The Chair and the Desk, 11/18/15

From the chair:

“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”

-Hebrews 13:3


Lately, I’ve been thinking about how little attention the Church pays to those who are locked away from society. I know there’s something unique about Christians who are incarcerated for their faith within the broader category of Christians who are incarcerated, but I’m actually not sure that the distinction is central to this verse.

I’ve been wondering about ways to better serve incarcerated persons in our community, and I ran across this program that PTS runs. It’s one of the things I most respect about our seminary:

From the desk:

“One morning I met a man in the train, and made acquaintance with him at once. I had often heard of him as a very learned man, but an atheist; and I was very glad of the opportunity of conversing with so eminent and clever a person. He doesn’t believe in God, and he talked a good deal about it, but all the while it appeared to me that he was speaking outside the subject. And it has always struck me, both in speaking to such men and in reading their books, that they do not seem really to be touching on that at all, though on the surface they may appear to do so. I told him this, but I dare say I did not clearly express what I meant, for he could not understand me.”

-Prince Lyov Nikolaevich Myshkin in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot

Dostoevsky’s “idiot” is the simple man who cuts through all our pretension, much like a certain man from Nazareth who always seemed to be traveling perpendicular to the world’s purposes. This anecdote from the character caught my attention, because it’s so true of so much of what we say. On the surface, we appear to be saying things about reality, but we wrap our statements in so much jargon and name-dropping that we’re often not considering or addressing anything real at all.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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