Archive for August, 2016

‘Twas Ever Thus Dept.

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Michael J. Krasulski, an historian writing about Philadelphia churches recently noted that one of the parishes was complaining that no one volunteered for its annual strawberry festival. The same day, the historian discovered a letter to the parish about the lack of volunteers for their strawberry festival–in 1927!

The historian also found an article in a church magazine “lamenting how difficult it had become to recruit choirboys because of the ever-increasing demands upon children’s time and that of their parents.” That article was published in 1898.

The bottom line is: Christians–adults and children–always have lots to do. We have many competing interests besides religion. All the more reason to remember that “This is the day that the Lord hath made…”

J. Douglas Ousley

Proof of God?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

During my last vacation days of the summer, I enjoyed reading David Gelertner’s The Tides of Mind. Gelertner is a professor of computer science at Yale, a pioneer in the Internet and predictor of the rise of social media, among many other accomplishments in tech fields.

His book, though, is about what he calls the “spectrum” of the mind, ranging from reasoning at the top of the spectrum to dreaming at the bottom. The ideas are much more complicated than my summary indicates, but the writing is lucid and the reader is given much to think about. For example, I had never reflected on the peculiar state of consciousness that we have just before we sleep.

Gelertner is apparently a practicing Jew and there are hints of his faith here and there in the book. I”ll close with one of his most provocative comments: “I think that, in truth, nearly all of us do believe in God, although we don’t realize it ourselves…The original, most basic repressed idea of the modern psyche is our belief in God. The fact that we do believe proves nothing, except how much mind fashions change, and how much they matter. It’s just interesting…”–J. Douglas Ousley


Religion and Politics, Encore

Monday, August 8th, 2016

At a Supper Group meeting last night, I suggested that we avoid discussing the upcoming presidential election. I knew there were strongly held opinions scattered among the members of the group.

The group agreed with my request. However, the conversation still kept veering off toward politics; the words, “Trump” and “Clinton” kept appearing. Several times, I had to abruptly change the subject. The topic seemed inescapable.

One member of the Supper Group reminded us of the general admonition to avoid discussion of religion and politics. Now as part of a church program, we weren’t required to avoid religion! But this election is making it very hard to prevent arguments about politics, even among members of the same congregation. —J. Douglas Ousley

Revival Coming?

Monday, August 1st, 2016

A friend of mine who has a daily podcast, the Andrew Klavan Show, believes that a religious revival is coming. He bases his speculation on the alarming decline of values in the West. He believes that only with a renewed commitment to religion can our culture survive.

I have no idea whether this prediction will come true; Mr. Klavan expects to see evidence within five years. It’s certainly a nice thought.

Meanwhile, what is most disturbing in our own church is the continuing lethargy. At the national level, at least, there is little apparent initiative to try new programs that might lead to church growth.

On the other hand, a few seminaries seem to have been attracting younger and more able students, which bodes well for the distant future. Our own diocese is in the middle of a strategic planning program, with church growth as one aim. And of course religion–often of the fundamentalist variety–is growing in influence throughout most of the non-Western world.

I hope my friend is right. And I hope that if we do indeed see a revival of religious practice, that it’s the sort of faith that we can identify with. —J. Douglas Ousley