Photograph by Hana Lehmann
The Kairos Journal was meant to be a year-long endeavor to write about struggles that young Christians face. My co-bloggers and I are wrapping up now, but we’re obviously still questioning and struggling with all sorts of things.
As proof, here’s my list of ideas that I didn’t get to write about on the Kairos:
- there is almost no sex/sexuality-positive talk in the church
- treating people as “damaged goods” is the opposite of Jesus’s message; virginity and waiting until marriage cannot change how much God loves you, but it does seem to change how much the church loves you
- purity culture can cause marital problems too–unrealistic expectations for the wedding night, a damaging emphasis on men wanting sex more than women do, how hard it is to get past the sex-negative messaging from the church
- how things like same-sex attraction, gender, abuse, masturbation, porn, etc. are hardly talked about at all, and if they are brought up, it’s usually to dismiss the issue with a few catchphrases that make people (especially women) feel alone or dirty or judged
- white fragility, and the role it plays in keeping church conversations about race to a minimum
- salvation vs. social justice–just because your church has a prison ministry doesn’t mean you’re fighting the prison industrial complex and the havoc it’s wreaking on communities of color
- the church’s obsession with getting the highest number of people through the holy gates as possible, and how supporting/loving people isn’t limited to the sinner’s prayer
- In the Bible God took care of people’s needs whether they were “saved” or not
- my experience with depression and anxiety this year (examples: debilitating social anxiety at parties, staying in bed for days at a time and not answering my phone, no more automatic smile)
- how lucky I am that once my thyroid is fixed it will restore my hormone balances, so my depression and anxiety will improve overnight
- how different it is for so many who deal with similar problems for their entire lives
- how Christians try to pray it away (“Lord, thank you for giving this young man your light, that he may always have the joy of the Lord in his heart. Amen. Son, how do you feel now?”) or act like it isn’t really a problem because they can’t physically see it
My favorite Bible passage–how to love someone going through pain
- how Jesus did it: Martha, Mary, Lazarus and Jesus were really close. Jesus was gone when Lazarus died, but he knew he was going to raise Lazarus back to life. When Jesus arrived at the funeral, he saw Martha and Mary’s grief, and he wept with them. He didn’t tell them that he was about to bring their brother Lazarus back, or that everything was going to turn out fine. Instead he chose to just be with them, to cry with them
- so sit with your friend and listen, and cry with them. If their mother just died, don’t tell them God needed another angel. If they were just let go from their job, don’t tell them God works in mysterious ways. Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber’s quote: “The last thing I need is a well-meaning but vapid person saying that when God closes a door he opens a window. It makes me want to ask where exactly that window is so I can push him the f*ck out of it.”
- don’t plan out what you’re going to say while they’re talking, don’t jump in with all the positives of the situation, just be with them. Feel what they’re feeling, try to understand them the way God understands them, and love them the way he loves them
I bet you have a similar draft of things that strike you as interesting or wrong or wondrous when it comes to faith. I want to hear about them, and so does everyone else.
We need to talk about these issues, and the sooner the better. Most of the time my co-contributors and I believe Jesus has something to do with the answer–but you certainly don’t have to. We just want to struggle with these things alongside you.
Our aim was to chart our search for and discovery of kairos, the fullness of time and space in which we find God. As the final word on the Kairos blog, here’s where we started, and where we are still:
Taken from co-contributor Shirley Li’s initial vision for the Kairos blog:
The Greek term καιρός (kairos), as Wikipedia explains,
… is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens.
Kairos is, then, a different way of measuring and experiencing time. Madeline L’Engle calls it “the time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, that time we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time.” It is an entirely “unselfconscious” but altogether joyful experience of time, in which we are most fully ourselves and fully, creatively human:
The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside herself in the game, be it building a sand castle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching on the wonder of creation. (L’Engle, “Five Years Ago Today…“)
Appropriately, kairos, the joyous “time in which everything happens,” is also the term that Christian New Testament writers use to convey the fullness of time, the God-appointed time for the fulfillment of promises: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of woman…” Thus does Nouwen call kairos “a new time, the time of salvation.” It is “the time lived from within and experienced as full time” (Nouwen, Compassion, 90-1).
Our project in this journal, then, is to share out of the projects that comprise our own lives: how do we live in the fullness of time, and in God (which are, in our view, wholly interrelated)? How might we, also, invite others to live in kairos? Our attempts are imperfect, certainly, but we trust that part of the virtue (though not all) lies in the trying.