Mark 5:25-34 (CEB)
A woman was there who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a lot under the care of many doctors, and had spent everything she had without getting any better. In fact, she had gotten worse. Because she had heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothes. She was thinking, If I can just touch his clothes, I’ll be healed. Her bleeding stopped immediately, and she sensed in her body that her illness had been healed.
At that very moment, Jesus recognized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”
His disciples said to him, “Don’t you see the crowd pressing against you? Yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But Jesus looked around carefully to see who had done it.
The woman, full of fear and trembling, came forward. Knowing what had happened to her, she fell down in front of Jesus and told him the whole truth. He responded, “Daughter, your faith has healed you; go in peace, healed from your disease.”
A short blog today as I am on the road for the day with just this brief stop in Bideford library using a blogging phone app. Hence differences in my house-formatting style – which is making me stupidly anxious!
There is a tendency today for secular people to take centuries-old religious wisdom and practice and “rediscover” them under a new name except with much of the depth stripped away…
One example (among many) is mindfulness. In the recent revival series of Cold Feet, the depressed Pete discovers mindfulness – but when describing the sessions to Jenny, mistakenly calls it “mindlessness”. He tries to show her what it is all about and they sit at the kitchen table discovering, with the help of his mindfulness app, the inner beauty of a raisin.
Calm down, Phil, you may be thinking! Where’s the harm?
My worry is that this secular rip-off of religious meditation (for that’s what it is) strips away the “other” that us the focus of religious meditation (and contemplation) – and that makes it all focussed on meeeeee – it becomes meeeee-focussed self absorbtion. True enough it does sometimes include at the end some pseudo religious guff about “radiating compassion to those around you” but there is no emphasis at all and no accompanying discipline embracing a self-sacrificial life, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, seeking justice for the oppressed…
Melanie McDonagh wrote in the Spectator:
Sitting concentrating on your breathing is a good way to chill out and de-stress, but it’s not a particularly good end in itself. Radiating compassion is fine, but it doesn’t obviously translate into action. Where’s the bit about feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, all the virtues that Christianity extols? Where in fact is your neighbour in this practice of self-obsession? Given a toss up between going to church, where you rub shoulders with the old, the lonely, the poor, and anyone who cares to pitch up, and a mindfulness session where, for about 25 quid a pop, you can mingle silently with congenial souls in flight from stress, I know which seems more good and human to me. Mindfulness may be the new religion — but it’s no substitute for the old one.
Right on Melanie!
So how on earth did I come to be even thinking about Mindfulness, never mind ranting about it?
Well, the crowds are pressing in – any number of people might have touched his cloak – yet he knows – he is intensely “present” in the moment – he is intensely mindful of the people around him – their hopes and dreams and fears, the quiet desperation of their lives. Does he need to ask who it was? Probably not – but he wants to reassure her.
Jesus’ mindfulness reaches out to touch and heal the untouchable, the moment is not about him but about her. This is about as far away from the self-help, me-focussed, empty-headed, pretentious, middle-class cult of secular “mindfulness” as it is possible to be. You know where you can stick that raisin!
posted from Bloggeroid