July 19, 2023
Sometimes, I have to be reminded that being a Presbyterian in the Bible Belt can be a fulltime job. This past week I made my daily trip to the Conoco convenience store to get Miss Vicki’s daily fountain Coke. She’s like the ladies of Old Atlanta who would simply swoon if they did not have a cold Co-Cola by 10:00 AM. They, of course, had to have theirs in a crystal glass with three cubes of ice, poured from a 6 oz. glass bottle. Something else which has gone the way of the Dodo Bird. But I digress.
The Conoco, or “Co” as it is called by those in the know, hosts the Council of the Wise. This is a group of self-described philosophers, theologians, and sundry students of human nature who gather on a bench and scatter their synthetic pearls of wisdom before anyone who will pause long enough to listen. I am often one of their targets since I am a relative newcomer to Blue Ridge and am easily distracted.
Somehow, they recently found out that I am a Rev-type; a fact I do not readily advertise around there. After all, I am retired. “Preacher!” they exclaimed as I approached. “Pastor,” I replied. “Presbyterian clergy are called Pastors.”
“Well, we got a couple of questions, Pastor. Can you tell us when you were saved?”
“On the first Good Friday about the year 33 when Jesus died on the cross.”
“Yeah, but when were you saved?”
“At that same moment, same as you.”
You can imagine the discussion which ensued.
I know the standard wisdom is to never bait the bear, but my lesser angels won the day. The following conversation lasted about 30 minutes, during which time all of the ice in Miss Vicki’s Coke melted. There were no victors or losers, just some food for thought all around.
- Popular piety is alive and well.
- Simple answers to complex questions are, in some quarters, to be preferred.
- Many folk still believe that Jesus was European, perhaps even Nordic, and spoke beautiful Elizabethan English.
- King James gave us beautiful prose, see #3.
- The Hymnbook has 32 hymns. The rest is filler.
- Many folk take belief in the fires of hell and a red-suited devil as an article of orthodoxy.
- These same folk put more energy into avoiding hell than celebrating heaven.
- Hell is bursting at the seams and heaven is thinly populated.
- God takes a dim view of most everybody else. Especially those different from “us.”
- If you want to know if God likes you, just ask the Council of the Wise.
Ah, well. Such is life on the edge of the world!
I bid you peace!