When I was a young man and first came into the North Dakota District the president was a no nonsense kind of fellow. He set the table when he met me in St. Louis and asked when I could get up to North Dakota. I told him that I planned on getting ordained in my home church up in Colorado and then get to North Dakota sometime in June for Installation. He said that was a plan but then he said “you come as soon as possible and you will be ordained and installed at your new churches”. He said that they were the ones that called me and I should be ordained there. The folks from Colorado could come if they wanted to but my ordination should be held at the churches that called me. He was dead serious and even though it made my mother mad, I did what he said. He was gruff and grumpy and I loved the guy. His perspective on ministry and attitudes of where we were and what rural ministry was about was fascinating. He lived in a big city then but reminded us of the time when a hospital call was a three day event. Driving to the hospital on the old roads and making your calls and getting back could be an adventure. He said the memorization of scripture had been important to him because that was when he prepared his sermons and those long drives were his “office time”. He could be very sympathetic and pastoral but also quite short and raspy when dealing with foolishness. A pastor who refused to visit a dying man because it was his day off really received his ire. His favorite word for us young preachers when we made mistakes was “cockroaches”.
I was not offended when my supervisor called me a name like that, in fact I considered it something of a badge of honor. At least he confronted me when I was wrong and supported me when I was right. He gave me a lot of responsibility and appointed me to positions which at the beginning, I thought I had because no else would do them, When I was successful he gave me more responsibility and I believed that he trusted me. But the cockroach names still came once and a while.
In the days we live in now there is a strange atmosphere of being able to say the vilest things about others and then melting down when things are said about you. There does not seem to be any sense of humor and what passes for humor is vile. Laughing about the death of political foes and praying for a recession seem to be particularly obscene but even obscenity is pretty common. Politics was once a side show part of life. There was work to do and there was church and their were family issues and then came things like sports and politics and social stuff. Sunday after church was the time to travel around and visit friends and families and gossip and maybe talk politics. There were of course no twitter feeds and 24 hour cable. It was a different time and there is no sense in bemoaning what we have lost but it is interesting to examine what we have.
So a story today was making the rounds and “blew up” as they say, about bed bugs. Evidently the building where the New York Times is located has bed bugs and some yammering bad mouth called some commentator or reporter one of the bed bugs and the rest is, as they say history. The accused bed bug got mad and threw a fit, and of course all the other folks who like to throw shade were offended at this persons anger over such a small thing. The sad fact is that this is what makes news today because there is so much news to be made. The days when everything you needed to know including the sports and the weather could be summed up in an hour are over and we have to be bombarded constantly with “news” that isn’t news at all. I would like information that matters. For instance, would the so called bed bug feel better if he were called a cockroach?