Belfast Telegraph

Thought for the weekend: Christianity is boring ... if done right!

By Allen Sleith

An internet post from the blog of Carl McColman caught my eye recently. It was the title that did it: 'Is Contemplation Boring?' The sub-title was intriguing too: 'Only if you're doing it right.'

The thrust of the article was a nice play on words, a kind of pun that won me over.

His argument is that "contemplative prayer is boring because the subtle emptiness of silence has a way of 'boring' in to us", drilling below the normal noise and chatter of what Cynthia Bourgeault calls the "egoic operating system" where we distract ourselves from the truth that we are obsessed with being in control, often at the expense of healthy relations with others, whom we tend to regard as competitors to be opposed, beaten or judged.

In contemplation we bore or drill down, not into an emptiness so much as spacious silence – a subtle but crucial difference.

And it's here that we encounter God in the soul, a loving presence whose judgment meets us as the grace of Jesus Christ, the communion of the Holy Spirit.

Contemplation bores down beneath all the psychic defences we normally employ to distract ourselves from this living truth – this abiding and ultimate reality.

Like most ministers, I receive lots of literature advertising a plethora of events, activities, courses and resources.

Most appeal to our interest or commitment by using the language of excitement. To my mind the hype goes too far – life, especially the Christian life, is not an endless trip of emotional highs, as though the Spirit were continually drip-feeding us caffeine or Red Bull.

When Christ promises to give us life in all its fullness and freedom, he doesn't deny us moments of ecstasy or excitement.

But these are oases in the long haul of life where, more often than not, we find ourselves amid routine, even mundane activities including public worship. Yet, rightly discerned, even these are rich, even replete with the reality of God if we drill down deep enough to recognise.

Christianity is meant to be 'boring' – if we're doing it right!

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