Monthly Archives: October 2015

What Would Jesus Do?

Jesus would tell a story.

When my son Cody was 14 and more troubled than I can write about and keep from feeling my heart break all over again, I gave him a Bible. I had only recently begun attending church. Sometimes Cody would go with me, but though he would never admit to being baffled, I sensed he didn’t have the background required to take much from the messages. So I bought him a Bible of his own and suggested that if he read at least Matthew and Acts, he’d get some basics that would make church less strange and tedious.

Late that night, he ran upstairs. Sounding more animated than he had in a couple of years, he said, “Hey, I thought this Bible was a lot of preaching, but it’s a great story.”

Didn’t Cecil B. DeMille title his epic film, The Greatest Story Ever Told?
In his essay “Faith and Fiction,” novelist Fredrick Buechner contends that whether what we call inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit, from the muse (who or whatever she may be), or results from a lucky break in the process of imagining, it’s possible at least every now and then to be better than we are, to write more than we know. And he points out that St. Paul asked, “Do you not know that God’s spirit dwells in you?”

And 1 Corinthians 2:16 maintains, “But we have the mind of Christ.” Which could mean that Christ’s mind has entered ours, thereby giving us its capabilities. Or it could mean that we can use our minds in the same ways Christ used his.

Either interpretation tells me we are capable of tuning in and getting divine help with our essays, poems or stories. And if we aren’t tuning in, if the spirit isn’t helping, the problem may lie with our attitude.

One Sunday Gary Goodell, a pastor and former seminary professor, proposed that it may be through the act of communion that Christ enters our being.

Let’s suppose this is the case. Then having the mind of Christ depends upon receiving communion, and according to 1 Corinthians 11: 23-29, receiving communion (rather than just gobbling it) requires a humble and honest attitude.

So, attitude may be the key to the place (or places) the spirit (or spirits) rests. Our attitude may determine which spirit can move us, as well as how much we hear of what the spirit has to say.

To Hell with Family Values 1

First, a disclaimer. I have three kids and one grandson and am devoted to them all.

But when Christian values are considered as synonymous with family values, I cringe. If you wonder why, read on, the answer will appear sooner or later.

The idea for this essay, or rant, or book, or whatever it turns out to be, came to me a few years ago. I have long put off writing on the subject because I know too well that about half the readers of a given work may well misinterpret, and one of the last things I would want to do is harm anyone’s family.

But lately, while read about a murderer killing ten people in a college writing class in Oregon, I decided it was time to quit holding my peace.

The subject and the incendiary title surfaced a couple years ago during a week that began with an incident at church. The pastor, whom I’ll call Al, was giving a series of messages entitled God at the Movies. Every year he picks several recent films and points out and clarifies the Biblical themes. On the evening in question, his subject was Traitor, starring Don Cheadle.

The story goes something like this: a boy in Sudan sees his father, an Imam, murdered by thugs from a rival sect. He grows up, lands in the U.S., becomes a CIA op, goes undercover, posing as a radical militant, and connects with a Muslim terrorist cell.

In Pastor Al’s interpretation, God’s message gets insinuated into the movie through the characters. Some of the Americans are good guys, some not so good. A couple are “Christian” and a couple aren’t. The best ones aren’t necessarily the most “Christian.” Some of the terrorist cell members, misguided though they may be, are essentially good guys, while some are quite evil.

Pastor Al was going on about all of us humans being God’s children when, apparently from out in left field, he paused a beat then threw a bomb. He said, “Look, anybody that thinks the Bible preaches ‘My country right or wrong’ is way off.”

I couldn’t shout amen. I was speechless.

To be continued.

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