Everyone Needs A Win

I was reading a book this weekend and got to thinking: every year, I resolve to read more. The past two years, I have been more intentional about that fact and I have been keeping myself accountable by documenting the books I read on this site; see 2016, 2017, and the current year. Not all the books are long or difficult to read and it doesn’t take into account any of the books I read with my children, which in the case of my four year old has started to include some rather hefty ones. However, my intentionality in my reading is partially about entertainment, partially about information, and partially about completion.

The first book I complete each year is a milestone that kickstarts all my crazy ideas. I think this is the case for all people at the beginning of the calendar year. Call it whatever you like—clean slate, new leaf, etc.—the point is most people think they can start over with things that they have lost sight of. Being or eating more healthy, reading more, finally learning that language or instrument; these are all good goals, but without strict accountability all year long, there is no way to make sure that the person is on track for where they think they should end up.

Perhaps the problem is that most people choose innocuous or open-ended resolutions each year that amount to a week’s worth of work before they realize it is simply too hard, not worth it, or not what they wanted in the first place. In my mind, these open-ended ideas need milestones to show progress, as well. Each going to read more” needs to see at least one book’s end to show some modicum of progress; each eating healthier” needs a meal that doesn’t contain fried food or sugary snacks; each working out” needs to set a goal and reach it; and each learning a skill” needs an accompanying performance of said skill.

What we need is a win, a small goal to start with that leads us psychologically to know that our goal—or any goal for that matter—is attainable. Once we understand that the goal is attainable, we should focus on goals that are harder to reach and include something more high stakes in the end. If I resolve to learn a new skill, shouldn’t I be force to share that in a forum that requires that skill? If I want to read more, join, lead, or create a group that forces me to be accountable to others who are reading the same book. When you take a class, you take a test to prove your knowledge. When you make a resolution, you make a commitment to capitalize on its gains, ideally for the betterment of others.

I have made it clear that I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions, but the problem isn’t the resolution, the problem is the timeframe and the joke that has become the lack of follow-through. I resolve to do better no matter when I think of it and I resolve to be accountable to others in the resolutions I make.

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

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.