"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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Salt and Light: "Accountability is not about watching what you are doing. It is about being on fire."
There's a definition of "accountability" I heard some time ago, one I shared last Sunday during our Adult Forum's exploration of the Sermon on the Mount.
"Accountability is not about watching what you are doing. It is about being on fire."
That seems to be the point Jesus is making when he tells his followers that they - we - are "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world."
There is a great scene a in the movie Walk the Line, the movie about Johnny Cash, that makes this same point:
It's where Johnny Cash is first auditioning, when he and two of his buddies are singing a gospel song to the famous producer Sam Phillips.
Sam interrupts them and tells them he can't sell gospel, not the way they were singing it, because when he was singing it, he didn't believe him.Johnny Cash is offended and says, "are you saying I don't believe in God?"
Sam Phillips says, "You know exactly what I'm telling you. We've already heard that song a hundred times. Just like that. Just... like... how... you... sing it.
"Bring... bring it home? All right, let's bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing ONE song. Huh?
"One song that people would remember before you're dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up.
"You tellin' me that's the song you'd sing?
"That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your 'peace within,' and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it?
"Or... would you sing somethin' different. Somethin' real. Somethin' YOU felt.
"Cause I'm telling you right now, that's the kind of song people want to hear. That's the kind of song that truly saves people."
That's when Johnny Cash tells him he does have a couple other songs that he hadn't thought about sharing...
...and he rips into Folsom Prison Blues.
And launches an astonishing career.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ: accountability is not about watching what you are doing. It's about being on fire; seasoning those around you with your unique salt, being and bringing the Light that you uniquely were put on the face of this earth to bring.
If you don't be that salt you are meant to be, or bring the Light that you are meant to bring - if you yield to the easy but soul- and joy-killing temptation to live someone else's life or the life someone else thinks you should be living, you'll go to your grave having deprived the world of some of the reasons God put you here.
So let's be -- and help one another be -- accountable: on fire.
For Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.
But I'm re-thinking that this year. What I'm fasting from this Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
(Let me be clear: that does not mean giving up news or otherwise burying my head in the sand: it means staying informed while finding ways not to get pulled into a downward spiral of feelings of numbness and helplessness; it means giving up unproductive feelings like hopelessness and resignation and taking on visible behaviors like giving encouragement and taking action.)
It means making visible -- here, on my blog, and even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories…
So for Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.
But I'm re-thinking that.
Now one of the things I'm thinking about fasting from during Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
That would mean taking on encouragement: to make visible -- even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories" as being quaint -- they are tossed in at the end of the news as an inspiring story, or put in the style section. But stories of good things happening -- people coming together to do things, is not a touchy-feely, feel-good story, but something affecting real change.
So for starters: I'm inspired by the leadership example of…