Have A Passionate New Year

Another new year. What is it? Oh, yeah, 2017. Hope it’s better than 2016. Oh hum. Are you feeling like new year is another turn on the hamster wheel? I get it. Politics change, people come and go, life goes on. Or so it sometimes seems in the banality of middle class life.

I have begun my new year with two books that have given me a kick in the needed parts. Two autobiographies by men who grew up in 1950-60s America. They have each made amazing contributions and they couldn’t be more different. Larry Brilliant and Bruce Springsteen.

The first was “Sometimes Brilliant,” by Larry Brilliant. (yes, that is his name) Recommended by Bruce Rosenzweig this is the selection for our book group this month. Brilliant grew up in Detroit and studied to be a doctor. Influenced by Martin Luther King, Jr. he began to work for social justice. Then influenced by Wavy Gravy he joined the Medicine Bell Caravan that eventually led him to an ashram in the Himalayas. There his guru Maharaji told him to join the World Health Organization and they would eradicate smallpox. He did and they did. His is a spiritual journey through drugs, prayer, rituals and service. A counter culture Forrest Gump he seemed to be at all the highlights of that turned on world, and writes about it with a compassionate and objective lens of the good and the bad. Brilliant went on to found the Seva Foundation and was the first executive director of google.org. I was inspired by the possibilities of people to make such a difference in the world–they eradicated smallpox!

On Christmas morning my wife Ronnie and I each surprised the other with a copy of “Born to Run,” by Bruce Springsteen. His book reads like one of his songs–unfiltered and hardcharging while revealing beauty and truth. HIs escape from childhood came from watching Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show as he revealed the alternative path of rock and roll. As a teen he was a focused, dedicated musician in the 1960s (without drugs). He taught himself to make great music that was true to his life. His music inspires me to find salvation in even he darkest  places of life.

Two very different stories from men living through the same times. What unites them is passion. Brillant’s passionate spiritual search for God and to help humanity. Springsteens’ passionate musical journey to be the best musician who tells the truth about his life and times. In each their passion led to hard work, sacrifice, and dedication that has changed our world.

This is the best dream of a new year. Not that we may alter some habits or diets, but may find new passion for life. This passion for me comes from the path of unity with God’s spirit as found in the compassion, justice and peace of Jesus. As these two writers testify, we can’t do it by ourselves. It takes a dedicated group (maybe an ashram, or a band), but we can all be there for each other to combat some of the worst diseases of our day–apathy and boredom. This is what we are about when the church is at it’s best.

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