Theologian N. T. Wright says that even when you are in the Promised Land you are never far from the wilderness. I’m not the only preacher who has pondered how our nation has gone so quickly from the promised land of abundance to a wilderness of economic uncertainty. This recession is a new place for most of us.
I remember a man at a congregation I once served who was an accomplished
house painter and a member of the choir. He was also a man of few
words, but when he spoke I listened. One day he said in passing, "You
know, Ken, on big services like Christmas and Easter, you don't need to
try so hard.
Architect Lewis Mumford argued that the beauty of a particular house
comes from building it on the most challenging feature of the land. If
there is a depression in the land, says Mumford, use it. If a big
boulder lies in the middle of the spot where the kitchen should go, put
the boulder in the kitchen.
Michael Bransfield, Catholic bishop of West Virginia, seems to be taking his cues from the coal industry when interpreting Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato si’, which calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels. Bransfield says the pope’s call for ending fossil fuel use is qualified: it should happen “only after” greater progress is made in using alternative fuels, and only where economically feasible. In fact, Pope Francis makes no such qualifications. Bransfield is also promoting the idea of “clean coal.” A spokesperson admitted that the Wheeling-Charleston diocese has “energy related investments” (National Catholic Reporter, July 1).