Many people assume that there has been a steady decline in worship
attendance for all the mainline denominations since the mid-1960s—the
era when most of them began to see their memberships decline. But
trends in attendance have actually followed their own
Carlyle Marney said that each of us is like a house, with a
living room where we entertain and a dark basement where we store the
trash. And each house has a balcony with all the people
who have influenced and inspired us. The way to
celebrate All Saints Day, he said, is to step out onto the front lawn
and salute the people on your balcony. One of my balcony people
Before my Great Aunt Esther died, she lived in downtown
Minneapolis in poverty. Oddly, this is not embarrassing to my proper,
upper-middle-class, Christian family. Esther simply continued to live as she
had when her husband, my grandmother's brother Ludwig, was alive.
“What do I have to believe to be a Christian?” If you have been part of a church for any amount of time or spent even a few minutes surfing Christian blogs or church websites, this is a question you will encounter ad nauseam. The question itself is loaded, since it assumes one has to believe something.
Accumulation of wealth beyond meeting our basic needs doesn’t make us more content, studies show. Dr. Michael Finkelstein says that contentment takes practice. Think back on a time when you felt a sense of contentment, he says—it likely didn’t come from material possessions. “Our task is to simply discover where [contentment] resides” and focus on those times and places. It helps to “practice thinking, believing, and saying that you’re grateful and thankful for what you’ve been given” (excerpt from Slow Medicine: Hope and Healing for Chronic Illness in Utne, July).