A Simpler Time

So I’m volunteering at my local library, searching through old newspapers for obituaries of which the library has a file but no source. A lot more fun than it sounds, really.

Today, whilst perusing the Plainfield Friday Caller from 1910 I came across a classified ad stating: “I am able to slaughter on short notice. -Elias Jones, Plainfield.”

The Close

The Close: A Young Woman’s First Year at Seminary by Chloe Breyer

Chloe Breyer has written a deeply personal account of her first year at Union Theological Seminary in New York. The story is modeled, appropriately, on the Christian Year, though her reflections on each season as it relates to her seminary education wane as the book and Year progress. Then again, I too struggle to take notice of all the riches of the seasons, feasts and fasts, let alone reflecting upon them.  Particularly interesting were her struggles and insecurities over the efficacy of the Church’s mission in a post-modern world and her narrative of life as a hospital chaplain.  Indeed, I found the tales of a New York City chaplain so interesting I wondered with all the variations on successful TV show ideas (CSI, Law and Order) why ER: Chaplaincy has never aired.

Serving Two Masters

Yesterday was Independence Day and I’m conflicted.

My conflict is this: Independence Day is marked by conspicuous demonstrations of reverence, allegiance and devotions to the United States of America. I’m not entirely comfortable with these demonstrations, particularly the Pledge of Allegiance, showing reverence to the flag, singing the National Anthem, etc. in light of the overtly political declaration that Jesus of Nazareth is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Placing my hand across my heart while the flag passes by and genuflecting before the Cross seem to me to be serving two masters. I don’t think I ever stopped to consider “patriotic” actions until I began attending a church that believes that we worship God with our entire body, mind and spirit. The dissonance of saying the Creed and saying the Pledge  seems stark to me now.

I realize that this problem is nothing new. The Church has wrestled with it (at times, maybe not wrestled enough) since Constantine. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the myths of America and particularly America-as-a-Christian-Nation are dangerous idols, captivating the American Church. Indeed, watching the religious programming this morning, it was not readily apparent given the music, images, and sermons that a celebration of the Resurrection and the awesome power of God was unfolding.

Nevertheless, I’m finding it difficult and awkward to disentangle myself from these all-encompassing myths. (As I write this, an American flag flies from my front porch.) Still, I am profoundly thankful to live in a nation so rich and free. Alas, I wonder too, if our riches and liberty haven’t become idols.

Lord, have mercy.

Informative

Alison and I received some dinnerware as a wedding gift. It’s very nice, really. But this new stuff is huge. We compared it to some antique dinnerware from the 1930s. The result: the new salad plate is the same size as the antique dinner plate. The new dinner plate is the same size as the antique serving platter. The new coffee mug holds more liquid than the antique soup bowl.

In completely unrelated news, Indiana’s obesity rate holds steady at 27%.