Friday, December 4, 2009


Wandering through the 'blogosphere', amidst all the family scrapbooks and merchandising sites, there are some really good blogs--blogs which speak truth about the world. Among them, I think, are the blogs that I follow. One of them, Provocations, had a post (two months ago) that continues to resonate with me. It was called 'Cultivate'. The writer, Robyn Coffman, who also goes by ViolentLove, wrote something so profound, I feel the need to quote much of it here. She said:

"Let us cultivate unoffendable hearts.

"Everyday we have so many opportunities to be offended. The occasions for taking offense are practically endless. Indeed, we are daily given the opportunity to either be offended by something or to possess an unoffendable heart.

"Online, offline. In relationships. At work and play... so often we are misunderstood, misrepresented and/or dealing with people who operate out of their places of pain... we have the choice to either continue the cycles of offense or to stop them.

"We can choose to pour out grace, mercy, love and truth."

I think about this frequently. How can I be unoffendable? How can I respond with "grace, mercy, love and truth" rather than my usual defensiveness? It's a prod to me to change how I am in the world.

Robyn is an evangelical Christian who ministers to abused young people. I am often amazed and humbled by her descriptions of her work. But oddly enough, another post that moved me was by someone with a very different religious perspective. My friend Susan Rose is an Ethical Culture leader--basically humanist clergy. Her faith is quite different from Robyn's but what they both have in common is caring hearts. Susan does her ministry these days over at the Ethical Society Without Walls website, also known as ESWoW.

A couple of months ago she wrote a post that I was taken with called 'Act So As To Elicit The Best'. The title comes from a concept developed by Felix Adler, the founder of Ethical Culture: "Act so as to elicit the best in others and thereby in oneself." In her post Susan says that to do this requires that we believe "that others do indeed have a 'best.'" I think that believing others really do have a best is an important part of creating a better world. It's so easy to write off people, so to assume that people have a 'best' is to believe that everyone is important, that everyone has worth. Susan talks about this as her message to others: "I value your ideas, I value your being." She points out that she doesn't say this in so many words, but this is what she believes and she tries to make her actions actions consistent with it. She said that when her daughter questioned her about "...what makes Ethical Culture a religion...", Susan gave her treatment of others as an example of spiritual value from Ethical Culture.

These two posts got me thinking. Imagine if we all could be unoffendable, instead pouring out "grace, mercy, love and truth." Imagine if we saw the best in every person, valuing their ideas and their very being. I think this would be radical social change. I think that this could begin the healing of the world.

Quote of the Day: "The first and most essential principle
is the cultivation of the heart.
"There is only one way
to cultivate this quality
to become more and more selfless
with each step we take." -Robyn Coffman


CrackerLilo said...

I am quite angry at Evangelical Christians as a group at the moment. One great thing about your post is that Robyn reminded me not to yield to prejudice. Good work, beautiful thinking.

Most of the time, I think faith or non-faith itself doesn't really matter so much as how you live and express it. I think of something my wife says. She says she notices that "kind people worship kind Gods and mean people worship mean Gods." I think there's a lot of truth in that.

MoonRaven said...

Thanks for your insightful comment. I like your line "faith or non-faith itself doesn't really matter so much as how you live and express it." That's a really nice way of saying one of the things I was trying to say in this post.