Sunday, September 23, 2007

In Cerumen Spiritus

Today Charlie had to tackle the parable of the dishonest manager. He did not try to explain it because he admitted defeat; he couldn't do it. I have to give him points for that. He picked up a few negative points by giving us the image of "removing our spiritual earwax." This was not very appealing to me. I guess what he did was to examine Jesus' method in telling parables, how we need to be open and listen to the parables, and how we often go to great lengths to interpret them. I am glad they kept these stories we just don't get. Wouldn't the Bible be boring if it were a simple list of commandments. Maybe this parable was meant for people of a different time, and we can no longer, or are not ready to, understand it.


  1. Anonymous10:44 PM

    Actually, this parable was not directed at people "of a different time" at all -- though indeed "we may not be ready to understand it." Go to a used car lot 'most anytime and listen to the salesmen talk about their trade. The one customer they couldn't close. The couple that got financed with an extra-high interest rate. The commissions earned on a split sale. You'll see the same attitudes and hear the same language.

    Of course, what is amazing about this parable is not just how Jesus reproduces the chatter of merchants, like a district sales manager speading to his account manager. He knows their words, He knows their thoughts, He knows their ways. But He can draw spiritual lessons out from the crass business of money-grubbers. Ought to be beneath Him.

    But then again, He made opened the eyes of a soldier -- a centurion, a hardened officer -- to the spiritual principles behind his military profession. And He ate with "publicans and sinners" -- when in the pecking order of some churches today, sales folk are far beneath the . . . well, let's not go there.

    BTW, you might want to look at Dorothy Sayers' "The Man Born to Be King." Sayers was a friend of C.S. Lewis and J.B. Phillips and others. She wrote this cycle of radio plays to go through the Gospels, together with some articles on the creeds &c. (I think her version has Matthew telling this parable with zest and relish). Her book has a wonderful introduction explaining why right doctrine really is important to life and worship.

    Hope this points you to a fun jumping off point.


  2. As the dishonest manager might have said, Merci.