If you’re trying to resolve the problem of suffering and wrap it up in a neat little package, you’ll only be disappointed by Christianity.
Christianity doesn’t answer that question. It dwells in the suffering. It acknowledges it, laments it, and looks for ways to reduce it, but it doesn’t tell you why.
A friend recently said that what strikes him most about Christianity is the image of the Suffering Christ. When tragedy strikes, Christ suffers. He dies again and again. Immeasurably deep empathy for the human condition.
Christianity doesn’t answer the why; it asks us to turn from our inward need to understand and look out to help alleviate suffering in the world. I can sit here and shout “Why?!” or I can go out and do something to end it, even while I knowing it will not end.
Christianity asks me to sit with the questions, but not alone. I am increasingly convinced that Christianity is a communal religion; it must be done with others; we acknowledge what we do not know, together.
Nothing can be wrapped up in a neat little package.
Coffee shops are a necessary social institution. They’re a place for meeting, reuniting, flirting, reading, studying, napping, meditating, observing, and imbibing.
I feel immensely grateful to work in one. I eavesdrop on brown-nosers, innovators, hobbyists, gossipers, and over-sharers. I see joyful reunions and daily fights between friends over who gets to pay for whose latte. I meet local business owners, professors, students, artists, volunteers, and retirees. I see kindness and generosity extended. I see community at work. And I get to be a part of it.
Today I met a new friend at a local coffee shop. Although the ambiance differed from the one where I work, the purpose was the same. Coffee shops create an open atmosphere for free expression, a safe space for complaining, intervening, and frivolous merry-making alike.
My daily work is addictive. That we can unite under the banner of espresso – republican and democrat, Christian and Atheist, heterosexual and homosexual, scholar and athlete, male and female – fills me with joy.
Diplomats should consider conducting their meetings exclusively at coffee shops.
I really like the month of September, because of the season change and hopeful, back-to-school-and-the-holidays-are-coming feeling, but probably mostly because of my birthday (I hope you enjoyed that sentence). My birthday is September 26 (hint, hint). I’ll be 24 this year: my last year of frolicsome youth before I become a quarter-of-a-century old and start graying (hopefully my hair will hold off a bit longer than that). This is also birthday month for my family (and also everyone else in my homeland, since most U.S. babies are born in mid-September).
Things I intend to enjoy this month:
- Hot espresso drinks
- A Birthday outfit
- Understated jewelry
- A Birthday cupcake or two
- Taking pictures of events and changing landscapes
- Mums in full bloom
- Snuggling in my hand knit blanket (thanks, Daniel’s mom!)
- Printed bags
Daniel and I are heading over to a Local Artisans Festival in the next couple of hours. Masters of guitar making, banjo playing, and cobbling (to name a few) will be present along with their newly graduated apprentices. I love living in a place that publicly values local craft and culture.