When many ministers’ primary role shifted from being pulpit preacher to being institutional CEO, clergy found themselves wondering, “When did my study become an office?” Today, as congregations consider tapping government funds to provide social services once provided by secular agencies, another question may be arising: “When did our ministry become a program?”
Many of us feel a little silly if we react strongly to the death of a pet or the plight of an animal. “Well, it was just a cat,” we say, embarrassed by our grief. Where does this attitude come from? It’s certainly not biblical.
It looks like Ohio will have to celebrate its bicentennial in 2003 without its longtime motto “With God All Things Are Possible.” A federal court ruled in April that the motto is tantamount to a state endorsement of Christianity and so violates the First Amendment.
When I moved back to the Southwest, the first thing I noticed was color. Green is not a dominant color in New Mexico. The landscape is brown and red and sometimes golden at sunset, but not green. There is very little that reflects the Christian hymnody of “field and forest, flowery meadow, flashing sea.” This is a land of little rain, and of life that adapts to that scarcity.
One day toward the end of my summer in Paris, the concierge’s wife prepared supper for Camus and me. We had planned to take a ride that afternoon, but after we finished our meal, we could not bring ourselves to leave. We chose instead to sit and enjoy the view of the river. We were both relaxed and enjoying the weather when Camus broke the silence: “Howard, do you perform baptisms?”