Commentary

Whiners in our midst

Uncle Halvor wonders why there are so many gripers in churches

My Uncle Halvor was explaining to me, the other day at our regular coffee chatting time at the Nowhere Cafe, what a fascinating visit he’d had.

It seems Halvor’s wife’s nephew, Harry, had flown into Minneapolis from Albuquerque, and stayed over with Halvor and Helga for the night.

Halvor said, “You know I thought the Lutherans had trouble with ‘sects and insect’ groups. I don’t think we’re even in the same ballpark with the Southern Baptist Conven-tion. They’re a big outfit too, like us, maybe the biggest Protestant Church in the USA.”

My uncle continued, “It seems Harry and his wife and about 20 others decided they didn’t like their new pastor or the direction Southern Baptists were going. So, they up and left!”

“What do you mean? Twenty people just ‘up and left’?”

“Yup! That’s what Harry told me. They said they would stay Baptist but form their own congregation.”

“So, how’s that going?”

“Not well.”

“Really? Why not? Sounds like they were all of the same mind.”

“Oh yah. But Harry discovered that what united them was what they were against rather than what they were for! The truth is, they really weren’t for anything, just against!”
“That sounds like some splinter groups in the Lutheran Church,” I suggested. “They are also known far more for what they’re against than what they’re for.”

“Yah,” Halvor said, chuckling. “It puts me in mind of old lady Eckstrom at Bleak Valley Lutheran. She’s always complaining about two things, her health and our church. Our church just isn’t what it used to be. Wavering on the gays, flirting with the ‘piskies’ …”

“Episcopalians?”

“Yah, yah, them. Don’t interrupt. And now a new generic hymnbook with a red cover! What is the Church coming to anyway, she wants to know? Her whining and bellyaching about her health and the church is a burden for us all. And, just between you and me, her health ain’t really all that bad.”

“It’s tough to deal with members like her,” I agreed.

“Tough, is right! It takes patience, I tell you. I think if she ever really got totally well, it would kill her!”

“You’re saying she loves to find fault with her congregation and Lutherans in general?”

“Find fault! She just loves to complain! And it’s real comforting for her to imagine she’s booked passage on the Titanic. She’s never so happy as when she’s criticizing our church. The Lutheran Church is going down, she keeps saying, and taking her with it. Let the band strike up ‘Nearer My God to Thee,’ and she’ll resign herself to her fate and enjoy every minute of it.”

Well … it’s something to ponder.

“So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’” (Acts 11:2)