Writing helps me gather, and work out, my thoughts and feelings. This blog is a tool for engagement with our children. Many posts are my response to conversations with them. Posts prompt new conversations. Posts are “time stamped” reflections about what’s happening in our world. I’ve wished I could converse with my parents and grandparents about current events. In years to come, my kids may or may not want to know what the old man thought about this or that, but the blog makes it available.
In an August 2022 conversation with our son, Rob asked, “Does your blog allow you to talk about things you may not have been comfortable addressing when you were a pastor?” I replied, “The short answer is ‘yes.'” In sermons and teaching opportunities, I tried to reflect on biblical stories within the context of contemporary events. I tried to interpret those events in the context of biblical faith. I enjoyed that challenging and dynamic pastoral responsibility. The interest was always there.
I enjoyed my life as an active duty pastor. I thrived on variety. No two days were the same. Each day presented plenty to do on many fronts, including various administrative roles, personnel decisions, personal counseling, visits to the hospitalized and homebound, conflict resolution, community service, ecumenical and interfaith relationships, worship planning and leadership, and (what I enjoyed the most) opportunities to engage people’s minds in teaching settings. (I still miss those old chalkboards.)
Retirement gives me more time to think and engage. This blog is public but it’s a smaller and more intimate venue. It’s purely voluntary. There’s no “captive” audience. Readers aren’t paying my salary. I always claimed the freedom to speak my heart and mind and I would have walked away if that freedom had been denied. We had tough issues–particularly race in my early years as a pastor, which began in 1970 in the Deep South. But there was solidarity among leaders who sought to change things.
Today is a much more difficult time. Our ideological polarization impacts both church and society. My heart goes out to today’s faith leaders and political leaders. Many of these blog posts deal with the danger faced by our nation and world in the face of rising fascism, an authoritarianism that seeks to undermine democracy. I grieve for the Republican Party and for our nation. This is the most dangerous era we’ve seen since the Civil War. Some folks are ready to fight another one.