The Chair and the Desk, 4/26/16

From the chair:

“‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”

-1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Annie’s on a business trip this week, and I find this a helpful personal reminder. When it’s just me, I have a long list of relaxing things that I feel I need to be sure to squeeze in: A superhero TV show Annie doesn’t like, an iPhone game, a fun and light novel, a fun and heavy novel, some cheap and tasty cooking, the list goes on. These things are “lawful,” but are they helpful? Do they build up–specifically, do they build others up? Only indirectly, and only in proportion. I feel I’m still learning the right amount of recreation to recharge my batteries but not leave me uselessly plugged in. Yet, at the end of this term, with one paper left, I’m committed to asking that question anew, figuring out how to really dedicate my time to what is best, to what is helpful, through this paper, through teaching, through our congregation, through all the opportunities God has provided to build up in his people and his name.

From the desk:

“We judge doctors good as doctors, not only on the grounds that they are knowledgeable or get theoretically elegant results—although this is certainly part of their preparation—but on the grounds that they are good at curing, or have made some valuable contribution to future cures…So much, Aristotle, now claims, is true of ethics: if it makes human lives no better, it will be deservedly ignored.” 

-Martha Nussbaum, Therapy of Desire, p.59

I believe that what Nussbaum draws out of Aristotle’s work about medicine and ethics could also be said for medicine and homiletics. We mustn’t forget that our purpose is not good understanding of preaching but good preaching, by real preachers, in the Church. That’s what I’m arguing in this last paper–I wish I could call in some help on tidying up my mind on this one, a la Mrs. Weasley or Cinderella. If I could just talk to someone for 30-40 minutes and then have them write a coherent paper based on it, that would be great.

“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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