A lot of times we complain that reading the news fills us with nothing but violence, depression, and fear. But lately, there’s been a slew of stories that have sounded like nothing but good news to me.
And so I got to thinking, if we can pray the psalms, why can’t we pray the news?
Here are a couple of my favorite stories from the past week and some suggestions for prayerful reflection:
- Americans and God (Eric Weiner, NYT): This is a strikingly hopeful reflection on the Nones–the roughly 12 percent of Americans who claim no religious affiliation, but the vast majority of whom believe in God. Eric Weiner, author of Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine writes, “We Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day. We have a dog in this hunt,” and concludes with, “I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.”
- Sounds pretty great to me. How can we who identify with a God who is big enough to hold all our doubts, experimentation, and doesn’t laugh at us, but laughs with us, listen and encourage those who are open and searching?
- To Fix Health Care, Help the Poor (Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren Taylor, NYT): As I posted on my facebook page, what Bradley and Taylor are preaching here isn’t rocket science, but then again, America has yet to change what we’re doing when it comes to health care, so it seems we need to hear it again. Bradley and Taylor compare the amount other industrialized countries spend on social services (much, much more) to what the US spends on health care (a ton of moolah). Bradley and Taylor suggest that to build a healthy society, we clearly need to start thinking about spending money somewhere else than directly on medicine and medical care (perhaps on social services). They point out that while something like homelessness is not usually thought of as a medical problem, it has huge, hidden costs for society.
- I’ve learned this from listening to a friend who is in social work school talk about the costs of treating homeless mental health patients for out-patient services, over and over, with few results. The article on the Nones above referenced how frustrating it is for the religiously undecided to see the religiously decided engage in nasty political fights. How can we religiously-minded folks together seek healing for those in our society who need it, not only those who can afford it?
- The Generous Marriage (Tara Parker-Pope, NYT Blog): New research shows that those couples who report happiness in their marriage rank high on the generosity scale, generosity being defined as “the virtue of giving good things to one’s spouse freely and abundantly.” They include a quiz at the bottom of the blog post, with questions about how often you engage in acts of kindness for your spouse, beyond household duties, and forgive him/her.
- I remarked to my husband this morning that this understanding of generosity in marriage relationships seems to mirror my understanding of grace in my relationship with God. If we judge others by the world’s standards, they’re destined to fail, because we’re all broken human beings. But if we resolve to love one another’s brokenness, with a grace that keeps no record of wrongs, and serve one another as Christ humbly served us, it seems we have the makings of an unconditionally loving relationship, which no doubt is the recipe for a long, healthy marriage. How is God calling you to expand your expressions of generosity and grace to those in your midst?
- When a Disabled Child Dies (Meadow Rue Merrill, Boston Globe): Grab your box of tissues, because this article is a tear-jerker. However, it’s worth reading: this young girl with cerebral palsy’s life touches those around her and those across the globe. Merrill describes not only the joy of her child’s life, but her stages of grief, and her revelation that while children with disabilities’ internal organs aren’t sought out after death, their external organs (wheel chairs, hearing aids, voice computers) aren’t often put to use either. Her and her husbands’ quest to get these items to those who need them and honor the life of their daughter is courageous and moving.
- Lately I’ve been visiting a lot of foster families with children with cerebral palsy, and I’m so amazed by the love between the parents and the children, because it’s a love that knows the depth of patience, frustration, possibility, and commitment. Where have you experienced God’s love this week, and how does that love change the way you live your life?