Over My Shoulder

I’m going to the Dominican in July. I was offered a chance to preach and I was surprised how much I wanted it. I am going because our church sends a team to help them with an ‘evangelistic’ English camp. I resisted because I’m not keen on ‘evangelistic’ English camps or ‘evangelistic’ anything (I’m not keen on evangelism as evangelicals conceive it [I am ashamed of their gospel], and we have evangelicals in the OPC), but then they said they’d pay, and my pastor told me I would just preach and do the chapels–which I find legitimate: preaching and then teaching the Bible during the week. I was still going to say no, but the desire to preach was very strong and then my calendar at work just opened up like never before and I had no reason to say no . . . other than my scruples about ‘evangelistic’ outreaches. Should I pass up the chance to be involved in real evangelism because I have scruples about the faux-evangelism afterward?

Now we are watching the evangelicalization of this camp. The preparation that could stress being good English teachers for those who are going to teach, sinking into an opportunity for ‘ministry’ in which the English teaching is being eclipsed. And they want to know more than I’m prepared to tell them about my chapels so they can work that stuff into their now perhaps ‘English’ lesson. Or should it be ‘lesson’? The point of doing church should be ministry. The point of doing English camp should be to teach English. I don’t mind having a chapel part of it, but I do mind when the whole thing is called ministry when it is not. Preaching is unique and special to God’s purposes, teaching English is not. Teaching the Bible is good any time, but why under false pretenses? And now that they feel called of God to do ‘English camp ministry’ you can see how not being serious about evangelism (in their so-called fervor; and really, the fervor of one and not the whole, thank God) they are in danger of not being serious about English or anything.

Do you know, however, that I think that’s why my pastor wants me in it. He understands the side I’m on in all this very clearly, and he thinks I should be mixed up not only in being confronted, but in confronting.

But here’s what gets to me personally: they want me to divulge what I’m going to teach about at this stage. Is it a peculiarity of mine that I don’t like people even to look at what I’m typing unless it is done? Even when I’m writing something for my blog, I don’t want anybody to see it till I get it to the point where I’m ready to share it. Am I the only one like that? I have to stop if I think somebody is peering over my shoulder. And this asking me to give out what I’m working on before it is worked on, is hard to do will good will.

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2 thoughts on “Over My Shoulder

  1. I can’t write at all if anyone is watching the words. For me it subverts the process – it’s an implicit demand for finality, and thus it turns up the heat before the ingedients have been measured and the batter has been mixed properly. I need to be free to say things to myself that I’m not certain I mean, in order to find out what the implications are and whether I understand it well enough to say lucidly, and whether the idea was something worth saying after all. I delete a lot of things.

    Your position is difficult, but I would think it would be comforting to reflect that hardly anyone else is ever interested in your material in the same way you are. They might be happy with a lot less then full disclosure. I don’t say that to insult you or anyone, but it’s my experience. Most people don’t know that something is important enough to care about unless they run up against it in concrete experience – or encounter someone who can show them how to care about it.

  2. I think they probably have enough just with a general sense of the topic and the text and it is more just me in the stress of composition; I’m always anxious that I won’t come up with anything worth saying.

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