No Direction Home

After a fairly boring but peaceful morning, and for someone like myself, boring is definitely something to enjoy every once in a while as a reminder that there is a normal life to enjoy that is mundane but pleasantly so, I managed to make my trip to the sports day more difficult on myself than was necessary. Several times in a row I managed to turn too soon when merely continuing on the same way for a little longer would have gotten me to my destination far sooner. In the course of my wandering, I ended up finding extra parking to the Gig Harbor High School, driving through that small town’s downtown, and even finding my way driving past a state prison where it was illegal to take photographs. I ended up driving the entire length of the street where my destination was located during the course of the day, which is something I found quite remarkable. Although I was not nearly as early as I wanted to be, the extra wandering was not wasted, as it managed to pay off during the course of the afternoon, as it gave me the knowledge to speak wisely about the geography of the town, since I had seen so much of it and its hinterland during the course of the morning while amiably wandering.

It was once I arrived in the gym, though, that the trouble began. The trouble was not in the sports themselves. Though I would have preferred there being volleyball to play, and though I had not played either dodge ball or kickball in many years, I would like to say that my athletic play was at least competent, and not disastrous. It struck me as more than a little irritating that the gentlemen who were running the games seemed to be so arbitrary and inconsistent in their enforcement of rules and in their behavior, as it made it difficult to know what they were going to say about any particular situation from one play to another. I dislike such inconsistency myself, one reason I tend to spell out, in often painful detail, the sort of standards I seek to follow, and why I am such a creature of habit. Having a just and consistent standard of behavior precedes the demonstration of mercy, for mercy depends on their being a fair standard that is not being enforced to its full severity, rather than merely being prejudice and arbitrary judgment.

At lunch I found a fairly quiet place where I could participate in the conversation around me when I wanted but where I wasn’t in the center of everything, and where I could answer blog comments and keep track of stats as well without being rude. Nevertheless, it was a very odd lunch. For one, I ended up showing some practical fruits in my desire to understand the genealogies of others, in talking to one of the young men from my congregation who was sitting next to me and who had met the second person who thought he looked like a George, even though that’s not his name. while I was eating and chatting, I saw the local pastor of the congregation where this weekend’s event was held, and he circled around in a predatory fashion that led me to think that he wanted to talk to me and that I wasn’t likely to want to hear what he had to say. Unlike some of the people who tend to circle or hover, he actually did have communication in mind [1]. His communication was particularly unwelcome in that he seemed to think of himself as a shepherd who thought it necessary to protect me from dangerous and radical ideas such as the book of Job being an example of a ‘covenantal lawsuit,’ which was a part of the rather free ranging and random conversation last night that he had tried ineffectively to redirect, and where he apparently felt insecure that I was speaking about words and concepts that he had apparently never heard in his fifty years as a minister and during his time at Ambassador College. His ignorance would have been easier to deal with had he been less aggressive about it and been less of an insecure bully about it. That said, I figured that rather than merely remain offended by it, that it would be better for me to propose a way of resolving such a problem to mutual satisfaction [2]. I thought his desire to discuss such a matter in a public place, as well as his incorrect aspersions on my own character were deserving of a public apology for his public offense.

Shortly after this, where it must have been fairly visible that I was rather irritated at being attacked by someone who sought to use their position because they did not have a firm grasp of knowledge to engage in a discussion, one of my “adopted sisters” (it’s a long story) invited me to a tour of Gig Harbor along with a couple of young ladies, and it ended up being an enjoyable way to spend the day. I ended up buying a few books as future reading, as I am known to do from time to time, including a memoir of Vladimir Nabokov, a collection of essays from C.S. Lewis on theology and ethics, a satirical novel by Evelyn Waugh (who was actually a guy, who at one time was married to a woman named Evelyn, which must have been very confusing), along with a book on Abraham Lincoln and leadership. I look forward to reading those at some point, given that I have many books to read and not so much time sometimes. There was walking, some jumping on rocks, some reading of historical plaques, and all in all it was a pleasant way to spend an hour. I was able to help it go more pleasant by knowing the geography of the area and how to get there and back to the school again in a timely fashion. It was as rare case when being lost ended up not being such a bad thing after all. If only we were so fortunate every time we got lost or felt unsure of where we were going and what we were doing.

[1] See, for example:

[2] As a man who is somewhat prickly about honor and very concerned in protecting my own dignity and reputation from people who lack a clue about the seriousness of such matters to me, I viewed his behavior as being a challenge from one gentleman to another where to let it pass without response would be to accept its justice, which it was by no means worthy of. The minister in question expressed that he had never heard of Job’s contention with God being viewed as a covenental lawsuit, and as it was his opinion that such language must have come from outside sources, that it was therefore on those grounds a dangerous heresy that must be addressed. Therefore, I propose as a way of answering this objection a very simple two-part test. The first part of the test is whether this language has been used in sermons, articles, and official literature within the Church of God community, and not merely personal blogs with personal opinions and original research like this one, to demonstrate that this is not merely something that I have read in one of the many books I have read (or in the inspired footnotes of one of my Study Bibles), which would demonstrate its fitness and legitimacy to serve as a description of one of the many facets of the book of Job. The second part of the test is to demonstrate the fitness of legal courtroom terminology based on the expressions and language used in the book of Job itself. If the first part shows a lack of appearance within the relevant literature, then a friendly conversation over Southern sweet tea and some food should follow, in private, but if this is a matter where the minister was in error, than I propose a public apology for having been so quick to correct in error without investigation with a commitment to speak on the matter in the future in agreement with both biblical doctrine as well as the existing body of church literature. A good shepherd, after all, ought to be slow to accuse, and quick to apologize when he has caused unnecessary and unprofitable offense while abusing the authority of his office, and to be slow to repeat the error in the future. I hope to be able to finish both parts one and parts two of this intellectual duel between peers before too long.

See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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20 Responses to No Direction Home

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  19. Catharine E. Martin says:

    I can see how you’ve matured since the date of this blog. Even though your sense of irritation would be the same (as would anyone’s), you would not demand–or even expect–an apology. As we learn by experience, we come to understand that these territorial instincts will be addressed at the appropriate time by the One who placed them in those offices. This knee-jerk reaction is based on fear. The minister probably has tunnel vision and never entertained the thought of viewing scripture in any other way. But having a lay member do so? Some do grow out of it, and it is gratifying to us when they do–especially when we receive the apology we never expected. If they don’t, we can always ask ourselves if our ultimate Authority will be pleased with how we handled the rebuff. (By the way, Job was bringing his case before God–a “covenantal lawsuit” as you stated–claiming that he was doing the time without having done the crime. God’s response is epic. In legal terms, He set the precedent.)

    • Yes, the “not invented here” is definitely an issue. It is easy enough to see that people are insecure when others show a layer of interest and understanding that they do not share. And you are right, I would not expect an apology today. Whether that is a net gain or loss is immaterial; God will be the judge in such matters.

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