A Post of a Different Color

August 16, 2012

I’ve had the hardest time writing a new blog post. I’ve been reading and rereading a number of good books such as Mission & Money by Jonathan Bonk and Going Global with God by Titus Presler. Their writing, and the perspective I carry into my reading, have led to some interesting reflections, one or more of which I thought I would use as a blog post. I thought I’d write on accompaniment, for example. Then I thought I’d continue to develop my thoughts on mission and money, which you may recall I started to discuss in my post Home Revisited. Next, I started writing about the ways in which all of this type of reading and reflection impacts me, in some way leading to personal change and transformation.

What I discovered reviewing my writing is that it was different from my other entries. It was much more academic, and frankly, boring. I realized I was developing tomes on money, accompaniment and transformation that all read like a section out of a very boring textbook. After rereading what I wrote, and giving some thought to those potential posts, I started to think that maybe there was an idea worthy of further reflection embedded in those feelings and reflections about my writing.

One of the things I occasionally worry about is intellectualizing. In my particular case, I suspect it’s a natural inclination as a result of my education and training as well as … well, who I am. I recall a time on vacation in Canada when the government was considering instituting a Goods and Services Tax (a kind of value-added tax we often refer to as a VAT). Chuck and I were touring the Citadel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with family when we were approached by a TV camera crew about being interviewed regarding the tax. As tourists from the US, the reporter wanted to know our feelings about the GST and if it’s implementation would limit our returning to Canada in the future. Chuck said he didn’t think it would have an impact on his vacation decisions. I, on the other hand, launched into a socio-economic analysis of taxation. I bet you can guess who appeared on the evening news. (Hint: It wasn’t me!)

Another possibility is that issues such as “accompaniment” and “money and mission” hit too close to home. I’m living those issues. They are a part of my daily life. I have to think about money and affluence all the time as a missioner from the US living in a South American country. Accompaniment and companionship and the associated issues they raise for missioners are at the heart of my daily work in the Diocese.  As such, it’s much easier to intellectualize and distance emotionally, rather than have to subject myself to what could be uncomfortable feelings. Another way to express this point is to say that intellectualizing can be a subconscious defense mechanism to protect myself from potentially uncomfortable feelings.

Toss some lingering culture shock into the mix, and it would be easy to reason that I might be doing a little of both … over-analyzing and emotional distancing. Don’t get me wrong, though … I’m not too worried about either. I know myself pretty well, and am comfortable with self-analysis, as I hope you’ve noted from other blog entries. So, I guess what I’m doing now is a self-check.

I think this kind of self-analysis and self-check is important for missioners. It’s particularly important given we’re less likely to have close friends around us who feel comfortable saying it like it is … telling us a truth we might need to hear. Back home, most if not all of us are likely to have friends who have the courage to challenge us, or let us know when they think we’re avoiding an issue. Sometimes what we’re told stings … but upon reflection, we appreciate that it was named and somehow know, or at least suspect, that what was said to us was a truth. That’s the kind of check-in many of us have with our close friends. After all, isn’t that what friends are for?

For me, as well as, I suspect, other missioners, prayer and self-reflection often have to serve as replacements for those truth-telling, close friends. … So, let’s hear it Ted …

2 Responses to “A Post of a Different Color”

  1. Dianne Smith Says:

    We are often reminded that “prayer is listening (not talking) to God.”

    I remember, years ago, becoming impatient with then-popular psychobabble, “new age”-speak, bumper stickers and — sorry — even their antithesis, intellectualization.

    I quietly placed 500 bumper stickers of my own on a display table at a Health & Spirituality conference at Kanuga. The decals simply read, “Jesus is my life coach.”

    I was comforted to observe that all 500 were snatched up, one by one, within an hour. Apparently a few other folks were equally disenchanted. Or was that similarly prayerful?

    I know for a fact that you listen every bit as well as you intellectualize, Ted. Your Life Coach, of course, is doing a fine job. And so are you.

    Thank you for another candid, thought-provoking post! Dianne

    Like

  2. jimboston Says:

    Thought provoking notes. They make me wonder about the specific content. For me, it might involve inner conflict about being relatively rich compared to many around me, and relatively poor in other ways. What do I ask for? What do I do without? What do I give? How do I relate? And the questions apply to time as well as money.

    Like


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