Friday, March 27, 2009

America's Pastime

Baseball has long been haled as America's Pastime. "It is our game" said someone whose name is long forgotten. As the Boys of Summer finish their Spring Training and prepare to begin another wonderful, beautiful season I argue that baseball is no longer the favorite pastime of Americans. It has been replaced, not by football, basketball, or even NASCAR. Instead, the blame game is now America's Pastime.

The recent economic downfall continues to breed a target rich environment for anyone wanted to blame their troubles on someone else. Millions of people have lost jobs, savings, 401ks, etc and they want vindication and vengeance. They want to lay their frustrations at the feet of someone or something in order to assuage their own anguish. The latest scapegoats are a group of employees of AIG who received contractually obligated bonuses for services rendered. The media have virtually tarred and feathered these people and now the politicians want their pound of flesh by retroactively placing heavy taxes on these bonuses, which is unconstitutional by any standard. Is it justice, or just another round of the blame game? This is nothing more than a lame attempt to shift the anger of the American people from Congress to someone...anyone else. It is smoke and mirrors, a cheap parlor trick. The Federal government sat idly by for decades and did nothing to prevent this crisis and allowed Wall Street to act unchallenged and unchecked and only now when the American people are at their doorstep with the proverbial torch and pitchfork do they act. Republicans blame President Obama "socialist" tendencies while their Democratic counterparts blame former President Bush. Both sides blame Wall Street while it is the people on Main Street who suffer.

It is high time that we put aside the blame game and seek real and honest solutions to our problems. Republicans do not have the answers and neither do the Democrats, but perhaps the solution lies in the middle of the aisle. One of the greatest aspects of this country has always been its ability and willingness to compromise. Compromise saw us through difficult times before and it is the only way to work through this problem. However, this mentality does not create good ratings for Fox News or MSNBC and this mentality does not win elections. Therefore I doubt it will ever happen. Great republics fall when they fail to compromise. We are teetering on the edge. Will we fall? God only knows.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Evangelistic Frustrations

I am the pastor of two very small United Methodist churches in Giles County. I work very hard to provide sound pastoral guidance, well thought out and delivered sermons, and to try and build up these fledgling congregations. In the three years I have been serving these churches there has been no professions of faith or adult baptisms. Our numbers continue to dwindle. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, but I think I am a good pastor. I provide an open, welcoming, and loving atmosphere, but no one takes up on the offer. I am not alone the other UM churches in this area are also dwindling in numbers. On the other hand the more conservative baptist, Assembly of God, and non-denominational churches in our area seem to be booming. The AoG pastor is in the newspaper writing articles and has a parking lot full on Sunday morning and evening. I would be willing to bet that you could go to any of these churches and hear the same theology of Jesus or Hell. One of these churches put on a "Judgment House" over Halloween that was a disgusting display of fear based evangelism. Why is it that these churches are booming and we are dwindling? I know that everyone in the community does not buy into the conservative mindset (although I am sure that there are some). What am I doing wrong and they are doing right? I am really frustrated at the whole thing. But I am going to keep on working.