Saturday, March 12, 2011

creative thinking and true fasting

This week I have been down with strep.  Everything has been moving very, very slowly and we put in only a half day of homeschool.  I spent all of Wednesday flat on my back and did not make it downtown for ashes.  But a bit of illness and pain seems a fine way to start off a season of penance, anyway.

While I was sick, I finished reading Uncle Tom's Cabin (for the first time--Camus and Sartre are deemed more suitable as moral-existential Lit. in French high school).  In the final chapter, the author lectures Northerners on their duties in the face of racial injustice on their own national soil.  She prescribes two main courses of action and, to tell the truth, it took me a little by surprise:

Northern men, northern mothers, northern Christians, have something more to do than denounce their brethren at the South; they have to look to the evil among themselves.  But what can an individual do?  Of that, every individual can judge.  There is one thing that every individual can do, they can see to it that they feel right.  An atmosphere of sympathetic influence encircles every human being; and the man or woman who feels strongly, healthily and justly, on the great interests of humanity, is a constant benefactor to the human race.  See, then, to your sympathies in this matter! 

Right thinking and right feeling are central themes of the book, but in her conclusion it was put in such plain language that I had to stop reading and sit with it for a few minutes.   It made me wonder, what if we could all bring ourselves to name the wrongs we commit or allow? and I had to agree that things might be different if everyone agreed to foster that kind of self honesty.

Photograph of Couple Protesting Desegregation Filed in the Case of R. W. Kelley v. City of Nashville, 1957

The second appeal Harriet Beecher Stowe makes is to ask Christians everywhere to pray.  Last week Katherine from Evlogia said that there's nothing more creative than prayer, and ever since I read that the way I think about prayer--the way I pray--is new.  For a mother, homeschooler and a writer like Katherine to say such a thing is stunning, but then again, a lot of what she and Molly have to say is stop-and-think-about-it-for-a-full-week stunning.  These two Orthodox women and mothers make me wonder if there is something in Orthodox Christianity which particularly fosters simplicity in thinking.  The tradition seems to unabashedly embrace the principle that Truth is Mystery, along with insights that are so direct and clear and yet so universal as to be relevant to any number of people in any number of life circumstances. 

Ms. Stowe's concluding thoughts are equally simple and direct: when people are robbed of their rights, peace and hope are destroyed.  And whether they are small or big, all offenses against persons inflict harm on the life of the mind.  The minds of oppressed and oppressor.

It is Lent, and during Lent we remember in a particular way that God forgivesWe ask for forgiveness and we forgive.  We pray for renewal and for more intimate communion with God and our neighbors.  We pray, we give, and we fast during Lent.  Fasting, the famous passage in Isaiah says, is not a solemn occasion of dreariness but instead a way to practice justice.  Free the captives, release prisoners, give bread to the hungry.  The true fast of Isaiah 58 is about freedom and abundance, not deprivation. 

Truths for the whole year and not just these forty days, but the rhythms are still good for a soul that easily forgets.

Religion Plays an Important Part in the Lives of Residents...

Have a peaceful and creative Lenten fast, everybody.  I pray it renews us all and that that we will celebrate and give thanks for an abundance of grace.  Who knows, maybe it will even help to get us on the path to some good even right thinking!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for your kind comment!( Brûle seulement)

    Yours in Christ,

    Subdeacon Claude (Lopez-Ginisty)