running, conversion, and grace

It is a good day.  Started out with a run with my good friend Clifford, who recently returned from a year teaching in China.  Stepped off at 5:30 and didn't feel like we'd missed a beat.  Although he claims not to have been running much, we ran too fast and my knee is reminding me of this now.  He'll head off for Dallas in a few days, so trying to get in as much time together as possible.  Tonight, tentative plans to sit down face to face and review Book 6 of Augustine's Confessions.  Counting down for my retreat at Manresa in early September.  Three thoughts, as has become customary:

1.    I am compelled by Romans 12:2 today:

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

I have been reading through Eric Metaxas's biography on Bonhoeffer. Such a remarkable man.  I am fascinated by what appears to have been a conversion of sorts while he was in New York.  Unimpressed by Union Theological Seminary, he spent most of his New York time in African American churches.  I think it'd be fair to say that he perceived the suffering of that community as an impetus to earnest worship.  In my own case, my own (self-imposed, mostly) suffering has without question brought me to a place of spiritual teach-ability.  One wonders if there are any who get to that place, really get there, by means other than spiritual death.  Merton, Augustine, Bonhoeffer, Ignatius - all share powerful stories of conversion.  I am more convinced than ever that conversion is the greatest theology.  I am amazed that Bonhoeffer was willing to reject the dark behavior and customs of his time.  Am I willing to reject the dark behavior and customs of my time?  I am amazed that he was willing to do so at his own peril.  Am I willing to do so - or does grace look awfully cheap in my own life?   

2.    I found much truth in the following excerpt from Richard Swenson's book, Margin (emphasis added):

"The concept of unworthiness is a wonderful thing to grasp and is the first step in setting things right.  But getting stuck in it is a spiritually neurotic thing to do and is not God's will.  The call to spiritually accurate self-love is not a denial of our unworthiness but is instead the result of a journey that goes through unworthiness to God."

3.    I was literally overwhelmed upon reading the story of the three American teens who shot and killed a 23 year old Australian man for no other reason than apparent boredom.  The senselessness of it is incomprehensible.  The cycle of racism which flows out of these events is maddening.  I read today on CNN that one of the accused made racially charged tweets several months ago.  As I am reading Metaxas (as well as Malcolm X's autobiography with my oldest), I am struck by the suffering and hate that we allow to flow out of our supposed "racial" differences.  Why do we collectively remain so primitive in this regard? 

Onward with hope and the grace shown to each of us.  Peace of Christ be with you today.

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