Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

“I’d Like to Talk to You About Cheeses”

Compliments of FSS reader Andrew in response to Jim Gaffigan's stand-up routine, "I'd Like to Talk To You About Jesus."

It’s been a full week here for Fellowship of Saints and Sinners, so I wanted to take a short breather to reflect on some of the things we’ve been talking about,  and then offer a brief glimpse of what we can look forward to in the days and weeks to come.  There’s a lot to tune in for, so I hope you keep coming back.

But first, the week in review:

A number of you weighed in on the question of the appropriateness of humor and its use on  Good Friday.  The general consensus? That humor even on the darkest day of the church calendar can be utilized appropriately- so long as generating laughs is not the ultimate aim of the sermon.  One reader, Paula, invited us to consider how to address the issue of suffering and God-forsakenness on a day when the family of a friend with one month to live will show up hungry for a Word from God. This question of suffering and God-forsakenness I plan to address in a future post, and it will also form the last chapter of my forthcoming book, Grace Sticks: The Bumper Sticker Gospel for Restless Souls.  (Stay tuned!)

Many of you exhibited great self-control in not throwing flour pies at me when I indulged the prickly topic of abortion on a day when my state of Georgia passed some tighter restrictions on abortion. Some of you even left some reflections.  Margaret in Atlanta, Georgia writes: “I SO enjoyed this blog posting. And another thing I always wonder about when people are bickering on the news – Why is it that pro-birth and pro-life are often separate things? If we are going to encourage women to protect life, which I think we must, then we must also commit to participating in the life of that child…”

Elana, in Chicago, Illinois, had this to say: “While I think most people would agree that abortion is a tragedy for all concerned, I don’t think most women undergoing the procedure view the developing embryo as ‘disposable.’ Few who choose this route are cavalier in their decision, and the reasons are too complex and multifaceted to go into here. There is no conspiracy to strong-arm anyone (on the MD side); as you know, doctors who agree to perform these procedures face an increasingly hostile environment and often fear for their life. Likewise, any invasive procedure can be labeled ‘violent’…”

Olivia, in Birmingham, England, writes: “…Since when did a civilized society deny basic contraceptive rights to women (a) to enable women to be full players publicly as well as privately and (b) to reduce the tragedy of women facing unwanted pregnancies and the bad set of options they then face. Abortion is a desperate tragedy, and the warring ideas that abortion is just another contraceptive measure (on the one hand) or that contraception is akin to abortion (on the other hand) both collude to harm women.”

J. Paulette, in Charlotte, North Carolina,  and Jana, in Gainsville, Florida, have invited me to reconsider my definition of abortion.  J. Paulette, for example, questions my understanding of Plan B- she calls into question my view of the pill as a contraceptive, calling it instead “abortifacent.” (She also increased my vocabulary.) Jana quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who defines the destruction of the embryo as nothing less than “murder.”  With a respectful tip of my hat to my many, dear Catholic friends, and to Dietrich, one of my favorite (Protestant) theologians, I would say the following: first, Plan B, if taken correctly- and I recognize this is a big “if”- is to be taken 1-3 days within intercourse, which makes the possibility of the pill destroying even an embryo pretty slim (although there’s no guarantee here); but it does make it almost totally impossible for a woman to become impregnated; second, we live in a very broken, imperfect world in which people make mistakes, condoms break, men rape women, and so on, and compassion demands giving as much grace as possible to women who find themselves in such situations; third, I’m assuming that what we can all agree on is that there’s a very real difference between the tragedy of a first or second trimester abortion and the prevention of pregnancy (even if prevention involves the small risk that an embryo is destroyed in the process).  There is one other thing I would note here, and it’s the regrettable absence of men in the above conversation. (Men, have you really been rendered silent in this debate? Really?)

Finally, Megan in Benin, Africa, shared her gratitude for my sermon, “How Hungry Are You?” She writes: “This really spoke to me. Just what I needed. I don’t go to church as much as I would like here in Benin as I don’t feel it feeds me. Your post helped me fill the gap. Thank you for sharing.”

Believe it or not, it’s not the $20/month I earn from blogging with Beliefnet that keeps me writing.  It’s interactions like these.  Thank you, Megan, and thank you to all of you saints and sinners who keep coming back.

Now, a glimpse of what you can expect to see in the days and weeks to come- and you’ll notice we have an eclectic mix of “cheeses” on display:

- Stations of the Cross in Holy Week…Like Jesus’ disciples, I’ll probably fall away- in my own case, somewhere between running errands, folding clothes, making dinner and attempting to be a wife and mother- but I hope you’ll consider journeying with me next week, anyway.

- More of our ongoing “Jesus Epithets” series, in addition to my regularly random rants, jokes, and meditations at the intersection between life and God

- A really interesting interview, in 2-3 installments, with college friend and Stanford University neuroscientist Saskia de Vries…Saskia will indulge our questions about the latest discoveries in human neuroscience as they pertain to our understanding of God, sin and redemption, and other doctrines and questions from the world of Christian theology.  I’m especially excited about this conversation!  Tell your friends about it. Or, don’t.

Love you all! Thanks for reading, thinking, pouting, laughing, crying, nodding your head, sending me kind comments that keep me going, and at times wildly (but hopefully always charitably) disagreeing.  Here’s to cheeses- I mean, Jesus- this Holy Week.  Grace and peace.






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