Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Recent Escapades

Well, I felt like I needed to explain my actions in a certain S-W chapel blow up yesterday. Apparently the fiasco is becoming the stuff of legends here at the S-W pen, and for sake of posterity, here she blows...

I have, for some time, been getting increasingly disdainful at certain, shall we say, silver spoon liberal tendencies at my seminary. Don't get me wrong, despite my grousing, I do enjoy my seminary and I love the people. But there is this latent albeit polite tendency around here from various quarters to look down noses at those of us who may be from more conservative backgrounds. Conservative does not equal ignorant. Now, I know some ignorant, conservative people, but I also know some ignorant, liberal people too. Where one is on a theological or political spectrum is in no way synonymous with ignorant. They are two completely separate issues.

Apparently this was building up in me more than I realized. I do not know if it is a combination of end of the quarter angst, long winter, election year, or what. But, I have not been able to go two days around here without hearing some put down of conservatives as ignorant bumpkin in one way, shape, or form. I was frankly just sick of it. In my Tuesday morning class, I heard a professor, who shall remain nameless, actually equate conservative and ignorant, and quite frankly it hacked me off. I believe as Christians we are called to love and respect all people, regardless of where they are theologically or otherwise. In such a hot temper, I probably should not have even gone to chapel after class, but it was Tuesday Dean's Mass, so I was sort of obligated to.

I have likewise have this growing edge of disdain for the way the scripture readings and sermons in chapel are taken and given in rather flippant ways. I know I have rather puritanical leanings, but primacy and respect of scripture as the Word and God and the proclaimation thereof is not to be taken flippantly.

These two elements combined for what transpired to tick me off during chapel on Tuesday, precipitating my walk out in the middle of the sermon. I have consistently found the dean's sermons to be political hobby horse riding to outright bizarre. This particular shiner smacked of both liberal paternalism and flippancy. In the state I was in, I just snapped and walked out. I did not mean to create a scene, I just needed to get off the bolck for awhile. If I did offend someone for making a scene, I apologize for that. The last thing I would ever want to do would be to prevent someone from worshipping God or hindering that in any way. I do not, however, apologize for walking out.

And know, as Paul Harvey says...the rest of the story. This is were it gets good.
I remember I walked out the door of S-W and proceeded to keep walking. I wandered into downtown Evanston and was waiting for the traffic light to turn. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a scruffy looking man in a ratty sweatsuit come up beside me. I did not think anything about it, I assumed he was a bum or something. He came up to me and he was not even looking in my direction. He got up about parallel to me and suddenly turned his head and said in a loud voice, "I have a message for you...God told me to tell you that you are right where He wants you to be." With that, he turned and walked away.

There are not to many times in my life where I have been completely dumbfounded. I can honestly say if someone have come up and spit on me and stole my wallet, I doubt I would have noticed. Some things just can't be explained. Believe me, I was up most of the night trying to. You will just get to the point where the left hand side of the brain turns to the right hand side and says, "Its dark in here, and we may die." The only thing I can figure is my guardian angel is in fact a scruffy homeless man with sweat pants. Go figure.


Ryan said...

"He got up about parallel to me and suddenly turned his head and said in a loud voice..."

Powerful stuff man...powerful stuff.


Kyle said...

Oh, of all the things you could have done, surely getting up and leaving wasn't such a big deal?

Jim said...

Screwtape manages to get around, doesn't he? Sometimes when our homiletics escape the bounds of grace-full discourse, it happens so quickly that it's done before we realize we've caused hurt.

It seems a shame that some of your professors don't recognize that witout "conservatives," there wouldn't be a way to tell that the "liberals" are who they say they are! I'll admit that I'm one of those people that thinks the neo-cons have hijacked the word "orthodox;" so you might think of me as being a liberal, and I don't mind a bit wearing a label like that. But I also recognize that faith and belief can produce an N.T. Wright as well as they can a Marcus Borg. Both are necessary, and we would be all the poorer should we lose the view from either of them, wouldn't we?

Perhaps the biggest problem I sense here is that the preacher wasn't preaching from a sense of presence, but from a need to preach because it was his turn in the barrel.

We need to pray that everyone -- preacher, walker (that would be you), and witnesses -- takes away a dose of wisdom that wouldn't have been available without what happened. Not all of what we learn comes easily or painlessly, and you could not begin to pay for what you gained at the small cost you bore.

If you remember only to be fully present when you are in the pulpit, this semester's tuition has been a bargain.