Archive for July, 2015

Random Rants

Posted: 2015/07/27 in Uncategorized

This is the first of the Random Rants series composed of various observations and opinions of a curmudgeonly nature

Ride a bicycle? Wear a helmet! no one wants to see what’s really inside your head.

Ride a bicycle with your children, making them wear helmets while you do not. They neither want to see what’s in your head nor need a bad example to follow. In fact, they need you to keep yourself healthy so you can do a great job raising them.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people—I get that. However, people have a much tougher time killing other people without a gun.

Driving your silver car in a fog with your lights off? Please turn them on. I want to see you in time to avoid meeting you the hard way. (Get a clue—lights on in a fog is not so you can see the road but so we can see you.)

Michigan State government: Please get over yourselves and FIX THE ROADS!

Michigan voters: Please support our elected state government by not voting them out of office when they need to raise taxes to pay to FIX THE ROADS! 

Enough for now…

As a sermon illustration, a few weeks ago, I said that there had been less gun-control laws put in place during the Obama administration than the G. W. Bush administration, intending to make the point that there has been considerable unjustified paranoia about threats to gun ownership rights since Barack Obama became president.  Following the worship service, a parishioner disagreed with my assertion, which inspired me to check on what I had said.

I did err in my statement, but not because there is a panoply of regulation on the ownership of firearms. Indeed, with the lapse, during Obama’s first term, of the assault weapon ban enacted some years prior, it is easy to acquire a gun today.

The point of this mea culpa is not to profess my views of gun ownership or the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to The Constitution or to kick off a debate on gun ownership in America. The point is fess up to a lazy and careless piece of improvised preaching.

I try to get my facts in good order before using them in a sermon. It is always a tempting to apply a half-truth or small piece of a larger story when doing so reinforces a point that I am trying to make. But doing so is lazy, intellectually insincere, and misuses one of two basic sermon preparation techniques.

The two techniques I have in mind are (a) exegesis of the Bible and (b) exegesis of the world. Exegesis of the Bible is the process of interpreting the text of the Bible through critical analysis of the text, its content, linguistics, and literary style, the historical milieu within the narrative of the text, and the historical milieu of the writer. In other words, we dig around in the Bible and its world for information, and only then determine what it means. Similarly, to do an exegesis of the world is simply to get a well-rounded set of facts about something in the world of which we are a part, whether the rundown of a recent local news item, the description of a scientific discovery, the narrative of a historical event, of the particulars of a meatloaf recipe. The exegesis concludes with an answer to the question, “What does it mean?” A good sermon then explores the intersection between the Bible and world. To do this faithfully requires working through all the facts and narratives, rather than cherry-picking just those bits that fit a point being made.

My mistake in doing an ad-hoc, unplanned comparison between the gun control records of our two most recent presidents was to not have done the careful work of research to get all the facts. Instead, I took something I heard in a radio piece somewhere and inappropriately used it while trying to make a more important point.

Never again, I hope.

Avian Advocacy in Memes

Posted: 2015/07/10 in Uncategorized

No one asked for it . . . so here it is —

backyard puffin frontyard chicken interspecies skydiving_chicken