Saturday, September 22, 2018

$ .019

Zeitgeist mean 'spirit of the age': the prevailing ideas, the norms, that which blows with most favor upon the winds.

The zeitgeist applies to this Supreme Court business. Here's what it is.

There is nothing really right or wrong, but thinking makes it so.
Political power is everything.
If you interfere with my political power, you are bad, really bad.
There is no way out of this mess.
There is nothing really right or wrong but thinking makes it so.

Jesus speaks into all of life with this central dictum:
Love God and your neighbor.”

Love God – all of us are equally subject to Him, made in His image, broken and needy. All we do, think or say only makes sense as we consider it in relation to God as Creator and Lord, the one who always works to make all things new.

Love your neighbor, especially those who suffer. Both are suffering here.
If Dr. Ford is truthful, her pain is great.
If Kavanaugh is guilty, his pain is great.
If Dr. Ford is lying, her pain is great.
If Kavanaugh is innocent, his pain is great.

Do you know how to grade the pain or gauge the brokenness or know the truth? I don't. Lord, have mercy. How many broken people have you known who masquerade in countless disguises? As many as have ever lived. Privilege and power on all scales mask the human reality of the soul and heart. This is true no less of Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford.

All should grieve for Dr. Ford if she suffered so. All should be free to wonder about such things, because there is reason to do so.

All should grieve for the presumed innocence of the man in the chair. What culture is strong enough to guarantee such a thing in law? Few.

The prophet said: “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly.”

Justly: Burn the guy. He did grave wrong.
Try to calmly determine truth.
Mercy: Be compassionate of the accuser. The alleged act is grave indeed.
Be compassionate of the man in the chair. He could be innocent of a grave charge.
Humbly: Live quietly in this world, weep for those who must judge such things. 
Look in the mirror and remember who does not.

I don't know anything else. Lord, have mercy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Ministry Remnants: Sermon Preparation

Most churches have a sermon on Sunday morning, an effort by the Pastor to speak from Scripture in a way that helps the understanding, guides the actions and inspires the lives of church-folk. This message serves the vital role of helping all in attendance give attention to thought and spirit for a designated time each week.

How does a preacher prepare for this?


After this, pondering. One great preacher whose name escapes me said, "I have to brood. I must have time uninterrupted to think deeply about the subject at hand so thoughts and feelings will develop into the shape and substance of something I can offer my people."

The best book I have read on the subject was by one H. Grady Davis called Design for Preaching. I need to read it again. And of course E. M Bounds and Dennis Kinlaw join a host of others who have written helpfully on the question.

I find preparation takes several steps:
  • pray
  • ponder and brood
  • study
  • develop notes
  • shape thoughts into an order that aids presentation
Getting from brooding to organized notes is difficult, but the most difficult is this: arriving at a thesis statement that says in one sentence the whole thrust of the message. When one has that clear all else is secondary; until that is clear, all else is muddled.

Enough for now. Sermon preparation awaits me.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

On Abiding the Contrary

A dear friend gently offered the counsel that I tend to posture myself in a way that "cannot abide the contrary." Perhaps preachers, those who often have a gift of 'forth-telling', are prone to this. We know what we know and we know it is right and pity the person not likewise enlightened! (I am thinking of signing all correspondence with the acronym moniker CAC.)

I know this can be annoying. OK, I know it can ruin dialogue and even friendship. As is our human wont, the things true of we ourselves are often the things of which we complain in others. Thus, when friends speak self-assuredly of things 'I know to be wrong' I tend to think they are guilty of CAC and need to be corrected and instructed. "If only they would tone down a bit they'd see the error of their ways. Why won't they listen for a change?"

Can I be free of such confidence in my outlook? Probably not, for thinking requires confidence in one's opinions. Yet, I long to be able to speak peaceably with those whose ideas I think are nuts; to listen well and dialogue without judging.

Here's my partial prescription, offered with the necessary dose of CAC:
  • Offer ideas to think about, not conclusions ripe for attack. (Opinions are for sharing, not imposing.)
  • In perfect Stephen Covey style: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
  • Attempt to disconnect ideas from feelings and personal identity.
There is more I suppose, all offered with the smiling caveat 'of course I know there is more -- don't imagine you knew it first!' Alas, CAC is omni-present, the blushing and stubborn pride born of painful insecurities.

But I am glad my friend is still my friend. He is able to overlook this flaw and love me anyway.

I'm learning!