Faith seeking understanding #058: Cryptic thoughts scribbled in service to consistency

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash.

I haven’t given myself a lot of time to write this evening.

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Faith seeking understanding #058: Cryptic thoughts scribbled in service to consistency

Faith seeking understanding #057: Which Christianity are you talking about?

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash.

I’ve been several types of Christian in my life. Even now I continue to be a certain type of Christian, a particular kind of Christian with a set of beliefs and (more important to me) practices that I intend to keep me firmly centered within the train of the followers of Christ. Therefore, it is with a mixture of amusement and horror that I read about other people’s experiences with this set of phenomena so many people try to understand as one, big, coherent thing called “Christianity.”

Continue reading “Faith seeking understanding #057: Which Christianity are you talking about?”
Faith seeking understanding #057: Which Christianity are you talking about?

Faith seeking understanding #056: On needing a good kick in the butt

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash.

Well, I was feeling pretty full of myself as I sauntered into my therapist’s office today. When he asked, I told him that I was doing very well. When he asked me why I was doing very well, I told him that I had had a very creative day; I had spent most of the day obsessing in a good way over an old project which had suddenly piqued my interest. I was going through pages and pages of synopses and treatments for the script of a graphic novel that I have no idea how I am going to get illustrated. But I was having a good time playing around with old ideas, revamping and adding new ones and generally being pleased at my own cleverness.

Then my therapist asked me how my novel was going.

And I suddenly felt very sheepish.

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Faith seeking understanding #056: On needing a good kick in the butt

Faith seeking understanding #055: In Praise of Wasting Time (a review)

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Wasting time is a skill I consider myself to be particularly good at, so I was amused to see the title of Alan Lightman’s little book: In Praise of Wasting Time. It’s a short read with charming illustrations and I recommend it, whether you consider yourself good at wasting time or not.

I almost didn’t read the work; I kept walking past it at the library, smiling smugly to myself, convinced for a while that it couldn’t teach me anything new. Conversely, I feared that if it could teach me new ways of wasting time, I wasn’t sure that would be a good thing. Fortunately, curiosity compelled me to bring it home. I read the whole thing in two sittings, and I’m glad I did.

What I liked most about the book—aside from it’s evocative yet streamlined prose that seldom calls attention to itself—was its exploration of the benefits of unstructured and unscheduled time. He is a big fan of solitude and sees it as essential to the creative life. He echoes my heart’s desire when he writes of artists and other creative types: “One thing all these people share is an embrace of solitude. Not that these are unsociable people. But they practice their craft in solitude. They draw strength from being alone while they create or explore new worlds. They need that aloneness. They have developed the habit of mind to accept and seek out that aloneness. Sometimes they must push back against their society to get what they need.” (p. 57)

Lightman (most of the time) seems optimistic that even in the midst of our plugged-in culture one can carve out this space by developing a “habit of mind.” He writes: “But one does not have to be a creative genius to develop this habit of mind. One needs only the desire and willpower to unplug from the grid, to separate from the rush and the heave. It is the nurturing of one’s inner spirit, that whispering voice. It is the celebration of privacy and solitude. It is the willingness to follow one’s own thoughts. It is the indulgence of play and unscheduled time.” (p. 56)

The only thing I didn’t like was that Lightman spends way too much time admiring the problem of how our accelerated, productivity-oriented culture has robbed us of the time and space necessary to replenish our mental and creative reserves. Early on he writes about his experience of getting a smartphone: “And so it goes. Against my will, knowing all the dangers, I have been sucked into the maelstrom. I have heard the song of the Sirens and succumbed. I should have tied myself to the mast.” (p. 20) I feel his pain, but I can read about this everywhere I turn. Furthermore, I experience this myself and don’t like to be reminded of it. Nevertheless, he tries too hard to convince us that we have a problem when what I really enjoyed was the time he spent exploring different ways to carve out “down time” for himself and his family.

What I loved about In Praise of Wasting Time is that it effectively absolves me of the guilt I have occasionally felt around my hunger for solitude and my “indulgence” in practices such as lying on my day bed half-awake watching my thoughts riff on the ideas coming across over the radio. There are days like today where one might ask what I have produced, and I might only be able to answer that I was able to let my mind wander and figure out possible solutions to some creative or personal problem. But Lightman’s book not only let’s me know that it is a good thing to indulge in these non-pursuits, it is essential to my accomplishing the work I hope to accomplish in the world.

So, again, I recommend In Praise of Wasting Time. Published by Simon and Schuster as a TED Book, it is designed to accompany Alan Lightman’s TED Talk (which I believe is yet to be published at Ted.com). I can’t wait to hear the talk. But for now we have this clear, mostly concise book. May it ease your mind as it has eased mine.

Thank you for your time and attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts on what you’ve read.
Please comment, below, or email me at joncarllewis@gmail.com.
May God richly bless you on your journey.

Faith seeking understanding #055: In Praise of Wasting Time (a review)

Faith seeking understanding #054: Riding the flow

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash.

Today I still find myself in a creative flow.

Continue reading “Faith seeking understanding #054: Riding the flow”
Faith seeking understanding #054: Riding the flow

Faith seeking understanding #053: On productivity and balance

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash.

I really didn’t want to interrupt my flow today. It’s been a productive few weeks for me—especially the past few days, and I want to keep up the momentum. But I must realize that—even when things are going well… even really well, it is sometimes wise to pause and save some excitement for a subsequent day.

Continue reading “Faith seeking understanding #053: On productivity and balance”
Faith seeking understanding #053: On productivity and balance

Faith seeking understanding #052: Into a little silence

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by Chrissa Giannakoudi on Unsplash.

As daydreams turn to naps before my computer screen, I realized I had better write something before midnight sneaks up on me and I miss a day.

Continue reading “Faith seeking understanding #052: Into a little silence”
Faith seeking understanding #052: Into a little silence