DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

April 12, 2007

                                                           

                                      

A Different Perspective

 

Some years ago I was watching a movie in Berkeley . The movie was about urban kids and their struggles to prevail against the harshness of inner city life. It was a good movie and had a story line that I certainly could not relate to, due to my small-city, Ohio upbringing, but I enjoyed the film nonetheless.

 

I think the film was set in New York or Chicago and the white kids and the black kids in the movie came up against all sorts of obstacles. But even more interesting than the movie was the audience. The crowd watching the movie (save for one minister) consisted mainly of white and black kids from Berkeley . They saw the harshness and the ridiculousness of things in the movie that I would never see. Granted, I understood some of the urban situations since I lived in Berkeley for a few years, but there were simple things in the movie that set the kids in the audience howling with laughter; things that I would not have noticed. They let out a collective gasp at one point in the movie for a situation that barely registered with me.

 

Recently I had a similar situation when I went to see another movie.

 

I was viewing “The Namesake” a movie about an Indian family that moves to America from Kolcutta ( Calcutta ) and puts down roots in New York City . I went to the late afternoon matinee. Good deal. Cheaper tickets and nobody in the entire theatre.

 

Just before the start, four young Indian women came for the movie. They sat right behind me. They were teens I guess, they had accents different from my midwestern nasal twang and dressed like every other teen in America (or the world, for that matter).

 

At first I was disappointed because there were about 499 other seats in the theatre, and they were right behind me talking, but after the Previews they turned their attention to the beginning of the film and we all settled in.

 

Early on, I realized that they were seeing things that I did not know about. They were seeing their own aunts and uncles in the movie characters. They laughed harder in certain areas of the film and gasped at one spot that I would never have felt moved by. The Taj Mahal scene struck them silent, as it does so many Indians.

 

How much more interesting it was to see the film through their eyes as well as mine.

 

I was reminded recently that people see the Bible and their Bible studies through the prism of their own lives. Or people see the Bible passage in terms of who they are today.

 

Recently, an old friend, UCC Missionary Mark Behle sent me his newsletter. Mark has taught in Africa for over 20 years: half the time in Zambia and half in Lesotho in Southern Africa . Here is what his opening paragraph said about a recent Bible study there at the school in Lesotho .

 

“Have you ever heard someone say that the Bible study or devotions will be based on the 23rd Psalm and you have inwardly groaned, “Oh, not again!”?  That thought passed briefly through my mind when I met with some teachers for a meeting of Scripture Union leaders.  Mrs. Semuli announced we would be looking at Psalm 23 and I was already looking at the next item on the agenda.  However, Mrs. Semuli provided me with plenty of spiritual nourishment with her fresh insights on this beloved passage.  In Lesotho , there are plenty of sheep and shepherds, so I should not have been surprised to find that a Mosotho would give me a different perspective.”

 

 

 

 

I have never believed that a Bible verse or passage should be a one-size-fits-all type of a thing. When I am preaching, I always wonder how a middle-aged woman responds to what I say; after all, I am a middle-aged man. We hold differing perspectives. What about a teenager? How does a high school junior ever relate to what I would say? How does a newly widowed person respond? What about the woman who is abused at home? What does she hear when I speak of new life in Christ while her world is closing in on her?

 

I have to remember that the sermon is mine and the Scriptures are the sacred Word of God, which have stood the test of time and cultures. Maybe what needs to be heard does actually come through to those who are listening. In spite of me, the Word of God shines through.

 

William Willimon writes about the Reformer John Calvin in this way;

John Calvin compares the reading of Scripture to the donning of eyeglasses that enable us to see things that, without the glasses, we would not have seen.”

 

Willimon goes on to ask a larger question about how we read the Bible

“Don’t ask what this text means, but rather “How is this text asking me to change?”

 

I am constantly asking myself a similar question that the Rabbi asks, which is, “Don’t ask what the Bible story means. Ask, what you have learned from the story.”

 

I liked how Mark Behle wrote about gaining a “different perspective” by hearing the 23rd Psalm re-told by person from a country of shepherds.

 

As for the movie I saw recently about the Indian family in America . (Spoiler alert…I am about to reveal the ending…though I suppose few of you will see it anyway.) At the end of the movie the main character’s father dies, his wife leaves him for another man and his mother moves back to India to be a singer…and he is left riding the New York subway reading the great Russian novelist whom his father enjoyed. I loved the ending because I hate it when everything is tied up neatly at the end. I can live with non-resolution because I think there is a lot of non-resolution in life. I see it every day in the people I minister to.

 

But I really would like to have had the “different perspective” of those Indian teens who were watching the movie. I wonder what they thought of it. Maybe the ending hit home with them. Maybe not.  I do know that they left the theatre in silence.

 

 

 

Peace,   Bob

 

 

 

 

Kennedy Rooms Extreme Makeover   These two rooms are THE most used in the church. We are giving them a much-needed updating and are selling off the old chairs and tables. The tables are strong enough to support a Buick. The chairs are an interesting mix of....well, an interesting mix. Tables are $20...Chairs are $5 or $10 depending on the chair.

 

Teresa Trees will be in the Kennedy rooms immediately after worship. First come, first served. Buy and impress your friends. Tell them you have purchased an "eclectic blend of urban, post-modern religious furniture." (Which basically means, nothing matches nor is appropriate for any place other than the garage or basement...but it's sturdy. This is the furniture-equivalent of saying your blind date, "has a great personality.")