Faith Mutters Visits YouTube

After getting a little feedback from Facebook friends (are they to really be trusted?), I decided to record “Faith Mutters” ala YouTube for a few months. I’ll do it weekly. But once posted, you can share your insights and dismay any time you want. Note: please ignore my eyebrows. One of my Facebookers already mentioned I talk too much with seesawing brows. I’ll work on it. (But now you’ll stare at ’em too.)

Why do this? Vanity? No, not with my unkempt hair and cheap production values. Humor? Well, maybe sometimes you’ll laugh with me…or at least laugh at me. Hey, I can’t dance, so why not try this foolishness?

I did have tough decisions.

Should I ask my dog to join me…after all, when I walk Hannah people always pay more attention to her than me. But, she declined. Said something about taking a nap.

Should I wear nice clothes, like one of those snazzy politicians-wear-‘em blue shirts with a power red tie? Naw…even if I wanted to, I can’t afford new clothes. I’m a pastor on leave-of-salary, ya know.

And how about that camera adding 10 pounds and gray hair? Shocked me! It might be hard to believe I look like George Clooney in person, but that’s the personal price of trying YouTube.

Here’s the “Introduction…”

Here’s my first official “Faith Mutters…”

Wit With Ness Or Less

Matthew 22:15-22 – The 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for October 16, 2011

“Tell us then, what do you think, is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor…” (Matthew 22:17)

My wife and I were on our morning walk, the dog trotting near us, when I asked, “What housecleaning should we do today?”

You know the drill. Friends were expected for a visit. It’s the bad news/good news about guests: drats we have to tidy up, but it’s an incentive to tackle neglected chores.

By asking the question, by putting the obvious on the table first, I thought myself clever. Why? Like all right-thinking and intelligent human beings, I can’t stand cleaning. Nonetheless, some work must be done and I figured—‘cuz I’m also sneaky—asking her to list possible chores “first” allowed me a chance to nab the least-worst items on our impending list of tasks. In other words, my lovely wife would suggest priorities and I’d claim the easiest ones.

I asked my question. We strolled along the sidewalk. The dog sniffed a tree as if a dogsled running the Iditarod took a break around its trunk.

“Well,” she answered, “what do you think are the most important ones?”

Gotcha. A question with a question. My wife does that. A lot. She’s a teacher—and I think a darn good one, though I’m biased—and her teaching style includes questions for her students. She wants them to think, wonder and grow. She avoids lecturing and encourages discussion. And she brings her work home!

Some religious leaders in Jesus’ day famously approached him, infamously scheming to trick him into a dangerous mistake, and wondered if it’s “…lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” Continue reading →

X is for . . .


An X appears on a map to tell you where you want to go. Mayhaps an olde pirate map indicates a buried treasure’s location with an “X.” Off you sail, in search of gold at the end of a journey.

Or an X appears on a map to let you know where you are. You arrive at a sprawling shopping mall and search a map display to find your goal . . . say the jewelry store with a great sale on the perfect gift for your spouse. X declares your location and gives you a sense of how to get to the south end of the second level near the food court. Off you go, knowing where you started your first steps.

Don’t we wish that an X would clearly mark a spot of where we are in our faith? Or, better still, where God may desire us to head for? If only I could reach X, things would be better. When Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief became popular in the 1970s, I recall teaching classes based on her groundbreaking work. Many easily understood and appreciated her research about denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But I frequently cautioned people that there was no logical, predictable passage from one “stage” to another. Persons wanted to know exactly where they were going or where they had come from. As valid as Kübler-Ross’ stages are 40+ years after the publication of DEATH AND DYING, none of them ever becomes an X Marks The Spot.

Putting an X on a map is easy. But an X doesn’t work well in the topography of the soul.