Sunday, October 26, 2008

Let Barking Dogs Bark


Fr. Foss delivered today's sermon on Matthew 22:34-46. You remember, the two commandments upon which all the law and prophets hang. As he said, "that's all there is to religion folks," or some such statement, I thought that I heard echoes of classical liberal theology as discussed earlier this month by Robert Easter over at Sanctifusion where he wrote,
"At the 'core' of Liberal Theology is 'reductionism.' Classic Liberalism took Jesus' words, 'on these hang all the Law and the Prophets,' concerning what we variously call the 'Summary of the Law,' or the 'Jesus Creed,' and reduced all they saw 'Christianity' to mean down to simply 'Go to church and act nice.' and relegated all the rest to the 'details' bin to be sorted out later.

I was not disappointed, as Charlie went on to tell us that everything else was just "stuff." And we all know, "stuff" is not worth arguing over. The next part of the sermon contained an underdeveloped story about neighborly love. Charlie gave a personal story of his neighbor's dog that barks day and night.

Charlie assumes that the dog barks because it is not loved properly by its owners. Or perhaps the neighbors were not loving part of God's creation, the dog, properly. Our readers should be reminded that Fr. Foss is more of a cat person and not a dog person. I don't blame Charlie if he is mad at his neighbor (he did not come out and say it, but isn't this an indirect dig against his neighbors. It is sort of like calling them bad parents is it not?). I wouldn't blame him if he went over and told his neighbor to shut the dog up, but Charlie did not address the loving your neighbor part of the story. I mean, it is hard to show love to your neighbor when their dog keeps you awake all night. I might be tempted to resort to violence myself. Alas, the barking dog issue was left open ended, but I got the impression that bad owners create barking dogs, which provides me with a connection for the next bit.

Next Charlie started dragging out the "stuff" we are supposed to not fight over, like Bishop Gene Robinson. Charlie told the tale of the Roman Catholic who could not see joining the Episcopal Church because of all the fighting and name calling going on over the divorced, homosexual Bishop of New Hampshire. My question is, what kind of Church is one that deliberately creates a situation which is guaranteed to cause such a conflict? A Church that puts a barking dog in the yard next to your bedroom window? The truth is, that because the owners at 815 Second Avenue did not show the proper love for Gene Robinson, or for their neighbors, he remains the annoyance in the backyard. Of course the same holds true for other forgettable noise makers such as Bishop Spong, etc. I now have a new found pity for Bishop Robinson. I also know why it does no good to ask him to be quiet. He can't be quiet because he is the victim of poor training and poor ownership. I guess I need to keep knocking on the owner's door at 815 and tell them to shut the "stuff" up.

As I commented earlier at the Sanctifusion blog,
"The old saying was 'The devil is in the details.' Perhaps that is why it is easier to toss the details into the can. 'Oooh, oooh, we can't go there because you know who is in there.'
Armed with Christ, we can go there, and conquer all those pesky details."


  1. If "Imitation is the highest form of flattery," then I am truly most flattered! Funny thing, I preached from the same passage this morning and left that detail out of the picture. Hmm.

    More seriously, old "Brother Billy" said a long time ago, "If you find a perfect church, don't join it." Interesting to consider, figuring that (1.) trying to find one turns out to be like "looking for love in all the wrong places," and (2.) my own little Anglican church just got "traded" over to the Episcopal diocese of Mississippi..!

  2. I could have done without that detail (the N.H. Bishop) too, but since "it" was presented, I had to comment. One thing about the Episcopal Church, it does make you think.