Let’s be honest. If you decide God does not cast people off, stop loving them, or take his Spirit from them, you will then have to decide what to do with all those verses in the Bible that say he does. That’s gonna be a problem. But if you decide God DOES cast people off, stop loving them, and take his Spirit from them, not only will you have to decide what to do with all those verses in scripture about God’s never-ending, never-failing, never-changing love, but you will also have to wonder what love actually IS if a loving God can do that (doesn’t sound like anything we have ever understood about love). Plus you will have to decide whether you personally are safe in the care of God. Either way you have a problem, but I believe one problem is far greater than the other.
Have you ever been in that place where you seem to be surrounded with horrific things? As I write, two of my closest friends on the planet are fighting cancer. This morning I got word that an amazing young man with cancer, for whom I had done premarital counseling and then his wedding in 2010, succumbed to his disease this morning. I gotta be honest, it’s starting to get to me. I’m sick of cancer.
Yes, we pastors and counselors are the people frequently called on to do funerals, to talk/walk people through their darkest times. This is a deep privilege. Though I have never looked forward to officiating a funeral, I always find them to be one of the most valuable things I do. At the same time, I too have my moments where I just wanna scream, “ENOUGH!” I’m sick of the way people have to suffer. I’m tired of seeing cancer and death work their disgusting chaos in the lives of people I love. I’m sick of young lives cut short, dashing ebullient dreams against razor rocks. It makes me so angry, I just want to — do…uh…anything? That’s it. The helplessness. The sense that all there is to offer as you watch a loved one suffer is words which, let’s face it, everyone knows are totally insufficient. I’m really, really sick of cancer.
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This is where Biblicism (literal reading of scripture) leads. It’s the logical, and horrible, endpoint.
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One of my dearest friends was diagnosed with cancer a couple of weeks ago. He’s supposed to get information on how serious it is tomorrow. He is scared and in that dreadful waiting place. I don’t know what to tell him. I try to listen a lot. I did come across this article I wrote a while back that I’m encouraging him to read when he feels like it. I hope it encourages him. For now, feeling broken and powerless with my friend. This is for everyone feeling that way today.
Last week I went into an eye surgeon for a consultation. I have a cyst in the corner of each of my eyes. It doesn’t hurt, and isn’t even very obvious, but it bugs me. They needed to check to see if removing the cysts will interfere with my tear ducts. Apparently the way they learn this is by taking…read the rest
I think maybe the Catholics are right. I went to a Catholic funeral this morning. Every time I go to a Catholic funeral, I wish I were Catholic. Seriously. Catholics know what to do with death. They’ve been doing it much the same way for hundreds of years. If your loved one dies as a Catholic, you know what to expect at the funeral. If your loved one dies as a Protestant, good luck with that. Unless that person has a skilled pastor already, the funeral is going to be a crap shoot. Just sayin’.
I love the Catholic liturgy — the songs, the things the whole group speaks together, the cantor, the incense, even the boundaries around communion. It seems to wrap me up in a comforting blanket, and I feel safe. As pastor of a fairly progressive evangelical church, mass always gets me to thinking — about all the strong opinions I and others hold about what is the right way and wrong way to do church, including Catholics. Maybe they’re right.
Or maybe nobody is right. I always come away with only one conclusion that makes any sense. This is all ridiculous, really, isn’t it? I mean who the hell really knows what is the best way to have church, do church, or be church? Does anyone really believe there is only one good way? This in turn gets me to thinking about the things I post here on this blog. I have my opinions. You have yours. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t. But who really knows? The heat we bring to our arguments sometimes seems so out of proportion to how ultimately unknowable the big answers are.
Maybe you are right. Maybe I am right. I’m convinced that it’s probably the other way around, that very, very few people are apprehending reality as it is. In other words, I am fairly confident most of us are really quite mistaken about God and reality (including these very thoughts, of course). The only response to this is basic humility. I’m just writing what occurs to me, throwing it out there and seeing what impact it has. I don’t pretend to know all the answers. What I can tell you is that as long as I have this blog, I will keep posting my questions, keep engaging people, keep thinking and asking others to think as well. That’s all we have. We may not know most of the answers, but we can engage one another around the questions.
Question: Are you confident your church, your tradition is “right”? How do you know this?