Sunday, June 14, 2009

I've Looked at Both Sides

In today's sermon, the rector posed the question "What is the Kingdom of God." He posed this question because when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom, as He did in today's Gospel reading, he spoke in parables. Rather than expound on the parable of the mustard seed, the rector left us with the, "What does that mean?" question that the disciples were often left with. I suppose this leaves the parables as objets d'art, subject to individual interpretation. After listening to interpretations, people tend to take sides. This leads to conflict.

I thought, "What does lack of interpretation lead to?"

The rector then used the unfortunate example of the murder of the abortionist, Dr. Tiller, to make the point of the problems with "belief systems." Belief systems are considered a problem by James P. Carse the author of "The Religious Case Against Belief" which is being studied by the adult Sunday school class, so it is no surprise that some of his ideas might work their way into the Sunday sermon. It should also come as no surprise when the rector referred to the "good Dr. Tiller" during the course of the sermon, thus revealing a certain underlying belief system that the rector himself has fallen for.

We were then given a homework assignment which is to try to see where those with whom we disagree are coming from. IMO, this type of exercise is usually inflicted upon those on "the right" by those on "the left" in order to further the "leftward drift" of whatever particular subject is up for "discussion."

I see where you are coming from, and I ain't going to meet you there.

(Joni Mitchell 1970)
"Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
You leave em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
Its Love's illusions I recall
I really don't know Love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
Its life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all"


  1. Thank you for posting this, Underground Pewster. Not only have you managed, as usual, to tie your rector's Sunday sermon into the larger issues that we face, but you also put up a video of one of my all-time favorite songs---which I first heard when I was in law school. (Are you sure about the date of 1970? I think Judy Collins' version dates from 1968.)

    Joni Mitchell's version is pure and straight, as befits the composer of the original song. But over time, I also grew to like the version by Judy Collins, on her album "Wildflowers", a version of which is here.

    As far as relating to the death of Dr. Tiller, I think that Ann Coulter's take on that event simply cannot be surpassed, even were your your rector inclined to try. Here is her memorable conclusion:

    "The official Web page of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America instructs: 'A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born.' As long as we're deciding who does and doesn't have an 'absolute right to be born,' who's to say late-term abortionists have an 'absolute right' to live?

    "I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?

    "Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one."

  2. Judy Collins version has more views on the YouTube tracker. I was always fascinated by Joni Mitchell's unusual style.

    The title suggests that it would be an appropriate song for a law student.

    ELCA's statement says it all.

  3. I, too, was taken with the Rector's reference to "the good Dr. Tiller" What is "good" about someone who murders 60,000 innocent children (and a few mothers along the way)? As I have said before...what part of "thou shalt not kill" don't you understand? While I don't condone the murder of Dr. Tiller, it strikes me as terribly awkward that a man of God should condemn one murder but fail to see abject evil in the murder of 60,000.

  4. Betrayed by an adjective, our good rector stands accused.

  5. Regard belief systems, was your pastor suggesting that no belief system is worth the effort/faith one has in it? That seems to be a self-defeating proposition in my view, if not logically absurd. You probably would have raised eyebrows after church, by suggesting to the pastor that if belief systems are inherently dangerous things, then he obviously is part of the problem having made espousing same a career. Obviously, the logical conclusion is that he is announcing his resignation and retirement.