19 March, 2009

Of Plays, Divorce Court and Dangerous Grace

A few things've been bumping around the old noggin of late.(1)

One is a conversation I recently had with a friend and ministry colleague here in the L.G. He's more conservative than I am and so we disagree frequently about the Christian faith. But we do so agreeably. We call one another heretic, laugh and move on; it's good fun and we do this every Wednesday.

But this particular conversation is sticking in my craw.

At one point, talking with yet another colleague about how denominations can tie themselves in knots trying to issue statements about social issues, my Amigo Conservativo suggested that the Church shouldn't get too worked up about such things. After all, we have bigger fish to fry, what with telling people about Jesus and all. The particular topic under discussion was the war in Iraq.

Granted, we serve the Prince of Peace, who said things like "turn the other cheek" and "if you hate your brother, you're guilty of murder." But maybe Jesus didn't mean these things exactly that way. Fine. You say the Church should focus squarely on the proclamation of the Gospel, offering an alternative vision of life rather than being entangled in the things of this world. I don't agree, but maybe that's a defensible position.

But not half an hour later, the topic of the Play That Shall Not Be Named(2) came up. And this colleague was glad that some churchy people had got together and got the thing stopped, if only from being performed on the high school campus. "After all, someone has to stand up for what's right. And if the Church won't do it, who will?"

Hmm. I'm not sure I can add anything here. Except to say, "Really?"

Two stories d'news news stories caught my eye of late, as well.

Everyone's favorite VERY NOT GAY former megachurch pastor, Ted Haggard, and his wife are appearing on Divorce Court, to counsel folks that divorce is not the best option available to them. Again, what can you say? Life (and life in the Church, particularly) is funny.

And finally, on the topic of "Grace and forgiveness are GREAT! Well, for me, not you...."

A pastor in New England is facing threats and intimidation for making like Jesus. And you know that's gonna rouse the rabble.

After the conversation with my colleague and the story on the Formerly Reverend Haggard, I was tempted to blast our conservative bretheren and sisteren for their weirdness and hypocrisy. But, Lo! and behold!, the pastor of the River of Grace Church steps up to the plate in the name of Jesus and belts one out of the park. Good for him.

And, dear God, forgive my arrogance.

Honestly, I'd rather that life in the Church was easier to untangle: my guys are right, everyone else is wrong. Agree with me and be saved, disagree and perish. But it doesn't seem to work like that. It seems that the Kingdom may be larger than our ways of understanding, that neither progressives nor conservatives have the market on righteousness and that we may just be in this thing together.

Silly God, being bigger than we think.

much peace, much love, etc.

(1) I have a sizable noggin, so there's lots of room for things to bump around in.
(2) As an update, in case you've missed it in the national news: Steve Martin, whose play is at the center of the tempest here in the L.G., wrote a letter to the editor of our little paper and has offered to pay for an off-campus production of the play. I sometimes wonder if the nice lady who got the play banned in the first place realizes that, had she said nothing, a few hundred people would have seen it. I suspect that, thanks to all the free national publicity, this may be the best attended high school play in La Grande's history.


  1. I don't know Clay, I'm not impressed with the Pastor of the River of Grace. He lacks the twin characteristics of Wise as a Serpent and gentle as a dove. I think he's opening his whole family up to a lifetime of bad experiences.
    But, what do I know. I'm just a woman who happens to preach from time to time. keep those thoughts rattl'n round in your noggin and puttin' em out for us to wrestle with.
    grace and peace

  2. That very big noggin continues to inspire my medium sized noggin...and I like the way that feels!

    Every time we start trying to act like Jesus, sneaky or not, folks get riled up. I constantly challenge people to read that 40-year-old chestnut, Your God is Too Small by J. B. Phillips.