Things I Used To Think: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
(With Apologies to Michael Newnham)
I used to think that “salvation history” was a series of lineal events starting with creation in Genesis and ending with the consummation in Revelation.
Now I think that there has been one singular event that gives value and meaning to all the rest – “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”
I used to think that the Church was a place for instruction, teaching people how to live a Christian life. Now I think that the Church is a place primarily defined by worship in which people bring who and what they are as Christians to confess, receive absolution and find forgiveness. We need good news more than we need a lecture.
I used to think that leadership was dependent upon a singular charismatic gift recognized by others. Now I think leadership is defined by the regular, disciplined, and faithful service to all in your care.
I used to think that to be authentic, all prayers had to be spontaneous and “in the moment”. Now I think God has used believers through the ages to craft prayers that may be said to express the depths of our heart when it is hard to find the words. The Book of Common Prayer is a gift.
I used to think that the result of good teaching would be seen in how a person applied that instruction in the coming week.Now I think the result of good teaching is what you see in a person’s life twenty years later.
I used to think that winning a theological argument was accomplished by proving that I was right and someone else was wrong.Now I think that “winning” a theological argument is when both of us see the question dividing us in a new light.
I used to think that doubts and questions were opposed to faith and, therefore, destructive.Now I think that doubts and questions are an integral part of faith and essential for growth and maturity.
I used to think that exercises like saying the Daily Office were the very definition of “vain repetition”. Now I think that a regular time of daily devotions is essential to spiritual development, especially among clergy. If you’re not doing it… start!
I used to think that I really knew what theology was all about when I was 40 years of age. Now I think that I was impressed by the books I had read, the lectures I had heard and failed to fully reflect upon and apply the theology they contained. Information is not the same as transformation.
I used to think that suffering from depression or anxiety betrayed a lack of faith or trust in God and his goodness. Now I think it merely means that we share in the human condition and, thankfully, there are those who can help us emerge from the darkness. Don’t try to handle it on your own… reach out to someone who can help.
I used to think that I could find Jesus in a library of books about him. Now I think the place to find him is in the grace of the Sacraments, the pages of Scripture, the hearts of my brothers and sisters and in “the least of these…”
I used to think the Led Zeppelin had to do a reunion concert someday…
I was right about that one… but still missed John Bonham.