If there is a bird I associate with my childhood, it is the American Robin. Maybe that's why I still love seeing them.
I remember a trusted adult telling me I could catch one by shaking salt on its tail. I immediately procured the salt shaker from the dining room table and spent the afternoon chasing robins around the yard. I wanted to believe this so badly it never occurred to me that it might not actually work.
Someone else (maybe the same person? I really can't remember who actually told me these things) helped me set up a box with one end propped up on a stick. To the stick a string was tied, so that when a robin walked under the box, I'd pull string and --Viola!--I'd finally capture a robin.
I tried that for a whole afternoon too. Several, probably. That didn't work either!
Those were the days, when you could spend a whole day lying in the green grass, focused on nothing but a box and a string and a bird, and everything--absolutely everything--seemed right in the world.
When it comes to doing what we know to be God’s will, we do not dare to say: I will not! So we say: I cannot. Is this any less rebellious? If it is God’s will that you do it, how is it possible that you cannot?
Our Co-Rector (Episcopal speak for "pastor") Anne started off her sermon today with this video. If you haven't seen it, it's worth watching. Funny, but also touching. I was glad to see I wasn't the only one trying to inconspicuously wipe his eyes at the end...
Can you tell I've been rereading Kierkegaard this week? Personally, I think many pastors would do far better reading Kierkegaard than studying business, leadership, and the culture around them so they can be more hip. I think Kierkegaard might help us remember what is was about before all that; what is was about in the first place, and maybe still can be again.
Order the preachers to keep quiet on Sunday. What is left? Well, then the essential thing is left: lives, the daily existence with which the pastor preaches. But seeing those, will you get the impression that it is Christianity that is being preached?
The earthly minded person thinks and imagines that when he prays, the important thing, the thing he must concentrate upon, is that God should hear what he is praying for. And yet in the true, eternal sense it is just the reverse: the true relation in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for, but when the person praying continues to pray until he is the one who hears, who hears what God is asking for.
If it is assumed that speaking is sufficient for the proclamation of Christianity, then we have transformed the church into a theater... and everything a theater-going public might flock to.
Today’s Christianity is a matter of being elevated for an hour once a week just as in the theater. It is now used to hearing everything without having the remotest notion of doing something… Everyone knows a great deal, we all know which way we ought to go and all the different ways we can go, but nobody is really willing to move.
The most fatal thing of all is to satisfy a want which is not yet felt, so that without waiting till the want is present, one anticipates it, likely also using stimulants to bring about something which is supposed to be a want, and then satisfies it. And this is shocking! And yet this is what so many clergy do, whereby they really are cheating people out of what constitutes the significance of life, and instead helping them to waste it. (A whole modern philosophy of how to do church is summed up in this one.)
--Soren Kierkegaard, whose criticisms of the church in his day seem to me even more applicable to the church today. Kierkegaard was always more willing to offend in the service of the truth than to compromise in making "truth" palatable. I have always admired his courage, surely born in faith, and wished I did a better job of emulating it. (As I mentioned yesterday, it is his birthday today).
Tomorrow, May 5, is Soren Kierkegaard's birthday. It is my firm opinion that everyone should read at least some Kierkegaard somewhere along life's way. Here's a brief quote the will perhaps give you some indication why:
There is a tremendous danger in which we find ourselves by being human, a danger that consists in the fact that we are placed between two tremendous powers. The choice is left to us. We must either love or hate, and not to love is to hate. The slightest inclination towards the one side becomes absolute opposition to the other. Let us not forget this tremendous danger in which we exist. To forget is to have made your choice.