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.