Saturday, January 2, 2010

January 2, 2010

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



I went to see a friend who broke her hip.

It was very early on Christmas Eve; and as I was leaving the hospital, I ran into one of the chaplains who has been chastising me for infecting their literature racks with Christian materials (scroll way down to previous editions for the low-down on this continuing, uh, battle).

He asked, "What are you doing in the hospital so early on Christmas Eve?"

After explaining that I had some commitments back at the church in the afternoon and evening, I said, "Merry Christmas! And, oh, by the way, I'm still leaving Christian stuff on your literature racks."


He said, "Do you know why we don't want you to leave Christian literature around the hospital? It's because if we let you do it, we'll open the door to every other church in the area; and then we'll have to open our shelves and racks to the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus..."

That made sense to me.

It's why I'm not in favor of prayer in public schools.

Knowing nobody can really stop anyone from praying anyway - I mean who can tell who's praying or asleep in most public schools these days? - I've always been uncomfortable with the idea of public school teachers leading my public school children in prayer. Specifically, I don't want my children led in prayer by a Muslim, Moonie, Mormon, or...

So I said, "O.K., that makes sense to me."

Remembering I had just littered the lobby, several waiting rooms, and most of the literature racks with Christian stuff, I said, "I promise you as of December 24, 2009 at 8:13 a.m. that I will never leave Christian materials anywhere in this hospital except as requested or when I visit members of our church, friends of members of our church, members of other churches whose pastors never..."

He smiled.

I broke his smile when I said, "Of course, now I expect you to remove all of those free papers by that communist outfit with the far left religious nutball masquerading as a Christian who's really a syncretist and belittles people who still believe in the Jesus of the Bible."

He asked, "Do you expect us to remove all of the newspapers too?"

That ticked me off a tad; and I blurted, "You know that's crap. People choose to buy those papers. But while you want to censure me and proscribe Christian materials from the hospital at the altar of some twisted political correctness that includes everyone and everything but Christianity, you allow that free anti-Christ communist paper to be piled all over the hospital. I don't think that's fair."

Making nice, he offered, "Why don't I set up a meeting with our hospital manager so we can talk about it?"

I replied, "No, that's not necessary. I don't do tinkling contests. Besides, this has been going on for nearly ten years and you still want me to stop distributing Christian materials while seeing no hypocrisy in allowing crap like that. I will keep my word from December 24, 2009 at 8:13 a.m. and stop dropping off Christian materials indiscriminately. What you do is up to you within the integrity of what you believe."

Simultaneously, we said in parting, "Merry Christmas!"

We agreed on that.



Pastor Harold, one of my three best associate pastors over the years, warned long ago: "The most dangerous people in the world and church are people with no shame."

Ellen Goodman put it this way in "Whatever Happened to Shame?" (The Boston Globe, 12/18/09): "If, as anthropologists say, shame comes from a violation of cultural norms, it seems to have found its match in a newer cultural norm: fame. Notoriety isn't so notorious anymore. If Hester Prynne were around, she wouldn't be the subject of a novel, she'd be the author of a tell-all memoir with cellphone pictures of a buff Arthur Dimmesdale."

Tiger comes to mind.

Bill Fields wrote for GolfWorld on 12/21/09, "The confluence of what happened off the course in 2009 and what didn't happen on it could morph into a perfect storm that diminishes Woods' golf, whenever he goes back to work. Woods, though, is a cold-blooded competitor, and his ilk have tended to do O.K. at their jobs amid personal strife. Pete Rose's National League-record hitting streak of 44 games in 1978 began shortly after he fathered a child with a mistress. Michael Jordan won his second and third NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls in 1992-93 while embroiled in a gambling controversy."

In addition to challenging a woman who claimed he preached sermons about her to wear the shoe if it fits, Harold's been right about lots of stuff.


So much has happened since the last edition (12/20/09) and Kathie's vacation.

Here are some quickies (euphoric moments often mistaken for sustaining realities) that have caused me to pause and consider 'em as longies (sustaining realities never mistaken for...).

Bert Kant, an elder and dear friend, went home on 12/26/09. She was 86. Unlike so many thoroughly modern so-called church leaders, she never confused her preoccupations and personal preferences with prophecy as personified in Jesus, prescribed in Holy Scripture, and guided by the Holy Spirit Who never contradicts Jesus and Holy Scripture. She encouraged me through prayer and counsel whenever I crossed paths with posers who prove they're only pretending to love Jesus by elevating their self-righteous-self-esteem. I'm presiding at her memorial service next Wednesday (1/6/10). We've been talking over the last few years about what I'm gonna say; and the hypocrites will be exposed by the positive tribute to Him through her.

Harold Kurtz, one of the PCUSA's most pre-eminent evangelists in a franchise that's not especially into that anymore, went home on 12/18/09. He was 85. Harold and I were in a covenant group of really important/famous church leaders for over a decade. When I conjectured that our group could band together and change the course of our denomination if we were willing to risk all of the perks lavished on really important/famous church leaders, Harold, who never shared in many of those high-steeple-senior-pastor-somebody's-gotta-minister-to-the-rich-and-rationalize-their-lifestyles perks but was admitted to the group on integrity alone as something of a collective conscience, said, "Don't worry about them. You be faithful." I know Harold knew God knows I haven't always been faithful; but if my covenant brothers and I are going to give any lasting tribute to Harold, we're gonna try harder with what's left of our...

Cal Marcum, one of the great saints in Illinois ecclesiastical history, wrote a book called Burning Bushes back in 2001. My study group is finally getting around to reading it. We've invited Cal to meet with us on 1/22/10. I like it for three reasons. First, it's a compendium of common sense for anyone trying to be faithful regardless of vocation. Second, it's so good but reminds me of another author's sales that have not threatened the empires of Rick or Joel. Third, this octogenarian has had a recent and monumental disappointment in a church that he served so faithfully for so many years; and I know we're gonna gain some insights on how to stay in ministry when we feel like quitting. Some excerpts: "Human nature has not changed one iota from the Garden of Eden...I cared about people...[and it was] greatest liability because I cared deeply about people and that might do me in...The pastor of a church may be a weak preacher and a terrible administrator, and yet appreciated and loved because of providing good pastoral care...I hate to remember that I neglected my wife and children. I would like to think that I did so for the cause of Christ, but that does not fly because our Lord would not have neglected a family like mine...Early in our marriage Twyla told me, 'You always think you are right.' My response was, 'Yes, you are correct. I hope you will never think I am expressing an opinion or taking a position I know is wrong'...The bottom line is that a preacher has an audience of One."


I've just come across another great devotional site:


Speaking of sites/sights, here's a link worth a long look:

It reminds me of Father Tim Farley's confession in Bill Davis' play Mass Appeal (1981): "Up to now, my need for your love and approval has kept me silent and inactive...This is the first time I've ever said what I wanted to you. Only now is love possible."

Read Revelation 3:19.

I think that's what Bill, Del, Bert, and Harold were trying to tell me; and what I was trying to explain to the hospital chaplain.



Blessings and Love!

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