What were the top spiritual events of 2012? Audacious question, I know. I’m not a “New York Times” writer, I’m not Oprah, or even your local journalist. Who am I to try to answer it? Nobody.
Maybe that’s the point. Spiritual things often come in strange, unexpected packages. Many say I fill that bill. So, here are my three top spiritual events of 2012.
Proliferation of YouVersion
Johannes Gutenberg must be dancing on a cloud. YouVersion is a Bible app with possibly the same impact on our world as Gutenberg’s 1440 invention of the movable type printing press followed by his printing of the Gutenberg Bible in 1452. This single act stole the Bible from the hands of only the rich, powerful, and educated and placed it in the hands of almost anyone. YouVersion, created in 2007 through LifeChurch.tv by Bobby Gruenewald and Terry Starchy, is now placing the world’s most influential book back in the hands of everyman.
As of this writing, with more than 74,000,000 installs around the world, and Bible verses shared on Twitter and Facebook at “21 times per minute,” YouVersion is one of the fastest growing apps in the world. But what made me consider YouVersion for this list is not just its explosive growth. Rather it’s that its founders, shunning the potential to become the next e-billionaires, seem more concerned about you and your spiritual growth rather than making a buck or billion. YouVersion is truly free, no commercials breaking in, no sharing your info, no catch. LifeChurch.tv and 50 some partners simply give what they believe is the most valuable gift they can give: the Bible.
The U.S. Presidential Election:
The YouVersion is getting people reading. This election got people praying. At times for opposing outcomes, but praying none-the-less. But seeing something so base as a Presidential election as a spiritual event goes deeper than people bending their knees in order to bend God’s arm. Or how it will change the U.S. and maybe the world.
In early October a group of friends from our church gathered for a meal, some wine, and a conversation. It was a delightful night, until someone brought up the election. Or that’s what conventional thinking would have us believe. It was a delightful evening, in part, because we discussed the coming election. Though all from the same church, we were not of the same mind or political party. Contrary to popular wisdom–never discuss politics and religion–we had a calm, though passionate, deep, nuanced, diverse, broadening conversation.
By the end of the night we were all still friends–and maybe even closer. More over each of us pulled our heads out of our ostrich holes and saw that good, godly, intelligent, caring people held views contrary to our own. And we didn’t have to call names and slap labels to be listened to.
Though I have no empirical proof, I believe this kind of thing happened more often than the power, money hungry media that depend on division, would have us believe.
What’s the spiritual impact? People learning to talk while disagreeing and being divided. Shallow conventional wisdom would have us believe it’s more spiritual to “just get along.”
No! True soul work calls for living together, sharing a meal, and also our contrary ideas and beliefs.
Sandy Hook Tragedy
Everyone I asked what they thought was the most spiritual event of 2012 mentioned this, or a similar tragedy. How can that be?
Because, as C. S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (The Problem of Pain, 1940). Not that God inflicts pain that we will listen up. But God is too loving and wise waste our pain, even self-inflicted.
As Sandy Hook unfolded on our television screens–or closer–we looked inside ourselves terrified and glimpsed how needy we are. How vulnerable, how thin our skin, literally and figuratively. How much we need God.
Jesus shocks us saying, “Blessed are they who are poor in spirit and blessed are they who grieve.” What? we shout. “For they will see God,” Jesus finishes. These become blessings when we seek our Creator, the one who loves us despite how cruel we are to one another.
On December 14 we saw how poor in spirit we are and how deep our grief can be.
Sandy Hook, and tragedies like it, force us to look beyond the material and ask for help. That is when we reach out, even asking God in anger, “Why?”
“Why” is a spiritual question and cannot be answered by the age-old easy answers offered by psychologists, pastors, pundits, or politicians. And especially by blamers. “You who are without sin cast the first stone,” Jesus challenged the blamers.
But we prefer easy answers more than mystery, especially painful, soul sifting mystery. We know easy answers don’t solve anything. Sadly, however, they allow us to go back into hiding. Until another tragedy calls us out.
In 2012 these were the things that drew back the skin of every day life, revealing the soul pulsing beneath. They made me look deep into the eyes of God. They helped me see life is more than it appears. You, however, may debate the spirituality of these events or even deny them. And you may be right. If so, be my guest, name your own.
P.S. Thank you for reading and traveling this spiritual path with me in 2012. It has been an honor to be even a small part of your reading, blogging life. Thank you. May 2013 be filled with mystery and truth and fun and creativity and God.