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June 25, 2009

Butter that Makes You Laugh Out Loud!

This has been cracking me up for a couple years. Our local grocery tags Land O' Lakes products as LOL. I wonder if they know what amusement they are affording us.

June 3, 2009

The Chaotic Good Preacher

alignment chartAs a rule, I enjoy taxonomies, typologies, personality inventories, and the ilk. I've been Meyers Briggsed, Strong Campbelled, Corinne Wared, Gallup Strengths Findered, Enneagrammed, and the list goes on.

But, honestly, I'm not sure any of them are much better or worse than the good old D&D alignment matrix. In old school D&D you choose an alignment to describe the ethos of your character. You can, on one axis, be Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic in relationship to your adherence to authority, and on the other axis be Good, Neutral, or Evil in what, in game terms, boils down to your own sense of altruism. In D&D terms, Evil characters are always out for self enrichment and use other people to achieve their own ends.

When applied to real life the alignment grid becomes very interesting. As a pastor in a major, mainline denomination (perhaps two of them) you might predict that I'd be Lawful Good, seeking to maintain social order and promote the common good. It's the classic Paladin alignment after all. But, actually, in testing and in practice, I'm Chaotic Good, and not accidentally so.

I'm fairly suspicious of institutions, whether governmental or ecclesiastical, and not that I doubt the good intentions of the leadership, though sometimes I do. Moreso I question the overall efficacy of such institutions and their ability to really do anything of worth. The bigger the institution, the more out of touch it is. And that's not just my experience, it's my theological reasoning as well. A key biblical text for me in this regard is 1 Samuel 8 which describes what a king does to his people.

Also, I'm just suspicious of moral frameworks in general. After all the fall was caused not by eating an apple, but eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Morality is a curse in the context of Genesis 3 and one could argue that the rest of the Bible is dealing with that curse.

So, I'm a Chaotic Good Preacher. I believe that Good is best expressed in individual actions of compassion and justice and not in institutional expressions of the same. Sometimes the system works, sure, but even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile.

Practically this means I preach about grace and joy found in concrete expressions of individual's life and charity found in the life of the community. As a leader I try to be sure that my institution for which I'm paradoxically responsible is a permission giving body that tries to chart a course for the body, and then pretty much stays out of the way, giving resources and support, rather than micromanaging. In other words, I try never to let the rules stand in the way of a good idea.