Thoughts After Our August Meeting

old photo album

We had a lively discussion of Chapters 4 and a little bit of Chapter 5 at Joyce’s home recently.I began the gathering by having everyone listen to a Rob Bell interview with Diana Butler Bass on is podcast in 2017 when the book had first been published. Here is the link:

Here are some of the highlights of our discussion that I am still pondering. Feel free to add yours:

Only two out of seven present knew stories of ancestors. This both surprised me and also confirmed what Diana Butler Bass writes about in the Roots Chapter. We have information at our fingertips about ancestry but we are NOT connected to stories or specific people. I am the “storycatcher” in my family, having written three books based on ancestor stories: The Photograph, a children’s book about my maternal grandmother based on a charming story that was often told by my mother and her sisters;  Remembrances of a Storycatcher, a family history I wrote for my daughters and their families; and Forgiveness, a novel I wrote about my paternal grandfather, which has yet to be distributed to the family. Yes, I guess I have always been “ancestor-crazed.” I have had a wall of very old photographs lining my stairway from both sides of the family that I love looking at and remembering. They ground me. What is your connection to your ancestral story?

The point was made that some people just have no interest in connecting to the past in this very personal way. We need to be okay with that. Sometimes the past is full of dark memories, shadows, fears, unpleasant to remember. Sometimes people are not worthy of our adulation or remembrance. Do we canonize the past? How can we be objective about ancestral stories when they are embedded in time and personal perspectives? Is memory ever accurate?

God is in our roots. We have spiritual DNA. DBB is insistent that connecting to the past is extremely important for spiritual growth. When we know from whom we came, their spiritual history, we not only honor the past but we understand why we think, believe, and practice our faith today. Most of us were in agreement that the concept of the “communion of saints,” has a lot of meaning and power, especially when we think of our deceased relatives. Comments?

Time is not linear; there is a great “web of belonging” that unites us all under one genealogy if we go back far enough. DBB says all family trees intersect and thus we are all related. This very concept ought to transform how we think about and treat one another; no divisions of race, creed, ethnicity, etc. The unity of reality has been the “minor key” of religion and theology. Why don’t we emphasize this? Why don’t we hear more about our connections from pulpits across our world? We had a very passionate discussion of these questions. Feel free to add your comments!

We began Chapter Five on Home but didn’t get very far. Our September 10 meeting will begin there. NOTE: We will begin with lunch at noon that day. I will send an email reminder. Meanwhile, put your feet on the ground, breath in deeply, look at the sky and ask ancestors to bless and pray for us!

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