Positive Outcomes of Vanity

I’ve been checking over at the Christian Century website more regularly these days, as they asked me for a column responding to the recent meeting of Primates and the Communiqué that the meeting promulgated. Those visits stem partly from vanity, but also partly from a degree of worry about how the column will be received (on which more later).

Because I was paying attention, though, I caught two columns that impressed me very favorably. James Alison’s piece on drowning in theology aptly communicates the joy of coming to understand what you thought you already knew — and that understanding disclosing vast frontiers of yet-undiscovered brilliance and depth and wisdom.

Over on the Century’s blog, Lillian Daniel meditates about why pastors write badly (focusing her attention on the newsletter). She proposes a very charitable analysis, suggesting on one hand that we “pour our creativity into that weekly sermon, and sometimes at the end of all that, the well has run dry.” She does not suggest, as she might, that a sizable proportion of the pastors about whom she’s thinking just don’t understand writing (or any form of communication) that well, and that those who might have obliged them to write better either never really tried, or gave up in baffled desperation. Whatever the factors, she gently urges that church leaders remember how great a proportion of their work involves writing, how high the stakes are.

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