Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Acts 8:26-40

Easter 5 - Year B

And so we were led to go toward the south that goes down from Wisconsin to the Florida Keys. There was the United Methodist Church in Tampa, seated in General Conference, debating what it meant to be transformed into disciples of Jesus. Actually it was more about making others into ourselves. We heard so many different interpretations of scripture that it became a babel of confused theologies. At one point 44% voted that Grace was not available to all - John Wesley wept; John Calvin winked.

Unspoken was the question, “How can I understand? Where is a reliable voice in the midst of so many voices?"

The good news is that there is a reliable lens through which we might hear the depths of a religious tradition call out to us.

At General Conference human identity issues measure every vote. What will divestment from Israel mean for Palestinians? What does ordination have to do with sexual orientation? Who benefits from a concentration of power into the hands of the pious? How much of a budget belongs to the poor?

And we left Tampa with these questions unasked. Baptisms deferred rather than offered. It was if we were never there.

May the spirit prepare better questions for the United Methodist Church to ask.


  1. In the meantime, Hope this day has gone better for the greatly darned (think socks).


    Holey, holy, wholly
    Great Sock! almighty,
    If stitch wert my art,
    My sock be unity

    But alas, I am no sockstitcher. I work in my socks, most of the day, and they become holy very quickly, and it becomes suddenly apparent when the heel gives out and there is a gaping void where once was sock (nothing to buffer my foot from the reality of the Floor). I like to think of those moments as apophatic moments: the sock of undoing, the s(h)ock of reality hitting, something mystical afoot, a flash of insight that it maybe is we who are the Sock more than the wearer of the Sock. Those moments pass and are replaced, usually, by a mundane expression of dismay over the hole in the sock: "Oh darn."

    I wonder that our theology, our disciplines, our cherished notions, are like socks. Some of them serve well, and if we really wear them, they serve well and then fail catastrophically and cannot be darned because a holiness opens up at the heel and spreads far and wide across the very foundation of the sock. Some people wear out their socks at the toe (shoes too small, mostly). No matter.

    Some socks are very expensive and said to have unnaturally long life. It's not true, they are still socks, and some of the pricey ones wear out even faster than the cheap Costco socks (4 pair/$10, over-the-calf). Some people swear by tube socks, but having no socksual orientation whatsoever are rather difficult to wear because they don't fit anybody real. Some socks are just poor socks, made with sub-par yarns, poor workmanship, and ragged finishing. They are too small, they have no stretchiness or give, they are totally unforgiving. Alas, these tend to last forever because they never get worn but Original Guilt keeps them from being discarded.

    Some people throw out the holey sock and mix and mis-match pairs based on function rather than design/color. These people are scarey sockmongers.

    The truth is, all socks wear out. They're socks. That's what socks are supposed to do. They cushion feet against the blistering inflexibility of the shoe, and for people who pad around in their socks, they provide a little warmth and cushioning against the floor (but more importantly a hedge against the law - health dept. regulations prohibit working barefoot). There is some confusion here: "uncovering the feet" is a biblical euphemism for socksual knowledge and that has always made the authorities uneasy, who think that socklessness is a slippery slope of some kind, but this is disinformation: in reality, it's the socks themselves that are slippery. Bare feet usually hold nicely.

    Nonetheless, there continues to be the deep longing for the perfect sock.

    "Sock of ages, cleft for me,
    let me hide my foot in thee."

    Some, weary of the search, become bereft and go about in sockcloth and ashes.

    Others find escape in hedonistic pursuits like those described in "101 ways to better socks" or "the joy of socks."

    It is reported that Jesus did not wear socks and therefore never had to deal with being greatly darned (or even slightly darned). Most likely it is because he did not want to appear too bohemian-chic by wearing socks with his sandals, as some do.

    1. Love this response, as well as the reports and photos from Wesley that have me yearning for threads that hold, in spite of the petty nail in the floorboard.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.