Foreword Reviews

Pastor, Buddhist, Astrologer Walk into a Bar

Pastor Buddhist Astrologer billboard

Is holding a free and fair election too much to ask of this country? Seemingly so. But let’s not rehash the reasons we’re on pins and needles. The problems across our wide land are all too plain to see—and it seems, the more we know, the more frustrated we grow. Knowledge may be power, but it’s also a stressful load to bear.

This week, we’re hoping to help you chill with a dose of thoughtful, hopeful counsel from three authors we respect: two are religious leaders, and the other takes her guidance from the planets and stars.

We wish you a merry election. Godspeed to the US of A. May the healing process commence early Wednesday morning.

What is your one wish for the United States in 2021?

Theresa Cheung, The Astrology Fix: A Modern Guide to Cosmic Self Care

Astrology Fix author
My wish is for every person in the US to either through a powerful dream, or a flash of Eureka intuition, to see the bigger picture and understand that regardless of culture, belief, or status we all have the same beating hearts. We all laugh. We all cry. We all bleed and we all dream. Turn the spotlight on on our shared humanity—what connects rather than what divides us.

Americans on opposing sides of the political divide have lost the ability to treat each other respectfully. How might we overcome this conflict?

Eric Peterson, Letters to a Young Pastor

Letters to a Young Pastor author
There are moments in world history that are characterized by a distinct drift from previously agreed upon moral foundations. We are, I am persuaded, in such a time, characterized by almost a complete unmooring from the bedrock of truth. The Scriptures anticipate a time when people will reject the truth in favor of wandering into myths (2 Timothy 4:4). There is compelling evidence that we are living in such a time.

The appropriate response to such a crisis, as I see it, is to commit ourselves to being people of the truth. Even a relatively small group of people who are dedicated to the pursuit of righteousness can become the immune system for an ailing organism, restoring it to health.

However, the reason I’m a pastor and not a politician is that I believe there are some basic and pressing matters that we cannot solve for ourselves. We need divine intervention. The way Jesus described this for us is that his reign—the Kingdom of Heaven—is moving in, gradually displacing the various kingdoms and empires of this world. I believe the best thing we can do is to find courageous ways to participate in that coming reality. And while nobody should claim to have a corner on the truth, we all need to do our best to seek truth (gaining wisdom), and to speak truth to power (the prophetic task). Only then do we have any hope of receiving the biblical promise: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

With the election just a few days away, many of us are suffering from severe anxiety, to the point where our thoughts are racing uncontrollably. What can we do to get some peace of mind?

Nicolas Bommarito, Seeing Clearly: A Buddhist Guide to Life

Seeing Clearly author
Buddhists often liken the mind to a crazed monkey, jumping around, or a wild elephant trampling anything in its path. In calmer times these images might have seemed like exaggerations, but lately not so much.

Part of the problem is that this kind of stress and anxiety has a snowballing effect. The more stress you feel the harder it is to figure out what’s causing it and what to do about it, which causes more stress. The more worried you get the easier it is to doom-scroll through the news, which makes you more worried and on it goes.

So one strategy you can find in Buddhism is that of stopping and observing. Find a calm and comfortable place and take a mental step back and just observe your experiences. Look carefully at what your mind is doing, and what emotions you feel. Don’t react to them, just examine them carefully.

This means noticing how particular feelings and thoughts start up, crescendo, and fade away. Don’t get carried away by them; don’t pull out your phone and look up something or check your emails. Just carefully note what they are and how they feel. Notice what changes happen in your body: Does your heart rate go up? Do your hands get clammy? Do this for a set period. Maybe just five minutes, maybe longer if you can.

This will help you get a better sense of what’s happening and help you to deal with it. How? One way is by putting some distance between you and your thoughts and feelings so that you’re not immediately carried off by them. Another way is by doing this you can understand that these feelings come in waves and are just temporary.

You might also come to realize the ways in which they’re distorting and not really representing reality. When confronted, pessimists always claim to be realists and our thoughts and feelings often work the same way. It will also help you to catch these feeling earlier by showing you the early warning signs. It’s often easier to break out of a feeling when it’s just starting up than when it’s going full steam.

Matt Sutherland

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