Holy Week Ramblings

Holy Week Ramblings

It affected me in more ways than I had expected.

I suppose the way the funeral meshed into my week gave it all kinds of things to spill over into.

Yesterday I went to the funeral of Ben Speer, sat on the back row, listened to songs I hadn’t heard in years sung by the Gaither Homecoming crowd and the Stamps-Baxter choir and found myself deeply moved. Why?

I think it is more than nostalgia. I think it is all the other things floating around in my life these days.

A few nights ago, I went to the Trevecca Undergraduate Student Research Symposium and heard bright young scholars make presentations on topics like producing a documentary film, anxiety in undocumented students, reforming girls of the 19th century England, and the massacre of African-American Union soldiers at Fort Pillow. These were just a few of the 30 presentations.

I saw young minds creating and discovering, then sharing their findings with standing-room only crowds. The Fort Pillow massacre report connected me to J. J. White Memorial Presbyterian Church in my hometown. He was the founder of my birthplace, but I had never heard the story that he had served time for war crimes committed in the massacre at Fort Pillow. And he has a church named after him a hundred plus years later.

My cousin Andy and I talked late last night about growing up in Mississippi and all that was going on there that we did not know then and how we are responsible for the worlds we are making now.

Then, yesterday morning a committee of the Tennessee legislature failed to recommend a bill to allow DACA students to pay the same in-state tuition as the same kids they went through TN K-12 schools with. They have to pay out-of-state tuition, which makes college practically unaffordable for them. And my DACA friends are heartbroken.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get AT&T U-verse installed at my house. Today will be their third trip. I forget how dependent I am on wireless connections to be omnipresent.

Then in chapel this week at Trevecca, students and professors shared about their trip to Israel and the film they are making, Thy Kingdom Come. Our chaplain asked the students on the panel a question: How did this trip affect how you know Jesus? When people travel to the Holy Land, we usually ask if they read the Bible differently after being there or if their faith seems more historically grounded, but Shawna Songer Gaines asked these students if they now know Jesus differently.

Their humble responses made me grateful for professors who do life with students and for the Jesus that is knowable.

And then, I’m navigating two worlds with the recent decision to serve as president of two schools, one in Nashville and one near Boston. I know the Nashville school well having served 12 years as president of Trevecca Nazarene University, six years as its campus church pastor, and four years as a student. Its history is entwined with my own and that of my older friends. But the role of president of Eastern Nazarene College has me learning a new history. I’ve been reading the 2-volume work of Dr. James R. Cameron detailing the history of the college. Founded in 1900 and surviving against the odds, this school is my newest challenge. It is a gem worth bringing back to stability and strength. I am humbled that they would let me try (along with several friends who are smarter than me at what they do).

And finally, we have 20-30 people coming for Easter weekend. Our own gang is approaching 20, and then we have friends from lots of places. Our celebration will include family and friends of all ages, from 1 to 90. We’ll attend Good Friday service with one daughter’s family and Easter Sunday with another daughter’s family.  It’s Holy Week.

So I went to Ben Speer’s funeral yesterday and found myself in a quiet place reflecting on the timeless Christ and the frail time-marked humans that I live among. For the grandkids in my back yard this weekend and the college students making discoveries in the lab and the Holy Land, my musings make little sense … because when you’re young, you can’t look back far enough to wonder.

And for the long-dead founder of my hometown who slaughtered Union soldiers because of the color of their skin but got his name on a church sign anyway and for Mom and Pop Speer who welcomed Ben home, it is too late to do anything different about anything. We live with the world they created, good and bad.

And for the AT&T installer, the state legislators, and the friends coming for Easter weekend, I pray grace over what they do.

And if the Lord tarries, what we’re doing now at Trevecca and what we will attempt at Eastern Nazarene College will be history of some kind. And we will live with that.

I suppose it was the songs we sang at Ben’s funeral: “In a Land Where We’ll Never Grow Old,” “Time Has Made a Change,” “Sheltered in the Arms of God.” You can Google those lyrics if you’d like, but these are the songs I grew up singing. They still mean a lot to me, but now, all these years later, I think I’m really beginning to understand them.

The common denominator in all of this is the timeless Christ, who wastes nothing, preserves everything and rises from the worst we can do. Jesus seems very near this week.

Sabbath and Social Media

Sabbath and Social Media

I’ve taken a Sabbath from posting on social media for a few months.

A wonderful team of people who have more technical skills than I do have kept me present in more venues than I know how to operate. I actually enjoy most of the conversation that occurs in cyber land.  But I had grown restless, and I wasn’t sure why. So, I stopped writing about things that matter to me. I wanted to get to the bottom of my own restlessness before engaging again.

Two things have been helpful: a book and an obituary.

The book is Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now. He writes about resisting anxiety, coercion, exclusivism, and multi-tasking. His understanding that the fourth commandment stands as the link between love of God in the first three commandments and love of the neighbor in the last six. While most of us see the command to practice Sabbath as a matter of passive obedience, Brueggemann views it as an act of active, conscious resistance to the life-sucking socio-economic powers that run a culture of death. I suppose social media gets its claws into us in ways that do not permit our detachment. The constant anxiety of response, disgust, and information train us in the ways of the need for now and know.

charitablediscourse2Truth is, I found myself whirling more than resting, even when I tried to rest a bit with an iPad on my lap. So, I’ve been thinking more about this. My friends Tim Green and Tim Gaines have written about the use and abuse of technology in A Charitable Discourse Volume II (which was released last week). They are right about the power given to us to curse others via social media and the subtle distancing from the doctrine of the incarnation as we deal in words rather than bodies.

The helpful obituary was of a man I never knew, but he held a job that I am still coming to terms with – the college presidency. Jack Coleman was the president of Haverford College, a Quaker tradition school. If my memory is correct, he died in his nineties. During his term, he was constantly at the center of conflicting interest groups. His obituary quoted him as saying, “In actuality, a president is at the center of a web of conflicting interest groups, none of which can ever be fully satisfied. He is, by definition, almost always wrong … It’s all very interesting, and not hard to take once he gets over wanting to be right and settles instead for doing the best he can.”

I found a dead friend whose wisdom helps me.

 

The Lord of the Rings and the Lenten Journey

The Lord of the Rings and the Lenten Journey

Most journeys are in quest of something.

Indiana Jones, Christopher Columbus, and Peter Pan are all in classic journey stories. A journey story basically features a character who wants something and overcomes obstacles to get it. We travel with them and intersect our imaginations with theirs. This is what makes journey stories interesting.

My friend Phil Ryken, President of Wheaton College, wrote a paper reflecting on the journey of Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. He was comparing it to the tri-fold ministry of Jesus as prophet, priest, and king.

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Can We Talk About Sin?

Can We Talk About Sin?

Niceness is the new religion. The only people who are offensive enough to mention sin are the kind of people I don’t like very much. They are arrogant, mean, judgmental, and far from the loving Jesus that the world is willing to embrace. So to keep from being thrown on the pile of “mean Christians,” we just avoid the word sin.

It seems to offend the sensibilities of people. And this isn’t just political correctness at work. It is the fear that we might offend. We don’t want to be off-putting. I listen to some denunciations of Christians upon the world and just cringe. I don’t want to come across that way. I want to be more like Jesus.

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What I’m Reading Right Now: Bad Religion by Ross Douthat

What I’m Reading Right Now: Bad Religion by Ross Douthat

In the past, it had been my conviction that orthodox historic Christian faith was somehow the glue that held the diversity of America together and critiqued the fringe ideas that were damaging or dangerous. I no longer believe this.

Christianity has been either compromised by accommodation or gone haywire in many heretical directions (wealth gospel, power theology, self-help guru religion, etc.). The presence of a biblically grounded theological middle is disappearing faster than the icebergs. No one states this case better (in my opinion) than Ross Douthat in Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.

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My Blogiversary: Highlighting Popular Posts

My Blogiversary: Highlighting Popular Posts

Last week, we marked two years of publishing this blog. As we celebrate, we’ve also gone back through older posts, pulling out those that were popular among readers.

Today I want to conclude the Blogiversary theme with two last posts.

The first has to do with current events. I enjoy writing about happenings in our world through a biblical worldview.

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They Also Teach Who Only Serve as Dean

They Also Teach Who Only Serve as Dean

I got a letter with a check in it the other day. The writer was contributing to the endowment scholarship fund of Wayne and Wilma Gallup.

They served as deans of students at Trevecca for a couple of decades. They lived near the campus, raised a bunch of football players who had two little sisters, and knew everybody. The whole family attended the campus church and pretty much filled the youth group. Wayne had a remarkable voice that was like ocean waves quaking when they came ashore. He and Ed Whittington sang many a heavenly duet in the old College Hill sanctuary.

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Two-Year Blogiversary: Most Popular Posts

Two-Year Blogiversary: Most Popular Posts

This month at DanBoone.me, we’re celebrating our two-year blogiversary. We’re revisiting and highlighting some of the most popular posts that you, dear readers, have designated with your visits, comments, and shares.

Earlier this year, I released a book called Human Sexuality. I have written extensively on the topic in my new book, as well as in an older book, A Charitable Discourse. Several sexuality-themed posts (which were excerpts from these books) are among the most popular.

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Worship

Worship

One of the nagging dilemmas I face as a university president is faculty attendance in chapel.

We require the students to attend 24 chapels per semester. They often ask me why many professors do not attend.

And their logic is pretty good. “If we are a Christian community, and we believe that worship is formative, and we believe that the need for worship does not end when you get a degree, why don’t professors attend chapel?”

I remind them that many do.

Ok; some do.

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Happy Blogiversary to DanBoone.me

Happy Blogiversary to DanBoone.me

It’s my Blogiversary!

Can you believe I’ve been blogging here (and you’ve been reading) for two years? It’s hard for me to believe sometimes.

This blog debuted on November 26, 2013, with a simple “Welcome to My Blog” post.

Since then I’ve written on all sorts of topics: church life, theology, college students, culture, marriage, family, and human sexuality. I’ve shared excerpts from my books, a few videos, seasonal greetings, opinions, and book reviews.

Thank you, dear readers, for continuing to support my writing by reading it! I appreciate all of your comments here and on Facebook and Twitter. It means a lot to know that I connect with you in a meaningful way.

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