What's Tony Thinking

Fast Takes Before the Holiday


Maybe we should all go to a gay bar this weekend? There have been some excellent and thought-provoking stories related to the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. One that appeared in the New York Times was an eloquent and outraged lament titled “This Holiday I’m going to a Gay Bar.”Maybe we all should, as a gesture of solidarity?

Another was article about the retired army major who brought down the shooter saving countless lives. It’s a bittersweet story. He was effective because he is instinctively on guard after multiple combat tours. But he had been struggling to let go of some of that and readjust to civilian life. Now, he said sadly, everyone in the club will also have experienced the trauma of war, including his daughter whose boyfriend was among the dead. Now Chesapeake, Virginia. I keep hearing Dylan, “How many deaths will it take ’til we know that too many people have died?”

Seeing Mexico through rose-tinted lenses? Some of you responded to my “From A Distance, America,” post of earlier this week by suggesting that I might be looking at Mexico through rose-tinted glasses. Fair enough. San Miguel de Allende is, as Linda put, “another bubble.” NYT columnist Bret Stephens, who grew up in Mexico, asked if Mexico would be the next Venezuela?

Stephens focuses on the efforts of the left-wing Mexican President Obrador to undermine democracy here, and also notes that under Obrador a third of the country has been ceded to the dominion of drug cartels with terrible violence and missing people being one consequence.

You may recall me mentioning in the past Whitehead’s idea of the “dance of learning?” It’s a three-step of romance, discipline and generalization. Learning begins with infatuation, romance; if it is to continue, romance must give way to discipline, sticking with it when it’s a slog. Generalization, the capacity to make wider connections based on what you’ve learned, is the pay-off. I’m probably at the romance state with Mexico. Let me enjoy it.

Weighing retirement? A recent episode of “Fresh Air” features the journalist Steve Lopez on his new book, Independence Day: What I’ve Learned About Retirement from Some Who Have Done it and Some Who Never Will. 

I’m wondering how I’ll do after my stint here at Community Church, where I (again) plan and lead weekly worship, prepare and preach a sermon each week, and do a bit of pastoral care? Will it be a big adjustment to not being doing all those things, come January? I do enjoy both working on and giving a sermon, and the subsequent dialogue it creates. But I won’t lie, for me it’s hard work. As noted before I never pull old sermons out of “the barrel.” That just never worked for me.

Advent Begins this Sunday. It’s an odd season. We think of it generally as a time of preparing for Christmas, which I suppose it is, but also is not. Advent really focuses more on the Second Coming than the first, in Bethlehem. My sermon this Sunday is titled, “Can We Really Believe in a Second Coming?” I’ll deliver it while surrounded by huge Mexican poinsettias and Christmas trees.

Advent situates believers between advents, between the first coming of Christ and his return in glory in a final consummation. While there is the tension with the rush to Christmas, there’s another side to it, that is to Advent. Often we want to start the Christmas season/ celebration right after Thanksgiving, and have it be a magical time of romance, nostalgia and constant good cheer. But tragedy regularly intervenes, casting a pall, that we find hard to deal with.

Advent, as living between the times, means we live between the already of Christ’s coming and the not-yet of fulfillment and a new creation. We live in a world where the powers of sin and evil continue to rage. Advent does not require us to pretend everything is wonderful, as Christmas in America sometimes seems to ask 0f us (though the actual Christmas story does not).

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