This Week in Church: Guilt, Music, Memory, and Imagination

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.

I think that church can teach things that are beneficial to everyone, whether or not we believe in church-related things.

This week in church we talked about guilt.

The conversation was about the difference between guilt and an invitation to change course, which could also be called redemption. This reminds me of Brené Brown's definitions of guilt and shame (which I fully subscribe to), guilt being a useful emotion that tells us we did something that we don't like and helps us change our behaviour and shame being an unhelpful emotion that makes us think that we didn't just do something bad, that we are bad.

So in the church conversation, guilt would be Brené's shame and an invitation to redemption is Brené's guilt. (That's not confusing at all, right?)

The question remains: what is the difference? Is it in how it's delivered or how you receive it? If someone shows you a way you have done wrong, what makes it heavy with guilt at one turn and what makes it into an invitation for change at another? Do you have to feel bad to want to change?

This week in church we talked about playing the music.

I was very excited to learn that Beck released an album at one point called Song Reader, where the album was just sheet music. To hear the music, you had to play the music.

This was used as an explanation for the early church's focus on action: they lived in fellowship with each other, sharing everything, praying, and reading scripture. Membership wasn't about checking off a list of philosophical beliefs, it was about doing things together.

This also reminds me of the fact that many spiritual practices rely on action, not thought. You can think about what it might be like to walk a labyrinth, for example, but the point is just to do it and pay attention to what happens in your heart, mind, spirit, and body.

This week in church we talked about memory and imagination.

We need to be rooted in the memory of our past, where we came from, and the history of whatever movements we have stepped into, while also looking forward and imagining a future with hope.

There are practices that can help with this.

Practices that might help drop anchors to the past include speaking with elders, reading books that were written a long time ago, and practicing ancient prayers or ceremonies. (You have to do them to experience them!)

Practices that might help look forward and open you up to new things include practicing newer prayers and ceremonies, reading newer books, and talking to young people.

What might help you feel grounded in your past and open to your future?

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