Here at the beginning of the New Year, I have resolved to quit the journey. What journey is that, you may ask. Judging by the language I both use and hear, it is the linear journey of life. Day by day, I wish people well on their journeys, as they wish me well on mine. Sometimes we offer to go with one another at least part of the way. When this is not possible we offer each other provisions for the journey—a book, a pocket cross, a mantra. But recently have I begun to notice how believing in the journey interferes with giving myself fully to the life I have right now.
Does life have any direction or purpose, any telos? A significant part of the popularity of Rick Warren’s “purpose-driven” books is his strong conviction that God provides direction and purpose for each of our lives, as well as for the church and local congregations. Many of us are uncomfortable with Warren’s specific formulation of God’s purpose or plan for people.
Andy, our ten-year-old, loves to hear stories about his baby years. He has a stock of secondhand memories that have become his own through frequent retelling, and his favorite one is about Christmas presents. “Remember what I used to do with my Christmas presents?” he asks. “Yes, we remember.
Visiting the National Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda, was overwhelming. It is the grave of 250,000 people killed in the 1994 genocide. I walked with some students through the memorial, watching the videos, studying the exhibits and reading the stories.
A few months ago a friend told me about a conversation he’d had with an atheist in Colorado Springs. That Colorado city, the Mecca of American evangelical Christianity, may be the last place an atheist would feel at home. But there he was, right in the middle of a lion’s den. My friend had met him and started talking to him about Jesus. The man was interested.
The focus of geriatric doctors on testing for memory loss, which leads to possible diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, is part of a war against the old, according to Margaret Morganroth Gullette, resident scholar at Brandeis University. She likens it to educators being preoccupied with testing schoolchildren. “‘Dementia’ is a label that dehumanizes,” she says. What aging people need is social support, which itself can enhance a sense of well-being that contributes to better memory. “In thinking about memory loss, we do well to remember two simple precepts,” she says. “Do not panic about your own. Be gentle toward other people’s” (Interpretation, April).