Sunday, March 01, 2009

in the cold and snow of winter

Actually, at the moment it is just very cold and wet. I spent some of Friday and all of Saturday at Lake Junaluska, which is just west of Asheville. We have a small cabin there, and generally do not get to it from about middle October until about this time. A part of my yearly ritual is speaking to our confirmation class at this retreat at Junaluska, so it works out great. I can go the night before, check to make sure nothing has bursted or flooded, rest a little, get a change of scenery, take advantage of the fact that our place there has no cable or internet, and slow down a little. Without the external stimuli, I spent the time listening to NPR and reading, especially two very strong articles in The Atlantic, one on Rowan Williams' leadership through the crisis of the Anglican Communion, the second by Richard Florida on the economic collapse and how it will change American geography.

I am making my way through Reinhold Niebuhr's Moral Man and Immoral Society (MMIS). I chose this in part based on a Speaking of Faith conversation between David Brooks and E.J. Dionne on Niebuhr, in part due to his prominence as a theologian of influence on Barack Obama. I also had a class on "Christianity and The State" in Divinity School and read virtually all of Reinhold Niebuhr's works; I remember finding them to be profound and then promptly heading in a different direction in later classes. I wish I had integrated his thought, especially his realism, into my understandings of personal and social holiness. I am also drawn to MMIS because of its context; published in 1932, it was Niebuhr's reflection on the economic experience that had shaped his Detroit pastorate, and the larger society. There are gems all along the way in MMIS.

At any rate, I walked around the lake a couple of times (2.5 miles), ate at a couple of restaurants that are favorites (Clydes and Duvalls), visited with a friend whose husband was my senior pastor just out of divinity school, and finished the Sunday sermon. Then I met with the confirmands, which was a blast. I talked about salvation, sin and grace, they asked lots of questions, we ate lasagna, and then we worshipped. Then a member of the church and I drove back to Charlotte, a 2 and 3/4 hour trip through the rain and fog, but blessedly uneventful. We returned at about 11:00 p.m. I dropped Tom off at the church---he was a leader in our "day of service" today, and I headed home, in time to sleep a few hours and arise for today's services.


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