A friend from seminary visited a couple of weeks ago. Her father-in-law was a pastor in the South, and she had been on a church staff for years before she became a pastor. She talked about how the male pastors of former generations would say that they were going to make visits, and they would spend the afternoon at the golf course.
What kind of personal pain would cause a 42-year-old pastor to abandon his family, his calling and even life itself? Members of a Baptist church in Hickory, North Carolina, are asking that question after their pastor committed suicide in his parked car in September.
In 1992 I had a clinical depression. It was a long time in coming, but in hindsight it was inevitable. I was hunkered down in my study trying to write a sermon on the atonement. Behind the stormy sky in my mind, I saw not a smiling Providence offering a gesture of boundless love in sharing his son Jesus, but a scowling ogre, an angry, petulant father. Whether this torment was a function of the descending depression or a contribution to it, I cannot say, but I called my wife and said, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m coming unglued.”
What prompts our fascination with Lincoln? Perhaps it is our frustration with the quality of current politicians. Our political climate seems to favor self-absorbed spin doctors rather than people whose judgments are marked by reasoned reflection and courageous action.
Living in Alabama, I encounter a lot of intuitive spelling. I am no spelling snob. In fact, a roadside sign for “Bowled Peanuts” can brighten my whole day, as can a hand-painted billboard exhorting me to “Give Your Loved One A Missage For Christmas.” Never, though, have I taken so much pleasure from a spelling exception as the sign at a local health food store. “WE NOW HAVE ST.