Sunday Morning Comin’ Down

Recently, as friend and I met for a coffee,  we talked about a sermon that both us recall from a Sunday morning a couple of years ago.  What was remarkable was that both of us remembered that day and that sermon.  We both agreed that we have heard many sermons but remember very few.

The setting was a small congregation that met in an abandoned school building.  The structure was being used by several organizations but on Sunday mornings it was home to this small Vineyard congregation.

The service was began with the traditional singing, prayer and announcements. When the sermon-time came, the pastor read from the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to Titus. He made a few introductory comments and then opened a discussion that everyone was invited to participate in.

I was intrigued by poignancy and wisdom of those who spoke!  Equally intriguing was the enthusiasm that the audience had in their new-found ability to participate.

Monologue from the Greek and soliloquy from the Latin both mean speaking alone.  Schools are finding that speaking alone also results in “learning alone.”  Information delivered by lecture is one of the least efficient tools of learning.

What have schools discovered that churches haven’t?

Hidden Rules Make Poverty Complicated

Teach me about hidden rules

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Causes of poverty are often oversimplified.  It is the unseen or hidden rules that occupants of the poverty class live by that trip up the cures.

In our last meeting over a cup of coffee we talked about a thought found in Old Testament urging us to spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry and the oppressed.

We also thought about the pathology of the “god-complex” that can occur when helpers begin the think of themselves as being a sort of savior to those living in material poverty.

Material poverty is often thought of in terms of the lack of adequate financial resources: cash.  However, financial hardship is often a symptom of deeper contributing factors.

Rather than thinking in only in terms of monetary measurements which are indicators or symptoms, it is helpful the consider that people are likely to lack non-cash resources that contribute to their economic well being. Continue Reading →

Love and Compassion for LGBT?

If you have some awareness of the recent news, you know that the U..S Supreme Court is considering whether LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) couples have the legal right to marry.

At issue is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and specifically Section 3.  Section 3 defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman, thus prohibiting the federal government from recognizing legal marriages between same-sex couples.

Those couples are subsequently denied a long list of protections and responsibilities, including Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights, family and medical leave, and the ability to pool resources as a family without unfair taxation. Continue Reading →

Helping Hurting People

Spend yourselves

A subject that takes much of my thinking and research is that of helping hurting people.  At first blush, you might think that helping someone is not a complicated matter and that it is unhelpful to over-think the matter.  In the words of the Nike commercial, you might say, “Just do it!”

Isaiah 58:10 speaks of helping hurting people.  In the context of criticizing the Hebrews for neglecting works of mercy and justice for oppressed people, God announced,

“…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” (emphasis mine) Continue Reading →

My New Bigotry- bigoted toward bigots

Last week, my wife was talking to a customer at the place where she works. During the course of the conversation he uttered a racial slur about our president. When she returned home that evening, she told me about the conversation. I immediately felt a dislike- almost a hatred for him without ever meeting him. Odd as it may seem, I even self-righteously justified my animosity toward him.

Sometime ago, I read this quote:

Hating wrong has a strange way of making a person feel right about himself. People may actually feel they have a duty to hate what they consider to be wrong. The danger of this is that hatred, like a whirlpool, can suck consciousness into it so profoundly that a person loses sight of his true condition. Hatred can generate an alternate “reality” that tells a person he is superior—right by comparison. For this reason alone, hatred is difficult to drop. It creates a peculiar vision. It converts true enemies into “friends” and what might have been true friends into enemies.

In a recent post, I wrote this about myself:

I want to be quick to admit here that I am a Johnny-come-lately to those who seek to treat all people with dignity and equality. I am a self-confessed, recovering bigot who at one time would have had no compunction engaging in these types of conversations.

I am sure now that I spoke too quickly when saying that I am a “recovering bigot.” Rather than recovering, I have simply exchanged the objects of my bigotry.

I’m pretty sure that the Holy Spirit uses YouTube because as I was feeling smugly self-righteous, he led me to the this poem by Joel McKerrow.

I say along with Joel, “I am sorry.”

Making god in your own image

Near Raleigh, Mississippi on the morning of June 7, 1964, the White Knights, a newly formed chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, gathered in the Boykin Methodist Church and voiced their “Amen’s” to this prayer led by their Grand Chaplain:

Oh God, our Heavenly Guide, as finite creatures of time and as dependent creatures of Thine, we acknowledge Thee as our Continue Reading →

Plus 1

My friend Bryan, preached a sermon based on Philippians 3:1-14 where the Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Philippi.  Bryan’s teaching is entitled “Living for What Really Matters – Let No One Say “I Have Wasted It!”.  As I read the excerpt from the Bible my thoughts took a different trajectory.
The sentences in verses 2-3 read like this: Continue Reading →

Coffee Cup Connections

Coffee cup NueronsThe last time we met, I wrote a bit about the coffee-house culture.  Some time ago I watched a TED video, “Where Good Ideas Come From” by Steven Johnson.  He talks about the mythical notion that great ideas come from a sudden epiphany; a Eureka moment.  The truth is that most good ideas evolve and grow from hunches.

The incubator or greenhouse where these ideas are born are frequently relational, network frameworks that purposely lack a clearly defined organizational structure; Coffee houses, diners, pubs, etc. Continue Reading →