Monday, February 19, 2024

Post Pastoral Thoughts Number 2: The Church and A Church


Not an Ideal but a Divine Reality (pp. 26-27, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. 

By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to a genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

They Don't Get Him.


I don't have a lot of fight in me. I just don't. ... hence the break from preaching. So there is some hesitation in bringing this up. I know that my comments won't be able to measure up to my actual concern regarding this topic. I also know that I won't have the endurance to battle any naysayers who want to critique my critique. Well. I am still going to try and say something. 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Post Pastoral Thoughts No. 1: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

For those who are new here: 

If you are new here, then you may need a slight introduction to this post. I'll start with the basics. My name is Matt Harmless. I have been a math teacher for 24 years (with a short stint as a disciplinary dean, but that's another story). For the last 14 1/2 years I was also a bivocational pastor.  For those unfamiliar with the term, a bi-vocational pastor is one who normally would be a full-time or part-time Pastor, but would then have another job. This second job could potentially be full-time but its primary purpose was to help make ends meet. I, of course, got that backward. I had a full-time job as a school teacher and then decided to try to take on pastoral work. This inevitably led to what came next. 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

A Rant.... ish.


First a disclaimer: 

(I am placing this disclaimer at the beginning of this post, but I wrote it last.) 

This is a rant. One definition of a rant (from a Google Search) is "As a verb, "rant" means to speak or shout in an angry, impassioned way. It can also mean to complain in an unreasonable way."  Notice that it is impassioned, but it can also mean unreasonable. I readily accept that what you will read is truly a rant. Here are a few disclaimers if you choose to read my rant: 

  1. As a rant, this is not personal. If there is something in here that you actually do think is about you, it isn't. It might resemble you, but the reality is, there isn't anything in here that I reference that I haven't seen and/or experienced from multiple people. So... This isn't about you. You know who you are. You are the one who thinks everything is about them. This isn't about you. If you contact me and say, "Why did you write that about me?" I'm going to say, "You didn't read the disclaimer did you?"  
  2. As a rant, this will cover several different topics, and none of them in-depth. If you read it and think that I should have been more clear, I'm sorry. I am not trying to be very clear. It is a rant.
  3. As a rant, this will be primarily negative. I hope you don't read this and think that this rant is what I am usually like. I think that I am usually fairly positive. But I also don't think that I should entirely avoid these topics I'm ranting about. I think they are rant-worthy. If I strike a nerve, I  want you to know that I didn't have my crosshairs on you, but I did have them on these topics.
  4. Since this is a rant, I won't be sharing this link on Facebook. This means that the only people who see this will be people who actually follow me or seek me out. If I record this as a podcast, I won't be sharing that link on Facebook either. 
  5. Even though this is a rant, if you read anything here or listen to this and feel the need to say something to me, either through Facebook, Twitter (X), e-mail, phone, or in person... I will be more than happy to actually listen to you before I even think of defending myself. I am sure that ... because it is a rant ... my words will be full of inconsistencies, hypocrisies, and all manner of unreasonableness.  

Let the rant begin: 

Monday, January 1, 2024

The Household and the War for the Cosmos - Review

 The Household and the War for the Cosmos by C.R. Wiley

If you have not read this book, I will begin this review by saying that I highly recommend that you do that now. Seriously. Click the link above and purchase a copy of it and start reading. If the title seems odd to you, I would like to double my encouragement to get a copy of this book. There is a cosmos. There is a war for it. And the household, your household is playing a part in this war.