Joshua A Parable for Today Summary, Notes, Discussion
Joshua A Parable for Today Summary, Notes, Discussion
Joshua A Parable for Today Summary, Notes, and Discussion on Pages 1-48, Chapter 1-4
- Almost as soon as I started reading Joshua, it struck me that Bob was very much like the protagonist. His patience, kindness, simplicity and prayerful humility were all very striking and reminiscent of my dear friend, Bob.
- Having made that point, I think it is worthwhile in making another obvious point, that Joshua is a representation of Jesus. In addition to the way in which I described him, there was some references that caught my attention, like p. 24, bottom of page, “He was here for a purpose, a clear and carefully delineated objective designed by his Father, and intimacy in the life of the people was not germane to that plan. It would prevent the easy maneuvering that would be part of his life.”
- To me this meant that he stayed “above the fray” so to speak. His aloofness seemed to put him at an advantage, in that he was able to live his life with a certain mystique. Though we do not yet know what it is, his mission seems to compel him to be somewhat reclusive and largely solitary although extremely gracious, humble, kind and inclined to live very simply. I wonder how we can contemplate how this scenario would influence our own lives. Often when we think of our demeanor when we are on a mission we are highly engaged, focused, driven. I am not seeing this in Joshua. He is laid back, somewhat aloof, not outwardly driven in his actions but rather more reserved and certainly modest.
- Page 5: “That was a shrewd answer. He wasn’t taking one side, but he took both sides when you think of it.” I would like to be more like this – able to give “shrewd” answers! Unfortunately, I have always “erred” on the side of being truthful, which is often not very tactful. In the Gospels, Jesus admonishes us to “let your yes be a yes and your no be a no” and I have taken that too literally throughout my life – with awkward results. Such as “Did you like my new recipe?” “No I didn’t.” Which was honest but left the poor cook mortified!
- Page 6 and throughout this section (4 times on page 11 alone!): “simple” or “simplicity”. Did you notice the number of times that simple/simplicity was used?? One of my favorite words!!
- Page 10: “You make a lot of people happy and that’s a wonderful thing. That’s more than you can say for most jobs.” I related to this in my own job. I never really sought to “get ahead”. And I was always trying to keep the environment pleasant and fun if at all possible! I ran the office pools!
- Page 13: “They were all invited to stop in anytime.” Welcoming! Open house! Sounds like Pope Francis.
- Page 14: “The clergy become insecure when changes are discussed.” Yes that’s my experience! Two years ago, a new translation of the Roman Missal was published. That caused much “agita” among some of the clergy. However, since I’m clergy, I can state that not all were agitated; I was excited about the changes and was the “point man” for our parish in implementing them. Actually this whole section must have caused a great deal of agita when this book was originally published in 1983. Although it really was – in my opinion – correctly understanding Vatican II on things like ecumenism (relations with other religions) the “establishment” was not pleased with this book.
- Page 16: “He was always ready to stop what he was doing and spend a few minutes socializing. It was almost as if that was his real business.” Again, that’s how I have tried to live my life – being available!
- Page 18: The entire paragraph beginning “As the days…..” really spoke to me. I aspire to be the kind of person described here!
- Page 19: “Always optimistic, always positive, always understanding and patient of what had to be.” Again this is who I would like to be!
- Page 21: “Nor was praying a drudgery for Joshua. It was as if he was enjoying a dialogue with a dear friend, with someone he loved intensely, and someone who was intimately involved in his life.” This is how I have come to pray, in dialogue with Jesus. And that translates to our “quintaloguing”: dear friends, loved, intimately involved.
- Page 32: “Joshua was not a pious person………………He was just an ordinary person who radiated an enthusiasm for life and for everything that had life.” This resonated with me because I am not a “pious” person either. And I am enthusiastic too (as are all the Quints!)
- Page 35: “Do you think he’s gay?………..To me he’s a very normal person. He loves what he does, and he’s just content to be by himself.” Well, I certainly can relate to this, having lived the single life. Although it never was overtly asked, it’s possible that this same questioning could have gone on behind my back. But if so it never bothered me. I too have loved what I’ve done in my life.
- Page 42: “Joshua didn’t like being evasive. It was against his nature, yet he had no right laying bare truths that would not be understood.” I’ve always struggled with this – see above re “yes/no”. People are constantly seeking answers but aren’t always ready for an answer that they might not like or agree with.
- Page 43: Paragraph beginning “Real religion is in people’s hearts.” The author takes a number of hard swings against “the establishment” which truly hit home for me! Again, listen to Pope Francis on this! It’s not a knock on formal religion but on some leaders.
- Page 44: “Jesus….washing the feet…telling them to be humble and serve rather than dominate and dictate.” Thismcontinues the subject of page 43. And once again, that’s what we’re hearing from Pope Francis.
- Page 44: “A kind shepherd will put people before the law, like Jesus did.” I have come to understand that rules are important to “guide” but not to “govern”.
- Page 46: “Joshua believed that people were more important than schedules.” Pretty much summarizes all that we read so far!
OVERALL IMPRESSION SO FAR: Joshua is fictional; I don’t sense that we’re supposed to believe that this is Jesus come back to earth again. But what I think the author is proposing is that we are all called to live as Jesus did. That’s what Joshua was trying to do. And I totally identify with Joshua. I would like to be seen as a “Joshua” by the people I am connected with!
- On page 17: Herm: I noticed that all the plants you have produce in early summer and by the fall they are all dead. How come you didn’t plant vegetables that last till the end of the season. Joshua looked at him. The look seemed to penetrate right through him and far beyond as he answered simply, “I may be busy then, doing other things, and I don’t want to waste the food. It is a gift from God.” Joshua then welcomed Herm to take any vegetables whenever he wanted, even if he wasn’t home.
- On page 19: Joshua thought long and hard, intermittently envisioning his own place in the long-term plan his Father had laid out for him eons ago and for the whole complex course through which humanity would evolve. Always optimistic, always positive, always understanding and patient of what had to be, Joshua maintained a a simple and happy attitude toward life, looking to distant goals rather than to monetary and immediate satisfactions, realizing that in spite of appearances, his Father’s will would ultimately triumph.
- Page 31: “Do you know God, Joshua?” The blonde girl asked. “Yes I do know him. We are good friends.”
- Page 32: Just before he ate dinner that night he sat for a moment and raised his eyes slowly as if in deep thought. He did that before each meal.
- Page 33: Even thought Joshua was physically attractive, and possessed a a grace that was charming, when one came to know him more intimately all that seemed to pale beside the richness and depth of his personality.
- Page 34: “Real religion is in peoples hearts, not in buildings. Jesus tried to teach this lesson once before saying men would worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Jesus taught that people are free. Washing the feet of the apostles was a sign of being humble and serving rather than being dominant and dictate.”
- p. 3: “Once or twice a week, he would walk up the street to the grocery store and buy food and other things he needed.” Brian, this reminds me of Rory. Bob, PM, our yoga teacher in Thailand usually eats a brown rice salad with hummus for lunch. When asked why he casually & simply stated, “That’s all you need.”
- p. 3: “He just went about his business and smiled hello to whoever he met along the way.” I try to incorporate this in my daily life. It’s not very common in the northeast US & some find it odd but this passage confirms my belief that it’s a Christlike practice.
- p. 3: “When he looked at you you had the feeling that he was looking into your soul.” This reminds me of a post I wrote in Lucid Practice about a Christian athlete named Kurt Warner.
- p. 6: “It doesn’t bring him much income, just enough to pay his bills. He doesn’t need much anyway.” reminds me of Rory and Bob. Two people who have selflessly dedicated themselves to serving God and not being greedy
- p. 11: “I do everything by hand so I don’t need much space.” A dying art. Again I admire how much presence and detail goes into each of Joshua’s actions. This reminds me of Quote Spiral and how we’re introducing quality hand made products into a world that’s increasingly full of mass produced junk.
- p. 16: “Most newcomers in a town make desperate attempts to be accepted, but Joshua gave the impression he couldn’t care less.” I was once one of the “desperate newcomers” in my middle school years. Trying to climb the social ladder. The “couldn’t care less” reminds me of Brian and Danielle. Danielle quietly excludes herself from the typical college drinking parties and social status means nothing to her. She quietly makes amasing contributions to the Union College community in a humble but impactful way. Brian has always been a leader and someone who would rather be himself and spend time with family and close friends as opposed to trying to “fit in” and do the next “cool” thing to impress others. Consciousness of one’s ego is crucial in living the type of life that we strive for.
- p. 16: “He was always ready to stop what he was doing and spend time socializing.”
- p. 18: “He was a good talker. Not about trivial things but about things he noticed during the day…. Things other people were too busy to notice.” Beautiful. Pure awareness and presence. This reminds me a bit of a post I wrote about avoiding trivial conversation: Ways to Have Positive Interactions with People
- p. 18: “Most people’s problems are of their own making, and making people more aware of themselves would frequently provide the key to the solution.” True, I hope I can begin to realise this about my own “problems.” Reminds me of Buddhist teachings.
- p. 18 “When a person left him it was usually with a deeper sense of peace and a renewed enthusiasm for life.” This reminds me of conversations with Bob, Quints, and I hope to be a vehicle for people like this. Bob’s Mass a few weeks ago provided a peaceful feeling.
- p. 22 on other people: “Nothing would change them, but beneath the exterior was a goodness and a kindliness that covered a multitude of sins.” Message to me: Remember to see God in everyone.
- p. 43~44: “Real religion is in people’s hearts, not in buildings….. Through page 44 ending with, “The sabbath is made for the people and not people made for the sabbath.” These four paragraphs are amasing & I encourage the quints to mark the book at this point for easy reference later on.
- p. 46: “Friends are welcome any time and everyone was a friend to Joshua.” Reminds me of a great piece of advice from one of my favorite poems, The Desiderata: “Be on good terms with all people.”
I think it’s obvious that we’ll all try to be more like Joshua/Jesus. My question is, “What’s stopping us?” I will meditate on this question and ask myself, “What’s stopping me?” Maybe that question resonates with you quints?
So, what’s stopping the rest of society? As Joshua said, underneath all the greed, ego, etc., we are all the same. We were created to love one another and to be present and deeply aware of God’s miracles all around us. What’s stopping us? Technology? Societal norms? The media? Egos? Social climbing? Greed? What’s blocking us from love? As the Indian poet Rumi said, “Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built.”
The one problem (problem is not the right word) I have with simply being more like Joshua is that it’s not enough. I think massive scaled change is necessary to make a real impact on some of the 7 billion people on this planet. One man living a beautiful simple life in a village is amasing and I’m sure there’s a nice “ripple effect” from his actions. However, more is needed. The message needs to spread further. The social programming needs to be stopped in its tracks. We need to help people get back to God’s love.
I think the solution aside from improving upon ourselves is developing “big ideas” that matter.
Joshua A Parable for Today Summary Notes, and Discussion on Pages 49-103, Chapters 5-9
Bob’s thoughts on pages 1-48 in Joshua A Parable for Today
- Page 49: I loved the scene where Joshua affirms his friend Phil, who has no “apparent” talent but is a good man. “You are a good man Phil. You have the kind of talent a father needs to appreciate his children and help them grow into the persons God intended.”
- Page 61: Joshua’s simplicity and humility: “He was not at all self-conscious about how he looked. No one seemed to care anyway.” I believe that I’ve always been like this too! My “Role Model” was my former Pastor, Msgr Singleton.
- Page 67: “Each person looks at life through a different vision. Three men can look at tree………………………What we live for determines what we see in life and gives clear focus to our inner vision.” I resonated with the story of 3 men and also the moral it led to.
- Page 68: “Aaron felt sorry for Joshua, living alone in the midst of everybody else’s world but not being a part of all the joys and heartaches of family life. He couldn’t help but feel alone.” I realize that this also describes my life, but I don’t feel alone at all! God has always made “connections” for me, as with you Quints.
- Page 73 (top): Following up on feeling alone: “God is with us all the time, and He’s real, though we don’t think of that very much.” My own personal prayer is communicating with Jesus and I do it frequently during each day, so I know I’m never alone.
- Page 73 (bottom): “What do you mean by religion? Do you mean the way it is or the way God intended it to be?” Then “regimented religion where people are threatened if they don’t obey rules and rituals invented by the clergy.” From here on (I’ve been reading ahead of you) Joshua starts to speak his mind more openly. Some people like what he says (as I do!) but others are threatened.
- Page 74: “Even as adults they will still cling to the religious practices of their childhood…..growth means change.” This has been my “theme song” for quite a while now – open to change.
- Page 75: “The function of religious leaders is to set an example, to draw people to God by their own deep faith and by the beauty of their own personal lives.” In my opinion, this is the message of this book in a nutshell!
- Page 75 (further down): “God is not honored by worship that is forces under threat of sin or penalty.” I totally agree! As an example, in my youth, I recall people being warned (not only by clergy!) that by not going to Mass regularly, they could go to Hell. This was horrible theology! What kind of God would make that kind of demand? I couldn’t worship that kind of God.
- Page 78: One of the few lines that really puzzled me. Maybe one of you got something out of this: “Will the mind ever be able to understand that the past is still present and that the future already is?”
- Page 83: Joshua has a warm relationship with Jews. I really liked the last paragraph about Jews sharing the glory.
- Page 86: Unfortunately I recalled someone who fit this description: “A humorless, pompous man who could rarely said anything that didn’t have a sarcastic edge to it.” I pray for that person often! So sad! No friends!
- Page 87: “Jesus never intended to start a business, but to lay the foundation for a closely knit family of people caring for one another….In a real community of Christians the people are the heart of the community.” I’m pleased to say that my parish fits this model!
- Page 100: Speaking with the priest about his concerns about celibacy: “Just try your best. God always understands if you try. Even if you fail. God still understands. But be careful not to shame your priesthood or damage the people’s faith.” This book was written in the 80’s, before the priest sex scandals, which certainly shamed the priesthood and damaged the people’s faith.
- Page 101: Same topic: “Sometimes God works slowly and may want you to suffer the path of loneliness right now so you can better understand the loneliness of others.” Great insight!
- Page 102: “I look upon all churches as one family. I know God has no favorites. Religious leaders of each church feel their religion is the true religion. God doesn’t view religion as structures. He loves people, and where people are trying sincerely to serve Him and love another, God is with them.” This calls to mind the only commandment Jesus gave us: Love God and one another as ourselves.