Thursday, July 17, 2008

Think On These Things

In the last couple of days, there has been a big discussion going on on another blog about "peak oil". In other words, have we used up all the easily acquired oil, and will our world economic system collapse because we don't know how to live without it?

I like a little light summer reading, so I've been following the conversation. I don't have a strong opinion about peak oil, other than that it is a finite (at some point) resource and when we use it we cause pollution. I don't see why I personally need to know any more than that. What has surprised me, though, is the number of people who really believe that civilization will disappear and we will all have to survive by the skin of our teeth, fending off rioting masses of thugs who will want to break into our homes and steal our food. When I tried to reassure one young woman that just because she is medically fragile doesn't mean she will be left to die in some survival-of-the-fittest Apocalypse, someone else gave me the business about being unrealistic about how kind and caring the American public is.

Wow. If I read enough of that kind of stuff, I may just begin to think that way myself.

Therein lies the key. What are you putting in your head? Because what you put in is what you become. If you spend your day thinking about a scary future, or how nasty people really are, or who is out to get you, well, how can you be hopeful at all? I'm not talking about having your head in the sand about real problems that need solutions, or blissfully continuing down a selfish path that will truly harm future generations. I'm talking about hope.

One of my favorite verses from the Bible says "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." (Philippians 4:8) It falls into that category of "taking every thought captive for Christ", practicing the discipline of positive thought, through the power of the Holy Spirit. That's not thinking about things that are false, but comforting ("oh, we'll never run out of oil"), because the verse states clearly that we should think about what is true. It's not sending "positive thoughts" out into the universe in the hope that they will somehow change reality. No. It's looking at what is very, very real, but very, very good, and focusing on that. That's how we can see God working. That's how we can find hope minute by minute.

So, I'm going to start a new post label category: Think On These Things. When I find something true, noble, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, I'm going to post it and label it with that label. Because there is a lot of that out there. Because God is working, all around us. Because there is hope.

Here's something to start with:


Green Resolutions said...

What a wonderful idea. This is exactly what I'm looking for in blogs: to connect with people who have ideas and values that I share — to help become the person I want to be and to strengthen my values. Thank you!

I look forward to seeing your future posts, and if I come across ideas you might be interested in, I will forward them to you!

Joyce said...

I'm so glad I saw that video on your blog! It just made my day! And please do send me ideas, or post them yourself. Maybe we can all get inspired by people like Hannah and her family.

grant said...

At the same time, true Christianity embraces suffering instead of "dropping out" of it.

We take joy in suffering, because it engenders endurance.

One story I've really been thinking about is the one were Jesus and co. are in a boat during a storm and Jesus is sleeping through the whole thing. The Disciples wake Him up and He calms the storm.

I told a friend of mine that I was feeling like the disciples and going to Jesus saying "Hey! Why are you sleeping through this? There's a storm and we could die!"

My friend said, "Jesus could sleep through it, because He knows how it will end."

Joyce said...

Right, Grant. We don't need to go hide from disaster, because we know that God has a plan that is good. We do need to behave responsibly, but that's all we need to do on a personal level (I'm talking about green lifestyle changes, informed voting, etc.). Once we've done that, we can stay calm and hopeful.

arduous said...

What a great post, Joyce. And the video is so inspiring as well. I agree with you. I think, in a way, assuming the worst about humanity is an excuse to act badly. Now I don't mean that that commenter is mean, I don't know them. But if you assume that everyone is selfish and greedy, then you can allow yourself to be selfish and greedy because who cares? Everyone else is.

By contrast, when you force yourself to be positive, when you are nice to others for no good reason, you will get goodness and positivity back. We are responsive beings. I mean think of it this way. If a dog is treated well, it will be a good, loving dog. If a dog is treated badly, it will become a fierce, biting dog.

Obviously humans are a little more complex, but at base we're the same. Positivity, kindness, these things create ripple effects.

I know, because everytime I read your blog, you make me want to be a better person.

Love, your fan.

Joyce said...

Arduous, you're too nice!

Donna said...

Hi Joyce,
Wish I could watch the video, but we have dial-up so it's just not practical. I like your take on the peak oil thing. I'm still learning about it and I understand why people are scared. But I think we're supposed to do what we can (your comment about paying off debt was something I'd thought of, too) and make sure we are well grounded in our faith.

Joyce said...

Donna, definately doing what we can, and being informed, but worried sick? Not so much. I think the fear people feel comes from a lack of control. If you've gotten used to relinquishing control, you've learned to live less fearfully.

The video shows a family like Matthew Sleeth's who give up a huge mansion and give away half of their money to serve a village in Africa. I wish you could see it!

Rose said...

Talk about living your faith instead of just talking about it! How many of us would be willing to make the sacrifices this Atlanta family is making?

The quote from Philippians is wonderful. I must admit I don't remember hearing it before, although I must have. I totally agree with you that looking at what is good and positive around you is so important.

Joyce said...

Rose, I think I did the same thing you did, forgetting to hit "post" after writing a comment back to you. What I wanted to say was, I really admired the parents of these children for taking their visionary idea and running with it. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have done that for my own teens, which is really too bad. That's a good take-away from this story.

CindyW said...

Been away in the far east for a month. Gained a whole lot perspective :)

Back reading your posts. How refreshing! I am with you on the whole peak oil topic. I don't know enough about whether we have passed or are still approaching peak oil. But we all know that resources are finite. Do we really need to know exactly where on the curve we are? Sometimes it drives me crazy that people pins themselves in corners and can't seem to get out.

"Think On These Things" is a great way to get people out of the paralyzing corners. Thanks.

Joyce said...

Cindy, it's so nice to have you back on this side of the planet! I can't wait to hear your perspectives that have been gained by your travels. I wish we all could travel around like you have and see things through other's eyes.
I've read a little about peak oil, and I do believe we're close, but sometimes you just have to let go of the worry and focus on things you can actually do something about. If I was a scientist or engineer, I could work on this, but I'm a musician, so I'll have to leave the solutions up to others.