News stories of conflict, chaos, violence, and disruptions assail us seemingly every hour these days. Some of the information is truly alarming. It’s hard to decide how much news to digest, and what to do about what we learn. We’re not wired to live with chronic stress, fear, and anxiety. It takes a toll on our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It has a negative impact on our core relationships as well. Yet, we do live in communities and what happens around us impacts us, so we can’t just ignore the news. We need to take a turmoil break to sustain our health so that we can continue to persevere through the challenges.
I’ve been reading lately about autocrats who hope to dismantle democracy and replace it with themselves as leaders for life. They take control by making and breaking laws indiscriminately to benefit themselves and a few others. One of their favorite tools is the mass dissemination of lies or highly exaggerated facts that make things seem much worse than they actually might be. Another favorite tool is agitating chaos and conflict so that they can pronounce themselves as the solution to all that is wrong. It reminds me of the few sick firefighters who start fires so they can rush in to extinguish them and become the hero of the hour.
Looking for Relief
This week I’m sharing with you a few of my “go-to” people I follow for their perspective on things. I find it beneficial to step back and hear from people who’ve proven themselves to be credible, compassionate, and capable of putting things into perspective.
One of them is a fellow retired Lutheran pastor I follow on LinkedIn. You, too, can follow her at Kathleen Panning. She and I met when she was seeking people to be on her podcast. She’s a leadership coach for faith leaders, and she hosts “The Tilted Halo” podcast.
In a recent LinkedIn post, she wrote, “There are lots of things happening around the world and around our own piece of the world where we feel powerless to change things.
But even in the worst of situations we are in charge…in charge of our thoughts, feelings and how we respond. It’s our thoughts that first and foremost control both our feelings and our response. We’re not always aware of the thoughts that come before our feelings or responses, but the thoughts are there first.”
Roger Leslie played a leading role in getting Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures out of my computer files and into print. As my writing coach, he provided valuable insights into the plot and character development of the historical novel. I’ve heard him speak on numerous occasions and I always come away better informed and definitely more inspired. You can follow him at RogerLeslie.com
On his website, he wrote, “I feel grateful every day to live the life I dream. I am an author. All dreams flourish with outreach. As an author, speaker, coach, editor, and publisher, I love guiding people along their path to make their dreams come true, too.”
He’s published numerous books in multiple genres, which encourages me as I don’t seem to find one subject area and stick to it. His My First Last Year book, published in 2015 sums up some of his basic philosophy. It won numerous awards, including Writer’s Digest’s #1 Inspirational Book of the Year.
He writes an inspirational monthly email. Next month, he is offering free copies of My First Last Year to only his email subscribers. Just sign up for his email list on the landing page of RogerLeslie.com. His November 6 email will explain how to get your free copy.
I always come away feeling better about myself and the world after I’ve interacted with Roger. I think you will, too.
Retired Lutheran Pastor Paul Ziese posts thoughtful Facebook reflections on the news of the day which I find immensely helpful in assessing what I hear from other sources.
He recently posted this:
“At the Breaking Down Walls conference in Germany, leaders of the Silent Revolution told us that church leaders were often the biggest obstacle to attaining freedom. The people in Nazi and Communist Europe had to develop alternative structures and means of communication. We were told as authoritarianism gains influence in a country, church leaders usually lose influence. We can see those trends now happening in the United States.
Diana Butler Bass publishes a twice-a-week newsletter entitled The Cottage. One of them comes out on Sunday mornings and is a deep dive into one or more of the assigned scripture readings for the day for those congregations that follow the common three-year cycles of readings.
In a recent newsletter, she had this to say about September’s global heat wave:
Public Religion Research released a survey on faith and concern for the climate revealing that, among U.S. religious groups, no single faith community exceeds one-third of its adherents viewing Earth’s current situation as a “crisis.” That’s right. We are living through the hottest year ever experienced by humankind — and only a minority of religious folks think this is a problem. There’s a theological-moral emergency right in front of us and, I’m sorry to say that Christians appear to be doing a poor job addressing it. The only Americans whose concern for the climate crisis has grown substantially in the last decade are the religiously unaffiliated.
For several years now I’ve started my mornings with Heather Cox Richardson’s almost daily summaries of the connection between historical events and current affairs. She is a history professor at Boston College and sends out her “Letters from an American” via email and Facebook posts. She writes about modern events through the lens of what’s happened in the past.
Her new book is for people who want to understand the political landscape since the end of WWII. She talks about Democracy Awakening in a YouTube interview. Cox Richardson maintains our country’s diversity helped innoculate us from the rise of fascism that overtook other countries after WWII.
When the news seems overwhelming, it helps me to “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations; I am exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 41:20) We’re only asked to do our fair share where we are, for those within our circles of contact. We can’t single-handedly solve global problems, but we can help our neighbors. Sharing some of what we have makes a difference. We can also continue gaining insight, information, and inspiration from others.
Where do you turn for inspiration, information, and insight? May you know the peace that passes human understanding and may that equip you to be the encouragement the world desperately needs.
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Mary Brewster’s Love Life and Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures: available wherever books are sold. Bookshop.org/Mayflower; Mary BrewsterAmazon.com/Mary Brewster’s Love Life
Autographed copies are available on my website.