Saturday, May 17, 2008

We Could Use Some Grease

Dr. Brian Dirk of Anderson University has written the newest of the Lincoln literature (Lincoln The Lawyer. Urbana: Univ of IL Press, 2007).

Dirk writes as follows: “The political machinery of antebellum and Civil War America was every bit as prone to dysfunctional meltdowns as the economic and social machinery, and likewise cried out for some sort of lubricant to ease the way: an overarching spirit of compromise, some political entity that played the lawyer’s role of valuing none of the wheels so much as their relative noiseless operation. But in the end, no such lubricant existed - and the war came” (pp 154-172).

Dirk’s best metaphor of Lincoln is grease. He pictures Lincoln as an objective (dispassionate) lawyer, a magnanimous president, and a story teller with a neutral legal mind. He suggests Lincoln the lawyer functioned as social grease (ch 8).

Whatever you may think of grease, dirty, nasty, or otherwise, it is useful and necessary. I love his metaphor and wish that we Choggers could catch the vision of becoming social grease.

Suppose we Chog ministers would become the essential ingredient for making our church machinery run smoothly, and subject our narcissistic dreams of growth and achievement to the common mission that God launched between Bethlehem and Calvary?

Suppose ordinary Chog Christians would forego working their fool heads off to keep up with their neighbor, or fulfill their “American dream” and really get their head in the game of helping tear down the walls of hatred, strife, genocide and ethnic warfare, or working equally hard to reduce starvation and poverty, or achieving some other worthy cause that shares a cup of cold water in Jesus' name?

Suppose the Chog started viewing other people as God views them and make a serious effort to hear what people are saying? Suppose we really listened to one another and sought practical solutions to some of the problems common within our churches, our communities, and in our global neighborhood?

Does anyone have the audacity to try to imagine what a good grease job could do for our badly-squeaking world? Unless someone has something better, we might take a cue from Jesus and be satisfied to share his empowering love. We talk a lot about it--about grace and mercy and reconciliation etc--but we seem to be in short supply where it is most needed.

I’m still thinking further about what I wrote earlier on mutual accountability in the church.


rusty said...

brilliant thoughts friend! i really like the concept of mars hill in Acts being the place that Paul preached Christ as truth right in the middle of the cultural epicenter of philosophical learning. He was among the people, the teaching, their art before he took the stage. does this go against the view of "come-out" of the world that the choggers passionately pursued while refusing to play cards and go to movies?

Wayne said...

Thanks Rusty!
Whether or not it goes against "come-out theology" it certainly affirms biblically for me where we are currently. The main body of the Church of God has effectively rejected come-outism, but we have never caught the vision of what Paul was doing there. When we do, we will be busy working trans-denominationally and focus on God's primary mission of healing his world and not just restoring a select group of holier-than-thou saints. Wayne

courage said...

Hi, Rusty. Thanks for the article about Lincoln and grease. There was also a lot of good grease and rancid grease both in the Civil War when it came to religion. It got so bad around western Missouri that Lincoln took action that few know about--he approved of the forced homelessness of all 20,000 resident for more than 3 counties with no provision for most of them to even be fed. These people were propping up their politics with warped religion that believed that slavery was God-ordained. I write all about it in my new book Just Following Orders: Escape from Guerrilla Warfare in 1863. It's a story for kids of all ages, a crossover, as up-to-date as tonight's evening news, showing one of the many desperate situations Lincoln faced because misguided folks on both sides were sliding in all directions of unethical behavior while believing that what they were doing was of God.