Life in Greencastle

What Are Your Ten Commandments?

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

It’s been almost 15 years since Ira Glass and the team at This American Life tackled the Ten Commandments, and in their usual they did a great job of tackling the subject with creativity.  How’d they do it?  Rather than using the commandments as a launching pad for moralizing and sermonizing, Ira and the team used it as a great opportunity for a little bit of humor and a lot of reflection.

Most scholars agree the Ten Commandments are driving at one important question:  What’s the best way for a community to keep itself together?  That’s an important question.  To a Bedouin people, it was pretty easy to come up with the basic list, the ten commandments.  Don’t steal.  Don’t murder.  Don’t cheat on your spouse.  Don’t take your neighbors stuff or even covet it.  Honor God and maintain a sense of reverence in your life.  It’s a good list.  Do this, and things will – mostly – go well for you.  Don’t do them, and watch as your life spirals out of control.  Well, most of the time. 

But, what are your own 10 commandments.  If you were to put down onto paper the 10 rules that you feel would help you to live a good life, what would they be?  Let’s put a little more pressure on the exercise.  You’ve only got ten minutes.

Here’s mine, in no particular order.

Commandment #1 – honor your marriage

For whatever reason, this is the first one that comes to mind for me.  I guess it’s because the overall orderliness of my life genuinely seems to come down to how well we’re working as a couple.  So, yeah, I’ll start here.

Commandment #2 – make time for the holy

Oops … already broke a commandment.  Shouldn’t this one have been first?  But, no cheating or lying.  Then, I’d have to break another one.  Anyhow, this is how I’ll cover the first 4 commandments from the original ten.  To me, making time for the holy means carving out that space that will really allow us to dwell in the place where we are living in authenticity of our being … as a creature in connection with a holy God at the heart of all of life.

Commandment #3 – be a good parent

If you decide to have kids … if you’re blessed with that opportunity in your life, then being a good parent is right up there at the top when it comes to moral advice to apply to one’s life.  But, being a good parent is both this ongoing journey of growth and this ongoing lesson in our relentless capacity to fail our kids.  I definitely managed to let a curse word slip at the dinner table the other night.  Ouch, so far, I’m a big 0-3 when it comes to flawlessly fulfilling these commandments.

Commandment #4 – don’t kill anyone

This would be rather easy if it weren’t for Jesus, of course.  I’ve never killed anyone.  About the closest I came was backing out of our driveway on the way to a family trip and getting side-swiped by a Pontiac going about 40 mph.  That sucked, most of all because the immediate fear it induced upon my daughter.  But, thankfully, it wasn’t anything too serious.  But, Jesus says we can’t even curse anyone without committing murder in our hearts.  In which case I’ve murdered about as many people as those guys who are always referred to by their three names … you know, serial killers.

Commandment #5 – love people

I’m going to flip the script.  Instead of going all negative, I’ll throw in a positive command here:  love people.  Love individuals.  I guess this might be at the very top of the list if I had time to re-order.  It’s generally not a bad life strategy to just start by loving the person in front of you.  Then go on to the next person you encounter.  But, this will invariably lead to #6 for me …

Commandment #6 – REST

It’s funny that the commandment to keep the Sabbath in the This American Life podcast comes down to going to church.  That’s good for the soul and good as a practice of participating in something larger than yourself, but I think the commandment to honor the Sabbath is about something much larger.  REST.  We can’t function in the world without getting good sleep and having at least one day off a week to reset at home.  To do the laundry is important.  Especially, if – like us – your laundry happens to spill out in copious amounts onto the bathroom floor.  So, having enough time in our lives to perhaps at least catch up with part of the laundry … well, that would be ideal.

Commandment #7 – be content with what you have (be grateful)

This one is so much easier to KNOW is valuable than to actually practice.  But, when it does happen … when there is this sense of contentment in my heart and with the general goodness of life, regardless of what I actually do or accomplish, that’s when life is best and most enjoyable.

Commandment #8 – leave a positive legacy

Getting short on time, so I’m just going to put up the rest of them right now …

Commandment #9 – be a good friend

Commandment #10 – don’t be afraid to break stuff and try things!

Hey, I finally got one that I just did right.  Took me more like fifteen minutes to come up with it, but I’ve finally found one that I can set before me and feel good about keeping before me for awhile.


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