Archives for posts with tag: goodness

Last week I write about my recent visit to Cuba and my plans to return in October (you are welcome to join me). I spoke of the enjoyment of the experience and mentioned a few of the places we visited.

I could expand on the sites and people. There is much that could be said about the economic condition of the island nation just 90 miles from the United States. The pros and cons of the U.S. embargo could easily provide fodder for a long political discussion. I could compare and contrast the economies and governments of the two countries.

Instead, I want to share something which spoke to me about poverty and wealth and transcends the understanding of these two particular cultures.

image of worship - priest and worship at the catholic altar - JPG

On Sunday morning group leaders on the ship provided worship experiences for both Protestants and Catholics. Although attendance was voluntary, I am glad that I went. While Father Damien celebrated mass with the Catholics on board the ship, Rev. Bob Brown, one of the Protestant ministers, led a worship service in which we were introduced to a new song.

Cuando el Pobre (When the Poor Ones) is a Latin American hymn from 1971 written by J. A. Olivar and Miguel Manzano.  The English translation is by George Lockwood.

Bible

The hymn is a meditation on Matthew 25: 31-46, the parable of the great judgment, focusing on verses 34-36: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (NIV).

The United Methodist Hymnal editor Carlton Young notes: “The central teaching (of the hymn) is the classic liberation motif that God in Christ is seen and experienced in the plight of the rejected of society: the homeless, the poor, and the parentless. In life’s journey, we are closer to God when we love them and share from our abundance of food, clothing, and shelter. Those who choose the alternative—greed, hate, and war—will ‘go away into eternal punishment’” (Matthew 25:46a).

CUANDO EL POBRE (UMH #434)

When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers,

When the thirsty water give unto us all,

When the crippled in their weakness strengthen others,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When at last all those who suffer find their comfort,

When they hope though even hope seems hopelessness,

When we love though hate at times seems all around us,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When our joy fills up our cup to overflowing,

When our lips can speak no words other than true,

When we know that love for simple things is better,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When our homes are filled with goodness in abundance,

When we learn how to make peace instead of war,

When each stranger that we meet is called a neighbor,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

 
Jamie Jenkins

 

Perhaps you have played the Gossip Game. The first person in a group is handed a piece of paper with a gossip phrase or sentence written on it. This player reads the phrase but doesn’t show it to anyone else. He or she whispers the phrase to the next person in line, who whispers what they thought they heard to the next person, and so on down the line. The last person repeats what he/she heard to the entire group. The first person then tells the group what the phrase actually was.

If you have played the game, you know that the final report is always much different from what is was at the beginning. That simple game demonstrates how difficult it is communicate effectively and accurately. What one hears is not necessarily what is said. People “have the unique ability to listen to one story and hear another” (Pandora PoikilosExcuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out).

Cover of Review of General Psychology (medium)

The fact that language is not always a reliable vehicle for communication leads to gossip and the spreading of rumors.  Researchers wrote in a 2004 study in the Review of General Psychology: “In many cases defamation of the target’s character is not the primary goal, and may even be irrelevant.” Nevertheless, conversations or reports about other people or events easily result in details that are not confirmed as being true. It is just the way it works but sometimes it is intentional.

In the book, The Untrivial Pursuit, Joseph Epstein says, “Gossip is no trivial matter; despite its reputation. He also concludes that gossip has “morphed from its old-fashioned best—clever, mocking, a great private pleasure—to a corrosive new-school version, thanks to the reach of the mass media and the Internet.”

American poet and philosopher Criss Jami concludes that “Popular culture is a place where pity is called compassion, flattery is called love, propaganda is called knowledge, tension is called peace, (and) gossip is called news.” In this age of information, social media provides a much faster way to share gossip. In only a matter of minutes, gossip and rumors can spread online around the world.

When we are bombarded with information, how do we filter it? How do we separate useful information from gossip? The most obvious answer would be of course to use our common sense. However, that clearly doesn’t seem to be helping. This story of the Greek philosopher Socrates might help us make better judgments about the information that we consume on the internet or from any source.

 Image result for images of Socrates

In ancient Greece, Socrates was visited by an acquaintance of his. Eager to share some juicy gossip, the man asked if Socrates would like to know the story he’d just heard about a friend of theirs. Socrates replied that before the man spoke, he needed to pass the “Triple-Filter” test.

 

He explained, the first filter is Truth. “Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to say is true?” The man shook his head. “No, I actually just heard about it, and …”

Socrates cut him off. “You don’t know for certain that it is true, then. Is what you want to say something good or kind?” Again, the man shook his head. “No! Actually, just the opposite. You see …”

Socrates lifted his hand to stop the man speaking. “So you are not certain that what you want to say is true, and it isn’t good or kind. One filter still remains, though, so you may yet still tell me. That is Usefulness or Necessity. Is this information useful or necessary to me?”  A little defeated, the man replied, “No, not really.”

“Well, then,” Socrates said, turning on his heel. “If what you want to say is neither true, nor good or kind, nor useful or necessary, please don’t say anything at all.”

The Bible offers the following instruction that underscores Socrates’ instruction: “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. Never say anything that isn’t true. Have nothing to do with lies and misleading words” (Proverbs 4:23-24Good News Translation).

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

Good News 2

It is not unusual to hear of someone getting shot. Or someone robbing or killing folks as they walk the streets of their city. Or a purse snatching. Those stories have become commonplace and fill our newscasts. But I have a different story to tell you.

Good News 1

A friend had been running errands and shopping. After returning home and unloading the things she had bought she realized her purse was missing. The last time she remembered having it was at Walmart when she was loading her purchases into her automobile.

She figured she had left it in the shopping cart or perhaps had left it on the car and it fell off as she drove away. And that was about an hour ago. Her purse was probably lost for ever with her ID, credit cards, and money. Surely she would never see her purse again.

With little hope of a positive outcome my friend and her husband rushed back to the store hoping against hope. When they came to the spot where her car had been parked it was no surprise that there was no sign of her purse or its contents. Perhaps whoever found it might have thrown the purse in a nearby trash can after taking her valuables. But the trash can yielded nothing.

Good Deed 1

With hopes dwindling and dread growing they went to the customer service desk inside Walmart. With little expectation of an affirmative answer she inquired if anyone had turned in a purse in the last hour. As expected she was given a look of “you’ve got to be kidding.” However, minutes later the store employee returned from a side room with her purse AND nothing was missing.

My friend responded, “Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!” and the store clerk replied, “God is good!”

There has never been a doubt in my mind that God is good but I have not always felt so confident that people are good. There is so much badness and meanness on display in the world that it is easy for goodness to be overlooked. The attention given to violence and hatred and greed outweighs any emphasis on compassion and  integrity and honesty.

Honesty 2

One of my teachers long ago had a favorite saying: “Bad news goes around the world twice before good news gets its shoes on.” In other words, we hear and spread “bad” news much more regularly and rapidly than we tell “good” news.

The attitude demonstrated by my friend and her husband reflects the attitude of cynicism that is all too common. We have been conditioned to expect the worst. We have been taught to believe that evil is more prevalent than good. An incident like this lost purse encourages us and reminds us that there are a lot of good people in the world. Thank God!

Jamie Jenkins