Rashional Thoughts 2018

Rashional Thoughts — Refusing to give in to cynicism

The path leads one of two ways I was told — in our service through Christian communications, the only options are to become deeply pious or doggedly cynical.

I couldn’t quite grasp what my mentor was saying. After all I had only recently stepped into my first position with The Alabama Baptist newspaper and was still warming up to the fact that I did have a calling in the area of communications.

How that would look over time I did not know, but I knew I would give it everything I had at every point. For me, it has always been a calling to the concept and goal of communications — specifically within a faith-based arena — not necessarily to a position.

The positions have been there and I’m always grateful for them, but the heart of what we do in striving to effectively connect people, build relationships and share information is what has kept me motivated.

Now I can look back and see what my mentor meant all those years ago.

Developing an attitude of cynicism is a real danger — not only because we work in an area where we often see behind the curtain of ministry life but also because of the endless opportunities to be hurt by others. Of course, this isn’t necessarily different than any other area of work or life.

The fight to keep optimism alive and to stay positive is sometimes hard enough on our own, but when we are called to motivate and lead others to do the same, then it truly requires digging down deep and staying intimately connected to God to make it happen.

Think about how many people in your circles regularly complain, show frustration or spew angry sentiments. And think about how much energy you use absorbing all of it.

While we can technically be cynical without being ugly, cynicism typically brings a negative attitude and general “what’s the use” spirit. After all, everyone is out for him- or herself, right? There’s no hope left for humanity, right?

Distrust, suspicion, disgust and frustration are related feelings. When these traits are present, peace and joy get squashed and overshadowed — and our general presence definitely is not winning any popularity contests.
Without peace and joy, we start down a path of negativity, selfishness and maybe even ugliness.

Many of us say we are tired of the divisive culture we’ve found ourselves in, but what are we doing to change it? Are we willing to evaluate our hearts first?

It is sometimes hard to love others and to believe in them, but think about the possibilities if we keep trying.

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Rashional Extras – Toward a less angry politics

By Parker Snider
Alabama Policy Institute

When angry, count to 10 before you speak; if very angry, count to 100.”

If only we followed the advice of the Founding Fathers.

Thomas Jefferson, who expressed this sentiment, knew first-hand how politics can lead to indignation. Today, one glance at cable news or Twitter affirms that we too are accustomed to an angry politics.

What Jefferson also understood, and what I am worried we too often forget, is that anger in politics is to be avoided and tempered, not embraced and weaponized.

In most spheres, we attempt to tame this emotion. For some reason, however, we give anger in politics an out. We should not be so accommodating.

Why? For one, anger is inherently selfish. According to Aristotle, anger is “a desire, accompanied by pain, to take apparent revenge for apparent insult.” Anger arises when we feel personally wronged, and it seeks revenge, not resolution.

Since we are inherently selfish beings who regularly feel mistreated, anger is easy to provoke. It is no secret that human anger is incredibly fickle — simply being cut off in traffic (perhaps a three-second delay) elicits a bombastic reaction from many of us. Knowing our tendency toward irrational and unhelpful behavior when angry, we ought to reject our instinct to be led by anger in politics.

Another reason we should work toward a less angry politics is because we know history. We know that it is the anger of native Germans against Jewish success that drove the Holocaust. We witnessed the rage of jihadists against the United States in the attacks on 9/11. The simple ability for anger to propel such evil, as demonstrated by these events and countless others in history, should give us pause before we let this emotion into our politics.

James, the brother of Jesus, seems to confirm the problems with human anger when he writes that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Many biblical authors, in fact, echo this sentiment. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes that “anger lodges in the heart of fools,” and Paul, in his letter to the church at Colossae, implores believers to eliminate anger from their mouths.

As evident by the current political atmosphere, anger creates bitterness and divides, making change of the whole impossible. Anger turns people off, makes ideas easier to reject and does little more than rile up bitterness from those who think similarly.

Martin Luther King Jr. knew what I hope we soon learn — that anger has never changed a heart.

Even so, politics will always engender anger. What matters is what we do with it. Will we let what is meant to be a temporary emotion permanently consume us? Or will we transform that anger into action that is tempered, unifying and able to drive change in this mad world?

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Jesus was a good and faithful employee for God. Through the process of kenosis he gives us a model of how we can thrive and maintain our self-worth as a faithful employee in the marketplace. First, do our job. Second, do our job as if we are working for God, by adding value and achieving quality. Third, stay focused on God’s will. And finally, do our job ethically by doing what we “ought” to do, in tough times and prosperous ones, with honor.

Bruce Hartman
“Jesus & Co.: Connecting the Lessons of The Gospel with Today’s Business World”

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“For life is mostly edges. It is small — like a postage stamp … and I liked the middle of my stamp more than the edges … the middle is safe. Only the edges are dangerous, but it’s also where we learn life’s greatest truth: joy rarely erupts in the safe centers of our lives … Joy lies only along the edges.”

The late Calvin Miller
Excerpt from his memoir “Life Is Mostly Edges”

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@DisneyStudios
Doing nothing often leads to the very best something. … #ChristopherRobin