Ultimate Self-care

Ultimate Self-care
Image: Celestine Chua

I love alliteration … I also had not anticipated blogging with 3S & 1R: Spiritual, Sabbath, Self-Care & Religious. In fact, I had thought I would be adding a new addition to the Serial Story Feather’s Fall (thanks for the recent inquiries about an update: next week … I hope J )! But then a great twitter conversation occurred about Sabbath and Self-care, which then moved onto the ongoing faith discussion about a person being spiritual but not religious … and thus a blog was born!

My take away from this twitter conversation is that we – as church – have done a rather poor job of translating our words into a context – the secular – that pretty much is longing for them. So (for instance) in this 24/7 economy, in which temporary and part-time jobs mean less financial security, there is often little time for family or self. As a result, the idea of self-care is gaining in importance.

Now in church-ese we call that Sabbath. This rich and nuanced word contains rich history of social and economic justice, which is tied to the earth and agriculture (Creation in church-speak). And we know from multiple studies, these church values are shared by the secular context that talks about self-care. Problem though – here’s the rub – is we’re not even in the conversation (often). Self-care often is individualistic and self-focused. In fact, it mirrors the consumer culture in which we live and is often approached as a product in and of itself. And – since we are not in the conversation – we have little space to connect that the church language of Sabbath carries another shared value: community and corporate well-being!

Snoopy's Theology

Snoopy’s Theology
Image: Charles Schultz (1976)

From Sabbath and Self-Care, the conversation that inspired this blog then moved on to discuss the phrase/movement of spiritual but not religious. A phrase that often irks those in the church and too often gets dismissed and/or judged. And I think this is unfortunate.

Since we are often not in the conversation or find ourselves only speaking to one another (within our context) and not those who are seeking (the spiritual part), we have done a poor job to address this reality: spiritual seeking itself has been turned into a commodity and leaves it to the individual to put together a system of ritual, practice and discipline: in essence people are creating their own religions (often individual in focus). And – often – without an anchored tradition, sometimes such religious formation leaves a spirituality that is unable to weather some of life’s very real and traumatic realities. I do not claim that formal or institutional religion always does this well – but the communal tradition leaves space for support individualism cannot (in my experience).

As this twitter chat came to an end, I was excited both by the trust being shared and the public nature. For those who aren’t familiar with Twitter, this is all public. Currently the Presbytery has a reach of 1200+ Followers and the person with whom I was exploring these great ideas and appropriate challenges has many as well! Public discussion of faith is great!

And here’s the final take away: if we are currently not in the conversation, need alone participating publicly (Church-ese might go as far as calling this Evangelism) then not only do we need to ask whether we are relevant, but do we have any moral or ethical stance on which to judge? I think that reality is we do tend to judge – and I’d challenge that’s easy to do when you aren’t in the game, need alone even on the sidelines …

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