To show this is not just a Lutheran blog, I offer here Carl Trueman offering some semi-whimsical reflections about taking life as it comes, which he calls Zen Calvinism:
Like the Buddhist movement which shares the same name, Zen-Calvinism is a school of religious thought which allows its adherents to live at one with the world, untroubled in any ultimate sense by the slings and arrows which life throws their way. It is also counter-cultural and thus represents a deeply alternative lifestyle. Let me elaborate a little on this counter-cultural mentality.
At the heart of Zen-Calvinism is the belief that all human beings are morally flawed, unlike the worldviews projected by the celebrity-saturated commercial culture of the modern West. . . .Zen-Calvinists also accept that they are themselves no better than anyone else; and, understanding their own tendencies to treat everyone else in a less-than-perfect fashion, they will not be surprised when they are repaid in kind. Zen-Calvinists are at one with the depravity of the fallen universe; they expect to be treated as they know they have treated others.
The second major element of Zen-Calvinism is the mantras which we use to worship. Unlike those used to hide from reality, whether the latest Britney Spears ditty or some nostalgic song extolling the mythical virtues of yesteryear, the Zen-Calvinist mantra book is rooted in the 150 songs we find in the Bible’s book of Psalms. Here, both Zen master and novice find words to express their deepest longings, their profoundest fears, and their most passionate desires in words which, as inspired by God, have the divine imprimatur. . . .
The final element of Zen-Calvinism is perhaps the most important: the realization that all evil has been subverted for the greater good purposes of the God who loves his church. If the supreme crime of human history – the judicial murder of the very Son of God – can be used for the greatest good, then any other crime, sin or moral failing can also be frustrated and turned to good account. And that applies not just to the loutish and corrupt behaviour of others; it applies supremely to that of the Zen-Calvinist who reflects upon these things.
The most conservative Calvinists sing only Psalms in their worship. (Though they are actually metrical paraphrases: to Calvinists, I ask, why don’t you chant them, a musical form that allows you to sing non-metrical lines directly from the Bible? Surely you can’t think chanting the Psalms is too “Catholic” when it would allow you to be even more directly Biblical!) Anyway, I respect that practice, and it’s similar to our liturgical worship that consists nearly always of worshipping with texts from the Word of God.
Anyway, what do you think about this Zen-like serenity? What is distinctly Calvinist about this particular formulation? What is lacking (Christ’s Atonement? His presence? His Gospel? Suffering and the Cross?) and what difference would these make to the Christian’s serenity?
HT: Rob Spinney