among our staff about the art of Makoto Fujimura this morning. He’s a New Yorker. He’s a Greenwich Village artist (my old haunting grounds back in the day @ Parsons School of Design). He’s asian (yay!) And he’s a Christian. So it intrigued me to watch an emerging figure who represents two worlds I inhabit, as an Asian-American as well as a Christian within the arts. So I did some homework only to find this little endorsement here to the left that he receives from CT mag, and to find out that he’s received some accolade from some great sources. See his blog here and professional page here. So I’m thrilled for this guy who is making a statement in numerous ways – as an urbanite, a religious person, an ethnic person – just thrilled. But the one question that seemed to echo in our group was: Read the rest of this entry »