In her book Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor complained that there was no place in the church to be an adult. This is particularly interesting considering that she was one of the early female Episcopal Priests, got burned out after a number of years in parish ministry and then concluded with that statement.
By adult, I don't think she means someone who has lived over 21 years. Often people leave the church in their early teens and spend the rest of their lives assuming everyone who remains in church believes at an elementary school level. This is utterly idiotic. A modicum of reading will disclose the great minds who have wrestled through the centuries with the intricacies and ramifications of faith in the living Lord.
Rather, I think Taylor was looking at the daily (weekly) life within a parish where there is an adult Minister/Pastor and everyone else is relegated to the role of child. Members have jobs around the house--taking out trash, or organizing the next pot-luck, or caring for the children--but the bulk of these chores are necessary to keeping household running. Usually this work is done by around 20% of a congregation, who often wonder why there isn't more participation by everyone else.
I am reminded of John Wimber who famously asked, "When do we get to do the stuff?" He had been converted and brought up in a house Bible study. When he "went to church" he asked this question of the minister, who responded, "What stuff?"
"You know, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons...."
John Wimber went on to found The Vineyard Churches, where presumably, people get to do the stuff. Although in actual fact, my guess is there is a minister who does-the-stuff, a handful of household help, some people trying to learn how to do the stuff and then the rest of the folk.
"The rest of the folk" is an interesting conundrum. Some attend for social reasons, some are just sniffing out this thing called church and wondering if it holds any interest for them. Yet I suspect that many, maybe even most of the rest of the folk are highly involved in some ministry in the world. They may be teaching, or building roads, raising children or making maps, but most are involved in some area of service toward others on a daily basis.
What is odd, is that this multitude of ministries are so rarely mentioned or taken advantage of in the normal course of church life. I remember once at family camp after Shannon spoke, Marc said that part of the reason we all enjoyed it so much was that we don't usually hear a talk from the perspective of a young mother. Usually we only get the perspective of a Pastor. If a young mother spoke to us every Sunday, that perspective would get old as well.
I wonder sometimes what church would look like if it operated on the assumption that the congregation was a gathering of people who were ministering in the name of the Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit. What would happen if we assumed that church was a congregation of ministers and their families, who came together in order to worship the Lord, strengthen their various ministries, share acquired wisdom and aid one another in whatever ways possible?
"The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer." -Henry David Thoreau
I was very tired yesterday; had a bad case of don't-want-to-itus. Walked into the store to discover that Sally had donated a nice stack of Agatha Christie mysteries. I took one home: The Body in the Library (of course). Felt much better after an evening of Miss Marple and several espresso shortbread cookies. Amazing the curative powers of a good mystery. Carolyn suggests Robert Parker mysteries: "He writes a 'Spenser' series in which the protagonist is in love with his girlfriend, a social worker, doesn't cheat, and likes to cook. That's why I like Robert Parker."
The biggest Word Shop score this month was 53 Franklin Library volumes of Classic Literature from Pat. These books have ridged, leather-like covers with gold designs, gilt edged paper and illustrations. They are in pristine condition; really beautiful books. At this point I'm selling them for $10 each, although I'm contemplating raising the price. They would make exquisite gifts for any classics lover. Come and see.
"When you read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in yourself than there was before". -Cliff Fadiman
Carol sent me a list of ideas to increase traffic. One idea was to have a monthly theme and offer a discount on books in that theme. Since our monthly Literary Parties always have a theme, I thought I'd try out her idea using the Literary Party themes.
Next Friday's Lit Party is 19th Century French Literature. This is Justin's fault. He has been suggesting 19th Century French Literature for about six months now. We finally decided to go for it. Or, at least half + one of us voted for it. I'm thinking of reading our Children's Classics edition of Three Musketeers. This is probably cheating. Perhaps I'll hum a few bars of Master of the House for good measure. Putting the theme together with Carol's idea, you now can buy any used books of 19th Century French Literature for half price through November. Hint: several of the Franklin Library books fit that category.
"Those who wish to sing always find a song." -Swedish proverb
I am reminded of Rumer Godden's Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, which I wrote about in the May 2007 newsletter. Now, thanks to Laura, almost all my newsletters are archived on the companyofsaints.com website. I can google and find out what I wrote. It helps if I spell the author's name right, which wasn't the case in 2007. However, all you have to do is go to companyofsaints.com/hot-reads , click 2007 and then May 2007. I, of course, read several newsletters on the way to finding the right one--all of which were better than this dog I'm currently trying to turn into something.
Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy isn't 19th Century French Literature. However, it takes place in Paris and it is literature. AND it centers on the French Dominican Sisters of Bethanie, an order started in the 1800's for women coming out of prison. A respectable Lit Party cheat if you ask me. Unfortunately we don't have a copy at the store. I get plenty of grief from business people like Justin, Leslie and now probably Carol for writing about books we don't have. So it goes.
"However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results" ~Winston Churchhill