August 04, 2017
“Let all things be done in decency and in good order.”
So says St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian Church—a church that tended toward the indecent and the chaotic. Paul wrote them multiple letters to love, counsel, cajole, and even browbeat them back onto the narrow path of Jesus. Poor Paul.
Many Americans are beginning to experience the kind of beleaguerment I suspect Paul carried around all his days. Decency and good order are in short supply. While not wishing to offer any overt political commentary here, I share this brief reminder of just a few happenings from the past two weeks of American life:
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary resigned. Anthony Scaramucci was hired. A twitter war started between the President and his Attorney General. A Boy Scout Jamboree went down. North Korea shared the disconcerting news that they can target the continental U.S. with a nuclear weapon. Russia is demanding that hundreds of U.S. diplomats leave their borders. The White House Chief of Staff was fired, a new one hired. Anthony Scaramucci was fired. And right in the middle of this, a GOP-led health-care bill failed dramatically in the Senate based on the votes of three GOP Senators.
There is, however, a flip side to the current craziness. In thinking of St. Paul’s actual life and times, we realize the man’s lifestyle was a total mess: shipwrecked, arrested, beaten, always traveling, making countless tents, writing all those letters… Somehow Paul’s God-oriented chaos enabled one of the most creative and productive lives in the history of the Western World.
Albert Einstein asked this elegant question: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then is an empty desk the sign of?” The answer, to be spoken with an ironic chuckle, is: “An empty mind..” And in the chuckling, a truth is revealed. The picture of that uniquely brilliant man working amid the creative chaos of his own blackboard and messy desk says it all. As a pianist, and a pastor of a perpetually messy desktop situation, I take some serious comfort in this.
What shall we conclude, then? Which is preferable? Decency and good order, or a creatively chaotic life with a messy desk?
With another ironic chuckle, I say, “Yes! Both!”
More to come next week on embracing this necessary paradox.