General Assembly 2000 Event 276
Presenter: Rev. Forrest Church
Rev. Forrest Church presented a rich tapestry of stories festooned with too many gems to quote in this report. Fortunately, many of them are in his books: Life Lines and Lifecraft available through Beacon Press.
His theme is that life is a series of works in progress—the child project, the work project, the travel project—most of which we never finish. When one project crashes, don't mistake it for the whole of life. Imagine we are looking out through many windows. When one goes dark we tend to stare through that one window and see only darkness, yet all around us are other windows.
Recent generations, including Forrest's, could be called adolescent generations—we have the luxury of searching for meaning for longer than previous generations. People with no time to think about their own lives may not be as bereft as we think they are. But once you are out of this frame you cannot go back..
We cut free from the umbilical cord and get lost in our own belly button. Our search is not necessarily profound and tends to be narcissistic. Narcissism is not self love, often it is self abasement or self spite, but it is self absorption. There is no smaller package than someone wrapped up in himself or herself.
Meaning is a shared endeavor sustained by a shared enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is to be filled with god, ecstasy is to stand outside of oneself, and empathy is to hold and accept another person's heart in your own without judgment; these constitute the essence of life.
In our lifecraft projects, Rev. Church urged us not to be perfectionists. Lighten up, but don't lay down your load. Through social outreach, service, witness, and action, be part of someone else's life. But retain a measure of awe and humility. Virtues can become idols and thus demonic.
Reported by Mike McNaughton.