7 Fascinating Takes

7 Fascinating Takes January 12, 2018


[You can’t have coffee here unless you go to Africa.]

It’s Friday and it’s raining, so that must mean Takes.

Not sure how it works out this way, but as usual I worked really really hard all week, but all the work I thought I was doing, or was going to do, is still there for me to keep working on through the weekend. Like, such as, for example, as it were, I cleaned the house all last week and all this week but honestly, you wouldn’t know. There would be no way for you to tell how much time I’d spend putting things away and sweeping up piles of dirt. Likewise, I spent all this week doing school to little or no effect. The pile of work is still mountains high, snd the children seem as ignorant and obtuse as ever.

There must be a spiritual lesson here, but please don’t try to tell me what it is because I don’t want to know.

Got to be on the Ride Home with John and Kathy again yesterday afternoon. I was in the last hour, and, most shockingly to me, stayed on for almost the whole time. [The file that’s up for yesterday’s date is actually from sometime in December. When the real file is there I’ll come back and link it here.]

So, as per usual, I didn’t think my blog post yesterday was in any way controversial. I mean, it’s plain as day in the New Testament that no matter your sense of call, there are objective ways that you can disqualify yourself from certain kinds of ministry. It doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t love you any more, or that you can’t be in the church, or that there’s no forgiveness for you. Of Course Not. But not everyone gets to do the job they most want to do. None of us are entitled to any particular ministry in the church.

The regular shouts of, ‘What About King David,’ frankly bemuse me. To point out the obvious, David wasn’t a pastor, and he wasn’t in the New Testament. When the writers of the Old Testament were going along plunking words onto the page, most of the time they were describing what happened, not telling you how to live. David’s sin with Bathsheba is not a prescription of how we should all behave. It was account of what happened. And you’ll notice that not only did the child die, but David nearly lost his throne. There was an insurrection led by Absolem, and much much suffering for David and his whole family. I don’t think any modern person would want to endure what he endured.

Did God redeem him? Yes. Did God even use his circumstances to paint yet another picture of the crucifixion–David being forced out of the city, going along being cursed and mocked? Yes. But does that mean that pastors who engage in certain kinds of sin can just climb back up and keep preaching? That would be a no. Read the rest of the Bible.

And also, sorry this is going on so long, but consider. Suppose a pastor manipulated and abused you–drove you off into the dark night and made you preform a sex act–and was then promoted and promoted, even after telling each congregational board what he had done, would you keep going to church? It doesn’t always have to be about the man. Couldn’t sometimes we consider the person on the other side of these moments?

Indeed, I really love the image of Tamar, tearing her long sleeves and pouring dust on her head, weeping and mourning for what has been destroyed. While we’re nodding our heads over how David still got to be king, the effects of his sin were endured by every single one of his children. But consider how the Bible shows her. Her grief comes into sharp relief, just for a moment. And she’s left there. The text goes on but I always have to stop for a while and mourn.

Imagine if God had left it there. But he didn’t. Push forward to the cross and see that Jesus is in the place of every victim. He is stripped naked, beaten, hung up and left to die. He gathers all the pain and shame into himself for the forgiveness of the wretched abuser, but also to suffer with the victim. But the most comforting part is that he comes back to judge. Everything will be put right. Everything.

I know I shouldn’t go here but I’ve been chuckling over Mr. Trump wanting to keep people from certain countries–he used a rude word–out of the US and let all the Norwegians in. Wouldn’t it be funny if suddenly whole flocks of Norwegians started beating down American Immigration Law. Although, I do think there are lots of people in Norway now who came there from the very places Mr. Trump has such a dim view of.

Anyway, I used to always try to convince any Malian person, usually a man, whose dream it was to come to America, that it would not be as wonderful as he supposed. First of all, it is very cold, I would say. And second of all, it is very hard to make friends. And third of all, Mali is just objectively better–the food is better, the people are nicer, the country side is more beautiful. Why would you want to leave this warm and gracious land and go somewhere where you will always feel in the wrong, and on the outside, and lonely? Any person I said this to would shake his head and tell me that I was lying. America is the land of opportunity! And money! And health!

There are other more interesting things than money, I would say.

That’s the perversity of providence though. I, who didn’t want to come here, had to. And the rest of the world, who desperately wants to, can’t.

I do think that Mr. Trump would not enjoy a long stay in any part of Africa, though. It is scary for the person who sees the dust and has heard about all the terrible diseases and bugs. Why would you want to go there? Sometimes you can’t even get online.

It’s all about what you’re used to. It about what you’re eyes are open to see. Do you see the pot holes and shudder? Do you endure the Nairobi traffic and want to give up in despair? Or do you wander through the shops and the markets, or stand and gaze at the wide open sky, and rejoice over the gentle kindness, the glorious food, the shifting patterns of the road beneath your feet?

You all love it here, as you should. But your affections for this place don’t turn all the other places in the world into Sheol. [Probably by you I mean Mr. Trump.]

Not that it’s not objectively more physically comfortable to live in America. Certainly electricity, water, and cheap junk from china make the quality of life here lots more comfortable. And there is, for the moment, excellent healthcare. But in no way is it more psychologically comfortable. Show me an American and I will show you someone who is desperately battling not only for happiness of any kind, but for mental health as well. The ease and comfort of the body, the absence of disease and the presence of running water, do not a happy person make.

And on that note, I hope you will go read more coherent Takes. I will arise now and resume the useless activities of cleaning and doing school. By the end of the day, I will not be able to show you anything that I have done. Pip pip.

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