Ponderings …

Holy Moly!
October 16, 2007, 8:21 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So they’ve handed out the Nobel Prizes and once again I did NOT receive one. It seems that Al Gore was found more deserving of the Peace Prize than say ME, and Doris Lessing seems to have had a greater impact with her writing than I’ve had with my blog entries. But no hard feelings: a job well done to all of those Nobel winners.
For some reason listening to who won what in the Nobel prizes this year has got my mind all wrapped up in ideas of holiness. We’ve also been talking about personal and social holiness in my public theology class, so I’m sure that has something to do with it. As we’ve discussed it in class, it has brought up some memories for me regarding holiness that I find replicated in the work of these people who’ve just earned prizes for their work. Perhaps I should explain.
As someone from a holiness tradition the word ‘holiness’ has a very fixed meaning for me. For example, when I was eleven years old, I was filled with the Holy Spirit. This was such an important rite of passage that it eclipsed any other; even getting my period dimmed in comparison to being full to overflowing with God’s Holy Ghost.
It wasn’t because speaking in tongues or dancing in the Spirit were particularly exceptional events, although they were pretty kicking in that area. But when you were filled with the Holy Spirit it meant that you were truly sanctified, and that was huge. Sanctification was my church’s way of talking about holiness. My pastor always explained it as being set apart; our community’s understanding of sanctification implied purity through abstention: holding out from one thing in order to obtain another, better, thing. Specifically it’s the idea that through devotion and discipline you could be truly devoted to God’s good pleasure. Being filled with the Holy Ghost was a sign that you were very much on the right track to being an object devoted to God.
Since my Spirit dancing days, I’ve found myself more concerned with the social side of things. I am concerned with how my understanding of holiness gets played out on a larger scale and realize it’s very important to my personal sanctification that it does get played out in my communities. So I start snooping around and ask questions like: Where in my communities do I see us holding out from anything? Where is the community commitment to let go of one thing to embrace another, better, thing? Where is the commitment for alternative community that does not allow poverty because it abstains from excess? Where is the commitment to abstain from a few comforts to receive the blessing of a healed and whole creation? I’m sure they’re out there; I see glimpses of it every once in a while.
And maybe that’s why I feel the holiness vibe when I think about Nobel Prize winners. In a sense it is a prize awarded to someone who has shown great and dynamic devotion to a particular area in order to better humanity, whether it be our understanding of surface chemistry or our affirmation of women’s rights. Awarded these prizes is a sign of God’s Spirit at work in the world, working in our greater communities to set us apart for God’s good pleasure as realized through our tireless efforts to better ourselves and our communities.


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