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What’s More Caught than Taught?

January 8, 2011

It’s an irony… talking (or writing) about what can only be “caught.”  To me, anyway, “caught” means non-verbally.  Something is happening that can’t be adequately put into words.  But maybe we can talk around it, at least; describe how catching and learning from “teaching” are different and yet overlap.

To start, where and how are you positioning yourself to catch the next bit of your own growth, your own increased peace or happiness; your ability to serve others deeper? It’s about much more than catching a fly ball, but the positioning analogy may help.  If you don’t move yourself to where the ball is coming, you won’t catch it.

Are you hanging with the right people? People who can lob you balls that you at least have a chance of catching? Do you “hang” with such people by reading their books, by listening to them on recordings? Do you split your listening time consciously? Find the best mix, for you, that includes music or news and hearing or watching the people who will both teach you something useful, and from whom you may also catch something.

This blog is about the “mystical” (or subtle, “right-brained”) and the “rational” (or analytical, philosophical, “left-brained”), and balancing the two.  What I’m talking about now is one way of creating such a balance.  It is also interesting to note that groups and institutions come to weight one side over the other, often.  Most Western religion is about teaching, about knowing and believing the right things, more than about the inner work of catching.

Sure, Christianity, in virtually all its forms, is about “catching” the Spirit, about becoming “Christ-like” and emulating Jesus as described in the Gospels. And people do catch much of  the lifestyle, the values, the perceptions of the leaders and lay people around them.  But isn’t the focus overall much more on learning (conceptually) and on “witnessing” to others, than on being or becoming?

The more that traditional Christians focus on being and on growth in that, the more I find common ground, ability to relate, and such…. And this I believe is vital, both in bridging gulfs among different Christian orientations and between Christians and others who feel they are not “religious” but are spiritual in ways that are central to their being.

What is your experience in this regard? Maybe your church experience, or your experience as “unchurched” but in conversation with those who are church-involved.  What have you caught from someone else, or from your own spiritual practices of meditation or other things?  (Music is one such vehicle which we will talk more about soon.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. pondering-one permalink
    January 12, 2011 11:12 pm

    The problem with “catching” something rather than “learning” something is that you don’t know whether you’re going to catch a $100 bill or a virus. With all the xxxx that is being flung around in the name of religion or spirituality, how can anyone be sure what’s true, false, good, bad. Learning what has been taught for centuries seems a much more reasonable path than second-guessing new thoughts which may or may not be valid.

  2. Howard Pepper permalink
    January 13, 2011 8:27 pm


    Thanks for these thoughts… indeed, it’s possible to catch a “cold” or worse. One must develop discernment, and more. It is the “more” that I mainly speak of; that spark of real life, of enthusiasm (which I imagine comes from “en” [in] and “theos” [God]). That we get both directly from God/Spirit at times and at others from enthused people around us. And those not just enthused, but compassionate, loyal, awe-filled, etc.

    • pondering-one permalink
      January 14, 2011 2:14 am

      So you “catch” a spark of enthusiasm from God or someone else. Our “discernment” tells us that spark was given to us to share the Gospel, to witness. Since you can only speak about what you know, and what you know is based mostly on what you are taught–conceptually, witnessing allows questions to be raised leading the “witnesser” to seek more answers and thereby “grow” and “become” more than they were before. I believe this is a very proven method of growing in one’s faith/religion.

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