The Book Club invites you to join in a discussion of Pastor Bledsoe’s debut novel, Rooster’s Table, next Sunday, October 27th, following service (about 11:15 a.m.).
You can download a free sample or purchase the book at iBooks for your iPad (the book is not available currently in paperback). Action, dialogue and pace are quick as diverse individuals clash and come together in a diner in a small town in Virginia. As the book jacket states it:
“This is a story about how one evening I set out to burn down the restaurant of a friend of mine for righteous cause, how someone who happened into my life redeemed me and how I was anointed in ashes. Oh, and it’s about the problem of knowledge.”
So says Robert Sherman Walker, the primary character and narrator of a multicultural apocalypse that unveils itself in a final fury of action at a table in a local dive in small town, Virginia. That unveiling is twined around characters like the African-American professor of philosophy, Jasmyn Parker, who happens into Robert’s life and provides a counter point to Hank Williams and Johannes Brahms with Thelonius Monk and Billie Holiday. They in turn are threaded into dualities of North/South, male/female, gay/straight, locals/immigrants, mentally challenged/right minded, and Black/White. Their life world is chimed in religious tones from Baptist to Methodist, Episcopalian and Pentecostal with a strong note of Sikhism. Then at an apocalyptic moment, the multicultural experiment of 1980s America erupts one ordinary Tuesday at a restaurant called Rooster’s.
Join with the author and others as we discuss how the novel was conceived and written and the various insights others bring to the reading of this story. iBooks Store
The Army ten-miler is set for Sunday, October 20th. Please check out the link to the course route and see how your trip will be impacted or not.
Then the following Sunday, October 27th, the Marine Corps Marathon will interfere with your travel to church. Look here for the route: Marine Marathon Map
Please do your best to join us in worship. Even the New Testament spoke about running the race of faith–may these marathoners inspire you to be faithful in worship!
Imagine going through a democratic process in your church, offering persons opportunities to participate and speak to issues then passing whatever it is you’re faced with passing and you pass it with a significant majority but the minority who were in opposition decide to lock the doors to your church and dangle the pastor and other leaders over the ledge of the roof unless they change what was just voted on. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? It sounds like sacrilege. It certainly is not how the democratic polity of a congregational church is supposed to work. Were such a thing to happen, we would be outraged.
This just happened to our country. If you are feeling polluted and violated by these past few weeks, it is little wonder. People took what is sacred and used it as an excuse to wreak havoc. It is one thing to pollute, defile or violate something but to do it in the name of love of country or love of God is doubly repulsive.
We are better than this. What should be expected of persons who engage in this kind of behavior? Often there is a misguided effort to “move on” and forgive. Well, forgiveness is certainly a goal and mandate of the Christian life. But so are repentance and restitution. There are plenty of ways to illustrate this principle in scripture but just think of the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector. The bible says he was a chief tax collector and wealthy. He invited Jesus to his home and to make the story short, he was converted. What did he do? He gave half of all he had to the poor and he paid back four times what he cheated anyone. Now that is repentance and restitution.
The State is not the Church. I don’t expect its members to be Christians but they should live up to the principles of a democratic government and our constitution. Stop singing hymns in Congress and start governing with wisdom. We don’t need a chaplain praying in the Senate, pray in your homes and places of worship. Just show up and do your duty and govern with wisdom and compassion. If you can’t find the courage to resign after having intentionally inflicted pain and suffering on millions of Americans, then at least repent and stop using these methods to subvert good governance. And by all means, remember the poor. To balance the budget on the backs of the poor is many things but one thing it is not, righteous. Practice justice as you proceed to your meetings and negotiations.
As for the Church, take a look at how these congresspersons behaved and ask yourself how you conduct your own church business. Too often we resemble the world and not Christ’s church. Respect and regard your leaders even as you express your disagreement or difference. President Obama has been called everything in the book. The office of the presidency has been disrespected and defiled by ideologues. Church members are guilty of the same kind of behavior. You may dislike the pastor, but at the very least, a regard and respect for the pastoral office should always be evident. Democracy is a wonderful polity but as we have just witnessed and experienced, it can be used for positively devilish ends. Repentance, Restitution, Respect and Righteousness. These are words that come to my mind at the conclusion of the nation’s near default.
Dear Christian politician:
I am not your pastor but I am a pastor and a professor and a brother in Christ. Your position in the Congress of the United States is a remarkable accomplishment, a high honor and a grave responsibility. Though you may differ from me in my political philosophy, I commend you for your desire to be servants.
But I appeal to you from within our shared theological circle and ask you to consider how you reduce the Gospel to pulp and shred the compassionate teachings of the compassionate Christ when you deny health care to people but find a way to purchase the most heinous weapons conceived by humanity and science; when you vote to take food stamps away from hungry children and single mothers; when you shut down the government out of a fanciful and misguided rage, affecting the lives of millions of your fellow citizens.
Right now, at what is a most precarious moment in the life of our nation and world, I would ask you to take with utmost seriousness the acronym engraved on your bracelets and bibles: WWJD, remembering he was hungry and made feeding the hungry the center of the prayer he taught his disciples; recalling that his mother and father had no place to stay for the night as she entered labor and thus gave birth to our Savior in a cave; that he whom we follow, worship and adore, was led to death by citizens of another empire who believed him to be smitten of God because of his poverty and his radical call to compassion.
Open the government so servants can return to their jobs and citizens can benefit by processes currently shut off to them. Pay for the debt you have already incurred. Twenty Christian politicians could turn this around before we all head over the cliff. You should do that. Do it without hesitation and give no consideration to the petulant crowd that takes pleasure in suffering and death. Open the government. Pay our bills. Stop talking to the echo chamber. Listen to the still small voice. May God grant you wisdom and courage. May the idolatry of ideologies fall crashing to the ground so the people are raised up.
Pastor Michael Bledsoe
Sunday, October 13th:
We will begin a five week study on “death.” Importantly, we are going to use a resource we have used in the past, a periodical entitled, Christian Reflection: A Series in Faith and Ethics produced out of Baylor University. One of the beautiful things about using this free resource is that it is easily accessed online where you can print out the entire issue (that would take a lot of paper) or read it online (easy). As well, there are five study guides available. So when you go to the web page and select the current issue on Death, I would suggest you print out the study guides and then proceed to read the issue online. There are extra resources in their library on Death that I will also suggest to you as this study unfolds. Feel free to give them a donation.
Here is the web site: Christian Reflection.