"Unapologetic Theology: A Christian Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation" is the title of a book by my beloved theology professor and friend, the late William C. Placher. It is also now the title of this blog, a place where I hope to add a Christian voice -- God knows, not "the" Christian voice, but "a" Christian voice and not just any old voice, but a distinctly Christian voice -- to the pluralistic conversation going on about just about everything.
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If you could do what you've always wanted to do, what would it be?
Like many clergy, one of the
things I like to do is read the books of (and listen to the CD's or podcasts
of) authors who write about prayer, the Bible, and our relationship with God.
I don't agree with 100% (or even
50%) of what these authors write, and in fact many of their theological stances
are far away from my own.
But that's part of their
attraction: their writing and speaking is, at least to me, a breath of fresh
air. They challenge not only my opinions, but my whole world-view.
By contrast, so much of what's out
there in mainstream Protestantism seems all the same: carefully rational, and
predictably social-liberal (or social-conservative) agenda-driven.
I say all that by way of
introducing you to the thought of another such author outside the mainstream but who has
meant a lot to me: John Eldredge, who is mostly known for his writing on men's spirituality.
As we prepare for my church's annual
meeting this Sunday, the following quote of John Eldredge keeps coming back to me,
because I believe he is asking a critical question not only of us as
individuals, but as a church - a faith community - as well.
So here goes. Read it carefully,
and think about what he's saying.
It captures a large part of what makes me tick -- it's as close as I get to an overall guiding leadership principle as the Rector of a church. But what's being said here will help YOU in your own spiritual and personal growth, I promise:
If you had permission to do what you really wanted to do, what
would you do?
Don't ask how - "how" cuts desire off at the knees.
In the beginning of asking yourself what you want to do, asking
how you're going to do it is faithlessness. "How" is God's
department. He is asking you WHAT.
What is written in your heart?
What makes you come alive?
If you could do what you've always wanted to do, what would it
be? (A clue: those times you found yourself loving what you were doing.)
Release control in exchange for the recovery of the dreams in
'The spiritual life cannot be made suburban,' Howard Macy
writes, 'it is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even
rejoice that it remains untamed.'
Mystery is essential to adventure. (Read the Bible and you'll
see that God has his people do some huge, amazing thing. And then never do it
that way again. Follow Jesus around looking for a formula for healing and he'll
drive you crazy. He never does the same thing twice.)
With God, there are no formulas. There are no step-by-step
plans. If we are to be his followers, we must embrace something beyond our
control. Originality and creativity are essential.
No one can -- and I certainly don't want to try -- to unpack every tweet the person currently holding the office of President of the United States sends out.
No one has the time to respond to every one of his tweets on just one issue. Although I wish I had the time on the issue of the Executive Orders recently issued in regard to refugees.
But every so often I feel I MUST respond to at least SOME of those tweets, lest I grow accustomed to them as normal. And I refuse to normalize the abnormal.
Take one of Saturday's tweets, for example: in response to Judge Robart's temporarily stopping an Executive Orders, there was this:
“What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?”
Let's unpack: "What is our country coming to..." Does that lament sound familiar? Ask yourself: who often says it, where do you hear it from the most? Is it a positive, hopeful line of thinking? I wil…
A sermon preached January 29, 2017 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the p…
Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal Falls
Church, Virginia James
7:24-37 In case you’re confused by the service leaflet,
where it says Kelly is supposed to be preaching today, well, she was, and she
was planning to. But yesterday she came down with the stomach flu, and of
course we encouraged her to stay home until she’s 100%. (And to think I came this close to getting out of having to preach on a couple of very tough passages…) (Kelly’s sermon, by the way, was written well ahead
of time and is, as we have already come to expect, excellent. And inspiring – I
was inspired reading it.* Hard copies are available, and will be made available
on line.) What you’re going to get from me today is a little
different than a normal sermon. Today I want to tell you a story – a bit of my own
family history -- and then read you a poem. And then show you how I think that
story and the poem relate to today’s lessons and to current events. …