Monday, September 10, 2012


When I post entries about my experiences in and of church, which seems to have been a fairly frequent occurrence as far as my blogging goes, it tends to be on the days that they occur.  Such is not the case at present, not because I have not thought about what went on during yesterday's service at the United Methodist Church of the Village yesterday, but because my grandmother was visiting, and both my family an my guests come before my own personal endeavors.  It was quite good to have her in from Tama, Iowa; showing her around allowed my beloved wife and me to see things we had not previously seen in The City, which benefited all of us.

We did take her to church with us, though, and so we heard the senior pastor, our bishop, preach a sermon, "Choosing Your Seat," which he derived from James 2 and Proverbs 22.  During the sermon, the bishop, working from the Scriptural passages, stressed the fundamental kinship of humanity--a message particularly important as we approach the eleventh anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the self-sacrifice of passengers on United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.  As part of that message, he reminded us that it is the commonplace and mundane which makes possible the exceptional--and that the exceptional will do well to remember that truth.

The bishop often works from personal example and anecdote, a technique of which I approve in my own writing (obviously) and teaching.  The use of such devices lends an immediacy to the discussion and has the potential to impart significant ethos to it--both of which are good things for such folks as sermonists, teachers, and others whose primary vocation is to get people to believe things and act upon those beliefs.  And in "Choosing Your Seat," the bishop employed anecdote in expressing his valuation of his associates degree from a community college as the foundation of his later successes, such that he insists upon its being properly accounted for among the many honors that have accrued to his name.

As someone who teaches at a two-year college, where students are explicitly working towards such degrees, I wonder if any of my own students will have the kind of success that the bishop appears to have enjoyed (I only see the man at and around church, where he gives every indication of being quite happy with how things are moving; if I am wrong, it is through ignorance, and I apologize).  I wonder if they will find the kind of passion that evidently moves him and will be able to follow that passion in such a way that they are able to be of good and useful service to those around them--as the passages from Scripture he referenced strongly suggest we all ought to be.

That they will be is something for which I hope.


  1. Well, I think it is part of our job to remind our students that they can find such passion and accomplishment in their lives. Bishop J mentioned believing in his own inadequacy and feeling frustration in being 'only in junior college' at the time when he was going through it. I can remember feeling that way during my time in JC. I know several people in associates degree programs (including some students at TCI) that feel that way, too. I think it is incumbent upon us as teachers in such a program to remind our students that they have to start somewhere and that their accomplishments thus far are something to be proud of - even if it is 'just an associates'. And even though their current endeavors seem like such a small step, it can be a the first step along their path to personal fullfillment and greatness.

    1. I try to do this by modeling enthusiasm, demonstrating my own passion for my subject matter in what I do (which does sometimes backfire, admittedly, when I do it in a paper). I do find it difficult to relate to my students at times, though. I am very much the person I am, and my background is therefore markedly different than that from which so many of the students come. Building the kind of rapport that fosters the ability for me to impart my own passion and to present it as a desirable thing to have is difficult for me. It sometimes works, but I worry that it far more often does not.