The Cracks are a Feature Not a Fault

In 2011 Will Ferrell was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Here is the first two minutes of his acceptance speech and it is greatness.

There is a story within the Jewish tradition in which God creates the world by taking in a breath in order to contract God's self in order to make room for creation. Then the divine light was put into ten vessels and sent to creation but the vessels broke the light got out. Some of the light returned to the Source and other parts fell all over creation. We see the divine lights in stars, grains of sand and in the sparkle in the eyes of others. Human beings were created with the task to "repair the world" - Tikkum Olam. 

While it was part of a bit, when Will Ferrell dropped the award his instinct is what our instinct would be. Pick up the pieces and try to repair it. 

The Gospel is the story that says, the cracks in the world are important. When Jesus was resurrected his hands and feet were still cracked. The self-help industry see cracks as a fault. The Good News sees cracks as a feature. Jesus did not cover up the cracks in his body, rather it was the cracks that became the conduit for others to believe it all to be real. The cracks in our lives are what make us real. As it was said by Leonard Cohen, "There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in." 

You see, when we repair the world the self-help world will teach us that we need to eradicate the cracks, mask over them, repair them so they are gone. The Gospel says that when we do that, when we hid the cracks, we also hide the light. Repairing the world with God is about exposing light, it is about embracing the cracks and trusting that God uses the cracks to heal the world.

The cracks are a feature not a fault.


The Makers, Breakers and Takers

In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the 20th Century is a book that mines the work of Harvard's Business School's Leadership Initiative. This Initiative looks at 860 top executives and analyzes their lives in order to expose leadership qualities that are not easily measurable. In the book, the authors speak of three leadership archetypes: Mold-makers, Mold-breakers, Mold-Takers. 

Leonard Sweet mentions this finding in his book, Nudge: Awaking Each Other to the God Who is Already There and he notes that the mold-makers are entrepreneurs, the mold-breakers are the charismatics, and the mold-takers are the managers. Of course as a Christian, when I see the number three I think first and foremost about the mystery of the Trinity. To build on this idea, might we suggest that God is the mold-maker, Jesus is the mold-breaker, and the Holy Spirit is the mold-taker. 

And like God, so the Church needs all three expressions of "molding". We need those who will make, those who break, and those who take the mold. It is also somewhat a trend that the longer one is in church leadership the more inclined we are to move toward being a mold-taker (manager or one that takes care of the already made mold) and away from the mold-maker (entrepreneur). And regardless of ones tenure in leadership there is always a suspicion of the mold-breaker. 

So to those in leadership and those in the pew, whatever your leadership style is, know that the Church needs you. We need the makers, the breakers and the takers.

Singing as a Discipline?

Last week I shared this quote from St. Augustine to a friend:

"Let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten your labors. You should sing as wayfarers do—sing, but continue your journey. Do not be lazy, but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going."

My friend shared that after reading this he could only think about how singing today is more about entertainment and escape than it is about a discipline. He went on to say that singing has become something that we do in private or at best quietly in a group. We sing only the songs we like and we sing as a way to transport us to another place (usually a past experience). So if there is a song that we do not like or do not have a connection with then we resist singing it. 

Singing to my friend is more of a discipline than entertainment. It is something that focuses the mind and Spirit so that we might be more intentional with the task at hand. Therefore it is important to sing even the songs we do not like because it forces us to face things we do not like and examine why we do not like them. Sure we can sing for entertainment, but if we are only singing to escape then we have missed the point of music - that is to connect us with one another, with God and with ourselves.

In light of the previous post of preserving the residues of tradition, I offer up this beautiful song of a Gregorian Chant mashed up with Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.