Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Truth on a Subway Wall

The very first paragraph of the very first post in this blog made reference to Simon & Garfunkel’s song, Sound of Silence:

It's been said that no one has cornered the market on truth. That's probably accurate, but it doesn't rule out the possibility of this being a little corner of truth, tucked away in the huge City of Life, where, according to Paul Simon, the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.

That idea of where the words of the prophets are sometimes written is preserved on the Truth is... Facebook page (which you are invited to go to and “Like”) and has led me to share another Paul Simon lyric; this one even more focused on the theme.


The last train is nearly due
The underground is closing soon
And in the dark deserted station
Restless in anticipation
A man waits in the shadows

His restless eyes leap and scratch
At all that they can touch or catch
And hidden deep within his pocket
Safe within his silent socket
He holds a colored crayon

Now from the tunnel’s stony womb
The carriage rides to meet the groom
And opens wide and welcome doors
But he hesitates, then withdraws
Deeper in the shadows

And the train is gone suddenly
On wheels clicking silently
Like a gently tapping litany
And he holds his crayon rosary
Tighter in his hand

Now from his pocket quick he flashes
The crayon on the wall he slashes
Deep upon the advertising
A single-worded poem comprised
Of four letters

And his heart is laughing, screaming, pounding
The poem across the tracks rebounding
Shadowed by the exit light
His legs take their ascending flight
To seek the breast of darkness and be suckled by the night
*  *  *  *  *  *  *
When looking up this lyric, I read several different opinions about what this song means and what the four-letter poem is. Many assumed something profane, others opted for “Hope” or “Love.”

Truth is…in every city, every village, everywhere you look, there are hurting people who are crying out, each in their own way. What kind of people, then, should we be?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What Are You Dying For?

In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was running for a third term as President of the U.S.A., as head of the newly-formed Progressive Party. He eventually lost the race, but gained a lot of sympathy and respect as a result of being shot in the chest on his way to deliver a speech in Milwaukee.

Doctors and other attendants urged him to forego the speech and get to a hospital, but he insisted on talking to the gathered crowd: "It takes more than that to kill a bull moose!"

Henry F. Pringle quotes Roosevelt in his book, Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography:

"I am not hurt badly. I have a message to deliver and will deliver it as long as there is life in my body. It matters little about me, but it matters about the cause we fight for. If one soldier who carries the flag is stricken, another will take it from his hands and carry it on. Tell the people not to worry about me, for if I go down another will take my place. For always the army is true. Always the cause is there."

Is there a message or a cause for which you are willing to take a bullet to the chest and yet carry on? Is there anything that important to you? Faith? Family? Freedom?

Truth is...I believe if it came down to facing a gunman who said he would kill me if I didn't renounce Christ, I would choose death. The thing is, in many ways it would be easier to die for Jesus than it is to live for him.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Some Tough Questions for the Church

Had a great visit to my home church the last Sunday in April. Whenever I go back there, I get all nostalgic and overwhelmed with a sense of Heritage and Steadfastness. I spent practically every Sunday of my growing-up years planted in the second row, right behind the, in my mind, ancient deacons with enormous ears...while they waited to pass the communion trays and offering plates.

They've had a new preacher since November, and it was refreshing to hear him stir things up a bit; rousing the sleepy little country church of my youth into a new kind of wakefulness.

One of the spoons he used (to stir things up) was this list of questions taken from Reggie McNeal's book, THE PRESENT FUTURE: Six Tough Questions for the Church.

TRADITIONAL QUESTION: How do we do church better?

TOUGH QUESTION: How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?

TRADITIONAL QUESTION: How do we grow this church? How do we get them to come to us?

TOUGH QUESTION: How do we transform our community? How do we hit the streets with the Gospel?

TRADITIONAL QUESTION: How do we turn members into ministers?

TOUGH QUESTION: How do we turn members into missionaries?

TRADITIONAL QUESTION: How do we develop church members?

TOUGH QUESTION: How do we develop followers of Christ?

TRADITIONAL QUESTION: How do we plan for the future?

TOUGH QUESTION: How do we prepare for the future?

TRADITIONAL QUESTION: How do we develop leaders for church work?

TOUGH QUESTION: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?

Truth is...these are great questions for ANY church...for any CHRISTIAN...for me.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Taste the Soup, I Dare You

I have been privately recommending Carolyn Arends' blog, Wrestling With Angels, for quite a while now. Today, let me get more specific about that.

The posting from September 26, 2012, "Taste the Soup", is a piece that says what hardly anybody is saying nowadays: showing up at church, even when you don't feel like it, is important. I hope the following excerpts whet your appetite for clicking this link and reading the whole thing.

I've been sliding into pews (or modern equivalents) from infancy; my vocation has taken me to hundreds of churches around the world. I've met some of my dearest friends and endured some of my darkest betrayals in youth rooms, foyers, and sanctuaries. I've cried, sung, prayed, committed, disconnected, recommitted, scribbled sermon notes, doodled, been wounded, been healed, encountered the Mystery, and dozed off—sometimes all in the same service.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -
The triune God has always been into community. And community, I am forced to admit, ultimately requires meeting together with flesh and blood folks I cannot "block" or "unfriend" should they become annoying. It means getting close enough to hug and to arm wrestle, to build (and sometimes hold) each other up, even as we risk letting each other down.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...there are far too many commandments about doing things to and with "one another" and "each other" for any of us to think it can be "just me and Jesus." There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian, and if there was, he would at least have Tonto.