Archive for February, 1996
The apocryphal story being told at breakfast this morning in my community is about Pat Buchanan. Apparently, so someone says, Bob Dole had been talking again about his humble origins in Kansas, how he started with nothing, and how he’s had to work hard for everything he has. On which Buchanan supposedly comments: “if he’s a self-made man it’s sad to see such shoddy workmanship.”
Today we come together to celebrate our humble origins—and to wear their mark. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Dust, ash, dirt—earth. We are earthlings, creatures formed from the dust and the spittle of God. “Adam,” before it was the name of the first human, was a description—”H’adam”—earth creature, created from dust.
February 21st, 1996
At the beginning of a new year and with Lent just around the corner we are faced today with the urgency of the command: be holy. It is a command spoken three times in the scripture today. Not a request, not an option, but a command. And not just for some, not just for a few but for all of us.
Which is all very well … but to obey that commandment we need to know what it means and that’s not easy.
February 18th, 1996
Salt used to be a good thing — now it just raises our blood-pressure. Once packaged foods delighted in their saltiness — now they vie for the label “low Sodium.” Like “no fat” and “caffeine free” what we once sought out for pleasure, we now avoid for long life.
Salt used to be precious—Roman soldiers received part of their pay in salt—their salary. Any of you who are on enforced low-salt diets know just how precious salt still is. Things need taste. We need to be saved from blandness. This, says the gospel, is our communal vocation —to give the world some flavor. But will this low-sodium world thank us for it? I doubt it. But, in fact, our ambivalent feelings about salt offers a good image of our ambiguous relationship to the nation we are part of. We—church—as we lend a little flavor, should also be sending the blood-pressure of the world soaring. The people of Oakland shouldn’t know what to do with us or without us.
February 4th, 1996