A totem for the new year

January 1, 2007 at 10:08 pm Leave a comment

I’ve decided to adopt a “totem” for the new year. The idea comes from Andree Seu, who in turn was inspired by Disney’s Brother Bear. Seu explains in her essay “The ‘Wide’ Way,” in her excellent little book Normal Kingdom Business:

Each loincloth-clad noble savage, at his coming of age, is assigned a “totem,” a pendant with one unique word on it (“patience,” “love,” “bravery,” etc.) to be the focus of a lifetime, the mantra of the journey, the divining rod of discovery of the secrets of the universe.

The original totems contained just a single word; Seu expanded hers to incorporate a whole phrase—Paul’s admonition to “widen your hearts”—which comes from 2 Corinthians 6:13.

seu.jpgI think I will take as my “totem” one whole chapter of the Bible. One year, one chapter.

Not that I’ll read only one chapter in the whole year, but one chapter for special focus, you know. I’m going to put myself, with Seu, in the place of the “the man on the desert island who’s salvaged only one scrap of Scripture from the shipwreck and has to chew on it for the rest of his life.” This could be exciting.

I’ve had a hard time picking a suitable chapter, but I think I’ve decided to go with Luke 11. An odd choice, perhaps, but I like it because it’s comprised of 5 separate little nuggets, each dealing with a subject (prayer, the human desire for miraculous signs, religious hypocrisy, etc.) that I find particularly relevant to my own life.

Step one? Memorize it!


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profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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