Recently I had a conversation with one of the young parents in my
congregation. We were having a far-reaching discussion that
included Sunday School, next summer's Vacation Bible School Program, and
the changing nature of our culture and church attendance. When I
offered the idea that "going to church" is not as culturally normal now
as it was when I was growing up, she replied, "That's right! I think we
are the only ones who go to church among all of our friends." She
continued that she knew that her friends had a wide variety of opinions
and emotions regarding faith, from some who clearly were not interested,
to others who were more ambivalent.
I blurted out, "So, you're sort of like missionaries to your friends."
So Bloomberg talked to some rich Wall Street types
about dealing with the impact of reduced bonuses. All populist
eye-rolling aside, I think this quote from Michael Sonnenfeldt--founder
of Tiger 21, a "peer-to-peer learning group for high-net-worth investors"--actually makes some sense:
Sonnenfeldt said [Tiger 21] members, most with a net worth of at
least $10 million, have been forced to “re-examine lots of
assumptions about how grand their life would be.”
While they aren’t asking for sympathy, “at their level, in
a different way but in the same way, the rug got pulled out,”
said Sonnenfeldt, 56. “For many people of wealth, they’ve had a
crushing setback as well.”
Sure--you don't have to be destitute to experience the disappointment of unmet financial expectations.
Occasionally the Century editors sit down to talk with experts in magazine
marketing. They sometimes tells us that we need to do more with
celebrities--feature a celebrity on the cover of the magazine, for example.
No, they're not pressing us to feature Brad Pitt
or Lindsay Lohan. What they have in mind is featuring the celebrities of our world, that is, the celebrities of
the mainline Protestant world.
We usually respond: "But mainline Protestants
don't really have celebrities." When the experts look doubtful, the editors
look at one another. "Well, we might come up with a few living semi-celebrities--but that would take
care of only two months worth of covers."
Attention mainline Protestants: a conservative Christian candidate for president would like to point out that your institutions are in decline, and that he doesn't mind because you're not Christian enough, anyway. Take that!
Two of Merlyn's daughters,
members of our church, asked me to visit their mom as the end of her five-month
battle with cancer drew near. Merlyn was 72, and her life had not been easy.
She was widowed at 43 and raised her four children by herself.
When I came to see her, she was
alone, lying in bed by the window in the back room of the house. One of her
daughters introduced me and left.
Recently I learned that the word “Lent” comes from the Old
English ‘lencten,’ which sounds a lot like “lengthen” and, not
incidentally, was the Old English word for Spring–-that time when the
days, well, lengthen.