Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fasting from excess and the American Dream

photo credit: Jean Fortunet,
via Wikimedia Commons
In a blog post, 5 Books I'm Reading, Emily wrote:
My friend Sammy and I are going to have a Bible study this summer and challenge ourselves with a seven week fast.  Coming back from Kenya this summer opened my eyes to the ridiculous focus on materialism and excess.  I'm eager to remove my gaze from all worthless things.  I do not want any part of my life to become an idol over the Lord.

Do I believe it's a sin to use social media or own a closet of clothes or eat a bunch of good foods?  No.  But I want to stretch myself out of my comfort zone and keep the Lord's heart as my own.  Sometimes these material possessions can become necessities, and nothing but Christ should be a necessity in my life.
In a later post, Preparing for the 7 Experiment, she wrote:
7 features seven different fasts from excess and the American Dream, focusing on the topics of: clothes, spending, waste, food, possessions, media, and stress ... Jen Hatmaker expanded on six reasons that people fast in the Bible: mourning, inquiry, repentance, preparation, crisis, and worship.

I chose to focus on three over the next two months:
  • Inquiry: Does God want me to "go" or "stay"?, as well as a few other questions I am asking the Lord during this time.
  • Repentance: for my selfish heart and love of excess and focus on pleasing others above pleasing God.
  • Worship: because the Lord is so worthy of my fasting with a sincere heart, out of my own motivation.
Emily's blog is one of the ones I found when I was looking for people who want to be candles for God, hoping to learn to encourage and support them. I've been following her blog and trying out some of her ideas. I'm not doing the 7 experiment, but I took a break from blogging and Internet discussions for 3 weeks while I was practicing a "meet people and make new friends" marathon off line, and I thought my experience with that might be relevant somehow.

I'm still pondering how my break from Internet discussions might have helped my progress, what it might have to do with Emily's experiment, and what to say about it. I might need a few days to review what Emily has written about her experiment, to get some ideas. I'll be out of town this weekend, and I have some other things to catch up on, before I spend more time on this. For now I'll just post some thoughts that were running through my mind one day at the beginning of my marathon.
  • 3 month cycles of development
  • starting this cycle with 3 weeks of intensive efforts to expand my circle of friends
  • bringing myself to account each day
  • bringing myself to account each time before posting, as a way of learning to manage my Internet addiction
  • ideas I've tried for meeting people
  • finding a friend I can talk to about my efforts and progress in learning to be a better friend and a better neighbor
  • basketball, walking street, riverside, tai chi, origami, diabolo for meeting people
  • English corner experiences
  • neighborhood experiences, including invitations, water buckets and basketball
  • experiences reading Emily's blog
  • finding people to study and practice with, using wisdom from heaven
  • hearing from two long-lost friends, and from high school friends, during this friendship circle expansion phase
  • floating to the top of the world, watching people smiling, laughing and having fun on the walking street.
  • flying high with Patty, at our lake, on our balcony, and elsewhere (bits and pieces blog)
  • cooking, laundry, dishes, groceries
  • examples of where some of my time goes: trying to get Skype to work, translating manuals and instructions
  • memorizing a verse for my workshop with Patty, which turns out to be about being the best person I can be, and doing all the good I can do
  • practicing my Chinese writing
  • ideas for after the three weeks: slide shows about some stories of community building; helping to improve the quality of training and mentoring; learning to accompany people in their efforts to be better friends and better neighbors.
  • opening my heart more to God
  • Heroes of the Dawn
  • temptations to post in my blog and other people's blogs and on facebook
  • The Lions of Guilin
  • camera problems
  • some people I want to focus on in learning to be a better friend
  • what to do for the most down-trodden people all over the world
  • learning how to help open up people's hearts to God on the Internet
  • projecting the framework for action onto the Internet
  • free software and systems, public domain, commons

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