I haven't been in a blogging mood much lately, due to too much stress, poor health, and general crankiness. But my dear husband continues his role in reading things I never get around to, including the Same Facts (as in "everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts") blog which one of our attorney friends occasionally contributes to. I especially appreciated Mark Kleiman's retort to another non-religious blogger on how to characterize American religiosity in general. Read his rundown of Democratic responses to a religious question. One doesn't come away too encouraged about theological conversation on a public scale. (Of course, the question posed was a little asinine). On the other hand, we've always known that politics is a bad forum for theological conversation. At least Kleiman recognizes that there are faithful people who think about both politics and theology, without resorting to soundbytes.
When people think of ministry as a stressful profession ( if they think about us at all), I imagine they think about long hours, funerals and hospital calls. But I think what is hardest on the preacher's soul is the secrets. We who have been called to tell the truth are also bound to keep people's secrets, and unlike therapists or attorneys or doctors (though I suppose such people in small towns are different), we see these same people week after week, in a variety of settings and roles. We know more about the lives of the collective community than anyone else, and we cannot share that information in any direct fashion. It's the secrets that wear on your soul.
My ties to the recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis are few, but it is a small town, so of course I know people who would normally have been commuting that way, but didn't that day, people who were working at the hospital that was nearest, people who did go over that bridge, just not at 6:05. Oh yes, and the daughter of one of our ELCA pastors was on the school bus that fell with the bridge.
There's been a fair amount of justifiable civic pride in recent days as the stories of first responders are told, and people realize how much more chaotic it could have been. This piece from the star tribune said it well. Minnesota is going through a lot of difficult changes in recent years, but it is still largely a place where people look out for one
Another piece that out of town folks may appreciate and won't see on national news: this slide show with the story of a bike commuter who was on hand at the scene at the time of the collapse. It's worth registering for your 7-day pass on the site.
Hello, I'm finally back after some travel with our high school youth and some troubles logging back in to Typepad. If you care at all, you can read about our travels in Boston with 18 high school kids here. The only thing I'll say here that I wouldn't say on the official church site is my wonderings about short-term mission trips. There have been trips in which the work we have done with the kids is really needed -- a trip to Panama to a remote village, a trip to do Gulf Coast reconstruction -- and when that happens, the youth rise to the occasion, work hard, and feel really gratified for the experience. At other times, we run into all the age and insurance issues that restrict what a 16 year old is allowed to do in this country, and it feels more like we're doing glorified tourism. The kids could just as easily be doing the same kind of service at home, but we go somewhere else to make it more interesting.
In between these trips, we, like many churches, struggle with all the competing demands on the kids' time. They are busy, busy, busy, building their resumes for college applications. But how much of what they do is NEEDED by the larger community? This seems to be the biggest difference between adolescence of the past and of the present: now, youth seldom feel necessary. No wonder it's an at-risk population.