Thursday, September 13, 2012

James 3:1-12

Pentecost +16 - Year B

James 3:1-12

Why should a select few be known as teachers? This begins to rank and thus to breakdown the value of gifts given by one spirit or to enforce an economic ranking of them. Surely value is not based on being judged with a greater strictness. If we begin to vary the strictness or flexibility of gifts usage, what little community we have falls further apart.

A better clue is given with the example of a forked tongue that can shift in a moment from praise to blame. Teachers have a weird ability to parcel out encouragement and beckoning forward in a variety of styles to meet the resistances of those willing to learn with them. Teachers also have an ability to refrain from speaking more than they know.

So many of us want to be perceived as wise and so we make up things when asked about what we don't know. Speculation and over-parsing nuance make up so much of our time together. Even when asked about what we do know we get so wrapped up in our explanations that we lose track of who asked a question and whether our response has gone so far past their ability to follow that we would go on forever, piling detail upon detail.

One model seldom tried is for teachers to teach how to teach that everyone might teach about their own gift. In this sense, we need more and more teachers, not preparers for tests or spreaders of information without context.

Here is a strict judgment perhaps equivalent to being a strict conservative: We are in the cultural quandaries we are in because we have devalued teachers by idealizing them. Each of us is accountable for the current state of affairs. We have not been willing to be taught or to teach basic community processes and our place in them. To this end, pray for those who can be clear about questions and responses (not answers) and next questions - teachers.

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