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Showing posts from June, 2009

Change in a Culture of Contentment

John Kenneth Galbraith's theory of social change seems to hold up in that there's no change until enough people get ticked off enough to organize and vote to make it happen. It's called the Misery Index. That's the question regarding the public option for health insurance. If it happens it's because enough of us who are doing OK find it intolerable that 40+ million men, women, and children are unprotected.

Again, the question about the critical mass for change is relevant. It would seem that the 2008 election answered that question. In addition, it appears that the misery index- the anger and frustration over the greed and neglect in the present system is outstripping the fear of change, "Trojan horses" notwithstanding. Besides, most are clueless about what that analogy means anyway.

We come back to Galbraith's theory of social change- that people really don't care about changing anything until their own contentment is threatened. Does the same thin…

More Choice is Better!

Remember when the "deserving poor" first hit the PC talking points of the Reagan Revolution? The memorable movie, Pursuit of Happyness, told the story of what it was like to be poor and out on the street in those days. Other phrases like the "truly needy" were used over against examples of welfare cheats, so that it seemed there were just as many, or maybe more people, ripping off the system, than being helped by it.

"Homeless" was another word that cropped up too. As mental health patients were released en mass from closing treatment centers, they would somehow be transformed into healthy people who would take their meds, and get a job as well as a place to live. In counseling the unemployed, the Great Communicator suggested that we check the want adds. To make it easier for Americans to get a healthy diet, he suggested that ketchup be considered a vegetable.

The New American Poverty Micheal Harrington so well documented and described in the "me"…

Friends

Like hobbies, we need to be able to identify our friends. Because our work as pastors is very relational, when I took my first appointment, a student pastorate in a small textile- mill town in North Carolina, I remarked to an old college friend from Texas, that being a pastor was LIKE being a friend. Friendship was the most comparable frame I had at the time- 29 years ago.

In discussing a theology of ordination, No Longer Servants draws on friendship love not servant-hood as the metaphor in describing the person and work of the pastor. I like it because it is a corrective to some of the abuses of servanthood. Regardless of where you stand normatively, the question is, who are your true friends?

Can the same people you pastor also be your friends? In a word, no. Not because you cannot support each other mutually as Christ's body, but because their receiving spiritual care from you does not include your getting friendship in return. To be among friends means that I can be myself, to…

Thinking About Sabbaticals, 2

Clergy sabbatical, we hardly knew ye! It's not that we haven't ever heard of them, it's just that we've never known anyone to take one. At least I haven't heard of many UMC clergy doing so.

Popular author and church-planter Wayne Cordiero in Running on Empty chronicles what drove him, literally, to create sabbatical for himself. Faced with a nervous breakdown and never having taken a rest, he talked his doctor's advice down from one year to 3-4 months. Cordiero was battling both severe energy depletion and depression.

The recovery is holistic, even if the signs don't appear to be. Sometimes when people speak of "nervous breakdown," it's code for anxiety disorder, like panic and/or agoraphobia (the fear of having panic attacks). I consider these symptoms warnings that our physical, as well as emotional health, is being compromised and will be damaged further without appropriate action.

The UMC Discipline allows for clergy sabbaticals as tailored b…