The Moral of the Story with Jay Ray: Pinocchio Nation

Yesterday, I finished reading a book entitled, Pinocchio Nation, which was co-authored by Steve Wamberg and Devlin Donaldson. The book talks about the our culture and the rationalizations that we collectively have created to ensure that our dishonesty is simply seen as normalcy. This book, along with another book I recently read, Radical by David Platt, is a challenging book based on the authors’ understanding that American Christians need a spiritual wake up call, to be truth-tellers and truth-hearers. The authors use anecdotes and statistical evidence to show that the current generation of students believe almost entirely in relativistic truths, the idea that there are no absolute truths as set out in the Bible.

No matter the anecdote used, the authors discuss three possible, however simplified, reactions to truth-telling, which is the main wisdom, I’d like to impart in this forum. The three scenarios surround a martial arts master and his three students. The master is attempting to test his students’ reactions to something unexpected and in a way teaching the difference between an outright reaction and a response to any situation. The setup is a tea cup on top of a slightly ajar door. The test is each students’ reaction to the tea cup falling when they come through the door.

The first student is a relative novice and kicks the tea cup across the room. The second student is a little better, opening the door and catching the tea cup when it falls, giving it to the master as a gift. Finally, the third student, who is only weeks away from being a master himself, notices the door being ajar and realizes something is up; as such, he finds a new way into the room, takes the cup down, and asks his master if he would like some tea.

The moral of the story is this: the first student reacts to the truth as though it is a threat without really thinking through the reaction before acting on it. The second student has learned to look at the truth of a situation, to catch what she can, and to respond calmly and learn from the situation. The third student has experience that shows him to look for the truth in every situation, leading him to value the truth and serve others with it and through it. I hope I can continue to grow in this way and begin to realize in myself where I have rationalized even the smallest of dishonesties.

This has been The Moral of the Story with Jay Ray.

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The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.