Religious community should take part in Vision 2020

Published 8:46 am Friday, July 25, 2014

As a participant in many of the formative Vision 2020 plans, from the “starting blocks” (day one), to the dreams of the future, I encourage other persons to link up with Austin’s new possibilities.

In several meetings, I have offered my suggestions that the greater Austin religious community — members of our churches, but not to leave out a broad appeal, mosques, synagogues, or any spin-offs from traditional religious communities — become more involved in Vision 2020. Some pastors and various leaders in several churches are offering gifts, talents, suggestions and hours of volunteer service to the community project.

Sometimes I peruse Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes to catch a bit of the reality of other persons.  Today’s quotation, has for me, application to Vision 2020: “As she lay dying, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour — the official chief mistress of Louis XV, King of France — summoned her last strength and called to God, ‘Wait a second,’ as she dabbed her cheeks with rouge.”  We in the larger Austin area, including all of Mower County, are yet alive. Dabbing our cheeks can be postponed while in our time of health — we who have sound health.  There is time to not only sit in “the boat,” but also participate with oars in hand.

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Humanistically-oriented Christianity

This phrase is utilized to set forth the humanistic orientation of a particular artist. Jan Davidsz de Heem (1605-1684), born in Utrecht, Netherlands, died in Antwerp, was an artist whose still life creations are celebrated with intense passion. A copy of the book Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, that we currently own, has portrayed on the cover “Still Life With Books” — one of Jan Davidsz de Heem’s famous paintings.  Wonderful. The author of a book on paintings, refers to Jan Davidsz de Heem’s work as “pictures as a fugitive joy.” I like that response to a particular artist and it sets my thinking to the beautiful new arts center on Austin’s Main Street. As you invest your growing interest and participation in Vision 2020, may you be stirred with its projects that include the arts.

About the statement “humanistically-oriented,” please join with me as I give encouragement to others. Please note that spirituality has many shapes and forms. Recently a friend said of “institutional religion:”  I’m neither high church nor low church. I’m no church. Gulp. But hey, that’s OK. Humanism is about values, honoring conscience, living at peace with the world of nature and animals, compassion, supporting community projects, nurturing those who hurt, and being your best self. We can believe that when we feel good about our community, we will feel good about ourselves. Turn that around. When we feel good about ourselves, we project that to the community that surrounds us.

The religious venues in which spirituality is expressed, are growing to embrace and be embraced by the dreams of Vision 2020. An invitation: May we receive this season giving our gifts and hallowed intentions. We share our dedication to the place where we live.

Marvin Repinski is a retired United Methodist Pastor and a candidate for Austin City Council.