Saturday, January 09, 2010


I originally wrote this for the secular press in 2000 just after the turn of the new year, when I was doing a weekly column for the Parkersburg (WV) News and Sentinel. I found it while looking for something else. I dusted it off and updated it a bit for my parish newsletter. It was written for a secular audience at time when religiosity, particularly Christianity, was taking a hard turn towards the angry and rigid. I was also thinking about the rise of fundementalisms across the board--not only Christian, but Jewish, Islamic and even militant Hindu movements in South Asia. Ten years later, I only had to dust it off a little.

If your New Year’s resolutions are at all like mine, then these are resolves that are filled with hope and good intentions that soon fall hard to reality. I know I should eat less and exercise more, but somehow I always manage to get these two backwards. And, two weeks into the New Year, I know that many of my best intentions already a by-gone memory.

Just the same, I know that there are things in my life that I would like to do better. These are behaviors that one just cannot will to make better, but really need to be cultivated into a habit. And I am not just talking about the usual vices; I am also talking about the spiritual life.

All religious people can resolve to pray more and worry less (something I also tend to reverse!). I have been considering some New Year’s resolutions that, if lived by, might make having faith less a source of contention and pride and more a source of hope and power. These are resolutions that we people of faith can make and then start new every day. The power for these resolves does not come from good intentions alone. If our faith has any meaning at all, then we know that the power for these come from the grace of God.

Here are my twenty religious resolutions for the New Year:

  1. I will allow my religion to change me
  2. I will resist telling other people how to change.
  3. I will seek to make my religion a channel for gratitude and appreciation.
  4. I will avoid using my religion as a channel for my anger.
  5. I will expect my faith to challenge me to be live ethically.
  6. I will give up needing to be certain about everything.
  7. I will allow my religion to both care for and challenge my insecurities.
  8. I will pay attention when my culture and my faith are in conflict.
  9. I will be wary of leaders who use religion to sow hatred, fear or division.
  10. I will allow my religion to temper my passion with humility.
  11. I will work to be for something good even when it easier to be against something bad.
  12. I will not allow my religion to become a fad or a trend.
  13. I will allow my religion to keep pace with my maturity.
  14. I will remember that my religion is for the benefit of the people and world around me.
  15. I will avoid holding on too tightly to my religion as a personal possession.
  16. I will give up punishment and shame as tool for religious persuasion.
  17. When I fail, I will expect my religion to challenge me to be responsible.
  18. I will not let the fact that I am an imperfect practitioner of my religion deter me from living my faith.
  19. I will not let the imperfection of other people’s faith deter me from having faith.
  20. I will accept beauty, fun, spontaneity and companionship as signs of God at work.

Have a blessed New Year.

See also DioBeth newSpin.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Good ones.