Monthly Archives: September 2013

Fighting Besides Angels and Archangels

92913wordle

Biblical Text: Daniel 10:10-14, 12:1-3 Revelation 12:7-12, Luke 20:17-20 (Appointed texts for St. Michael and All Angels
Full Sermon Draft

The texts are apocalyptic. The day is a rarely celebrated Festival of the church. The last time it might have crossed out consciousness is 2002 – the last time September 29th was on a Sunday. What do these things have to say to us?

I’ve got three points:
1) “Worlds” rise and fall, are born and die. We can mark the time, and toward the dying phase that is what we do because we are avoiding the all too apparent appointed time. The apocalyptic is give to God’s people to capture that sense of a world ending and at the same time remind us that the new creation is just as much God’s as the old. The apocalyptic is solely meant to comfort God’s people. He’s got it all in his hands.

2) The instanced of dying and rising, from our personal experiences all the way to the death of civilizations (and the feelings of exile), are portents of the final rising. On that final day all will rise one last time. A people confident of such can celebrate in the midst of death, and can fast or just mark time when the world is decadently feasting.

3) Sometimes seduced by the utilitarian and material world that has flattened everything we forget where our real strength comes from. We can pound our heads against material walls when the true war is spiritual. Our only true spiritual weapon is prayer. The angels of God, as they tell Daniel, are dispatched by the word through prayer.

Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber – A Book Review

Pastrix Book CoverFirst the who, what, where and why facts. The author of Pastrix, Nadia Bolz-Weber, is an ELCA pastor at a church plant in Colorado called House for All Sinners and Saints. You could say she is a second career minister if you accept a prodigal life as a first career. The cover photo gives you the arm tats and the general ancient-future vibe by using the illuminated bible artwork. Pastor Bolz-Weber and her congregation are an interesting blend of that no longer useful word emergent and liturgical churches. She planted this congregation about the same time I arrived at St. Mark’s and started with roughly the same number in worship on an average Sunday. Just that horrible comparable intersection makes the book necessary reading for me; we are sharing a path of building congregations. The other portion that makes the book, for me at least, necessary reading is that when I read or hear her preaching, I hear many of the same Lutheran-ish concepts. I can hear the gospel and find myself saying Amen. Hearing the gospel as clearly as I can from her preaching is not an everyday thing. And yet she and I would not see eye-to-eye on many things. And that would not, at least from my viewpoint, be caused by general political ideology. (She is a creature of the left, and I am in general a man of the right). We would seem to share the same low anthropology and high Christology that is a reformation and Lutheran must. (One political comment, I don’t know how you can be of the left and hold a reformation anthropology. Being progressive would seem to mean that you think we can progress. The low anthropology of the reformation would say back – “no, you are a sinner, you may change the sins you indulge, but still the same”. My politics of the right really starts from that point; it is a politics of managing the crooked timber which in general means creating as many break-walls as possible. My political nightmare is large scale uniformity which always ends in large scale tyranny and misery.) Back to the book, sharing that theology, I was hoping to see how she makes it work in a completely different way. I wanted to be able to write a review that was more glowing. Instead I have that quizzical and queasy feeling when people are using important words with strangely different definitions.

There are three points that stuck out to me a stumbling blocks or scandals to just shouting Amen at the end. First, while Pastor Bolz-Weber is able to say some nice things about people like her parents or like the LCMS, she seems oblivious to the difference in how she treats them verses how they treat her. She almost always goes back to “beating the fundy” to maintain her differentiation, while they display love. Stringing a couple of such situations together.

I knew that I had to get out. I was a strong, smart and smart-mouthed girl, and the church I was raised in had no place for that kind of thing even though they loved me. (loc 170)… Church, for all its faults, was the only place outside of my own home where people didn’t gawk at me or make fun of me. I could go to church and be greeted with my actual name and not a taunt. I could go to church and be part of the youth group. I could go to church and no one stared (loc 278)… But I soon learned that there was actually a whole world of Christians who take Matthew 25 seriously, who believe that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the sick, we do so to Jesus’ own self. They weren’t magical fantasy creatures, they were just a kind of Christian I had never heard of. (loc 487)

It goes on like that throughout the whole book. What she gives and acknowledges with one hand she punches and takes back with the other. What she says she wants to be, her parents are – welcoming the stranger, even when the stranger is your own little girl. When she actually says something that offends her erstwhile political allies, it is mean old LCMS’er Chris Rosebrough who calls and who flat out stops the attacks and calls her friend. While she is worried about hurts thousands of miles away that we can’t really do anything about, it is “the mean people” who love what is given to them. That is one Lutheran concept that Pastor Bolz-Weber did not pick up. What is our vocation? Do what is in front of us.

The second item, and the queasiest I got, circled around her pastoral and liturgical reactions to a transgendered parishioner. What Pastor Bolz-Weber did you would not find even in the ELCA agenda book (at least not yet). They set up a “shrine to himself as a girl (loc 1430)” which is populated with pictures of this person as a young child in dresses and pigtail and they put a candle in the middle “which caused the (given) name to move and change hue”. “We decided that at Baptism of our Lord Sunday, we would include within the liturgy a naming rite. Mary would become Asher in the midst of a liturgy where Jesus was named “Son” and “Beloved (loc 1435).””

My first reaction here was simply pagan, the setting up a shrine to our ancestors but in our narcissistic age the shrine becomes to ourselves and how we want to mold ourselves. Turning more theological I thought about the day they chose. When Jesus was baptized what he does is two-fold. First he is declaring his solidarity with sinners, with us. Jesus stands under those waters of repentance not needing them, but taking them for us. The second thing he does is declare his own blessing on the incarnation. It is speculation to think about those 30 silent years, but here in Jordan’s waters Jesus declares that he is messiah. This body, this incarnation, is God standing with and for His people. The Father affirms this with the voice from heaven – “This is my son” – and the Spirit descends as a grant of truth. This created liturgical rite denies the incarnation. The body that was created for this child of God would be denied. That beautiful name, Mary, would be obliterated. It is somewhat surprising that the written name wasn’t burned in the candle. Mary to Asher or Mary to Ash. Instead of following Jesus and being incarnations, God’s creation is denied and the blessings declared on it are appropriated for our own higher spiritual conception.

In what was one of the largest discordant notes, Pastor Balz-Weber first does what we see in the first point. She bashes the fundies. Mary/Asher came from the same Church of Christ tradition as she. First bash, “not unlike soldiers who survived the same bloody battle”. Attempting to live the Christian life, Mary/Asher saw a “Christian” therapist who instead of following repentance and absolution as many as 70 * 7 (i.e. infinite), prescribes behavioral therapy – when you have homosexual thoughts snap yourself with a rubber band. Aristotle might agree with such therapy, but Chrsitian? No way. After bashing the silly fundamentalists, she turns to justifying by interpreting the lives of Paul and Luther. Her interpretation of Paul:

And then he went from Saul to Paul, from being the best at being a Jew to being the best at being a Christian. Only, at some point he realized that no one could really pull that off. That’s when Paul finally understood grace. (Loc 1444)

As far as I can read Galatians and Acts that pretty much gets everything backward. Paul insists that he understands grace because of his Damascus Road vision of the living Christ. Paul tells the story himself in Galatians 1:11-2:2. Paul would never claim to be a “super-christian” as she says, although he would say things like follow me as I follow Christ much later than Galatians. She takes a true inner change – the meeting of the living Christ where everything that came before is worthless – and applies it to an outer change (female to male) so that the person feels like who they have always been. Likewise she appropriates the Luther story as “standing up to the angry vengeful God from the church”. As far as I can tell, the grace on offer to Mary/Asher was: you are who you feel you are, stay who you feel you are, and God will complete it. That is scarily close to the medieval church’s, “do what you can and buy the indulgence and trust the saints”. The dependence upon God’s action is the gospel, but the proclamation to just be what you think yourself to be is of this world.

And that brings me to what I might call the third idol in the book. Pastor Bolz-Weber consistently and rightly sees that she falls in love with an image of herself. The one she keeps returning to is the romantic idea of dying young. She is in love with the idea of herself as a “bad-ass”. This is something that she has recognized and worked on. Toward the end of the memoir she states what might be the mission statement of House for All Sinners and Saints. If it is not the formal one, it is a guiding idea. “When one of the main messages of the church is that Jesus bids you come and die (die to self, die to your old ideas, die to self-reliance), people don’t tend to line the block for that shit.” The problem with that is I never actually see her pastoring her people in that way. She is constantly bleeding for people far away – Haiti, New Orleans. She is constantly patting herself on the back for her welcoming the stranger. She herself has experience a dying and a rising – alcoholism, her dreams of what HFASS is and should be (her story of “rally day” is one that pierces me). But she never proclaims this to “her people”. She doesn’t say to poor Mary that maybe your conception of yourself as a man is what needs to die, and you will struggle with that your entire life, unless God agrees to remove the thorn. She wants to say that HFASS is “a place where difficult truths can be spoken and everyone is welcome, and where we pray for each other (loc 604)”, but “The Bible is simply the cradle that holds Christ. Anything in the Bible that does not hold up to the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply does not have the same authority (loc 542).” That is an opening not only for denying the difficult truth, but for the substitution of lies in the form of truth. She says she believes in portents but only in retrospect (loc 669), but her life is full of portents that she still doesn’t get. Her parents’ constant love and that of all those evil bad benighted fundies. Pastor Bolz-Weber still has an image of herself she is in love with. It is one shared by most of her church as the real loving ones and not those hateful sectarians. The trouble is that it’s an idol. As she herself says, “every single time I die to something—my notions of my own specialness, my plans and desires for something to be a very particular way—every single time I fight it and yet every single time I discover more life and more freedom than if I had gotten what I wanted (loc 1987).”

Even given those serious troubles, I can still hear the gospel through Pastor Bolz-Weber. And I think it might go back to her calling story. “It was long before I went to seminary and got ordained, but doing PJ’s funeral—as his only “religious” friend—was the first time I realized that God was calling me to be a pastor to my people. (Loc 1736).” What I must confront is the experience of hearing the gospel in a place that is exceedingly heterodox. We are not privy to the counsels of the most high. While the actions might grate and the bible be dismissed and all kinds of error not only accepted by endorsed, that might be as close to the gospel as “her people” can get. And Jesus might have said, “it’s enough”. And as much as I could be like Peter complaining pointing at John – “what about him”, the answer is that is none of my business, work your field. And, Love covers a multitude. If there is one thing you can’t deny, it is that Pastor Bolz-Weber loves “her people”. Yes, I wish she loved them enough to share a little more truth, but she is sharing what she knows. And we must wrestle with the fact that it sounds like the gospel.

Learning to Read in Submission to the Word

92213wordle

Full Sermon Draft

This is my attempt to read or make sense of what might be the hardest batch of text in the lectionary. The three texts for the Day were Amos 8:4-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-15 and Luke 16:1-15. It is days like today that a lectionary is actually built for and why you follow it. There is no way and sane preacher would choose these texts to preach from today. And in all truthfulness you would probably not even read two out of three from the lectern because just reading them raised blood pressure.

The sustained argument throughout this sermon is that what raises blood pressure (or just baffles) is not the texts themselves, but what we import into the texts in reading. The problem is that we have trouble reading the Bible. Not that we can’t read, but we have not developed the habits of mind and heart that go to understanding. The foremost of those habits is reading the word in submission to the word. That means a bunch of different things, but I primarily think about it on two lines. First, scripture interprets scripture; second, we give the word the benefit of the doubt. We assume that it is right and can be made clear if we are willing to understand. Part of making it clear is understanding the context of the writing, social context and the larger purpose of the book.

So, as I started with, this is my attempt to publicly read, or interpret for modern ears. To come at these hard texts with proper habits of mind and heart.

A Little Web Project – Pastrix

I put up a couple of posts ago an interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber and mentioned that she gets it in a deep way. Somewhere around the 40th minute of that NPR/On Being interview is really what I was talking about. This is a link to another interview where she says something similar. Just in case you didn’t watch that hour before.

Is there a chance of being too vulnerable, though?

I only preach from my scars, not my wounds. I don’t mind putting my stuff out there. It doesn’t bother me, but if I do that with a wound and my parishioners respond by wanting to bring me bandages, so to speak, I have failed. Then it is about me.

A lot of preachers from previous generations were taught not to talk about themselves in sermons because “it’s not about you.” Well, nobody wants to hear about your addiction to internet pornography from the pulpit because that makes them uncomfortable in a way that’s not going to illuminate the gospel, it’s only going to point to you. I’m very careful about that.

If I’m going to reveal something about myself in a sermon—which I almost always do—the purpose has to be to show the people how much in need of God’s grace we are. If you aren’t convicted by something how are you ever driven to the foot of the cross? If nothing can convict me, if I’m great and I have all of my shit together then we just leave Jesus idling in his van on the corner.

Beyond her understanding of the gospel, the reason I said I’d trust mom & dad with her is that. She has an understanding of the office and preaching. If you are telling a story about yourself, it is probably going to make you look bad. The preacher points to Christ. Preaching is not therapy, something she says in that interview, what she means by scars and not wounds, because therapy is about making you feel better about yourself. Preaching is about making you feel like crap about yourself, but over-joyed at what Christ is doing with you anyway. This clip is a perfect example of the conflict of therapy and preaching. Jesse needed a preacher and a call to repentance. Something that within that show he never really got. He had chances, but not blunt chances.

Anyway, the web project is reading Bolz-Weber’s book and reacting to it. Right now I’m about three chapters in, so I figure I’ll start next week.

End of Christendom & The New Church

There is an infographic below that I want to spend a few words thinking through (Source: Barna).

The question at the top is the important/not important question. Is church attendance important or not. Roughly 20% of millenials say yes. What I would say is that the millenials, compared to previous generations currently, are being truthful. Previous generations say yes at higher rates, but about 20% act in accord with answers. And that comes out in the next graphs. When asked have you been to church (just once) in the past 6 months – 52% of millenials said no, while 47% of all American’s said no. In actual life there is not much difference between the millenials and older Americans.

But the really fascinating bit of the infographic is the answer to why did you attend and why didn’t you attend. Not fascinating as in surprising, but fascinating as the answers align with theological expectation.

Why attend said: To be closer to God, to learn more about God and the church is the hands and feet of God in the world. This is 100% the teaching of the church. God has promised to be present in that gathering, and he is present in the sacrament. You want to be closer to God? Attend to Word and Sacrament. One of the missions of the church is teaching everything I have commanded you (Matt 28:18-20), so learning more about God takes place in that community. That also makes sense because if you want to learn more about something, go to where it is at. And the last answer is exactly the purpose of the church. We are the body of Christ in a sin sick world. Those who attend get it.

The why not attend said: church is not personally relevant, find God elsewhere, and teach myself what I need to know. Again this is exactly what the church’s theology would expect. First is the degree of narcissism, not personally relevant and I am self-sufficient. If you are not a sinner or lost, you have no need of grace. You will not find the church relevant is you find yourself ok. Man has always found god elsewhere and has always longed to find god on their own terms. The problem is that God has decreed where he is to be found – in the proclamation of Jesus Christ – and rarely grants personal revelations. When you think you’ve found god outside of the church, you’ve probably found an idol. You’ve actually probably found yourself posing as an idol, but it could be something else.

Jesus came to find the lost, bind the broken and eat with sinners. As long as you think you are relatively healthy, you won’t need that. And huge sections – a majority of the American public – thinks they are just fine. Now the Christian knows they are lost. And as the body of Christ offer a hand and a roadmap – come join me brother. But we shouldn’t expect an immediate answer. In fact, since what is probably needed first is a stark confrontation with the law that shows our shortcomings, we should probably expect to be despised first. The old self-sufficient man must die for the new man to arise.

The list of what has made your faith grow is just the classic Christian life: prayer, study and trial (oratio, meditatio, and tentatio). God is faithful, even when we are not.

The title for this post, and the deeper question of this survey, I would think is aligning the church’s actions with the external context. In Christendom, that time when you could assume the everyone was “christian”, the church focused on gospel alone and the shepherding of culture. In exile, law and gospel are necessary and the church has no claim on culture but is purely counter-cultural. There are times for gathering stones, and times to cast away.

Millenials_Infographic_Slice1_FINAL

Which Way Out of the Desert

91513wordle

Full Sermon Draft

Biblical Text: Luke 15:1-10

These are both parables of prodigal grace and repentance. Dogmatically this is one of those areas where you are forced to nod your head yes to a couple of things in contradiction. It is all grace. The shepherd calls and carries home. If so, then why repent? State of grace, oh happy condition, sin as a please and still have remission. But it is grace. Repentance is the first step of the Kingdom. If that is the case, then why do I need grace? I just do the work of repentance. But that requires grace. Aquinas had it all worked out. Unfortunately Aquinas was out of favor intellectually when Luther came around. But that is neither here nor there.

My take is that these texts set in their context are suppose to be funny. They are absurd in a way that illuminates both our lost condition and the prodigal nature of grace. You have to get the joke, you have to accept the premise of grace, for the rest to make sense. But once you accept he premise it is one of those “oh, crap” moments. I was lost, but now I’m found. Grace comes with a hidden imperative. Home is that way. Go joyfully.

Exercising the Office

I’m an LCMS pastor, so there are a good many things that we would not agree on. That said, the beating core of the faith and the office this woman gets. If Mom & Dad were looking for a minister in her area, I’d be hard pressed to not say go there…

Seeing the Underside and Seeing God: Nadia Bolz-Weber with Krista Tippett at the Wild Goose Festival from On Being on Vimeo.

Inequality & Spirituality

Here is NPR with economist Tyler Cowen on his new book, Average is Over. The core of Cowen’s thesis is that we have become used to looking at things like the average or median wage to gauge the economy. In post-WW2 USA, and really in the US for most of its experience, the economy (GDP) grew and everyone got richer. Labor was always scarce, there was always the frontier, the competition was lying in smoking ruins allowing monopoly-like cartels that could share the wealth. All that is over. Outsized returns are now accruing to the 1% alone. Because of data tracking, which is really just getting started, we will identify the contributors easier. If you are talented it will become easier to get real rich. If you are not, well, robots and computers are going to replace you. The end result is increasing financial inequality. Not the 1% and the 99%, but to Cowan the 15% and the 85%.

There are two things that Cowen completely misses. Actually I don’t think he misses them so much as dismisses them as not credible. First, his explanation of happiness for a large group not in the 15%:

“Imagine a very large bohemian class of the sort that say, lives in parts of Brooklyn,” Cowen explains. “… It will be culturally upper or upper-middle class, but there will be the income of lower-middle class. They may have lives that are quite happy and rewarding, but they may not have a lot of savings. There will be a certain fragility to this existence.”

What does he mean by this? Well, I’ll take a stab. What he means is a class of poor enlightenment liberals. Let’s get even more explicit. A group that will largely practice self-restraint and late couple-pairing to raise their one child, but has no problem with: no-attachment sex, unlimited abortion, no-fault divorce and recreational drugs. Because they will have pseudo-prestigious (not real prestigious or they would be in the 15%) credentials they will be able to separate themselves from the riff-raff. They will socially amplify the difference by culturally associating with things the opposite of Monster Truck Rallies, say Shakespeare in the Park, which will be funded by a grant from the NEA in conjunction with the ABC foundation.

The first thing that Cowen misses is that we’ve seen that world before many times. A real power upper-crust, a cultural power broader based club like group with exclusionary behaviors and markers, and the people of the land. In the New Testament that equates to the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees and the crowds. What was the big problem with Jesus? He challenged and made fun of the Pharisees pseudo-prestigious markers. He ate with tax collectors and sinners – the equivalent of going to a monster truck rally. What eventually breaks out in such a world is Mary’s Magnificat – “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy (Luke 1:51-54).” That has happened many times.

The second thing that Cowen misses or discounts to nothing is the Spiritual understanding of prior American generations. Is it a co-incidence that great inequality is emerging at the same general time of a great falling away from Christian teaching among the real ruling class? Cowen is an economist and it makes sense to explain to concentration as economic rationality. Talented people are more in demand, so their pay has become outsized. That is part of the happy justification for actually using position to extract the rents – I deserve it, I’m a meritocrat. Did not previous generations have such justifications? (The answer is yes). Sometimes they acted on them, but in the west they were typically bounded by Christian teaching if just the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) or the Rich Man and his barns (Luke 12:13-21).

In a world oppressed by the rich and the oral law (your credit score record combined with all that big data), where the bread and circuses have lost their enchantment but we continue to rut around anyway because that is all there it, where society has become highly segmented class wise – hear this proclamation: Christ has come to set you free. There is neither Harvard nor University of Michigan, Temp employee nor Junior exec, beta-bohemian or alpha-elite. For you are all one in Jesus Christ. In Christ you are heirs. Through the Spirit you can live a life not of passing moments like envy and drunkeness and orgies and the like, but of of love, joy, peace, self-control. Because Christ has set you free.

Think that might preach?

The Trouble With Spirituality

Every once in a while you run across one of those article that makes you feel like Kurtz – “The Horror, The Horror”. Or on a more modest scale simply say, “how in the world did this person allow this to be published in their own names?!?”

The Atlantic (The Atlantic?!?) published this one in the health(?!?) section. The headline and most of the article are about just how much it costs “to find God” recounting from the author’s life experience of everything from yoga to spirituality retreats. The last paragraph captures the horror for me…

But in the end, shouldn’t the cost of finding God be priceless? As in, free? Of course. But I’m not paying to find God. I’m paying to remove the obstacles to finding God, or universal energy, or however you define the thing we’re all seeking. I know I don’t need my Mastercard to find it, but it sure can open the doors to places and things that help me explore myself and the meaning of my existence.

It is hard to know where to start, but I’ll go to that last line – “…open doors…that help me explore myself and the meaning of my existence.” That right there is the trouble with spirituality as currently defined by the culture at large. It is a code word for narcissism. The gospel would say to such a person – “you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily (Luke 9:23).” It would also say, “whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it (Luke 17:33).” Down at the bedrock of the gospel is the negation of the author’s private quest. She wants to find the meaning in her existence. The truth is that our existence is meaningless, unless built on the foundation of Christ. Only what is built on Christ will last.

And you could hear that for free every Sunday and sometimes the days in between. If you have ears to hear. But to those who have, more will be given, to those who have not, even what they have will be taken away. (Luke 8:18, 19:26).

Getting Added to the Dow

If they hear about the stock market at all, most people hear the quote of the Dow – the Dow Jones Industrial Average – which is a straight-up average of 30 representative stocks. Nobody would make such a composite today. The S&P 500 is a weighted average which means the bigger companies get more weight. Also 500 stocks are more representative than 30. But those two averages correspond something like 99% of the time, so the Dow isn’t as bad as all that. Every now and then the components of the Dow get changed. A dowdy company, like this year’s Bank of America, or just plain daft ones, like Bethlehem Steel or Kodak, that lost their way and are no longer icons – they get unceremoniously dropped. And new behemoths of American greatness get added.

Here is the WSJ on the most recent round with a great little interactive chart of the subtractions and additions over the last three decades. This year, being let go are Alcoa, HP and Bank of America. The tech-phase is over. The Dow still contains: Cisco, Intel, IBM and Microsoft. HP? Sorry, just a second tier maker of declining gadgets. Of course looking at those 4 remaining techs, how long until Microsoft gets the boot? Alcoa is somewhat surprising, but I guess the Dow said Exxon Mobil is enough of raw materials for 30 companies. When Charles Dow put together his first list of 12 companies, 11 of 12 were in or close to the extraction and delivery business. GE was the only one that might have been a step away, but back then, it was about lighting and wires, so still rather close. The changes a century brings. And poor BoA; always a bridesmaid and never a bride. Well, they used to be groom I guess when they were gobbling up smaller banks, but you can’t help but smirk at the Wall Street sneer as they kick the country bumpkin bank out to add Goldman Sachs. I’m pretty sure that GS is the modern day incarnation of the whore of Babylon (Rev 17:5), but they do it with such NY style. Even the Devil gets his due. When St. John saw the great whore – even he marveled (Rev 17:6). Not last, at least by the name of the winged goddess victory, Nike. The old fairy tale of the cobbler and elves has the elves making such great shoes that the cobbler becomes rich. And he repays the elves with some new clothes. Does Nike at least give some nice clothes to their sweat shops? Probably not, because Nike is not sold on the quality of the shoes which wear out in about 1 year. The secret Nike elves are at work on Madison avenue turning a $2 item into something gang-bangers will kill over. And everyone knows that the MadMen are snappy dressers.

So what does a Pastor have doing commenting on the Dow? Well, I wasn’t always a pastor and the MBA in me still likes this stuff. But I guess I would say something similar to why did St. Paul use so many sports analogies (run the race, the winners crown, train the body, and more)? How we work and how we play are jumping off points to talk the spiritual life. Paul pointed at the best, the winners of the race, and said they all do the training but only one gets the crown. (1 Cor 9:24-25) They do that for something that perishes. Shouldn’t we likewise run for the imperishable? Those Dow companies work quarter by quarter, “to make the quarter” a common phrase, just to go back and do it again. And the crown is some cash and a moments notice. The gold-watches went away a long time ago. They build statues in front of buildings, that 20 years from now, if they are not Woolworth (dumped from the Dow in 1997), the people entering will pause a second and ask “Who was Thomas Watson?” In the Spiritual life our names are added to the Book of Life. We are waiting for the revealing of the eternal weight of glory and not a bronze statue. And in the case of Goldman Sachs – Jesus did say something about learning that when in the midst of wolves be as wise as serpents. (Matt 10:16).