Church is Better than Politics, that App, and the Time Change

Church is Better than Politics, that App, and the Time Change November 4, 2018

It is really and truly November. You can know because we’ve had our hour “given” back by the all beneficent state. Moreover sun is still managing to stream between the clouds of rain through the swirling golden leaves in a lustrous, luminescent, glistering glow. The law of social media gratefulness is in full swing. And best of all, it is finally time to vote. Two of these things don’t go with the other ones, of course, and so if you’re feeling stressed, check out this app that will help you calm down when you are literally freaking out.

The article explains it this way,

The pack includes 3-minute-long “SOS” guided meditation sessions for dealing with sensations that can arise from seeing political news, such as “Feeling Overwhelmed,” “Losing Your Temper” and “Panicking.” Other sessions that will remain free until next Wednesday — a day after the midterm elections — are geared toward “Patience,” “Transforming Anger,” and “Difficult Conversation.” Headspace, which was co-founded by the England-born Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, says there’s plenty of reason to believe people will need such meditative relief this election season.

Sounds like a lucrative gig, honestly. If you have to make a buck off of something, it seems prescient to pick a commodity so in abundance—political panic. If you have a handy solution to everyone’s problems, I say charge what you can.

I adore the way two opposite things that can’t possibly coexist are always forced into relationship with each other—like mindfulness and technology, religion and marketing, voting day and trying to be grateful. The whole point of the political process is that you, discontented and miserable, look to some person clambering with loads of panic-laced jangling promises, and so trot off to cast your vote. Then you drive home, possibly unmoved by the mysterious wonder of fall, preparing yourself for the inevitable outrage of either losing, or discovering that you voted for a liar. And then, in miserable fury, you must pivot toward your facebook feed and think of yet one more thing to be grateful about.

Because if you fall down on your thirty days of gratefulness, well, what kind of person are you? You can’t remember to post just one grateful thing a day? Or worse, on day four discover yourself unable to think of anything? I mean, gratitude should be the opposite of panic—centering you in reality and dialing back the gnawing feelings of anxiety. So what better way to live it out than creating some sort of law for yourself that will ultimately be impossible to follow. Here, climb up this mountain just once every day and you can be saved. It seems so small, but by thanksgiving you will be miserably…oh, sorry, not you, me.

I mean, I get it, it’s not a law, it’s an exercise in building the spiritual muscle of gratitude, of doing what you can to lift yourself out of the morass of anxiety and stress in which you dwell. And if you never work on it, it will never grow. I bet there’s an app for that.

I have a better solution. Go to church. Whatever state of mind you’re in—smug, cheerful, grateful, panicked, depressed, overworked, confused about the time, anxious about the future, sad about the people you had to choose between on your ballot, struggling to put one foot in front of the other. You don’t have to pull yourself up into some other better state of mind. And you certainly don’t have to enrich some ostensibly Buddhist app developer who must be laughing all the way to his virtual credit union.

In church you will find not a mindfulness exercise, nor a trick to imbue your life with gratitude, nor indeed any political solution to all your, and your county legislator’s, earthly problems. Instead you will discover that sweet peace that comes from admitting that it isn’t even really about you, that how you feel doesn’t make the world go round, that the time is not in the hands of a technocrat, that as rain and snow and leaves fall from the heavens there is a God at the center of it all who is both just and merciful, and that when you worship him only, reason and hope are restored to the center of yourself. If you fail to be grateful, you can humbly repent and penitently ask God for the gracious gift of thankfulness, which he gives abundantly when you ask. If you are miserable about voting, you can place that in God’s hands and know that he is sovereign over all things, that the heart of the king is as a stream in the hands of the Lord, he directs it where he wills. If you vote wrongly, you can put that in the lap of Jesus and move on into another day.

Indeed, all the contradictory promises and pressures of this mortal life are within the merciful power of the Lord to heal and redeem. Go to church. It’s free, for one, and though you may not enjoy yourself, you weren’t having that good a time scrolling through Netflix anyway, and you can twitpic a free gratitude post to show you were there. #grateful #gotochurch

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