Change Your Mind

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Ash Wednesday

Beginning of Lent

George Washington’s Birthday

Lent is all about change. Forty days of reflection and repentance. Repentance means to change your mind, to see things in a new way, to gain understanding, to see things through God’s eyes.

A fighter jet can turn on a dime in three dimensions at high speeds. A massive oil tanker takes miles to turn. Nations, corporations, clans, and cultures are more like the tanker than the jet. Founded on a course with a set of values and goals, some conscious, some not, they lumber along and take a long time to change.

The United States, for example, began with European imperialists colonizing pristine land that had been home to indigenous people for tens of thousands of years. Colonization, land stolen from murdered and displaced native people, worked by African slaves and their descendants, a nation born in bloody conflict, militarism, and rebellion – it’s first president a genteel Virginia Anglican slave and plantation owner, a general, a man of war. Not the best foundation on which to build “the last great hope of the world,” with “liberty and justice for all.”

Major energy corporations founded by robber barons in a gilded age of opulence, which raped the environment and exploited workers to make a very few people phenomenally rich so that “our American way of life” could be exported. 

My ancestors – a mixed bag of ordinary people mostly just trying to survive by drifting along with the status quo, some of them acquiescing in various degrees to segregation, war, and capitalism.

I am not suggesting that nations, corporations, and clans can’t change. Nor am I implying that they don’t also do good things. The United States freed its slaves and opened its borders to “wretched masses yearning to breathe free.” Foundations are actively involved alleviating suffering and solving some of the most complex crises on the planet. Some of my ancestors fought to end slavery and defeat Hitler.

All I am attempting to say is that the founding cultures and ideals of nations, corporations, and clans usually change course very slowly, more like a lumbering oil tanker than an FA-18 Super Hornet. 

That said, they can change. We can change. We are not sentenced to the status quo, nor need we patiently await some course correction far in the future. We need not, indeed, we should not, tolerate racism, xenophobia, homophobia, ageism, ableism, antisemitism, or sexism. White supremacy is evil. War is evil. Killing is forbidden to the disciple. Injustice is wrong, whether it is blatant or systemic. 

We are all products of our environment. All of us are enculturated. I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s in America. The first president I remember was Eisenhower. Society was segregated. White Christian Nationalism was the order of the day. I absorbed some racism, some sexism, some white privilege, and a lot of homophobia. 

But thankfully, I was also exposed to civil rights, admired MLK and Malcom X, saw the good the Black Panthers were doing, tutored inner-city kids, coached a little league team from the projects, and listened to mentally ill people in a psychiatric hospital where I worked. I took a pastorate in rural Minnesota and learned the folk wisdom of farmers and dairy workers. I pastored in Colorado Springs and developed friendships with high-ranking military officers and combat grunts. The Bible college I directed in California had students from all over the world. I took mission trips to Asia and South America, and visited Israel multiple times. I worked for a social service agency and was a family therapist for families with adjudicated child abuse. I lived among native Hawaiians, and worked in trauma centers and ICUs, as well as in hospice.

Exposure to a wide variety of people and cultures, especially face to face with the sick, mentally ill, victims of oppression, and poor, shifted my thinking. My lumbering ship turned from its course and headed toward the Kingdom of God. 

This Lenten season, it behooves us to ask what needs course adjustment in our lives, our behavior, our political views, our theology, or our ideals. Where are we headed? 

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on February 22, 2023, in anabaptist, Christianity, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, Life Coaching, social justice, Spiritual Direction, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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