Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7, 2010

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



My favorite poet is John David Burton.

Tony Campolo: "He articulates feelings that have been too deep for some of us to utter."

Sample: "I cannot love you as you wish, nor take the plunge into you you open up to me...There is a larger, unknown world I have to know and to that world I go, alone."

Peggy Campolo: "Succinct, yet hauntingly beautiful. An illuminating journey into the masculine mind and soul."

Sample: "Two nice ladies, scolding me, cry 'Heresy!' because they see in my poetry reference to sex. It is as curious as it can be that their husbands never say harsh words to me. A wise, old friend explains it to me. 'John, you see, the trouble is that in those families the women wear the pants.' Could he be right? Is there a chance that these nice ladies want me at bay because their husbands too seldom say, 'Dear, take off your pants?'"

Bruce Larson: "Your poetry is a traveling deep."

Sample: "I am hungry to be seeing where the mountains meet the sea, wondering to find if there be aught in me of joy to come alive at an offering of beauty."

Tom Gillespie: "Poetry that is both earthy and spiritual, practical and profound, ordinary and exotic."

Sample: "She is my friend. Another time, another place, were ours the choice, we might have married or at least have gone to bed together. Instead, in this time and place we agree on a line past which we will not go, our selfish choice not to settle for sex per se at the cost of love let go."

Again, Tony Campolo: "When John David left seminary to become pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Mt. Holly, New Jersey, one of his classmates told him, 'That's not a very prestigious church and, if you go there, nobody will ever know where you are or hear about you again.' To that he answered, 'God will know where I am and the only applause I need comes from a single pair of nail pierced hands.'"

Sample: "She is widowed now. Her husband was my friend. Not long ago, he died, leaving a lonesome place against her sky and mine...One day she said, 'I need someone to touch who will touch me and let me know that I am alive.' Now, when I see her, I kiss her full upon the lips instead of proper peck on cheek, and hold her close and give her a gentle slap upon her butt, not because I mean to go to bed with her just now, but because I hear her say, 'I need someone to touch who will touch me and let me know that I am alive.'"

Me: "A rare coupling of clarity, candor, wisdom, and gentleness."

Sample: "Those related to Another are related to each other. 'Apart in time,' the theorem says. There is another word, believed with heart's repeated beat: 'We shall meet.'"

He went home to Jesus in 2004 about a week after being hospitalized with colon cancer.

His obit said he was a pastor, professor, and chaplain.


Relatively famous for a cleric.

But I will always remember two thoughts that keep transforming my life and ministry.

First: "Years of school prompt my distrust of and disinterest in the academic."

It remains the best commentary of 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 - an etiological hint to the rise and fall of mainline Christianity.

Second: "Some readers may see an inconsistency in my clergy vocation and what is written on these pages...Other readers may be sensitive to the sexuality/sensuality of the poems. Sex happens to be one arena where love, hate, grief, and joy are expressed...My fantasy is that what I write, as part of what I do, may prompt us to be real, true in the sense implied by the centurion, Caesar's man at God's event or, perhaps, God's man at Caesar's event."

A friend does not understand KDs.

Hence, he will not go to to buy some of my favorite poet's books.

If I have to explain that, you've probably skipped this section already.

Some people like to remain ignorant.


That has nothing to do with academics; or as another mentor, John Robertson, warned me as a seminary intern in Belvidere, New Jersey, "Don't separate yourself from God and people by degrees."



Only a few years removed from the ivy league, the real nurturing of my call began in New Jersey with patient elders who taught me how to be their pastor.

It had little to do with what I had "learned" in college, seminary, Geneva, Rome, or Heidelberg.

They said, in effect, "We don't care how much you know as much as wanting to know how much you care."

"Graduate" school began when Pastor Leroy showed up to preach at the invitation of "my session" that actually cared about real meat for body and soul.

He had served a few decades in the joint, "got saved in there" (his words), and was determined to "save others" (his words).

He had no degrees.

Geez, he didn't have a high school diploma.

He butchered Elizabethan English.

His sermons weren't even close to three perceivable points ending with a pretty poem in keeping with Sunday's pretended proprieties.

But when he called people to the chancel steps to give their lives to Jesus so He could give life to them...

Mainliners have the most educated clergy on the planet.

Mainline denominations are being flushed quicker than poop through a goose as new churches emerge with "leaders" whose only qualification seems to be a passion to love Jesus by loving like Jesus.

Dang, they don't even know the difference between Calvin and...

They don't care about them.

They care about Him.

Their "emerging" churches are called naive, superficial, Christianity Lite, lacking credentials, and...

They gather in storefronts, warehouses, school auditoriums, converted malls, and...

They don't wear vestments, print bulletins, keep membership rolls, or "dress up" for worship.

And, unlike mainliners who are quick to diss 'em, they ignore mainliners and act like we don't even exist.

I guess that's what happens when lampstands are removed.


Jim and Tammy.

You remember them.

I visited their playground near Charlotte.

I was repulsed by their confusing theology, homiletics, liturgy, lack of polity, and...

I was stunned by their color, class, and cultural diversity that mainliners advocate yet hardly incarnate.

So when Jimmy fell for Jessica, mainliners joshed and joked and exclaimed, "Told ya so..."

But after one particularly green-eyed presbyter growled with glee in condemning 'em as if that somehow redeemed our failures to honor Jesus with enthusiasm and without equivocation according to Holy Scripture, I could not contain my outburst: "Well, they may be a little funky; but they've led more people to Jesus than any Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, or the like that I've ever seen."

I think that ended any hopes of me ever becoming moderator of anything in the mainline.


While pastor of a predominantly black church in Ohio, I complained, "Mrs. ___ hates me because I'm white."

A black judge said, "She's just ignorant!"

Just like some people who think knowledge and wisdom can be attained by collecting papers to hang on walls.

Wait a second.

I want to check something.

I'm back.

I just went over to my papers hanging on the wall to impress people who come to my study.

They're covered with dust.

Kung: "The Church's agenda is to discover what is permanent - originally meant, before it was covered with the dust and debris of two thousand years...This is not another gospel, but the same ancient gospel rediscovered for today!"

That's what Burton tried to do in his poetry.

That's what I should have picked up from Leroy.

That was Robertson's warning.

That's why churches are emerging while the mainline is dying.



Blessings and Love!

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