Paul L. Caron

Sunday, January 9, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: 10 New Year’s Resolutions That Are Good For The Soul

New York Times op-ed:  10 New Year’s Resolutions That Are Good for the Soul, by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

Warren 3I accomplished zero percent of my New Year’s resolutions last year. I’m obviously no sage of discipline. But I’d argue that the chief value of resolutions is not found in our success or failure at keeping them. Instead, they help us reflect on what our lives are like, what we would like them to be like and what practices might bridge the difference. There is goodness then in the very process of making resolutions. There is hope in the idea that we can change — that we can keep growing, learning and trying new things. This hope of renewal is the point of resolutions for me.

For 2022, I became curious about what resolutions I might adopt that would help my soul. The practice of spiritual resolutions is not new. In the 18th century, Jonathan Edwards, known for his fiery sermons and his mention in “Hamilton” as Aaron Burr’s grandfather — the “fire and brimstone preacha (preacha, preacha)” — made a list of spiritual resolutions and reviewed them weekly.

They began, “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions.”

So with Edwards’s caveat and prayer as my own, I asked for help in thinking about resolutions that would benefit our souls, as individuals, or that would help the “soul” of our nation and our world. I asked friends who are pastors, writers, scholars and spiritual leaders to offer suggested “reSOULutions” for 2022.

Here were some of the many responses I received: ...

Plant seeds of humility
Make it a bimonthly goal to engage in a conversation with one who is not part of your political, religious or cultural community with the intention of learning something from them. Then, watch humility grow, which is a forgotten yet desperately needed virtue in our age of polarization and cancellation.
— Paul Lim, a historian of Christianity at Vanderbilt University ...

Pray for political leaders — especially ones you don’t like
Think about our political leaders and pray for the ones you don’t like. But make them prayers of gratitude: for the things they do well, for the people whose lives they help improve, for the ways they contribute to human flourishing. And if you can’t come up with anything, ask yourself if it’s because they need to change or because you need to change.
— John Inazu, professor of law and religion at Washington University in St. Louis and author of Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving through Deep Difference

I want to try something in this list that is hard for me and to try something that fills me with hope and possibility. As we begin 2022, these friends inspire me and dare me to believe that things can be made new — even me, even us.

Other New York Times op-eds by Tish Harrison Warren:

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