Saturday, January 02, 2010

My New Year's Resolutions

Today I came across a blog written by a con-evo Intervarsity type -- someone who seems to embrace the sort of Pietistic scrupulosity an online acquaintance of mine once referred to as "Is picking my nose Scriptural?" -- who suggested that New Year's resolutions have a whiff of Pelagianism about them. This made me chuckle -- a neo-Puritan wringing his hands over other people's perceived works-righteousness. Off to the pillory for you, dude.

But anyway: I have found making resolutions to be less than helpful, not because I think of them as a Pelagian stairway to heaven but because they generally don't take; which isn't surprising since it takes about 21 days, so I'm told, to train oneself into a new habit, and that the average human being can't handle more than about three of these new habits at once.

Nonetheless, I have made a couple of small and I think doable resolutions for the coming year.

One is intended to solve an ongoing annoyance/stressor in my life: Using the many cloth grocery bags we have obtained over the last year in the way they were intended -- hauling groceries -- instead of keeping them stashed behind the pie chest in our entryway or using them for carrying shoes, last-minute travel supplies, empty bottles, dog toys -- everything except groceries. We have at least a half-dozen of these things; my goal is to keep two of them in each of our vehicles, and the spares stowed in the entryway. We bring a full bag of groceries into the house, we take an empty bag back out. I think we can do this.

My other resolution is a joint venture with Fellow Traveler: We really want to start a weekly Bible study at home, on a designated "front room" evening. FT has a difficult time with our church's Sunday morning Bible study, which covers the day's lectionary lessons, because in the herding-cats milieu of the regulars' group the discussion tends to fall off the topical trolley rather quickly, and because a couple of the participants frankly use the hour for impromptu group therapy rather than actually discussing the texts at hand. FT says, "I know I'm not being patient -- but I'm a very concrete, task-oriented thinker. If I'm going to commit to an hour of Bible study I want it to be Bible study and not hearing the same stories about people's personal issues over and over again." (Don't tell FT, but I think she'd really dig the seminary-professor-taught biblical studies sections of the Lay Ministry Training Program, which are pretty down-to-business simply because of the volume of information being presented within a limited amount of time.)

So -- we're trying to come up with something workable. Since I do a mini-study every week on Sunday lectionary texts for our church blog, that might seem to be a logical starting point; but FT has noted that, when she reads these, and then hears our pastor's sermons that will touch on some broad theme of the week but that often don't directly engage the texts for very long, she feels like something's missing.

My thought is to just start at the beginning of one book and go right though the whole thing, using all our available study-Bible and other reference tools but then also re-approaching the text from a more immediate, personal "What does this mean for me at this time?" perspective. We might just start at Genesis. I'm sharing Luther Seminary's Enter the Bible website with FT to see if that resonates with her.

FT is an eager student ready to, as Kelly Fryer puts it, swim out to the deeper end of the pool, so I think we'll have some fun with this.


Auntie Knickers said...

The type of Bible study you describe in the last part of your post is the type we did at my former church (I moved away, that's why it's former). I found it the best for me. I don't like what is offered to me now -- a canned study in a booklet with someone else's thoughts and not even addressing the text that much. And Genesis is great because there are so many stories and so many ways to look at them. Wish I could join you!

lunalibre said...

It's hard to get into the habit of using those reusable bags, but it's well worth it! Personally, I absolutely despise those filmy plastic bags, so I was ready to try almost anything to cut down on how many of those we brought home.

The key for us was remembering to get them out of the car as soon as we got to the store! Once we trained ourselves to think of putting bags in the undershelf of every shopping cart (at the grocery store, at the MegaMart, at the home improvement store -- any store that used carts), it was a lot easier.

We also started out with two bags, but we ended up keeping four in the trunk of each vehicle. They don't take up much extra space, and then you have the bags for those extra-large trips.

Good luck with this resolution!

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Once I got used to my grocery bags, I've wondered how I got along without them. It is SO much easier to carry to groceries into the house with those bags. That's an even better reason, emotionally, than the recycling issue. And how did we ever manage when all there was were the paper bags? Those took so many trips back and forth from the car.

I bring the groceries into the house, unpack, stuff all the bags (three cloth bags, two string bags) into one of the bags, and put them where I will trip on them when I go out the door. They have to be in the front seat of the car, or I forget them.

The older grocery baggers at the store don't like the cloth bags, but the teen employees love them. We still have carry-out at our store.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Oh yeah, on the Bible Study topic. I've been attending a mid week study since 1977. It is a big part of my life and where some of my best friendships have originated. Many various people have come and gone, of course, and the group has always had an interdenominational flavor, even when it has been held in the Lutheran church. For the last 15 or so years, the various pastors we've had have attended, but are participants, not teachers, but their greater background is appreciated.

We've done the book about a specific Book of the Bible route, a book about a Topic in the Bible route, and in recent years, we've chosen one of the lectionary texts for the week to study. We do read the text and then discuss it. Often we get way off topic, but we try to bring anything we discuss back back to the text or at least to Biblical principles. This is certainly not a study for those who just want an intellectual look at the Bible, but it is about real live and living the lessons and supporting each other if necessary and praying together.

Mary Beth said...

thanks for the link to the Enter the Bible study!!