From Habit to Habit

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

This week Kellie, an old friend, and I watched “What the Bleep?” a dramatized documentary that features Marlee Matlin and supposedly focuses on quantum physics. I’m generally intrigued by popular accounts of quantum physics since it has altered our perception of the world and undermined much of the positivist, mechanistic conceptions of the universe that informed the theology and worldview of my youth. I’m also generally impressed by people who can count.

I’m not recommending an uncritical viewing of “What the Bleep?” since, as Kellie discovered, it clearly has an agenda that was influenced by a woman who impersonates the poodle owning heiress from Best in Show and believes that she is the medium of a 35,000 year old Warrior Princess named Ramtha. Moreover, the most significant Christian influenced speaker is a former Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse. However, the movies inclusion of Masaru Emoto’s Messages from Water Experiments brought to mind a sermon that slightly altered the shape of my life.

Emoto has done some, according to the Wi-ki-pid-iah, apparently pseudoscientific research into how water crystals can be effected by different expressions of human consciousness. Emoto claims that speaking blessings, praying, or focusing gratitude on water samples produces water crystals that are far more beautiful than water that has not been blessed. He uses high-speed cameras to capture photos of the most beautiful blessed water crystals and also has a fairly questionable side business of selling blessed water online.

Four or five years ago John Harding – a longtime friend of The Gathering and a minister at a The Bridge Church – preached about the importance of “being a blessing” during the Halloween season in Salem. If memory serves, John used God’s commission to Abraham as a primary text, but he also spent a good portion of the talk focusing on Emoto’s Messages from Water experiments. At the time, I thought the water crystal talk was a little suspect. Now, after watching the Messages from Water transform Marlee Matlin character from a tangle of self-hatred into a woman whose self-blessings are so potent they empower her to draw twisted ivy hearts all over herself with a cosmetics pen, I’m still suspicious.

However, John’s reminder that embodied, incarnational, risky blessing is at the heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition, has changed my life. During Halloween anyway.

Each year I look forward to donning a costume shop bought but quite authentic Franciscan habit and wandering the streets of Salem to give a free blessing to people. Sometimes the free blessing is a cup of fair trade hot chocolate, sometimes a spoken word or prayer, and many times an unspoken benediction or a smile.

This quite literal practice of being a blessing has become such a central part of my Christian year that I am considering taking this robe – or another I want to construct out of wornout khaki pants – on the road to the Wild Goose Festival this year. I’ve heard that everyone should bring something to that party and I figure blessings will be more than welcome.

This week, in the midst of my Wild Goose dreams, I realized again how quickly I set aside the posture of blessing in order to swing the gauntlet (great, often forgotten arcade game by the way) of strife and frustration. Sadly, this switch often takes far less time than it takes me to pull on or pull off that October robe.

I want that to change. I need that to change.

May God give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the heart inclined, and the hands eager to bless the people I love, loathe, live, work, treasure, and tolerate on a daily basis. Although I contend with him mightily, God has indeed blessed me and called me to be a blessing. I hope to more faithfully fulfill that commission today and in the days to come.

  1. Wear your robe. If I go, I will wear mine. 🙂

  2. It’s in North Carolina in late June. Every sensible person should wear one.

  3. great post jeff, i will certainly check out the documentary.

    Although there is much from my charismatic upbringing that i now realize was taken to the extreme, I have seen, and still see the evidence of the lives of people who faithfully believe that God creates the declarations of our mouth. while this can be warped into a “name it and claim it” theology, our words, when aligned to God’s word truly possess a transformative power…. to that end, keep blogging, i enjoy reading your posts even if i don’t always respond!


    • Ang – thanks for reading and the encouragement. The work we’ve done in salem with the folks from the Bridge Churches and the Streams Ministry folks has been some of the most meaningful and beautiful that I’ve had in ministry. So thankful for the opportunity to truly know and work beside charismatic and pentecostal folk.

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