American Gothic by Grant Wood
I’ve gotten some good feedback on my post, Rethinking the Criticism of the American Dream. But, I know, it is a little long. So I thought I would do a more limited SFN-reader-friendly-version. So the following is a top ten list of thoughts from that post:
1. I used to criticize the American Dream. And then I would drive home…to my 1900 square foot home with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. In other words I was criticizing the very thing I had already achieved.
2. The American Dream can be in opposition to the Christian faith. But so can any other dream.
3. You should not criticize the American Dream in high def video.
4. You should not criticize the American Dream from your iPhone or laptop. Or any smartphone or computer really.
5. Every pastor I have heard criticize the American Dream has achieved it already.
6. The American Dream is not the problem. The heart that wants it at the expense of everything else is the problem.
7. It is easy to point at the American Dream and criticize it. It takes work to diagnose the real problem.
8. Missionaries fly to distant lands on the backs of those who have achieved the American Dream.
9. There are countless people who have rejected the American Dream and have black hearts.
10. It is patently sinful to rail against the accoutrements of the American Dream while enjoying them. Just as it is sinful to rail against sex while enjoying it within the confines of marriage.
What do you think?
I just finished Eugene Peterson’s memoirs which will be available next Tuesday. A review is coming…actually I hope to write a non-review review. I hate book reviews. Suffice it so say, for now, I loved every page. It was far better than I even could have imagined. Actually a lot of people will hate it. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing. And not doing.
It’s sad really. The young pastors in my world should be made to read it. But they won’t. They will read ‘how-to’ books and learn better how to sell Jesus. And update him. Make him cool. Palatable. Cool for a culture tyrannized by as much.
The non-review is coming next Tuesday. I’m about to read it again.
(Update: For obvious reasons, this is a very popular post. So popular, I have become a Peterson reference for dozens and dozens of men, mostly pastors. Most want to know where to start with his works because they are exasperated with what they have been sold as pastoral work. I used to tell them to start with The Contemplative Pastor since it is the book in most direct opposition to everything other way of thinking about the pastorate that is popular today. It is a quiet manifesto of insurrection. But now it may be good to start with his memoir – The Pastor I still get emails thanking me for the review I posted on amazon. Usually, it’s because a pastor thought his was alone. Now he knows he is not.
A word to young pastors…Read Peterson now. Eventually you will most likely thirst for his sanity and long to get off the hamster-wheel. I know most of you will not do it, you are drunk on trends and excitement.)
I’ve been slowly reading through Eugene Peterson’s books this year. I’ve learned a lot about being a pastor that is in direct opposition to the way I naturally think…and most people think, I would hazard. The following are ten of those lessons.
1. Pastoral Work does not look “busy.”
2. The hard work of a pastor is done in the quiet of study and prayer.
3. Most pastors are pragmatists because they have never seen any other kind of pastoral work done.
4. You will never get the job of pastoral work down to a science.
5. Read novels as a part of your ministry.
6. How-to sermons are rarely – if ever – helpful.
7. Don’t listen to the conventional wisdom.
8. It is so normal for bullies to fill our pulpits we can no longer recognize the problem.
9. Pastors should not seek to be part of the super-spiritual crowd but seek to be normal – only more so.
10. God and his work in Christ are our subject.
My parents did not always buy me the toys I wanted. Dad was a pastor and we never had tons of money, though I never really knew it. But they did buy me books. I went through a period where I was going through Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books like most kids go through video games. I have this one memory of my parents driving me around to various little local bookstores to find one I had not read. This is a precious memory to me because we were on the way to their friend's house and I wanted...needed something to do while the adults talked. I had no siblings near my age. Books like these were my friends. I would pore over them again and again and again. The stories still stand dust-covered in the shadows of days long gone.