Thursday, September 30, 2010

Odds & Ends

  • We've had beautiful weather these past few days, with blue skies and temperatures in the 70s. As one of my church members remarked, "Some days, you're almost ready to forgive the Oregon Coast for what it put you through last winter."
  • Preaching this week on James 4:1-12 -- a passage that reminds me most church fights are not about music or evolution or the color of a new carpet; they're about power, i.e. who has it and who wants it.
  • Speaking of which -- I'm told Stalin loved to pick fights over arcane points of Communist philosophy that nobody really understood. If people agreed with him, then he knew they did so out of loyalty (and not personal conviction); if they disagreed, then he knew they were a potential rival (and should be eliminated).
  • Reading John Noble Wilford's The Riddle of the Dinosaur, it strikes me that one of the biggest problems we've had with this subject is just how quickly it developed. Radiometric dating wasn't common until the 1950s. Plate tectonics didn't catch on until the 1960s. Alvarez didn't come up with his theory for the extinction of dinosaurs until 1980. It's hard to know how you should react, in other words, when the environment is changing so fast.
  • Viz. this week's Sabbath School lesson: if I had to do it over again, I'd preach fewer sermons and tell more stories. As Philip Pullman points out, "Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever." So . . . ask the members of your class: "What stories in the Bible have been important to you -- and why?"
  • I'm slowly pulling together a resource-bank on ministry to senior citizens -- reason number one: there's going to be a lot of them. Reason number two: nobody else seems to be doing it. And reason number three: I'm not getting any younger myself. So far, one of my best sources for ideas has been this blog in The New York Times: "The New Old Age." 
  • Teaching high school Bible, I've learned you need to do something new every ten minutes or you've lost them. I wonder if that is true of preaching too?
  • And I'll close with Murphy's Sixth-Law of Combat Operations: "If it is stupid but it works, then it is not stupid."

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