Archive for June, 2012

Lacunas, #1

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

In my last post, I mentioned that I would be writing a sermon to be entitled “Lacunas” and that I would be addressing some of the holes I saw in the Bible and traditional Christian theology in a series of blogs.

Let me begin by stating that I am not an expert or scholarly theologian in this area. I am grateful that I was able to attend Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and graduate with a Master of Divinity degree. And, although retired, I am also grateful that I was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), served as an associate minister at a local church for three years, and was active in the work of our presbytery for several years afterwards.

None of this necessarily makes me more qualified to address some of the shortcomings of mainline Christianity than anyone else. What it might suggest, however, is that I may tend to think about religious and spiritual issues more than some people.

For instance, for the past several years, I have been wondering what informs our faith. It seems to me that, by and large, a particular religious tradition (Christianity, for example) rests on four basic pillars: the teachings of an extraordinary leader; the scriptures (oral and/or written) that attest to the leader’s exceptionality; the interpretations and applications of those teachings and scriptures by a community of followers over time; and the inner spiritual guidance and epiphanies of individuals within a particular community of faith.

In other words, if we were seated around a table that represented the Christian faith, the four pillars or legs of the table would translate into first of all, Jesus Christ; second, the Bible, and, in the case for Christianity, the New Testament especially; third, the ongoing interpretation of the Bible by the community of believers who try to understand and apply the teachings of Jesus; and, last but not least, personal revelations that lead us to new insights (or faulty ways of thinking).

The architect in my family tells me that four legs make a stronger table than three, that additional legs make for an even stronger table, and that a round table is stronger than a square or rectangular one. Most communion tables and altars are rectangular and have four legs.

I’m not sure where that leaves us except to wonder what might be missing from the Christian Tradition, for, as Barbara Kingsolver wrote in her novel The Lacuna, “the most important part of any story is the missing piece.”

What Now?

Friday, June 8th, 2012

And YOU are a Presbyterian minister?

That was a question put to me in the form of a comment at a recent gathering of friends.

The person asking the question simply could not believe that I could be a Presbyterian minster (albeit retired) and say that I didn’t really consider myself a Christian.

Presbyterian neo-pagan, yes. Freelance monotheist–yes!

But Christian?

And yet everywhere I go, I seem to run into people who are rejecting traditional belief systems and find themselves floating in a home brew of doubt, questions, and blending of ingredients from diverse religious and spiritual traditions. Most have a sense of something greater beyond themselves but can’t find any fitting religious container for their concoction.

I thought it might be worthwhile, for myself if no one else, to try to explain how I got to where I am and what thought processes, experiences, and resources have led me to this place of UNknowing.

But first I have to stop and write a sermon. Its title:  ”Lacunas.” According to my dictionary a “lacuna” is a gap or missing part, a hiatus. In anatomy it’s one of the numerous minute cavities in the substance of bone. In botany it’s air space in the cellular tissue of plants. I once saw it used to describe the little pocket indentations in the surface of a plaster ceiling. The word comes from Latin for ditch, pit, hole, gap, deficiency, and is akin to “lacus,” as in lake or lagoon.

I can’t think of a better word to describe where I am or to begin this new series of blogs.

You may find a lot of holes in my reasoning. I invite your feedback. But in my next blog, I’ll begin sharing what I see as some of the holes in the Bible and traditional Christian theology.