Friday randomness

Not a lot of dialogue about the Advent Conspiracy stuff from the last post … thoughts?


My dad sent me a question he received from a friend via e-mail. The question is: “Where do you find Jesus discerning whether or not his blessing a person would be empowering” or “enabling” that person? What’s the basis for exercising such discernment today? (I’m familiar with the ‘pearls’ and ‘swine’ passage, if that’s even applicable.)”

Here’s my two cents:

I would say it’s become enabling when the other person comes requesting something and almost seems to expect you to say yes. Also, when debts go unpaid for weeks and weeks, that’s a problem.

There are times to flat-out bless someone with no re-payment expected, but most of the time, we work out some kind of re-payment system.

All that said, though, while we ought to keep these things in mind, I’m not sure Jesus does much discerning along these lines. He’s pretty indescriminant about how and who he blesses, because the blessings ultimately point people to him. We’re not going to get every “empowerment-enablement” decision right, and that’s not the point. The point is that we are identifying with the poor, and doing our part to demonstrate Jesus’ love to them and ease their lives just a bit.

One more thing: Context is everything. We don’t give change to panhandlers in Boston because we know Boston has EXCELLENT services for the homeless. (plenty of shelters, free wool blankets, meal trucks, church groups, low-income housing, etc…) In another context, we might come to a different conclusion. So paying attention to those factors are important.


For those of you who don’t know, I (Steve) now work 3 days a week at a wonderful little book shop in downtown Boston. It’s one of the oldest antiquarian/rare/used bookshops in the US. Anyway, we get a nice discount on the books there, so you can imagine that my hold shelf is getting fairly crowded. I was especially excited about the books I took home yesterday, though, from a lot containing quite a bit of good Christian mysticism and spirituality classics. Have you read any of them?

When the Powers Fall: Reconciliation in the Healing of Nations, Walter Wink

A Book of Hours, Thomas Merton

Zen and the Birds of Appetite, Thomas Merton

The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith, Thomas Merton

The Wisdom of the Desert, Thomas Merton

Meister Eckhart, from Whom God Hid Nothing: Sermons, Writings & Sayings, Meister Eckhart

There are still several others I have on hold but haven’t pulled the trigger on … should I?


9 responses to this post.

  1. I’ve noticed that Comments are generally down right now. Must be the economy.


  2. i liked the video. in fact, i’ll be posting it soon myself. It’ll be the third year in a row to have my one Christmas post be about something that sticks it to North American society… like a new Christmas tradition!


  3. Posted by miller on December 6, 2008 at 4:28 am

    All that said, though, while we ought to keep these things in mind, I’m not sure Jesus does much discerning along these lines. He’s pretty indescriminant about how and who he blesses…

    you can’t know this. the scriptures are silent on it. what we can know is that some people were thankful and some were not… there was only one leper who returned to thank him, he asks the crippled man by the pool of bethesda if he wants to be healed (i’m not sure what this implies but it seems as if something we can’t see is going on)…

    for me, the point is that Jesus loves everyone. and the way he defines love is to treat each person like we wish to be treated. i think we can safely assume that means we should always want what is in a persons best interest.

    ultimately, it is almost impossible to know what’s in a person’s best interest…

    so we just do our best and listen in our heart for the voice of Jesus. not the fluffy, cuddly Jesus our culture loves. not the “your best life now” Jesus so many crave.

    rather, listen to the “look Peter in the eye after he’s just betrayed you, love him in his pain, let him wrestle with it for a few days, and when they’re together again forgive him” Jesus

    listen to the “you’re right you have no husband, you’ve had five husbands and you aren’t married to the man you’re with now, ” Jesus.

    listen to the “forgive them Father, they don’t know what they’re doing” Jesus.

    it’s never easy, there’s no formula, no quick easy solution…

    empowering, maybe

    enabling, maybe

    knowing you might make a mistake but taking your best shot at doing your best for the person…



  4. I’m not sure Jesus does much discerning along these lines.

    Miller – I agree. I mean what I say when I say “I’m not sure.” I’m basically pushing back against those who would say, “Jesus helps those who can help themselves.”

    My point is that I’m not sure Jesus sat around thinking, “I wonder if this person is going to buy whiskey with the change I’m giving him.” I’m not sure.

    That’s why we love indiscriminantly.


  5. Posted by mustardseedministries on December 6, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    hey, just found your website and wish we could have met up with you while we were there in Boston! We are traveling the States working and meeting with different intentional communities, churchs, and ministries who reach out to their neighborhoods, the poor, the homeless, etc. We stayed with the Salvation Army Jubilee House in Dorchester while we were there in Boston. Also worked briefly with Park Street Church and a couple other ministries.
    God bless you as you continue to follow Jesus and listen to His voice.
    Serenity and Andy Coulombe


  6. Posted by Cody on December 6, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    On the book question. I read Wisdom of the Desert a few years ago. I remember really loving it at the time, though my views have changed a lot since that time.


  7. Posted by miller on December 7, 2008 at 3:56 pm


    yes! i didn’t read that statement literally…


    great post



  8. Posted by Bryce on December 7, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Seven Storey Mountain is a keeper


  9. Posted by thepriesthood on December 8, 2008 at 5:36 am

    looks like some good stuff. Merton has been lurking on my textual horizon for some time now…


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