Hello! This week I explore myths about time, share four articles from around the web, write further book notes on ‘The Universal Christ’, and introduce Hermann du Plessis for this week’s mini-interview. Enjoy 😊 –Sam
One of the questions I get asked a lot is: How do you find the time to read so much? I recognise the reality that I do read more than average. But I question the implication that I have have more time than others.
On average, I read three to four books each month. I know from many conversations with friends and colleagues, that that’s way above average. Three to four books a year seems closer to the norm.
The reason for not reading more is almost always, ‘I don’t have the time.’
But to this I say, ‘bullshit’.
Now I’m not saying everyone should read more. I’m simply saying time is almost never a true or legitimate excuse.
How do I know? Because if I was to watch your life for a week, I would soon identify reading time. I’d look at the time spent watching Netflix. The hours on social media. The endless checking of news. And if not these things, I’d find something else.
And that is not to make a judgment on any of these things. It is to say this. In nearly every instance, a lack of time for reading is a matter of priorities. And, related, values. (I should add that this applies to more than reading. We should always question what we think we don’t have time to do.)
Our values are revealed by what we do – not what we say our values are. We might say we value reading more than Netflix. But our Netflix viewing history reveals otherwise.
Again, there’s no judgement here. It’s perfectly acceptable to value Netflix more reading. My point is this: don’t blame a lack of time.
Blaming time is typically cover for the real reason. And the real reason is worth exploring! It forces us to investigate our actual values and priorities. And, when we do that, we may legitimately decide we don’t want to make more time for reading. But that’s a choice. It’s a valuing of other things more. It’s not to do with a time limitation.
Here’s to being honest with ourselves about our values, priorities, and use of time!
‘Young men in Silicon Valley who lacked any impulse towards restraint developed and released technology whose effect they could not know and did not stop to wonder about.’
The Times Literary Supplement
‘…Dutch culture prioritises family and relationships. They weren’t playing a game of competitive busyness and presenteeism that we play in the UK; families had time for dinner together and proper conversations… Your kids aren’t some hushed secret in the Netherlands – they’re the priority.’
Mark Smith, The Times
All of us with kids have to grapple with how much screen time they should have. And this isn’t new. Yes, smartphones and tablets add a new dimension, but the issue isn’t brand new – TV has been around for while! That said, this report includes some helpful questions to gauge whether your child might have an actual screen time related issue.
This is a fun read. And worth it if only for the advice about never allowing slime into your house again. I, along with most fellow parents, will I’m sure, heartily agree!
Alice Judge-Talbot, blog post
The Universal Christ (Part two)
This week I want to share some more notes and reflections from Richard Rohr’s ‘The Universal Christ.’
I’m going to start with one line from chapter two jumped out at me. And this is in relation to what Christians call the ‘Gospel’, or literally, ‘good news’. Rohr says that Christianity’s core good news is this: that we all share the divine nature.
In other words, the main message of Christianity is that we are all sacred at our core, with divine DNA.
Sadly, this isn’t the message many churches have preached. Instead, countless people cringe at the mere sound of the word ‘Gospel’ or indeed Christianity. The associations are negative. Why? Because the message the church has preached is one of judgement. ‘If you don’t believe the same things as us, you’re doomed.’ Even if not said so overtly, that’s what people have heard. We think we’re offering good news, but it’s received as bad.
This ties in with a thought Rohr further explores in chapter four. He writes about original goodness. Most church people are familiar with the idea of original sin. Tragically though, the idea of original goodness is not known or understood.
Instead, we talked about a fallen humanity. We focussed on the evil of our world. We proclaimed a message that didn’t see good in humanity and creation. And so we shared a ‘gospel’ that was all about escaping this world for another (heavenly) one.
But, says Rohr, Jesus did not need to come to earth in order to make it more sacred. He lived in and amongst creation, honouring it as a sacred gift that had already been given.
Jesus came to help us recognise and recover our sense of the divine image in everything. This is the work of all true religion too.
We are all God’s children. No exclusions.
But by starting with original sin, we’ve been doing everything since from the wrong footing. We need to make a deliberate choice to focus instead on what is true, good, and beautiful. That is the starting point.
This doesn’t deny that there is much evil in our world. Nor does it deny that each of us falls short of living lives of love, goodness, kindness, and compassion. We’re all sinners in that sense. But, that’s not where we start.
To quote Rohr, ‘I have never met a truly compassionate or loving human being who did not have a foundational and even deep trust in the inherent goodness of human nature.’
And then, ‘The Christian life is simply a matter of becoming who we already are.’
This is a huge shift for many. And any ‘becoming of who we already are’ doesn’t happen by accident. God never works uninvited. But the true Christian message – and indeed the essence of any true and healthy religion – is a reminder of who we truly are. We then get to choose to make a conscious ‘yes’ to taking this journey.
And part of this journey includes dealing with what the Bible calls sin. But we do this only in the context of a positive and overarching vision. This is an inevitable stage of desiring to become who we truly are. To live out of our true self. To live from our divine nature.
Who knows, if this is the message, people might actually start to agree with Christians that this is good news!
Seven questions with Hermann du Plessis
Hermann du Plessis lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He’s married to Adel and a father to Grace (who turns 4 in May). He works as a social entrepreneur and pastor.
1. What’s a book you’ve read – recently or otherwise – that has significantly affected how you see the world?
In the name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton
The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus
2. What’s the biggest challenge or obstacle you’ve had to overcome in getting to where you are today?
Lack of resources. And then, with being a number 8 on the Enneagram, my reliance on self and my ego!
3. What aspect of your job is the most interesting?
Strategy – finding a way to execute the big plans!
4. What's a goal or dream you have that you haven't pursued yet?
Professional Speaker and EDM DJ.
5. What cause or issue are you personally passionate about at the moment?
Finding a way to get millennials involved in church. And finding a way to encourage leaders to embrace servant leadership.
6. What do you do when you’re in need of joy, peace, calm, or focus?
7. What's something that costs £20 ($25) or less that you think everyone should get?
A journal, for reflection!
If you’d like to connect with Hermann, you’ll find him on Twitter.