Preaching must reveal what it costs to speak the truth.
Preaching must describe what it is like to surrender to God and the needs
of our neighbors. We distort faith when we tell people that it is easier
than they think.
Honesty is the only way to God.
Church is a place where we are set free from our blind, aggressive ambition directing our resources to healing the world in all its hard-won but broken places.
Pierce Klemmt 72
What is the most significant event that has occurred in your profession or field of study during the 20th century? What lesson do you take away from that event?
The claim that science eliminates God. Since Newton, when the mystery of the universe was put to bed, the world has been interpreted as a machine. Our job was to keep it humming. If it broke down, we could fix it.
We have lived in a time that could explain practically everything without a deity. But quantum mechanics, among other hosts of scientific liturgies have set mystery loose again in the universe. God is no longer merely the part of things that we have yet to understand. The publication of chaos theory and its scientific tributaries reminds us, against all our hard-won certainties, that the world is unpredictable again. The precedence of scientific objectivity was annulled the day we discovered that observing a particle in an experiment actually changed its behavior. A scientist can no longer stand outside the world to watch and then describe it. All we can do now is predict a range of possibilities. Science has been humbled. Furthermore, we are coming to the end of believing that if we just find out how things work, we can solve anything. Knowing how to do things has not helped us decide whether or not we should do them. Everything we have learned, the mysteries we have subdued, has not kept us from killing each other. Everything we thought would save us has not. Our deadly way of life is collapsing in on us. God is on the porch of the laboratory looking in through the window again.
Personally, what is the most meaningful life lesson you have taken from your vocation or avocation?
"Move in the direction of the difficult."
Fred Craddock wrote, "Appropriation of the gospel is the minimum condition for standing in the pulpit." As we all know, there is a difference between someone who stands up in the pulpit with a real voice and one with "preachy words". The way we address each other must come from the heart. . . . speaking the faith to each other, for instance, should be spoken the way you pray with your children when you put them to bed at night. Preaching must reveal what it costs to speak the truth. Preaching must describe what it is like to surrender to God and the needs of our neighbors. We distort faith when we tell people that it is easier than they think. . . or, that if they do this, God will do that. Such simple-mindedness amplifies people's distrust of us and their lives continue to separate from ours. Honesty is the only way to God.
In your experience, what is the greatest misconception the public has about your vocation (or field of study) or the people in that vocation?
Many complain people in church are hypocrites. They listen to sermons, songs and prayers, but on Monday go back to surviving any way they can. People say that we are just preaching to the choir on Sundays and clergy foster these indictments when they preach a history lesson on the bible or wrestle some freeze-dried stories from a book to warm their parishioner's hearts. Many say people are in church only to hear good news, and pray God will protect them from the bad news. Worse yet, we are accused of making God's will only a projection of our own will. On the contrary, I pray with Christians who are willing to encounter the very real terror of God without the least of idea of how things may turn out in the end. We do not put our stock in behaving properly believing that we will be exempt from life's tragedies. We trust God to act in all the events of our lives, not just the ones that need our approval. Church is a place where we are set free from our blind, aggressive ambition, directing our resources to healing the world in all its hard-won but broken places.