As a church musician, I've been known to program what I thought were familiar Charles Wesley hymns, only to find my non-Methodist song leaders tongue-tied by the ambitious melodies and all-doctrine-all-the-time words. When I have a week off and visit an Episcopal church, the Hymnal 1982's Arthur Sullivan tunes make my mind wander to operetta.
See, the problem with using language like “my neighbor” is the
unintentional (or sometimes more intentional) demarcation that occurs
among people. While the distinction might at first strike some as odd, I
think it’s worth taking a closer look at the inadvertent effects of
talking about who is and who is not “my neighbor.”
I grew up around evangelical church leaders who were hardcore
about spiritual fasting, sometimes going a week on just water or 40 days on
just fruit juice. (I never made it more than a day.) When I started running in mainline
circles, I was thrown by the way people used the word "fast" to mean giving up
chocolate or beer or television.
As Americans were complaining about all the snow this winter, arguing about the value of NPR and PBS, and learning that we suffer from an “enlargement of self,” the Japanese were dying by the thousands as solid ground gave way and the sea roiled and raged, consuming whole cities.
The House of Representatives is
voting today on a bill that would prevent public radio stations from paying
their NPR dues with federal money. This follows the video that brought down NPR head Vivian Schiller and
senior VP Ron Schiller (no relation to each other).
It's the most wonderful time of the year for
fans of collegiate (men's) sports. I'm not one, but I can appreciate the thrill
of a single-elimination tournament. I also enjoy the creative ways people use
March Madness to bring attention to other subjects.
urge for Lent started for me several weeks ago. I was out on a cross-country
ski with a friend when a small herd of elk ran in front of our path, kicking up
a cloud of snow. They were so close that we could see their breath as they
passed. When they reached the crest of a small hill, they turned collectively
toward us and paused for a moment before running on.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus enjoins his disciples, "when you
fast, do not do as the hypocrites do. . . " So I guess it's possible
that many people take this so seriously that I just do not know what
they are fasting from. Perhaps many people's piety does not allow them
to talk about what they have given up for Lent. Maybe we ARE fasting,
intensely and quietly.