Sabbatical Blog

...chronicling some of my projects and learnings during this time apart from parish ministry

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The loneliness of the Long Distance Minister

So now that I'm at GA, I am glad I'm here. It is good to see people I've known for nearly 30 years now. It is good to have faces to attach to names I've known only on email screens. It is good to talk to people who are interested in the things I'm interested in. Covenant Groups. Trauma Ministry, Multi Site churches, Faith Growth. I didn't sleep well last night but enjoyed every minute of the day. It's so easy to forget how good it is to be among colleagues.

This morning's speaker, Sharon Saltzburg, a Buddhist teacher, talked about a Buddhist understanding of growth in Faith. She drew a distinction between questioning faith, which she views as an absolute essential for thinking beings, (The Buddha himself had very stern words for disciples who just swallowed everything he said without questioning, doubt, and skepticism) and "walk away doubt", where the persons attitude towards something they don't believe is not curiosity but an angry, edgy questioning that doesn't want to hear any new answers. Walk away doubt, she said, is a product of fear and hurt, not religious growth. I've certainly heard enough stories of fear and hurt...and have even felt a little myself. It's a hugely important distinction for UU's, who both have a special ministry to the skeptic and the doubter and those in faith transitions, and who are too often captured and stopped by the "walk away doubters," and their fears and religious PTSD. I've got to read Saltzberg's book....

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