Friday, March 20, 2009

On my way to The River...

Who says sunrises gotta be in color?

..but first I gotta go get a boat out of the warehouse.  Then I gotta stop at PembaBase and drop off a few thousand hangers.  Then I gotta pack a change of clothes (ya never know).  And a lunch.

Then I have to find an island on The River with cell phone service because I have a conference call at noon.

Then this afternoon I think I'm going to continue to muck out the garage.  I'm not sure if it's possible or even advisable, but the thing needs to be Feng Shui'ed.  My guess is I'll find another box of bike parts for Brad.  I am convinced they breed over the winter.


As I do all of this, I am writing a talk/sermon in my head.  This week I'm speaking in another congregation.  We're a lay clergy (nobody gets nothin') so everyone shares the responsibility for speaking.  My assigned topic is how we sustain our leadership and one another, since we are all serving together.

The dilemma (which really isn't) is how to differentiate between sustaining (from the Latin sustinere, which comes from sub (below) tenere (hold or keep)) and being in agreement with someone.  In other words, we're not likely as a group to agree on everything.  Thank God we don't, as if we did it would be an awfully boring and monolithic society.  

So how to we sustain and support someone when we don't agree with their position?  It gets back to my favorite Augustinian phrase: "In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity."  I've had plenty of church leaders who held positions I did not support, and to this day there are plenty of positions they support that I can't.  What my brain tells me is to discuss (from the Latin discutere, to break up). which may or may not accomplish the end goal of convincing them I'm right and they're wrong.  

My experience is that to break something leaves you with broken pieces, and no amount of two-part epoxy can make things right again.  I have found, however, that if I love someone irrespective of their opinions, they tend to be a lot more amenable to listening to me.  It's a lesson that is lost on people who are convinced they're right, and not only are they right, everyone else is 100% wrong.

That's why fundamentalists of any sort can be infuriating to deal with because of their unwillingness to exchange in any dialogue (from the Greek dialogos, which basically means two and word.  It takes two to tango).  When Fred Phelps holds signs that say God Hates Fags, it's going to be tough to have any meaningful exchange.  This leads to the caveat to my tenet, that the mentally ill/sociopathic are exempt due to an inability to be integrated human beings.  They deserve pity and compassion.  And when appropriate, firm correction.

Plus, there's always the chance that they may be right and I may be completely, utterly and devastatingly wrong.  In the case of Fred, I think I'm on safe ground here.  If Fred is right, then my soul is lost already.  The good news is that I'd be with a lot of really good lost souls and make a Heaven of Hell.  So in this case, it's a total win-win.


Maybe we support the person, not the person's beliefs. The water under my canoe today will sustain me, support me from below, and it will not ask questions regarding my worthiness of its support.  Hopefully my less-than-perfect opinions will slip over the gunwales into the water and sink to the bottom of The River, but I, Canoelover, am supported, sustained, and carried by the water that I love in return.  The neutrality of the water is didactic, and I think I just found a way to end my talk.

Lovingly submitted,


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