Friday, June 23, 2017

Death in the family

I've had a death in the family.

What  'pastoral' response have we had:

From the paid pastor brings its benefits...he listened quietly and gently encouraged the conversation.

From others in 'ministry' roles, but unpaid: a copy of an insulting book by on grief and death by the Dutch Roman 'priest' Henri Nouwen, a card with a verse of a psalm in very poor distorting translation, and wanting to 'help'. See the paragraph above for the receipe for that.

Others come out with that great conversation ender: "I'll pray for you."

Maybe this is good to say sometimes, but rarely...and only after proper loving attention has been committed to the conversation. Too often "I'll pray for you" is the conversation killer because the speaker does not have the ability to engage in a conversation without 'giving advice' but doesn't know what else to do. Again, see the receipe for this above!

The recipe, to summarise: simply act like a decent friend and listen, no santimonious self agrandizement please. And of course you'll pray; you are a Christian aren't you? No song and dance about it, please. It is unhelpful.

The Lifehacker

In the Lifehacker blog, there was a post on an advice column for a Christian who had been homeschooled in the USA. It attracted a storm of invective from the cool crowd who commented.

Then I saw this post:

Interesting how, for a supposedly irreligious country a religious article prompted more comments than most other articles! This indicates that the editors got it right and there is a lot of interest. Those who disagree with the article of course have significant religious interest; just a different religion!

The tenor of them, and that of the article is that the  Religion of Me dominates. The advice also fails at Theology 1. Christianity has love (not sooky Hollywood love, but love as sacrifice for the benefit of others) at its operational periphery, but at its operational centre is that 'sin', something generated from action to the non-benefit of others, is unavoidable for us.

But its consequences for continued estrangement from relationship with the creator (yeah I know that the Religion of Me prefers materialist existential framing) are evaporated by the creator's action to evaporate it; this is available for us to appropriate by just wanting to. There! and in langauge that I hope might strike a chord with the Religion of Me.