The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Pentecost 5 :: Collateral Damage?

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Over the past several years I have become more and more disturbed over the so-called “collateral damage” which often occurs during wartime. You know what that is don’t you? Collateral damage happens when innocent men, women, or children are killed or wounded during wartime. Lately we’ve heard of many such instances involving drone airstrikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and, more recently, in Libya. While all such “incidents” are lamented, one often hears the nausea-inducing comment that those people shouldn’t have been where they were—that they should not have been anywhere near the bad guys.

Are we to accept that such is the tremendous price one pays for having the misfortune of living in a war zone? I think not.

Now it might seem a bit trite to bring up the parable of the weeds in the field from Matthew’s Gospel reading for this Sunday, but the connection is, for me, too obvious to pass up. Today’s farmers can apply herbicides to fields to keep pesky weeds from spoiling the crop. And even though the soil may eventually become contaminated from years of such application, that is a small price to pay for good healthy corn, or wheat, or whatever [But can we overlook the possible damage done to the crop itself through prolonged exposure to agricultural chemicals?]. However, back in Jesus’ day weeds had to be destroyed by the back-breaking labor of digging and pulling. And even then there was the “collateral damage” of pulling up the crop as well as the weed as their roots got entangled. Jesus’ suggestion that the workers just leave the field be until harvest time seems a bit odd. Won’t the weeds deplete the soil of many of the nutrients that the crops need?

Pentecost 4 :: Being fruitful [and veggie-ful]

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Over the past couple of months, I’ve gotten to know a little about the people who work the farmer’s market near my home: the folks who sell fresh organic milk, butter, and cheese that comes from very contented cows; the couple who grow and can spicy pickled veggies like carrots, string beans, and cauliflower; the women who own an organic farm and who sell the biggest heads of red and green lettuce I’ve ever seen [their strawberries a’int bad neither!].

I am especially taken by the Hutterite family from Wausau, Wisconsin who load up their truck at 3 in the morning and drive the 3 hours to get to Minneapolis in time to set up their tomato cart. They have all kinds of wonderful looking veggies, but I go for the beefsteak tomatoes—Yum! Yum! In talking with the teenaged son of the family, he tells me with a big smile that they make the trouble to come all the way to the cities on Saturday mornings because they find the customers so warm and friendly. I tell him that they are reaping what they’ve sown.

Pentecost 3 :: Can't get no satisfaction!

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Some people just are not ever satisfied. No matter how well things might be going, they’re always on a tear because it could’ve been so much better. Get an “A” on an important test? Well, it could’ve been an “A+”! Hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score? Well, if you guys’d been able to load the bases, we’d have won! Throw a party for the neighborhood? One household didn’t show up—the outrage of it all!

The leaders of the synagogue were upset because John the Baptist refused to party down. I guess his abstinence made those pharisaical party-goers look bad. “He must be mad! Don’t listen to him.” Contrariwise, Jesus did enjoy a party or two in his time but the leaders got upset at him because he was popular with the crowds. “He must be a carouser. Look how he acts in public! The indignity of it all.” Can you say, “Not Satisfied”?

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