Your Blog Steward

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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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I live in an old world

I live in an old world, and I am old school, and because I am stubborn and well-off enough, I don't often have to change my ways...

For example, I like books...so I will never get an e-reader. But what if books become obsolete? I don't know...maybe I'll start watching TV.

I gave up watching TV in January. Now, I only watch sporting events, and shows that my daughters want me to watch with them. I average about six hours a week--although if Discovery Channel puts on a marathon "Dual Surivial" I will watch them all...love me some Cody and Dave! In March my daughter and I timed how much we watched our new 52 inch screen TV, and for the whole month we used it for 8 hours. I think I am becoming a luddite.

But, as you know, I have a computer, and have had one ever since 1987. I have used so many computers over the years that when I tell my younger friends about them they think I am lying...(anyone else remember dot matrix printers?)I am not opposed to "technology" as such, but I am opposed to anything that does not encourage conversation and/or human interaction. (I don't talk about conection much, because I am not sure connection is what humans are after...interaction seems to best fit my understanding of community and individual autononmy, and how most of us desire to work out that relationship)

So technology--such as computers--works better for me because it encourages interaction with humanity, and TV--most of the time--is way too passive. Now the congregations I live amongst and teach about are much more comfotable with TV than computers...why? Do we have an active God (most of the time) or a passive God? What does God actually do in your world?

One of my favorite (and funniest) experiences teaching was when I was arguing that Jesus did "nothing" during his ministry. He sat around and talked, he ate meals, prayed, and occasionally healed somebody, but to most of us in the industrial western world he did "nothing." One of my students, an African immigrant, went ballastic. He argued for a good 10 minutes on all the stuff Jesus did. He was flabbergasted that I would sugest Jesus did nothing...after his 10 minute scolding of my mistake...one of my other students, an adminstrative pastor of a large Christian congregation, said, "well, I wouldn't hire him (Jesus). He doesn't have much experience in work." To which my African student replied..."that's the problem with American congregations--they would rather work than live with Jesus."

That's so old world...so old school.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years later...

Today is the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks by terrorists on the USA and its cultural icons and people...everywhere I look or people I talk to have this on their mind...and this is good...but the question then becomes "How have I changed since 9-11-2001?" What is different about me since then?

I guess, in general, I've become even more liberal than I was then. At some level all the world revolves around trust, and 9-11 proved that you can't trust some people...but I already knew that then, and I still know it...but what are you going to do? You either have to give up on trust and go about verifying everything; or, you trust, but now you realize the stakes in doing so..trust can kill you.

I mean, think of Jesus of Nazareth. One way (and not the only way, mind you) to read about his death is that he trusted people to love God more than anything. As he challenged people to trust in God, people did or did not as they were able, and Jesus lived with whatever consequences that trust brought about for him. So, if someone could trust him to heal a daughter or a disease, he allowed that; if someone could not trust him to behave, especially during a public festival, he lived with those consequences too. In the end, he trusted a Pilate or a Caiphais to do the "right" thing, and he wound up dying because of it...but what was he to do? Give up on trusting people just because he might die? He didn't seem to go down that road...he-apparently--would rather die than not trust someone, even someone who threatened to kill him and then did.

So after 9-11 I pretty much vowed to keep trusting people, even ones who want to kill me. And, I suppose, someday that will kill me. Of course, I don't live in New York City, or work in the Pentagon, or travel to the Middle East--and I can imagine their "trust" issues are much deeper than mine, and I can imagine that my views seem foolish and pollyannish to some, if not many. But I am not convinced anything other than even more trusting is going to work...our problems in life are usually never that we love, but rather that we never love enough. And those that do...are often betrayed by others' inability or refusal to love.

You see about a year ago I got a new friend. And of all the things I remember about her over the past year, I will remember most her face when she told me how her love had been betrayed. My heart literally broke for her, and I doubt I will ever forget her look of fear, confusion, frustration, and anger that such an event creates. I imagine 9-11 is like that for many people...and I hope never to forget that as well.

9-11 betrayed a sacred trust we humans have to each other, and that it was on such a massive and grand scale of destruction and death it is doubtful that the trust will ever be rebuilt in my lifetime...events like this take generations to repair...

But like my new friend, I taught my children over the past 10 years to keep trusting even if the evidence is not there to warrant such trust...and now, 10 years later, those kids are out of the house my wife and I built for them...and unlike their mom and me, they live in worlds where trust often comes at a premium price...but their God-- my God! has promised to love them, trust them forever...what more can we do when we have received such sacred trust? We trust more, I guess.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.