A blessed life
Anne Sutherland Howard, Claiming the Beatitudes: Nine Stories from a New Generation, The Alban Institute (2009).
The Beatitudes are a group of teachings by Jesus presented in Matthew and Luke. The word beatitude means happy, blissful, or fortunate - and here Jesus explains how to achieve that blessed state.
Claiming the Beatitudes is a book about ten people living the Beatitudes. This book is unique because the people featured relate the Beatitudes to some pretty radical actions they’ve taken part in.
The most powerful story I found was about Greta. Greta worked for a company that sold tee shirts. She felt that her company did good work and treated their workers fairly. She called her company one of the “good guys.”
But one day Greta realized that her good guy company was a part of an unjust system. She left her job and started empowering the Hispanic women who were making tee shirts for almost nothing. She felt this was blessing those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Greta now works for a nonprofit and seeks justice for the long term. She works for other people’s future.
Other stories feature people like Stefanie. On staff at a church, she witnesses funerals every week. Her interpretation of “Blessed are they that mourn” is that “God meets [people] right where they live.” Stefanie finds so often that people come to church to grieve and find God’s guidance when they are in distress or sorrow. Stefanie teaches these people that God doesn’t just recognize them in a church or on Sundays, but is everywhere surrounding them always.
The story for “Blessed are the meek” is told by Alex, a grad student and campus activist. Alex feels that meekness doesn’t play into the lives of men very often. He goes on to explain that when people value one another, rather than disregarding one another, this is a form of meekness. To Alex, meekness is genuinely caring for people and the world.
So often I feel that Bible stories are far-fetched and hard to connect with. But through the stories in Claiming the Beatitudes, I found that I too could relate my life to the Beatitudes - that I too have lived some of the Beatitudes. How inspiring! And what a surprise.
Also, this book encourages readers to go forward and do good works. The ten people featured took action, helped others, and found themselves satisfied and fulfilled. This was the book’s most powerful message.
After reading this book, I felt empowered. The way these people have changed their own lives and the lives of others is so impressive that it gave me a whole new take on Jesus’ teachings.RSS feed
Topics: Happiness | Tags: Beatitudes, Happiness, Sermon on the Mount