Time Optimism

One of the interns who worked with me taught me a valuable lesson about time – what she called Time Optimism.

It comes in two versions.  The first is the conviction that, although you are overbooked and overcommitted right now, sometime in the near future it will be different.  You will have enough time to clean the garage, sort the photographs and put them neatly in albums, and take a real vacation.  The second is the tendency to schedule events in your calendar for the shortest amount of time that they might possibly take.  If it might take anywhere from one to six hours to clean that garage, you mentally allow one hour – and are inevitably late or harried for whatever you are doing next.

As a chronic Time Optimist, I’d like to think these habits are an expression of zest for life, an eagerness to do as much as possible in the time available.  But the fact is that Time Optimism usually results in hurrying, compromising, inconveniencing, and disappointing the people around us.

Time Optimists don’t like to say “no” to anything.  There are dozens of reasons why this might be so, but none of them change the fact that failing to say “no” to some things means saying “half-hearted” or “incomplete” to nearly everything.   Saying “no” is actually an act of spiritual courage, a choice to invest one’s love and energy in the persons, actions, and causes that matter most.

Maybe there are other kinds of Time Optimism that we could cultivate.  There’s the conviction that there is enough time – enough to find rhythms of work and rest, of solitude and community, of austerity and indulgence.  There’s the recognition some human experiences take time to unfold – forgiveness, compassion, and maturity of faith.  There’s the confidence that God is with us all the time.  Those are the “optimisms” that can bring life into our lives.

On Being “Religious”


A Sermon from First Congregational Church of Minnesota        May 25, 2014 1

Acts 17:19-31

Have you been to the Areopagus?  Not the one in Athens, but some place where people excitedly talk about ideas and concepts, where debating is the favorite intellectual sport, where folks are always hoping to hear something new.  In class, maybe, or at a gallery opening, or during a rousing political discussion, or maybe Faith on Tap?

That’s where Paul was when he spoke the words we heard this morning, or perhaps more accurately, where he preached the sermon we heard this morning from the book of Acts.  He was a skillful speaker, and part of his skill was his ability to frame his words in the style of the people he was speaking to And so, addressing the Athenians at the Areopagus, he used the rhetorical style of the Greek philosphers.  To my ears, this is one of the most articulate and compelling of Paul’s speeches – but perhaps that is because I am more like an Athenian philosopher than a Judean shepherd or fisher. .

If Paul were somehow to come into the twenty-first century, Continue reading

Auto Correct

My friend Kent Gilbert was sitting on his porch in Berea, KY this week, spending an evening with friends and enjoying an adult beverage.  So he wrote a Facebook post about it.  What we all read was this:  “Sitting on the porch with Katie and hand crafted gun and tonics.”

He was a victim of auto-correct.  Whatever it was that he had actually typed, his innocent gin-and-tonic became grist for a lot of funny comments from everyone who read it.

Auto-correct is sometimes a helpful antidote to hasty or careless typing, but it is also famous for garbling innocent messages into embarrassing (though sometimes hilarious) ones.  Changing just a letter or two completely changes the meaning of a sentence or a whole paragraph

I wonder how often we mentally “auto-correct” things we hear.  Continue reading