I’m in Baltimore, waiting for the bus that will take me to the train, that will take me to my best friend’s house, where I’m staying for the conference this week. For those just tuning in, I’m attending the Sojourner’s Mobilization to End Poverty Conference until Wednesday this week. I’ll be hearing some pretty amazing speakers, possibly even including our president.

This morning waiting for my flight, I was reading some of G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy (which has taken me far too long to read), and came across this passage:

There is one thing that Christ and all the saints have said with a sort of savage monotony. They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to kill the rich as violators of definable justice. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to crown the rich as convenient rulers of society. It is not certainly un-Christian to rebel against the rich or to submit to the rich. But it is quite certainly un-Christian to trust the rich, to regard the rich as more morally safe than the poor. (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy)

Chesterton’s thoughts struck me. Here I am about to embark on a three-day journey learning solely about poverty and how we can stop it, and then this passage comes up. Before the passage, Chesterton notes the idea that perhaps those with greater resources are more fit to govern those lacking. Chesterton then goes on to say that perhaps wealth isn’t what makes us more suited to govern, it just opens us up to a great deal of moral instability.

Hmmm. I do not consider myself a rich person, except in quality of life, but I suppose in the grand scheme of the world, I am a queen. I work quite a bit, but as a result, do not have to worry much about how much money I am spending (although I do stick to a detailed budget!). I can pay my rent, feed myself perhaps too well, enjoy a beer now and then, and even have money left over for such luxuries as tshirts, iPods, and Macbooks. Looking at my own wealth in this way makes me feel guilty. I have been blessed (although I hesitate to use that word – google “open theism”), and all these blessings leave me feeling…helpless.

I guess my big hope for this conference is that I am changed—motivated. I want so badly to be in the forefront shaping this world and giving all I’ve got. I confess that all too often I am held back by insecurities, worries about my own well-being, and selfishness. I am so looking forward to being able to have more information and learn about what it is others are doing in the face of such a problem as the poverty people in our nation and our world are facing.

I hope that you will keep me and the other conference attendees in your prayers. Pray that we are changed, and pray for the leaders of the conference, that they are speaking God’s words.


pray without ceasing

I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer.  The idea of prayer is one I’ve always sort of struggled with growing up.  “If God knows what I’m going to ask for, then why ask for it?”  “Praying doesn’t change God, it changes me.”  “God, are You even listening?”

I recently read Greg Boyd’s “God of the Possible,” where he explains the idea of open theism.  I think I personally had grown up assuming that God knew every detail of what was to come.  Open theism suggests that the future is not, in fact “exhaustively settled,” and in that case, God can not and does not know exactly what is to come.  Boyd argues that that is what gives prayer its urgency.  If God knows everything that is to happen and there’s no way it’s going to change, why pray?  But, if the future is at least partially open, then it is nothing less than our duty to pray for God’s hand.  Right?  Cerebrally, I believe this.  Yet my actions give little evidence I do.

My other prayer-hang-up is this:  what is appropriate to pray about?  My immediate answer is:  everything.  My careful answer is something closer to…holy things.  You know, things that let you feel spiritual and awesome.  I certainly think God would rather us pray about everything, but…I feel silly sometimes.  Or selfish.  I guess we are all guilty of selfish prayers, but sometimes I can’t help but feel weird praying for jobs or other money issues when I am so blessed as it is.  I may feel like the ground is falling from beneath me or someone I love, but the truth is that I still make more money than a lot of the world.  That makes me feel like maybe I don’t need to pray for a more steady job or a raise. 

I heard a lady say one time that when she goes to the mall, she prays for a parking space.  That trusting God with the little things helps her trust Him with the big things.  In my “enlightened” state, my first reactions to that statement are:  Does God even like malls?  Does God care where I park?  Really, is it to the glory of our creator if I get to park a little closer to the mall?  I am inclined to think that maybe…it does not matter in the long run if I have to walk a few more feet.

The truth is I have no idea what the answers to these questions are, and I’m pretty ok with that.  I’m inclined to think that it does matter, it must matter, that I pray.  If I believe in a God who cares for me, then I must believe that He will listen to me, no matter how insignificant my cares, even if I am not changing His mind, and even if He is, perhaps, not too concerned about them.  (I love my best friend, and I will listen to her always, but I am not particularly concerned about what she had for lunch.  Catch my drift?)  Also, I think you should read Mr. Boyd’s book.