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kim
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I'm part of a very large agency that works for social justice. This particular agency is state funded and offers a variety of services including: housing (low-income, subsidized, shelters for homeless, half-way housing, homes for folks coming off drugs), mental health counseling, transportation, career counseling, casework, etc. I'm currently doing my internship in mental health counseling. I also do casework so I work with people within and outside the organization. One of my first thoughts when I learned about the agency was that its mission felt Christian-based. I was also blown away because the people who work there aren’t burnt out; rather, they are loving, kind and generous. (After having been in the helping profession for over a dozen years and having been burnt out once myself, I’m definitely aware of the signs of burn out). They are doing the work with a lot of heart and humility. The big joke when people come to work for the agency is they never leave. Many people have been there for 10 and 20+ years. Since this is not a Christian organization and many people do not have a relationship with God, I find it fascinating that many of my co-workers are living happy, meaningful, and sustainable lives. They are not angry and bitter. I do wonder how they do this type of work without God. I often think about this on my drive home after work and the only thing I can come up with is God is working in and through them; somehow He is sustaining them. Therefore, I don’t think we can make clear-cut distinctions regarding the Christian versus secular view of social justice and how God exactly works in either.
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Painting and sculpture are the medias that help me transcend the everyday and enter a mystical place -- which is probably why I chose to major in Studio Art in undergrad. When I look at the austere lines of Sol LeWitt's minimalist cubes, it quiets my mind. Having more negative than positive space transports my mind beyond the concrete into the abstract; it opens a realm of hope and possibility. Mark Rothko's blocks of color evoke a similar experience. The abstraction allows my mind to rest and enter this deeply spiritual place. The blocks of color in the foreground (which I interpret as the temporal world and what can be seen and felt), with the background shining through the blocks of color, represent how Spirit infuses man, situations, etc. It reminds me we are never alone, and Spirit is working in and through all things. Other favorite artists include: Brancusi, Noguchi, Giacometti, Motherwell.
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I saw this interview a while back and think Louis C.K. is hysterical. My brain is too fried right now to come up with much beyond I think he makes a great point. It definitely reminds me to be grateful and to keep things in perspective. So, yes, definitely in line with scripture.
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Whenever I read or hear something about the meaning, pursuit, or formula for happiness, I feel an irritation rise up inside me. I'm not sure why. I think it's because it feels reductionistic. There are all these books, courses and research articles on the subject, and every time I read an article or hear a lecture, I feel the same irritation. From a Christian perspective, I like what Bill said regarding the virtue of joy. I have a much easier time looking at the relevance of feeling joy because it can accompany pleasure and suffering. When I hear the word joy, I sense there is still room for complexity. But when I hear the word happiness, I sense this yardstick and feel suffocated.
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I'm also reminded of Job 38, where it's clear God didn't like Job asking the 'why' question.
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