Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.
– Frederick Buechner
I talk to God but the sky is empty. ― Sylvia Plath
I think the trouble with me is lack of faith… often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address. – C.S. Lewis
We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty! ― Douglas Adams
Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one. ― Voltaire
Who among us has not experienced insecurity, loss and even doubts on their journey of faith?… We’ve all experienced this, me too. – Pope Francis
… the Old Testament, which is where many of the questions (and questioners) are. The Old Testament proves that God honors questioners. Remember, grumpy Job emerges as the hero of that book, not his theologically defensive friends. — Philip Yancey
Songs about DOUBTS & QUESTIONS:
- No Doubt About It by We The Kingdom (Christian): https://youtu.be/JCvKzyj2Tu8
- Lost in Doubt by Fame on Fire (pop): https://youtu.be/uTJjQ3QX3Y8
- Shadow of a Doubt by Bonnie Raitt (country): https://youtu.be/CRA8u93sOWs
- Doubt by Twenty-One Pilots (rap/spoken word): https://youtu.be/MEiVnNNpJLA
- Forgiven by Alanis Morisette (pop): https://youtu.be/-9DnL-TlyJw
- Sense of Doubt by David Bowie (instrumental): https://youtu.be/ENqheXKftbo
- No Doubt About Love by Kenny Loggins (country): https://youtu.be/usDtyKAfHjw
- Hand to Hold by JJ Heller (pop): https://youtu.be/n88EHf_ocoQ
- Remove This Doubt by Diana Ross & The Supremes (rock/soul): https://youtu.be/7qnQ9bZAMLo
- The Angel of Doubt by Punch Brothers (folk): https://youtu.be/9PibO0h7Hrg
- Lay Your Doubts & Fears Aside from Semele, HWV 58, Act II Scene III: No. 32 (Jupiter) (opera): https://youtu.be/a9nyBhLiumw
- Dyin Day by Anias Mitchell (folk/country): https://youtu.be/X1KG7jsaTrM
- Ain’t No Doubt About It by Wilson Pickett (rock/soul): https://youtu.be/CdjbvwJ4NHg
- Don’t Speak by No Doubt (pop): https://youtu.be/TR3Vdo5etCQ
- First by Lauren Daigle (Christian): https://youtu.be/RbWQV3OiRqA
- Who Could Ever Doubt My Love? By Diana Ross and the Supremes (soul/rock): https://youtu.be/4yaUE3L5Ex4
- Doubt by Joywave (pop): https://youtu.be/rTfGoa4p_EQ
- Doubt by Mary J Blige (R&B/soul): https://youtu.be/NUE5r4Mzf80
- Doubt Me Now by Cody Johnson (country): https://youtu.be/CdPmRNl3a6E
- No Doubt by Robin Gibb (rock): https://youtu.be/il0ugK6Doo0
- Raise a Hallelujah by Jonathan and Melissa Helser (Christian): https://youtu.be/awkO61T6i0k
- Laughing With by Regina Spektor (pop): https://youtu.be/-pxRXP3w-sQ
- Doubt by The Cure (rock): https://youtu.be/X2iHXlCShmY
- If You Find Yourself in Love by Belle & Sebastien (pop): https://youtu.be/de8OlR7G1xU
- Shadow of a Doubt by Roxette (rock): https://youtu.be/NMwbdiKzd4U
- When In Doubt by Punch Brothers (folk instrumental): https://youtu.be/cjBQT8GKf80
- No Doubt About It by Bay City Rollers (pop/rock): https://youtu.be/oPPERfmIpzE
- This Is the House that Doubt Built by A Day to Remember (hard rock/punk rock): https://youtu.be/9xjb9rvi7Js
- A Little Doubt Goes a Long Way by Reel Big Fish Band (zydeco/cajun): https://youtu.be/aLDgVieHIOM
- Shadow of a Doubt by Asia (rock): https://youtu.be/ZfKnjoShJTc
- Monolith of Doubt by After Forever (metal rock): https://youtu.be/rnNQpPW6ofc
- Without a Doubt by The Roots (rap, caution: explicit lyrics): https://youtu.be/IJJzRWO72Po
- Debate Exposes Doubt by Death Cab for Cutie (indie/rock): https://youtu.be/0E83Fvd5rFA
|A Sonnet for St. Thomas the Apostle
— Malcolm Guite
“We do not know… how can we know the way?”
Courageous master of the awkward question,
You spoke the words the others dared not say
And cut through their evasion and abstraction.
Oh doubting Thomas, father of my faith,
You put your finger on the nub of things
We cannot love some disembodied wraith,
But flesh and blood must be our king of kings.
Your teaching is to touch, embrace, anoint,
Feel after Him and find Him in the flesh.
Because He loved your awkward counter-point
The Word has heard and granted you your wish.
Oh place my hands with yours, help me divine
The wounded God whose wounds are healing mine.
QUESTIONING: An Act of Faith
When I speak to college students, I challenge them to find a single argument against God in the older agnostics (Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, David Hume) or the newer ones (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) that is not already included in books like Psalms, Job, Habakkuk, and Lamentations. I have respect for a God who not only gives us the freedom to reject him, but also includes the arguments we can use in the Bible. God seems rather doubt-tolerant, actually. — Philip Yancey
In other words, no matter how strong our faith is, at some point we may experience doubt. But instead of being a sign of weakness, doubt can actually be something that causes us to dig deeper into our relationship with God, and can even make our faith stronger. — Jesse Carey
Certainty is so often overrated. This is especially the case when it comes to faith, or other imponderables. — Julia Baird
Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith… Sometimes I think it is my mission to bring faith to the faithless, and doubt to the faithful. – Paul Tillich
Belief in God does not exempt us from feelings of abandonment by God. Praising God does not inoculate us from doubts about God. – Eugene Peterson
Surely… we cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety. – John Calvin
I do not believe there ever existed a Christian yet, who did not now and then doubt his interest in Jesus. I think, when a man says, “I never doubt,” it is quite time for us to doubt him. – Charles Spurgeon
The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget the questions, and we become smug like the Pharisee who listed all his considerable virtues, and thanked God that he was not like other men… Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.”– Madeleine L’Engle
When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate… I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer. – Brennan Manning
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt. – Dallas Willard
All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it, tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself – you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.‘ — C. S. Lewis
I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me—that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. — Anne Lamott
Who among us—everybody, everybody!—who among us has not experienced insecurity, loss and even doubts on their journey of faith? Everyone! We’ve all experienced this, me too. It is part of the journey of faith, it is part of our lives. This should not surprise us, because we are human beings, marked by fragility and limitations. We are all weak, we all have limits: do not panic. We all have them … If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. — Pope Francis
Darkness is such that I really do not see—neither with my mind nor with my reason—the place of God in my soul is blank—There is no God in me—when the pain of longing is so great—I just long & long for God … The torture and pain I can’t explain. — St. Mother Teresa
For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God. — Martin Luther
The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble … Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise amid overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints. — Charles Spurgeon
If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation. ― Yann Martel
COMMENTARY on THOMAS as a DOUBTER
Here’s my simple contention about this passage: Thomas is not so much a doubter as he is a realist. Think about it. Everything we know about Thomas up to this point suggests that he is forthright, genuine, and even courageous …
Thomas, I would contend, is at heart a pragmatist, one who likes his truth straight up and who relentlessly takes stock of the situation before making a decision. …
Which leads me to believe that what changes when Thomas is confronted by the risen Lord is not that he is no longer a doubter – he never really was – and certainly not his realism. No, what changes is his perception of reality itself. Of what is possible. Of what God can do. Even of what God can do through him….
Jesus comes and takes his mocking words and turns them back on him, not to humiliate or scold him, but simply to confront him with the possibility that his reality was too small, his vision of what is possible too limited. And when Jesus calls him to faith, he’s actually inviting him to enter into a whole new world. …
And this issue of having too small a vision of reality is what I find interesting. Because I also fall into a worldview governed by limitations and am tempted to call that “realism.” Which is when I need to have the community remind me of a grander vision. A vision not defined by failure but possibility, not governed by scarcity but by abundance, not ruled by remembered offenses but set free by forgiveness and reconciliation …
There are, I suspect, a lot of Thomases in our congregations…. who should not have to surrender their sense of realism, but instead be invited to a whole new reality that God created — David Lose
So, two things I noticed and wondered about when reading this passage.
First, Thomas only asks to see what the other disciples have already seen. … Thomas asks for no extraordinary proof to move his extraordinary doubt, but only requests what the others had already been given.
Second, is Thomas’ reaction one of doubt or realism? Might it be that Thomas was, above all else, a realist? And that reality had come as never before ….— David Lose
This week’s gospel lection offers us a secret room, and, with it, an invitation to touch, to cross more deeply into Jesus’ story and our own… History has labeled this disciple Doubting Thomas, as if his uncertainty were the most memorable thing about this follower of Jesus who, elsewhere, is the first to step up and say he is willing to die with him Yet Jesus, as is his way, gives Thomas what he needs — Jan Richardson
I was reminded that in the story of the raising of Lazarus, Thomas is the one—the only one—who steps forward and expresses his willingness to die with Jesus. In this week’s reading, Thomas once again crosses into a place where others have not ventured: into the very flesh of the risen Christ… The wounds of the risen Christ are not a prison; they are a passage. Thomas’s hand in Christ’s side is not some bizarre, morbid probe: it is a union, and a reminder that in taking flesh, Christ wed himself to us.— Jan Richardson
Inventory ― Dorothy Parker
Four be the things
I am wiser to know:
a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things
I’d been better without:
freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things
I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and
Three be the things
I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope
and a sock in the eye.
We learn from failure, not from success! ― Bram Stoker
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. ― René Descartes
Doubt everything. Find your own light. ― Gautama Buddha
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.― William Shakespeare
To deny, to believe, and to doubt absolutely — this is for man what running is for a horse. – Blaise Pascal
Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.
― George Carlin
Doubt as sin. — Christianity has done its utmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be sin. One is supposed to be cast into belief without reason, by a miracle, and from then on to swim in it as in the brightest and least ambiguous of elements: even a glance towards land, even the thought that one perhaps exists for something else as well as swimming, even the slightest impulse of our amphibious nature — is sin! And notice that all this means that the foundation of belief and all reflection on its origin is likewise excluded as sinful. What is wanted are blindness and intoxication and an eternal song over the waves in which reason has drowned. ― Friedrich Nietzsche
I like the scientific spirit—the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine—it always keeps the way beyond open—always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man, a chance to try over again after a mistake—after a wrong guess. ― Walt Whitman
And your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perhaps bewildered and embarrased, perhaps also protesting. But don’t give in, insist on arguments, and act in this way, attentive and persistent, every single time, and the day will come when, instead of being a destroyer, it will become one of your best workers–perhaps the most intelligent of all the ones that are building your life. ― Rainer Maria Rilke
THE GIFT of DOUBT —from Between the Dark and the Daylight by Joan Chittister (Penguin Random House)
As Voltaire remarked, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
The problem is that certitude seduces us. It enables us to believe that what was said to be true is true because someone else said so. It simply cuts off thought. It arrests discussion in midflight. And yet we yearn for it with a passion. We spend endless, sleepless nights grappling with intellectual options in order to wiggle them into a satisfying kind of certainty without so much as a scintilla of evidence.
Rulers of all stripe and type dispense certainties—theirs—with great abandon. They do whatever it takes—define cultural dogmas, assert organizational doctrines, impose decrees, and use power, force and penal systems—to suppress the ideas of anyone who dares to question them. Ideas, after all, are dangerous things. Ideas have brought down as many myths and mysteries as they have toppled kingdoms.
But there is another way to live that runs hot and bright through darkness. There are always some in every population who know that life is not meant to be about certainty. Life, they realize, is about possibility. They see certitude as a direction but not an end.
Doubt is what shakes our arrogance and makes us look again at what we have never really looked at before. Without doubt there is little room for faith in anything. What we accept without question we will live without morality. It is in populations like this that monarchs become dictators and spiritual leaders become charlatans and knowledge becomes myth.
An ancient people tell the story of sending out two shamans to study their holy mountain so that they could know what their gods expected of them. The first shaman came back from the north side of the mountain to tell them that it was covered with fruit trees, a sign that their god would always bless them abundantly. The second shaman came back from the south side of the mountain to tell the people that it was barren and covered with rock, a sign that their god would always be with them but intended them to take care of themselves. So, which shaman was right? If both, then it is dangerous to dogmatize either position.
It is doubt, not certitude, that enables us to believe, because it requires us to think deeply about an entire subject, and not simply depend on the side of reality that is on our side of the mountain. Only when we look beyond absolutes to understand every level of life can we possibly live life to the fullest, with the deepest kind of insight, with the greatest degree of compassion for others.
Voltaire was right, of course. Certainty is comfortable but always unlikely and forever disruptive. As life changes so must our explanation and response to it.
The Blessing of Thomas
— Maren Tirabassi
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” — John 20:29b
Blessed are the ones, says Thomas,
to those who listen to him, this eastertide,
who don’t need a sanctuary to worship God.
Blessed are those who don’t need a choir to hear holy music,
and who don’t need to sit in a pew
to open their hearts in prayer,
and who don’t need a stained glass window,
or a preacher or even bread and cup
to find the good news.
Blessed are those who really touch
even with gloves on,
who really smile with a mask,
who can be kind on Facetime or Zoom,
who follow a livestream to find Jesus alive.
But also blessed is the Thomas in every one of us
who acknowledges our longing
to hold someone’s real warm hand
not just the story of a hand
that reaches out to someone else, and who wants to feel
not Jesus’ long-ago bleeding side
(we congratulate ourselves about that)
but at least to feel side by side
with other Christians
in order to be side by side with Christ.
Blessed is the Thomas in all of us, who lives with doubts and hopes,
and learns to let go of all expectations
when waiting to meet God.
The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of like is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give. — William Arthur Ward
Every one of us has the seed of mindfulness.
The practice is to cultivate it. — Thich Nhat Hanh
SEEDS & SPICES – Special focus on mustard seeds.
Song about seeds:
- Faith Like a Mustard Seed (Jamaican reggae gospel) song link
- Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears song link
- How Great by Chance the Rapper (gospel and rap) song link
- My Little Seed by Woody Guthrie (folk song) song link
- Faith as Small as a Mustard Seed (Christians children’s music) song link
- The Seed Song (Christian children’s music) song link
- Just a Little Seed by Liz Buchanan song link
- Finger Play for children “The Farmer Plants the Seeds” video link
- Spices – Biblical Archeology link to article
- Herbs and Spices of the Bible link to article
- Herbs and Spices – Partial Scripture Inventory of their appearances in Bible link to article
Blessing That Holds a Nest in Its Branches — Jan Richardson
The emptiness that you have been holding for such a long season now;
that ache in your chest that goes with you night and day
in your sleeping, your rising—
think of this not as a mere hollow,
the void left from the life that has leached out of you.
Think of it like this: as the space being prepared
for the seed.
Think of it as your earth that dreams
of the branches the seed contains.
Think of it as your heart making ready
to welcome the nest its branches will hold.
Whereas spices are as valuable as currency in ancient times, including many of the seeds used to create them, mustard seeds were like weeds in Jesus’ time (and today, too). They grew and spread and were unwelcome in fields and vineyards. Yet mustard seeds are used as a positive image in the parable, turning our ideas upside down. When we take small actions and make simple choices, big things are possible out of those beginnings. And maybe the world of justice, mercy and compassion — holy Love’s kingdom here on earth — will grow and take shape in the most potent, surprising, and undeniable ways. Like plants that we consider weeds, that grow up to become healing, beautiful and transformative.
- What small deeds or words have you heard that changed your perspective?
- What simple choices and actions have you taken that may have a larger impact than you can imagine? Or what choices and actions would you like to make as a beginning of transformation?
- Where do you see change in holy and loving ways that surprise you?
- Who has surprised you with insights and actions that teach you to see the world differently?
MUSTARD SEED MUSINGS: Small but Persistent
I’ve read that the mustard plant is a bush, not a tree, but it seems that the point of the parable is the size, relative both to other plants and to the initial kernel from which the plant grows. — Mark Davis
They are prepared for a mustard-seed kingdom of God no bigger than the eye of a newt but not for the great banyan it becomes with birds in its branches singing Mozart … ― Frederick Buechner
I have a mustard seed and I’m not afraid to use it! — Joseph Ratzinger
… in Jesus’ world … mustard was a weed, dreaded by farmers the way today’s gardeners dread kudzu, crabgrass, or bindweed. It starts out small, but before long has taken over your field. Why, then, compare the kingdom of God to a pernicious weed and pollutant? Because both mustard seed and yeast have this way of spreading beyond anything you’d imagined, infiltrating a system and taking over a host … far more potent than we’d imagined and ready to spread to every corner of our lives … — David Lose
God’s work is barely perceptible at times, and yet produces enormous results. — Pulpit Fiction
Mustard was just about as virulent as Kudzu. Once it took hold in a field, it would eventually take over the whole place. It’s just about impossible to eradicate. Modern farmers hate it because it gets in their crops. Ranchers hate it because it irritates the eyes of their livestock. What possible good could come from mustard seed? But in a very real sense, that’s precisely the point. God’s realm of justice and peace and freedom in this world is something unexpected. It works contrary to our expectations. — Alan Brehm
BUDDHIST MUSTARD SEED STORY
“A woman lost her child and was inconsolable in her grief, carrying her dead child throughout the land, begging for someone to help heal her child. When she came to the Buddha, she begged him to help her. He told him he could help her if she would collect mustard seeds for the medicine. She eagerly agreed, but then the Buddha explained that the mustard seeds needed to come from a home that had not been touched by death. When the woman visited each house in search of the mustard seeds that might heal her son, she discovered there was no house that had not suffered the loss fo a parent, or a spouse, or a child. Seeing that her suffering was not unique, she was able to bury her child in the forest and release her grief.” — Shared by the Dalai Lama
Spices As Philosophy
The secret of happiness is variety, but the secret of variety, like the secret of all spices, is knowing when to use it. — Daniel Gilbert
Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor. — William Cowper
Arabian merchants controlled most of the spice trade for centuries. They became the exclusive suppliers of spices from Asia, such as cassia and cinnamon. In order to discourage the Mediterranean world from establishing direct commercial links with sources in the East, the Arabians spread fanciful tales about the dangers involved in obtaining spices. The real source of spices was “probably the best-kept trade secret of all time,” according to The Book of Spices. — jw.org
Words are like spices. Too many is worse than too few. — Joan Aiken
There has never been any great genius without a spice of madness. — Seneca the Younger
I just think you need to spice up life every now and then with a bit of adventure and excitement. — Richard Branson
Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, Manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality, and such like, the spice and salt that season a man — William Shakespeare
But in truth, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity, I shall remain till I collect as much as possible, and for this purpose I am proceeding solely in quest of them. — Christopher Columbus
Spices in Cooking & Food
Spice is life. It depends upon what you like… have fun with it. Yes, food is serious, but you should have fun with it. — Emeril Lagasse
Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go. — Erma Bombeck
I measure in my palm and use my eyes to estimate amounts; a tablespoon is a full palm of dried spices. — Rachael Ray
All those spices and herbs in your spice rack can do more than provide calorie-free, natural flavorings to enhance and make food delicious. Theyre also an incredible source of antioxidants and help rev up your metabolism and improve your health at the same time. — Suzanne Somers
Spices As Emotion
Spice a dish with love and it pleases every palate. — Plautus
Variety is the spice of love. — Helen Rowland
Love is like a spice. It can sweeten your life – however, it can spoil it, too. — Confucius
Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice. — Bethany Hamilton
Fear is the spice that makes it interesting to go ahead. — Daniel Boone
On the parable of the Good Samaritan: “I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Link to the text for this week: Luke 10: 25-37
Questions to consider:
- With what families, kindred, groups, teams, clubs, faiths, organizations, tribes, nationalities, ethnicities, regions, businesses, workplaces, unions, schools, etc. do you affiliate, connect, identify and/or hold membership? Name them. How many ways do you belong to communities?
- When have you felt like a ‘stranger in a strange land’ or an ‘other’ vs a friend or neighbor or a community member?
- What changed helped you connect?
- In a well-known story like this one, with thieves and a person knocked down and robbed on the side of the road, plus public figures who walk around the problem and leave the victim unattended as they make excuses, and another person from an reviled neighboring nation who pays attention and helps the victim by the road, plus an innkeeper who continues to care for the victim, with whom do you identify in the story? Who do you want to be? Who do you think you are right now?
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood, A neighborly day for a beauty, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you, I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So let’s make the most of this beautiful day, Since we’re together, we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you please, Won’t you please, Please won’t you be my neighbor?
Learn more: Cooperative models of evolution in natural world.
Learn more: About your own implicit biases via this Harvard site! Different tests/surveys for different topics.
Defining Implicit Bias (from Kirwan Institute, Ohio State University): Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.
The implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. In addition to early life experiences, the media and news programming are often-cited origins of implicit associations.
A Few Key Characteristics of Implicit Biases
- Implicit biases are pervasive. Everyone possesses them, even people with avowed commitments to impartiality such as judges.
- Implicit and explicit biases are related but distinct mental constructs. They are not mutually exclusive and may even reinforce each other.
- The implicit associations we hold do not necessarily align with our declared beliefs or even reflect stances we would explicitly endorse.
- We generally tend to hold implicit biases that favor our own ingroup, though research has shown that we can still hold implicit biases against our ingroup.
- Implicit biases are malleable. Our brains are incredibly complex, and the implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques.
Thoughts on Neighbors & Good Samaritans
good to remember that in crises, natural crises, human beings forget
for awhile their ignorances, their biases, their prejudices. For a
little while, neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers. — Maya Angelou
On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s
roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to
see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and
women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their
journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin
to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that
an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ― Martin Luther King Jr.
… and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side… — Quran 4:36 (excerpt)
To be truly good means more than not robbing people …To be truly good means more than being righteously religious …To be truly good means being a good neighbor … And to be a good neighbor means recognizing that there are ultimately no strangers … Everybody is my neighbor! … Everybody is my brother! … We’re all connected. ― Brian McLaren
Like the Good Samaritan, may we not be ashamed of touching the wounds of those who suffer, but try to heal them with concrete acts of love. — Pope Francis
Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion. — Rumi
The Prophet, , said: “By the One in whose Hands my soul is, no slave of Allah has true faith unless he likes for his neighbor what he likes for himself.” — IslamicHadith
When we love and make loving commitments, we create families and communities within which people can grow and take risks, knowing that hands will be there to catch them should they fall.— Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the ”ordinary” efforts of a vast majority. We have a duty, almost a holy responsibility, to record and honor the victorious weight of these innumerable little kindnesses, when an unprecedented act of evil so threatens to distort our perception of ordinary human behavior — Stephen Gould
So by all means let us name evil for what it is, let’s root out the sin and racism within us, let us fight for justice, but then let us turn the cameras toward the light, lest we become so consumed by the effects of evil that we miss the chance to be kind to a stranger, and we miss the chance to stop and read to our kids and we miss the chance to notice how acts of beauty and kindness out number acts of evil by the thousands, because in so doing we hand evil a bigger victory than it earned when in fact it has already lost. See, in the same 24 hour news cycle that only can speak of evil –
- babies were born
- and people feel in love
- and someone put an old lady’s shopping cart back for her
- and caseroles were bright to the home-bound
- and prayers were said
- and little girls made brand new friends
- and someone paid for the coffe of the person behind them in line
- and flowers were brought to the Dallas police department
- and children made perfectly mis-spelled protest signs
- and people made up
- and someone in the coffee shop let me hold their baby because they could tell I needed it
- and when … car broke down in the middle of nowhere during his vacation, someone came along at just the right moment and towed it 126 miles …
and Every second of every day our God arrives unannounced in the merciful and loving kindness of other people … — Nadia Bolz-Weber
A prospective convert to Judaism asked Rabbi Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one leg. Hillel replied: “That which is hateful unto you do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of the Torah, the rest is commentary. Go forth and study.” — Robert Avrech
Poem posted by ‘onlylovepoetry’ on hellopoetry.com:
I inquired of the holy dark where god hides
why my existence was just one unending question?
… could hear Him smile and communicate:
if not You, then who?
… love thy neighbor as thyself
… then, smiling, god extended his only finger, touching each of mine eyelids:
sleep, friend for we need your questioning dreams,
your faith unfurled unfulfilled
for in your unending inquiry
is all of our “in the beginning,”
the holy dark
Commentary on Good Samaritan Story
Locating our … inclinations … from the perspective of the different characters can be one … way to go — the priest, the Levite, the guy left in the ditch, the Samaritan, the innkeeper. We all want to be the Samaritan, but truth be told, we aren’t — at least, not all of the time. And, every once in a while, it does our faith good to stand in the shoes of the people whom we do not want to be (or hope we are not). — Karoline Lewis
Deep wounds are not easily healed. But the Good Samaritan poured oil and wine into the wounds of the stranger who lay helpless on the road to Jericho, and set him on the road to recovery. Each one of us can go and do likewise. ― John LaFarge
We have to go through life behaving as if we love each other. We can behave ourselves into love. This training of love for the world can start small. We might not start out by stopping for every stranger in need that we see or giving away all of our money and possessions or moving to the streets in solidarity with the homeless. We can start where we are. We can help out even when we don’t have to. We can stop keeping track of who has done what to wrong us or who is taking advantage of the system. Instead of keeping track of our losses, we can keep track of gratitude. We can share with people who haven’t had the lucky breaks that we have had. It’s not enough, however, to love the people who are easy to love. It’s much harder to love those who are have behaved in horrible ways. But we must love them too. In fact, it might be the more important task. — Kristen Berkey-Abbott
What does the Good Samaritan do? Three things, I’d suggest. First, he sees the man in need, when he was invisible to the priest and Levite who passed him by. Actually, they did see him, and then promptly ignored him. They saw him, but not as a neighbor, perceiving him instead to be a burden, and perhaps even a threat. … Second, the Samaritan not only sees the man in need as a neighbor, but he draws near to him, coming over to help. The other two gave this man in need a wide berth, creating even more distance between them. But the Samaritan instead goes to him, and becomes vulnerable in that closeness. Vulnerable should it indeed be a trap, but even more so, vulnerable in opening himself to see his pain, misery, and need. … Third, after seeing him and coming close, the Samaritan has compassion on him, tending his wounds, transporting him to the inn, making sure he is taken care of. Seeing is vital, drawing near imperative, yet the final and meaningful gesture is that the Samaritan actually does something about it. Compassion, in this sense, is sympathy put into action. And these three inter-related moves – seeing, drawing near, and having compassion – offer us an example of what it is to be Christ-like … — David Lose
And so Jesus brings this home by choosing the most unlikely of characters to serve as the instrument of God’s mercy and grace and exemplify Christ-like behavior. That’s what God does: God chooses people no one expects and does amazing things through them. Even a Samaritan. Even our people. Even me. Even you. — David Lose
Instead, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, the point of which seems to be that your neighbor is to be construed as meaning anybody who needs you. The lawyer’s response is left unrecorded. — Frederick Beuchner
It seems to me, contrary to our culture that is obsessed with all things “spectacular”, that it is when we are engaged in the most mundane activities that we make the most difference in another person’s life. When you get right down to it, that’s the only place we can really make much of a difference in the life of another human being. We mortals rarely achieve the level of influence that can truly make a difference for hundreds or thousands of people out there. For the most part, we have the opportunity to touch a life here, a life there. It is through the quality of our character, not anything “spectacular” that we may do, that we make a difference in another life. It is through the way in which we conduct our relationships, not through any great “achievement,” that we really have an effect on another human being. — Alan Brehm
This is a strange time for acting as actual neighbors. But that doesn’t change the point of the parable. It cuts through all our excuses about our customary practice, our usual public statements, and asks if we are doing mercy. Or not. — Richard Swanson
How do you place God — holy healing Love — first? How do you care for yourself? How do you care for your neighbor? How do you love the home — creation — in which you and your neighbor abide? How do you love the un-loveable?
What are the edges of how and who you love? What are the limits of how you allow yourself to be loved in return?
Fire of love, crazy over what You have made. Oh, divine Madman. — Prayer of Catherine Siena
O you who’ve gone on pilgrimage – where are you, where, oh where?
Here, here is the Beloved! Oh come now, come, oh come!
Your friend, he is your neighbor, he is next to your wall –
You, erring in the desert – what air of love is this?
If you’d see the Beloved’s form without any form –
You are the house, the master, You are the Kaaba, you! . . .
Where is a bunch of roses, if you would be this garden?
Where, one soul’s pearly essence when you’re the Sea of God?
That’s true – and yet your troubles may turn to treasures rich –
How sad that you yourself veil the treasure that is yours!
— Rumi ‘I Am Wind, You are Fire’
Translation by Annemarie Schimmel
Your body is woven from the light of heaven. Are you aware that its purity and swiftness is the envy of angels and its courage keeps even devils away. — attributed to Rumi
Lord, the demons still are thriving in the gray cells of the mind:
tyrant voices, shrill and driving, twisted thoughts that grip and bind,
doubts that stir the heart to panic, fears distorting reason’s sight,
guilt that makes our loving frantic, dreams that cloud the soul with fright.
… Clear our thought and calm our feeling; still the fractured, warring soul.
By the power of your healing make us faithful, true, and whole.
— Thomas Troeger (excerpt from hymn ‘Silence, frenzied, unclean spirit’)
We consider mindful, spiritual and positive psychology approaches to issues with which we wrestle. These issues may be known in Biblical texts as ‘unclean spirits’ and also referred to in our culture as as inner demons or in Buddhist canon as hungry ghosts. We offer below some resources to reinforce the practice of calling on God, love, compassion, acceptance … maybe through simple exercises and spiritual practices, or with the belief in God, Christ, Spirit, angels, saints, and bodhisattvas as well as self and other people in community.
- OptionB.org, Lee Daniel Kravetz: Guide to Grounded Hope
- Lama Tsultrim Allione, How to Feed your Demons
- Thich Nhat Hahn, 5 Practices for Nurturing Happiness and Dharma Talk on ‘Transforming Negative Habit Energies’
- Plum Village (Thich Nhat Hahn’s community), Being Mindful in Daily Life
- Center for Action and Contemplation, Fr Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations (must sign up for these)
- Steve Goodheart, Skillful Ways to Deal with your Demons
- Good Therapy, Core Mindfulness: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Positive Psychology Program: 12 Positive Psychology Interventions and 3 Ways to Find the One You Need11
- Positive Psychology Program: 22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques and Activities
- Psychology Today, Inner selves: Calming the Demons
- Psychology Today: What Is Positive Psychology and What Is It Not?
- Ignatian Spirituality, The Daily Examen