JUST “the way it was…”

This morning’s Waco Trib has an interesting piece about a local project in “church swapping.” (I would share the link, but online access is by subscription only)  The idea is to get people to try a church that is predominantly a different race than their own.

This post isn’t about race or church-swapping, however.  In the opening paragraph one of the participants in the swap gives an example of the difference between the African American church he is visiting and his home church. He says

It’s more praiseful. For example, if they sing ‘Amazing Grace’ they put a different emphasis on the song,” Province said. “The words are the same, but the hints are different, whereas when I sing ‘Amazing Grace,’ I just sing it the way it was written.

Welcome to Postmodernism 101.  Mr. Province’s belief that he sings a song “the way it was written” is presumptuous and fallacious.  Unless, that is, he wrote the song or is good friends with whoever did.

This principle is important to keep in mind not just with songs, but with scripture as well.  Many if us assume that we read scripture the way it should be read, to find the plain or obvious meaning.  When we hear someone interpret it differently, then, we may too quickly assume that they (rather than we) are reading something into it, whereas we are just reading it “the way it was written.”

You don’t read something “the way it was written” just because you have always read it that way.  The assumption that others are interpreting where you are simply reading is unfair to them and to yourself.

Tiger’s Christmas Gift to Us

Everyone say it together now: “Thank you, Tiger Woods!”

I have lately tended to avoid blogging on such stories as this, but yesterday began to think of all the hoopla that has followed from Tiger’s car accident from a different angle.

One of the things I try to keep constant on this blog is looking at and thinking about things from a different angle.

I realized yesterday that whereas a high percentage of people used to like Tiger, now it seems like even more people like to talk about Tiger. Why such a preoccupation with what supposedly upsets/bothers/offends us?


So long as there are Tiger Woods type stories, we can use them to avoid dealing with, facing, or talking about our own shortcomings and difficulties.  We would rather talk about his shortcoming than our own.

Because, let’s face it; your shortcomings and mine aren’t nearly as bad has his, right?  Or at least not as press-worthy.

Yet Christmas is celebrated by Christian and non-Christian alike with light.  Tiger’s story is receiving all the light; helping us keep our own stories in darkness.

May Tiger Woods’ difficulties and challenges give each of us the courage to bring our own stuff into the light, because only by bringing our challenges, difficulties, shortcomings, yea, our sins, out of darkness and into the marvelous light can we find hope and healing.

Healing Drought

What’s the best way to water your lawn?

The American Lawns website recommends 3/4 to 1 inch of water per week, and applying it “as infrequently as possible.”

I’ve known this for some time and have been practicing this summer.  We try to limit watering any part of our yard to once per week, and watering deeply enough to soak in.  Any expert will tell you that watering this way encourages deep root growth, which makes for a healthier, more drought-resistant lawn.

Since I love making analogies between physical and spiritual things, I wondered this morning, what is the significance of this deep-water metaphor for spirituality?

It makes sense to me that deep watering of our souls would produce deeper, stronger, healthier roots in our lives.  But what is the difference between deep and shallow soul-watering?  Surely not the difference between daily and weekly devotional time?

Have you been watering your soul deeply enough?  If so, what is your method/process? If not, what are you going to do about it?

So THAT’S the Problem?

This is from a letter to the editor in today’s Waco Tribune-Herald. I am NOT making this up.

All of my friends believe in God, and I believe that, as a country, we need to get back to living by the Ten Commandments, loving one another, and having respect for all.

This is one of those times that I’m not old at 45, I am “only” 45 – but when exactly were those days that we, as a country, lived by the Ten Commandments?

I know, this is a penny-ante bone to pick, but this is the kind of support our local paper has received since declaring it’s turn toward the conservative.

Perhaps what we need is not for media to be less liberal and talk-radio to be less conservative. Perhaps what would serve is all, and the greater good, is for civilized people to learn to listen and speak clearly with one another.

No one’s nostalgia will serve us well if we are to go into the future with any kind of hope.

Is this anything like “Dude looks like a lady”?

I found this press release posted at the Waco Tribune-Herald website:

Women’s Conference “Made in His Image”
Trinity at Badger Ranch will be hosting a woman’s conference “Made in His Image” on March 7, 2009. Registration is $17, open to all women of the community. Lunch and child care included. Deadline for registration is March 1, 2009. Speaker will be Donna Pyle, founder of Artesian Ministries. For more information phone 772-4225; email hurtagj@aol.co

I get that God is still often referred to in male terms (though few would deny that God is not gendered), but it struck me as odd that a Women’s Conference wouldn’t just use “God’ instead of “His.”


I am a white guy. There is no denying it.

I was raised in an era that didn’t want to produce “white guys.” As I was growing up we were living toward the myth of a colorblind society.

I believed that myth for a long time. When someone told me that he didn’t see someone’s skin color, that what he was saying was that he didn’t judge the other person based on skin color. Then I realized some people had actually convinced themselves they didn’t see color.

Oddly, everyone I knew who claimed not to see color was white.

About a decade ago, I learned a valuable lesson. White folk in the United States can, and often do, think of ourselves simply as “folk;” no adjective of skin tone needed. Black folk in this country do not have the same perspective. In our society, black people are black. They realize this daily and are routinely reminded of it.

Apparently, we aren’t really all just “folk.” Or maybe we are. Dr. King said, in the midst of one of the greatest speeches in our nation’s history, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I submit to you this week, in honor and memory of Dr. King and his efforts, that we have a far better chance of realizing his dream if all of us realize, claim, and accept our skin tone rather than pretending we don’t notice it.

I’m a white guy. There is no denying it.