A couple of months ago in the Century, Thomas G. Long discussed temptations faced by anxious preachers who must preach week after week, sometimes for several services each Sunday. “What can I say this time?” is the angst-filled question of many of us. In an earlier day one could find Harry Emerson Fosdick’s sermons collected in his books, and Ernest T.
We were at the lake, my daily walking spot. I had brought a friend who needed to talk. Her head was down as if she were searching for meaning, hope and traces of God’s ways in the ruts of the muddy path. My head was down too, in silent solidarity. We walked. Suddenly I missed a familiar pitter-patter—my dog was nowhere to be seen.
Traditional Christian appropriation of the Hebrew scriptures often flattens them. Stories become precursors of later New Testament events rather than genuine events in themselves. Vivid multidimensional characters become mere prefigurations instead of figures in their own right, and complex narrative situations are reduced to a single theological point.
The family is a funny institution. We make much of being related to each other, of sharing common ancestors, common history, common DNA. We speak of fierce loyalties with phrases like “Blood is thicker than water.” As parents and children, brothers and sisters, we have bonds that go beyond words. We love each other even if we don’t particularly like each other.