#BloggingtheSpirit: A new monthly event

Posted August 27, 2017 by Lory in events / 21 Comments

Laurie of Relevant Obscurity has started a new ongoing event: #BloggingtheSpirit, Adventures in Spirituality on the Last Sunday of the Month. Laurie says, “I am proposing that we connect on the last Sunday of this month, August 27th with any kind of post you chose: on a book, a piece of art or music, a photograph, a poem that inspires you, a word or a relationship…anything that speaks to your Spirit.”

Like Laurie, I usually feel a little shy about posting this kind of content on my blog. I don’t want to put off anyone who thinks I’m trying to impose a world view on them — I’m not. But it’s nice to have a chance to share some of my spiritually-oriented reading with others who might be interested, and anyone who isn’t can easily skip it. So here we go!

Lately I’ve been reading a little book called Everyone Belongs to God: Discovering the Hidden Christ (Plough, 2015). I received it via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program an embarrassingly long time ago, but I’ve finally picked it up and been pondering small chunks each morning.

It’s composed in a somewhat unusual way, as it is based on letters that a famous contrarian pastor in Germany wrote to his missionary son-in-law in China during the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. Extracts from the letters have been compiled into thematically organized chapters, with titles drawn from imperatives in the text: “See How Christ Is Already at Work,” for example, or “Always Hope.” The result hangs together fairly well, although one must bear in mind that the author didn’t know his words would be disseminated in this way, and that the editor has added bridging material which is not identified as such.

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (1842-1919) sounds like a fascinating figure; the publisher describes him as “a pastor who hated religiosity, an evangelist who rejected proselytism.” His father was a faith healer, but he turned from this path toward an active and engaged role in society, thus also becoming “a politician who lost faith in politics”; after a six-year term in the legislature he returned to his pastorate until his death. He continued to maintain that a genuine attempt to follow Christ demands that we engage in a loving, compassionate, and open-hearted way with our fellow human beings, including those who are very different from us. His thoughts influenced better-known theologians like Dietriech Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth, and in many ways seem ahead of his time.

Here are some quotations that give a taste of his ideas:

“God’s love tears down walls. No longer religion against religion, Christians against non-Christians, but justice against sin, life against death.”

“As soon as you think of yourself as the moral and righteous one and others as immoral and unrighteous, you ruin what God wants to do. The power of the Spirit will flee. Never despise other people, no matter who they are or how far they have strayed. Have and show a deep respect for everyone you meet. How can others find the love of God, who is the Father of all and who is love, if we his representatives look down on them?”

“The world needs people of life, not pious hypocrites…We must advance the gospel only through our presence, which should be as simple and clear as possible, containing a life hidden in Christ.”

“Did the Savior concern himself only with some heavenly realm? No! He came to us and dwelt among us…Through Christ a hole has been broken through from above down to us, not the other way around. So be on your guard. Today’s Christianity has made all kinds of holes out of this world, falsely teaching that we can simply fly out of it, like pigeons, and be saved.”

“Take heart, and may God give his spirit to all you meet! Remember, they don’t need to become ‘Christians’ like us. This designation need not come up at all. Whoever does the will of God is a child of the kingdom of heaven, whether he takes his cue from Confucius, Buddha, Mohammad, or the Church Fathers.”

“There is something in each person that will never be lost, something that can always be resurrected. This is the gospel.”

This remarkably ecumenical viewpoint has become a strong stream today, but in his time Blumhardt was certainly swimming against the current of the established church. His deeply felt convictions shine through every word, and can become an inspiration for those trying to follow a Christian path based in humility and reverence, rather than spiritual arrogance and closed-mindedness.

Here’s one more quotation which seems especially poignant in light of recent events:

“It breaks my heart that there is so much nationalism and violence in the name of Christ. European Christians have brought a curse upon their own head by killing so many other peoples. Judgment has come upon Christianity because it lacks the strength to love its enemies. The salt has lost its savor and is of no use.”

Where do you find the salt that gives savor to life? How does the spirit move you? I would love to hear about your sources of inspiration, whatever they may be.

Thank you, Laurie, for hosting this event! I’m excited to see what other bloggers come up with.

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21 responses to “#BloggingtheSpirit: A new monthly event

  1. I think it is fine expressing one’s views on spirituality, religion, life meaning, etc. On our blogs. I do it all the time. Many books, whether they be literary, history, philosophy etc. etc are deeply enmeshed in these issues anyway.

    I am non – believer who loves talking about these topics.

  2. Hi Lory and thanks for taking part!

    What a wonderful and fascinating voice you have shared here. I am blown away by how contemporary I find Blumhardt’s thought in all the passages you have highlighted. I do not know much about Germany at this time, but there must have been something going on that prompted such views. I find this especially insightful: “Whoever does the will of God is a child of the kingdom of heaven, whether he takes his cue from Confucius, Buddha, Mohammad, or the Church Fathers.”

    And you are right about the last quote you share…sometimes I think we, meaning human kind in general, just repeat the past going in circles instead of climbing higher. But on the other hand, finding insights like this FROM the past, gives me comfort that in a similar circumstance someone saw he didn’t have to succumb to the darkness, he found the light. And he was able to articulate it.

    As for my source of inspiration? Today, I am still in that space of wonder that someone thinks of penguins as windows opening them up to God!! 🙂

  3. I like that you (Lory) and Jean chose works from the past that still have relevance today. Humans are always learning, aren’t we? And fortunately there are people who can articulate just what we need.

  4. Your posts are so thoughtful and well written Lory, I always want to read them, regardless of content. I am not a Christian but am interested in what you have to say about your beliefs.

  5. BJ

    I enjoyed your post very much. And, I agree with Ruthiella, your posts are always thoughtful and well written. These quotes are beautiful and express a heart that respects others, despise any differences, as it reaches out in love. Compassion, kindness and mutual respect will always make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. After reading your post, I think I would be interested in reading this book. 🙂

  6. Wow, that last quote is so poignant, especially with what’s going on in America and Europe right now. I have never heard of Blumhardt, but I will definitely be adding this one to my Goodreads TBR!

  7. Blumhardt’s words really resonate with my own beliefs about God, God’s love, and what it means (or should mean) to be a Christian. The quotes you have shared are both inspirational and reassuring, particularly in these days when hatred, violence, and bigotry seem to be on the rise. Thank you for introducing me to this author; I’m adding this book to my Goodreads TBR and to my Amazon wishlist. And I’ll be looking into this blogging meme/theme as well. Like you, I tend to be reticent about my beliefs on my blog, but a respectful sharing of the things that inspire us is welcome, whether those be specifically religious or simply spiritual in the broader sense.

    • I’m glad you will consider participating in this theme, and that you found these words to resonate with you. They are challenging as well as comforting — what, never despise other people, no matter what they have done? — but very important and timely, I think.

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