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Monday, April 1

“On Being Awesome”

Life is made up of social openings, moments in relationships and encounters in which we respond to others according to standard roles or in the expression of our individuality. Our actions can reveal much about who we are, or not much at all. [In those openings, we can either suck or be awesome.]

Sometimes we abandon the ordinary public reasons for responding a certain way and break out of the social roles that condition us. Sometimes we do so because we’re forced to (in an emergency, for example) or because we’re inattentive or impolite. Yet other times we break out of these roles by expressing our individuality.

When we break out of our norm-governed social roles by expressing ourselves, we can create what I call a social opening. This occurs when an opportunity arises to step outside of or creatively expand upon these roles – in particular, when there is a chance to recognize each other’s individuality beyond whatever generic traits and skills are required to simply enact the social role of adhering to the social norms. [Seizing such social openings is what I call awesomeness. The opposite is naturally suckiness.]

Sucking is, first and foremost, a matter of being able but refusing to take up social openings.
1. You encounter a social opening.
2. You recognize the opportunity.
3. You could accept the opportunity…
4. …but you don’t.

Awesomeness is a distinctive pheromone, wherein someone expresses themselves in the spirit of fostering a coperson community – from creating a social opening at the local café to enlivening or enriching the community or workplace, throwing a great party, or getting a whole section of a stadium to play around.

So why have we adopted the word awesome in these contexts? What possible connection could there be between awe and awesomeness? Our feelings of awe often come along with a certain desire to connect, share, or reach out. When we are moved to awe by an album, a symphony, a novel, or a painting, we want to tell our friend about it, post about it on social media, or give it as a gift. When we feel so small and wonderfully overwhelmed, we want to band together under a common aegis, which might be nothing more than feeling wonder, fear, or apprehension together. By reaching out in these ways, we create a social opening; we give our friends an opportunity to see and feel what we are seeing and feeling. This suggests that awe tends to inspire in us the desire to create social openings. Awe inspires us to be awesome.

On Being Awesome. A Unified Theory on How Not to Suck.
by Nick Riggle, Assorted bits

“Overcoming Evil with Love”

9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21


Reflection Questions

Can you think of a social opening opportunity that you had in the past week? How did you respond that invitation with either awesomeness or suckiness?

• Romans 12 is often given the subtitle of “the marks of a true Christian”. Mahatma Gandhi famously said – “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” He must have seen lots of sucky followers of Jesus. How do you glimpse suckiness and awesomeness in the climactic conclusion of the letter of advice we called “Romans” written by the apostle Paul 2,000 years ago?

• How will you be centered, open, looking for social openings in the coming days?