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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Demon in my view

Those of you with a literary bent often recognize that the titles of my blog posts comes from pieces of literature or music. Today is no different, but that is because of a rather extraordinary experience I had the other night.

I was with a group of young people at one of Mandan's finer places where young people gather. Like most of the places it has a few pool tables,a couple of dart boards for leagues, a few poker tables, and one long bar. We were gathered at a table talking about the future and how life seems to have little meaning. (The oldest person there was 25...so nihilistic existentialism should be expected as the dominant philosophic theme...) Suddenly, without anything resembling a warning, one of the young men stands up--pushes himself away from the table and recites the poem "Alone" by Edgar Allen Poe. From memory. In its entirety. And all the guys playing pool, and the two teams of dart throwers all stopped and watched this young guy, recently moved here from Minnesota, perform this brief poem. (As I listened to him the only line I remembered from that poem is the last one about the cloud as a "demon in my view," I thought how I had not expected that as one of tonight's entertainment choices.)

As he finished and sat down, his girlfriend came over and hugged him and told him he was cute. He hung his head as she and her friends wandered over to another table. When he lifted his head, I asked him why he knew that poem. "A friend and I did it for our video production class." When was that? "My senior year." That was like what, five years ago, I said, why do you still remember it?

He looked at me as he took a swig from his bottle. "It meant something to me...it still does I guess." I smiled at him and nodded...yeah, I said, all the girlfriends in the world can't fill that need...He looked at me, and said, "you're lucky to be a pastor..." Why, I asked? "Well, you have someone who can fight the demon."

I have never thought of Jesus as much of a demon fighter, but he does keep me from being alone...and my young friend knows more about Poe, more about me, more about my God than I do. And as we sat there staring out into the crowded room, the silence we shared was answered prayer.

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