Last week I wrote about my wife and I making plans to take our children on a series of spiritual field trips to worship with other traditions. We’re very excited about our little project.
Sunday was our first field trip, and we headed for Saint Sophia, a Greek Orthodox Church here in San Antonio. On the way to worship I tried to give the girls a quick overview of Orthodox history and theology. Taking cues from their facial expressions, it was a very hasty lesson, made up of a few simple bullet points...
Do you remember how incredibly tedious school was when you were a teenager? Do you recall those eternally long days and weeks and months and years of adult designed and enforced education? I remember spending a lot of time with my chin in my hand, staring at the wall while my teacher read things like Ode on a Grecian Urn to us.
But sometimes we would get to school and discover there was a field trip, a blessed reprieve from the tedious repetition of class. We could have been going to a pencil factory for a lecture on #2 lead, but we didn’t care. It was wonderful if only because it broke up the monotony of the familiar...
I want to make a simple request of those who read this piece. I am going to mention Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, but I will not offer an opinion on whether or not the Park 51 Community Center should be built. The debates on this subject are now generating more heat than light, I fear. Let’s not do that here.
I would be interested in comments from you about something else, though. Having been a clergyman for many years, I can’t help but watch the drama of Park 51 unfold with a different perspective. Because I know what it’s like to carry someone else’s reputation.
When I was a Baptist minister, I could never get comfortable with the fact that Fred Phelps was a colleague. Whenever the people from Westboro Baptist Church were on the news with their hateful signs, I knew that some of Fred’s reputation was going to rub off on me.
My wife and I agreed that last Sunday had a Quaker feel to it, so we went to the San Antonio Quaker meeting for an hour of extravagant silence. I spent the first twenty minutes as I usually do – settling in and getting used to the quiet. But soon the question of the day became apparent.
“How will I serve God now that I am no longer a pastor?”
I’m working under the assumption that every Christian needs a ministry. I let go of one ministry, so I’ll need to find another. Right now I’m mowing the grass at Covenant Baptist Church. But I don’t know if that’s my official calling for this season of life or just an interim gig...
I’m a natural-born skeptic. I find it hard to believe in things unless I can be convinced of their reality with proof or at least very clear evidence. C.S. Lewis pegged me with his observation that some people will commit to nothing rather than end up being wrong about anything. If professor Lewis hadn’t died the year I was born, I might think he had been reading my diary.
I was brought up in the Church and was happy to be counted among the faithful, but inevitable doubts surfaced about the time I got into high school. I kept my skeptical thoughts to myself, initially. My father was a pastor, and my whole life was enmeshed with our church. It seemed easier at the time to just ignore my doubts and hope they would go away...
A few years ago I had the idea that the people of our world divide easily into two groups: church people and non-church people. That point of view was understandable; I was a pastor and thoroughly steeped in the culture of American Churchianity.
In those days I attended an unusual funeral. I was there because I knew Laura, the daughter of the deceased. Laura once told me that her mother was not a church person and had a bit of a wild side. Her mother’s closest friends had been her co-workers. They often met after work for drinks and fun. Many of them were present at the funeral, and they were a somewhat rowdy bunch. Most were not dressed in traditional funeral attire. Instead of suits and dresses they wore jeans, motorcycle leathers, and had colorful bandanas on their heads. I had the impression that a number of them were part of a motorcycle club of some kind. They made up roughly half of those gathered at the graveside...
The following review contains no spoilers.
If you plan on seeing the movie Inception, you better show up with your brain fully engaged. This movie makes the plot of the Matrix look like an ABC after school special. Before you go, make peace with the idea that you’re going to have a hard time figuring out what’s happening. And when you leave the theater, you’ll have a hard time remembering the things you didn’t understand while you were watching them.
In other words, this movie plays like a dream. Which makes sense, because the whole movie is about dreaming, and most of it takes place inside the dreams of the people in the story.
The main character is Cobb, and a major conflict in the story is that his deceased wife keeps showing up in his dreams. She plays a kind of trickster role, spoiling things and making a general nuisance of herself. Anyone who understands dreams has no problem anticipating at least one part of this movie’s plot.
Cobb has some unresolved issues.