Here is the link to the other site we have for this series of open forums. Feel free to comment here if you have anything to say.
May 11, 2008
They call it the epistle of James. It is found near the end of the New Testament. Tradition says the author was “the brother of the Lord” and that he wrote it to the Jews living outside Judea. Most scholars date it within 30 years of the founding of the Church. Many say it was written as early as 45 AD.
Tradition is a powerful force, isn’t it? It often carries more influence than common sense. If you are one who places more weight on tradition than on common sense, please don’t bother reading this article. But if you consider yourself a free thinker, then please consider this, as well:
Most assumptions about the Book of James are wrong. They are neither based on the letter itself nor on hard historical evidence. And worst of all, these fallacies aren’t just the result of ignorance — they are attempts to deny and conceal a dirty little secret. But we’ll discuss that later. First, let’s consider the objective evidence.
Who Wrote It and When
The author only refers to himself as “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Beyond this, he makes no reference to his own identity, or authority, or place of residence, as Paul, Peter, and John do in their letters. Christian tradition presumes him to be “the brother of the Lord” based simply on another presumption of Christian tradition — that everything in the New Testament must have been written by an apostle or a bishop or somebody important in the clergy. And Christian tradition further presumes that the clergy-laity system was part of the foundation of the early Church.
Of course, we can tell from what Paul wrote that a distinction between clergy and laity was foreign to the early
Church.1 According to Paul, all disciples were expected to take their identity as priests seriously and to bring to each gathering a song, a teaching, a revelation, and so on, and he encouraged all the disciples to prophesy. This is supported by Hebrews 3:6, which tells us that the defining characteristic of God’s house is something translated as
“confidence” — the parrhesia (literally “outspokenness” or “freedom of speech”) of the people.
So there is no reason, other than the traditions of the clergy-laity system, to think of the writer James as being an apostle or even a leader in the early Church. There is every reason to believe that, like many of the Old Testament prophets, he rose from obscurity, moved by the Holy Spirit to express his concerns.
The usual date assigned to the writing (45-63 AD) is also a presumption, based on the presumption that James, “the Lord’s brother” (who is supposed to have been killed around 63 AD), is the author. Some scholars have objected to an early date, arguing that the spiritual condition James addresses is such a stark contrast with the fervor of the disciples at the time of Pentecost. Others reason that the sins he mentions “could have been found in the Church at any decade of its history” — a remarkable rationalization which we will address shortly. First, though, let’s consider who received this “epistle.”
Who It Was Written To
The opening sentence says, “to the twelve tribes scattered abroad.” The traditional take on this phrase is that “the Lord’s brother” wrote a general letter to all the Jews who lived outside of Judea — as if they would have read a letter from someone in a despised sect that was spoken against everywhere. But there is a problem with presuming that these “twelve tribes” are the physical tribes of Israel. You see, only the two tribes of the Babylonian captivity, Judah and Benjamin, along with a few Levites, retained any identity as Israelites. The other ten tribes, taken captive by Assyria, had been swallowed up by the surrounding cultures, and it would have been impossible to address a letter to them. Besides, the term “twelve tribes” would hardly refer to the Jews (technically, only one tribe), and could scarcely be applied to Jewish believers (comprising only a small percentage of that tribe).
Actually, other references in the New Testament make it clear that the term “twelve tribes” referred to the whole Church — a spiritual nation made up of both physical Jews and physical Gentiles. For example, the “Bride of Christ” in Revelation is pictured as a city with twelve gates, each gate being one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Also, in Paul’s trial before King Agrippa he said that, in order to attain the promise made to Abraham, the “twelve tribes” that Paul was part of were earnestly serving God night and day — and this was why the Jews (obviously not part of the tribes he referred to) were accusing him.
Given the objective evidence, it is clear that the “twelve tribes” James was writing to was identical with the “Commonwealth of Israel” of Ephesians 2:12, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, who had been made into one nation by the blood of Messiah. But there were some problems in the commonwealth, and that is what moved James to write.
Why He Wrote It
James saw that the new nation — the one Messiah had purchased with the sacrifice of His own life — was on the verge of being destroyed. Those who had been united through the cleansing power of His blood were now becoming alienated from one another, because His blood was no longer covering their sins. And the reason their sins were not being covered was that they were no longer confessing and forsaking their sins. The Church was in deep trouble — and it wasn’t just one or two communities, such as Corinth or Laodicea, it was the whole nation (the twelve tribes). There was a shocking contrast between the condition of the Church that James was writing to and the quality of the life the disciples lived at the time of Pentecost.
Unlike the congregation described in Acts 4:32, who were all of “one heart and soul,” James portrayed a Church that was splintered by quarrels and conflicts, largely as a result of the poor members envying the rich. That envy was based in part on the failure of the prosperous to meet the needs of the less prosperous, but both the envy of the poor and the self-centeredness of the rich could be traced to friendship with and love for the world, which James flatly condemned as spiritual adultery. Not only were the prosperous neglecting the needs of others, but the poor were being slighted socially, while the rich were lavished with attention. James rebuked this practice as inconsistent with having faith in Messiah.
Despite the sins of the affluent, James did not justify those who were envious of them. He condemned both bitter jealousy and selfish ambition as demonic, especially when those attitudes resulted in defaming their fellow disciples. To those who would not bridle their tongue, but hypocritically blessed God while cursing men made in His image,
James declared their religion to be worthless. Still, he reserved his harshest words for those who stored up riches, especially by unjust means:
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days… (James 5:1-5)
The topic that James is best remembered for, however, is that of faith versus works. But it wasn’t just a general doctrinal subject that he addressed with theological detachment. He was specifically attacking the lack of love in the Church that spawned their favoritism toward the rich and neglect of the needy. He was alarmed to find so rare those works of love which had been so common in the Church’s infancy. He was appalled at the complacency of those who failed to meet their brother’s needs while still professing to have faith. He even boldly challenged their claim of being saved. So-called faith, without works of love, was to James not only useless, but also dead.
The scenario painted by James is so vastly different from the portrait of the Church in the book of Acts that it leads the reader to wonder whether the two writings were actually talking about the same group. In Acts, the brethren were devoted to the teachings of the apostles, were together, associated with each other, were of one mind, one heart, and one soul, gladly ate their meals together, shared everything they had, and even sold their possessions to meet the needs of their brothers, to the point that none among them were needy. In James, however, the brethren heard the apostles’ teaching but did not do it, were continually traveling from town to town in search of financial gain, were divided along economic lines, and even defamed and quarreled with each other because of the economic injustice in their midst.
The Church that James was writing to had degenerated far beyond the condition of the individual churches addressed elsewhere in the New Testament. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians (written around 55 AD) spoke of the foolishness and carnality of an immature community, but gave clear direction what they must do in order to grow up. John’s letters to the churches in the book of Revelation (written around 90 AD) pointed out the things each one was faithful in, as well as the things they had fallen away from, and once again, called each church to heed the specific warnings and mend its ways or else face the consequences. James, however, was writing unilaterally to all the churches, addressing a spiritual condition virtually identical to that of the Pharisaical Judaism the Son of God had called His followers out from. For the Church to have reached that state, James could not have been writing before the beginning of the second century AD.
General Epistle or Underground Tract?
Unlike the writings of Paul and John, which gave authoritative direction to specific churches, James only stated the general problems and made an appeal to individual disciples to obey the commandments of their
Master if they found themselves in those situations. It is as if James had no hope of calling the Church back to the deeds of love that characterized the Church at Pentecost. John, on the other hand, specifically commanded the
Ephesians to repent and do the deeds of love they had done in the beginning, for if they did not, their lampstand (their validity before God as a church) would be taken away. But James did not try to keep any lampstands lit. Things had degenerated beyond that point, and all he could do was simply warn the rich men in the congregations (he did not refer to them as brothers) about the judgment coming upon them and appeal to each of the brothers who were oppressed by them to bear their sufferings patiently and be true to the commands of the Master.
It is obvious from the context that the sins James was confronting had become accepted practices within the Church. It made him so distraught that he wrote down the burden of his heart and began distributing the document to the entire Church. And so, rather than being a “general epistle” by someone in authority, the “Epistle of James” is clearly more of an “underground manuscript” exposing the problems that the shepherds and elders and overseers had turned a blind eye to. James himself, rather than holding the prestigious position of “the Lord’s brother,” was more of an insurgent — not outwardly belligerent against the hierarchy of the compromising Church, but inwardly revolting against their accepted policies. It’s not hard to imagine the outrage among the rich and prosperous which this little essay generated originally — back when it wasn’t tucked away in the back of the Bible and watered down by commentaries. Just think what would happen if you stood up in the midst of a worship service and read aloud his condemnation of the rich.
Why They Got It Wrong
Someone may ask, “So if James was really an obscure outsider in the second century, grieved by sins the Church was tolerating, why don’t most people see it that way, and how did his writings become part of the Bible?” The second question is the simplest to answer: James is part of the Bible because it is almost entirely a restatement of Messiah’s teachings. It had to become part of the canon because it is so utterly orthodox. The first question takes a little more explanation.
Recall that some commentators claimed that the sins James spoke of “could have been found in the Church at any decade of its history.” There was a reason for that rationalization: To admit that backbiting, defamation, favoritism, quarrels, and (most of all) divisions between rich and poor were not part of the status quo in the first century Church would raise a very uncomfortable question: “Why have they been the status quo throughout the rest of Christian history?”
It is very convenient, even comforting, to claim that James was “the Lord’s brother” writing in 45 AD. That would mean that the obvious deeds of the flesh were running rampant through the Church scarcely a decade after it was founded. And if the Lord’s brother could do no more about it than moan weakly, “these things ought not to be this way,” then that lets the rest of us off the hook, doesn’t it? If this is the way it has always been, then this is the way it will always be, because the flesh is just too strong and human nature is too warped to do anything about it. The obvious conclusion: “All we can do is just have faith in the Lord and wait ’til we get to heaven.”
Most people are content to accept such rationalizations and cover up the “dirty little secret” that the whole Church fell away from the faith around the end of the first century. Most people miss the fact that James tells us twice that “faith” without works is dead, once that such “faith” is useless, and once that such “faith” cannot save a person. They eagerly agree with him that “no man can tame the tongue,” but overlook his comment that if a man does not bridle his tongue, then his religion is completely worthless. But not all people are quite that dull. Martin Luther wasn’t. What James said about bridling the tongue irked him, because Luther was never one to control his tongue. What James said about works being the proof of faith especially irked Luther, because it messed up his pet theory that “faith alone” was all God required. That is why Luther called
James an “epistle of straw.”
Hopefully, you who read this will be as perceptive as Luther, but rather than rejecting what James had to say about works, you will understand the implications of it. Consider what happened to the false “faith” that had taken over the Church in James’ day and failed to produce the works of love that were normal for all disciples when the Church began. Did it go away? Was it replaced by a resurgence of the self-denying love that motivated the believers at Pentecost? Hasn’t the bad fruit of that “faith” only gotten worse over the last nineteen centuries, in spite of reformations and counterreformations and countless so-called revivals? Instead, isn’t it time for the restoration of the life of love that resulted from the message of the apostles? The “faith” that has been passed down to us by organized religion is none other than the false “faith” James was exposing — a “faith” that cannot save. Only if we can realize this do we have any hope of being delivered from a worthless religion where such “faith” is the norm and brought back to the true faith that turned the world upside down. According to James, there should be no such thing as a “rich Christian”
May 1, 2008
We had a wonderful time last evening, we talked about the article that is the previous post. It was a lively discussion about the condition of humanity and weather or not there was hope for the future. What is the roll of Government (that came up round-aboutly from the concept of “incumbency”). The double yellow line the runs down the middle of the road is a nice provision but it is more than a suggestion, this seems to be the proper sphere of government… but how far does this reach into our lives, and where is the line. When love left the church in the first century, the vacuum was filled with doctrine. in the same manner, when conscience fails to work in a society, law and regulation steps into fill the obvious void… where or what is the solution? Is soceity able to be ‘fixed’? is there still the ability to ‘leave’ a corrupt social order? if so, where can one go?
April 29, 2008
Who were the “Nicolaitans” mentioned in the Scriptures and why were they so detrimental to the health of the Body?
“And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
So what is the good news of the kingdom, and how can it be proclaimed as a testimony to all the nations?
§ A testimony or witness is the presentation of evidence or proof of something from one’s first-hand experience.
§ A kingdom is the domain of a king — where his commands are obeyed and his subjects enjoy his provision and protection.
§ The good news is that the good King of this kingdom rescued us from slavery to the evil king of this present darkness.
He put His love (i.e., His Spirit) in our hearts so that we could love one another the same way He loved us. So to proclaim this good news as a witness or testimony to the nations means not just to speak, but for those who proclaim it to live together in every place just as they did in Jerusalem in Acts 2 and 4. This witness is for the King’s subjects to make their first-hand experience of His love visible to the surrounding world by living together in love and unity:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”
If this were ever to be done throughout the world over a period of several generations with increasing rather than decreasing zeal and consistency, it would bring about the end of the age, the Jubilee, the “acceptable year” Isaiah the prophet spoke of. For then Yahshua, the good King, could return to judge righteously all those who despised the demonstration of His rule and persecuted His people.
But this demonstration can only come about by His people being devoted to it, as Paul urged:
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Except for a short time in the first century when the church was as described in Acts 2:44-47 and 4:32-35, this has never been done. Love left and doctrine took over. But since love is the Spirit, which fulfills the Law, so shall love also produce the right doctrine. However, doctrine does not, cannot, never has, and never will produce love.
It all began with Romans 5:5,
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
and 1 John 2:15 and 3:17 is how it all stopped:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. …
Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Since the first century, the world has not seen the love of 1 John 3:16 and John 13:34-35, which makes the unity of John 17:23 happen
— being one as the Father and the Son are one. In order for the church to be restored, Acts 2 and 4 must be restored, and this takes a community, and a community takes love. God Himself is this kind of love, without which community is a useless endeavor done only in man’s own strength and ingenuity, i.e., the flesh. For true community to happen, the flesh must be crucified, which is what Yahshua was talking about when He said,
“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
This is the secret no one knows except those who know they have passed out of eternal death and into eternal life:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
Many Christians quote this verse, but they don’t quote the litmus test that goes with it:
We know that we have passed out of death and into life because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death… By this we know love: that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
(1 John 3:14,16)
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates [i.e., does not love] his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
(1 John 4:20)
When disciples are laying down their lives for one another in love, they have confidence from the Holy Spirit that they have passed out of death and into life. Therefore, they are outspoken in the gatherings, for that life bubbles out of them continually in thanksgiving and encouragement. Obviously, the Apostle Paul expected the churches under his care to be known for the full participation of every disciple:
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, another language, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
(1 Corinthians 14:26)
There were no professional preachers, musicians, or choir directors. As Paul told the Ephesians, he also expected this full participation, motivated by love, to characterize their whole lives, whether in the gatherings or not:
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every aspect [of our personality] into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Paul’s last exhortation to the church in Ephesus was, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible, undying love.” Yet less than 40 years later, Yahshua Himself had this to say to that same church: “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” It didn’t take long before the corruption set in hard and fast, expressing the incumbency of the Nicolaitan system — the system that God hates.
Incumbency is the period during which an office is held. It is a well known fact of the political process that it is hard to unseat an incumbent office-holder. Once someone attains to a position of power or influence, it can be very difficult to remove him from office. He uses his power and influence to make the people dependent on him. As it is in politics, so it became in the church. The word Nicolaitan is derived from nikao, meaning “to conquer,” and laos, meaning “people,” hence, “people conquerors.” In the waning years of the first century church, as their love grew cold, most grew silent while leaders rose up and filled the vacuum with their persuasive and eloquent monologues. It was just as Paul had warned the Ephesian elders:
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Already, by the end of the first century, the Nicolaitan system had appeared in Ephesus and had made significant headway in Pergamum. It was an evil system of Satan that infiltrated the church. When the last of the overcomers died, there was no longer a way for the Holy Spirit to express Himself. Messiah was no longer the head over that house, where the common people had lost their love and outspokenness:
But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
The Greek word for confidence means outspokenness, freedom – even unreservedness of speech. When that outspokenness ceased among the people, according to the Word of God, Christ ceased being the High Priest over that silent house. The result of the conquest of the Nicolaitans is the clergy-laity system, which is a misnomer. “Conquerors of the People” is a more fitting name for this evil religious system.
Nicolaitanism was a doctrine that crept into their midst like an unclean thing from the dark lagoon. It came from the incumbency of those who saw leadership not as the Master had taught (shepherds who daily laid down their life for the sheep), but as a position to hold. To incubate their self-perpetuating eggs the Nicolaitans led the pew-sitters to sit contentedly (silently) on them until they hatched — a brood of serpents, just as the leaders of the Jews had been called by John the Baptist. To hatch these Nicolaitan eggs took the artificial heat needed to maintain the ideal temperature for the optimal growth and development of bacterial cultures — lukewarm.
Incubation is the period of time between the exposure to an infectious disease and the appearance of the symptoms. To sit on eggs is to foster incubation. An incubator is an apparatus kept at uniform warmth. The lukewarm church itself became an incubator for the artificial hatching of these Nicolaitan eggs that Satan laid right before their undiscerning spirits.
This Nicolaitan system was finally inculcated into the church by pressing it on their minds through repetition by frequent lectures and admonitions. The churches became accustomed to listening to only one person instead of benefiting from the full participation of each member.
Under this persuasion, church members became their own prison guards, looking with suspicion on anyone outside the clergy who dared to speak up and express his heart. That’s how effective the endless repetitions of the clergy were in thoroughly instilling the new doctrine into their minds. So the one incumbent Nicolaitan in each church, who had arisen by smooth talk and manipulation, tenaciously held onto his office and performed his official duties as an autocrat.
Diotrophes, whom John the Apostle wrote of in his third letter, set the pattern for centuries to come, putting out of the church any who were a threat to his position:
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
(3 John 1:9-10)
Such incumbents encumber the sincere, hindering any action or motion toward godliness. They impose unreasonable burdens, the same heavy weights of outward righteousness for which Yahshua condemned the Pharisees. They bolster their own ego, fed by Satan’s pride, the very Nicolaitan spirit of self-exaltation that God hates.
The Kingdom was shut out by the encumbering incumbents, and only a few overcomers were left, and they were probably put out of the church. The teachings of the Nicolaitans became an incurable deadly disease that killed the first church, spreading like gangrene or cancer, incurable, with no hope of reformation. The unending incumbency of these men, filled with the devouring spirit of the evil one himself, snuffed out the light of the world. Then came Constantine to merge the church with the state when the fallen church was ripe for the picking. The people were silenced due to the overwhelming insurgency of the incumbent Nicolaitans, Satan’s servants. This ecclesiastical system was received by a passive laity due to the persuasion of the incumbent “office holders” – the clergy in their black robes. All authority in the church fell to them by default through the failure of the many to accept the responsibility of their priesthood.
Due to the general lack of wisdom, understanding, discernment, insight, discretion, and faithfulness to pray to be delivered from evil, the church was taken captive. None who joined from that time on received the Holy Spirit, but all the while they claimed to see.
They could memorize John 5:24 quite well, and were mesmerized by John 3:16, but were strangely unconcerned with 1 John 3:16. Therefore, the kind of believing that resulted in Acts 2:44 was out of the question. (Yet Acts 2:44 remains the standard for all generations for all who believe with the kind of belief that John 3:16 is speaking of.)
So by the second century, James was regarded by them as the insurgent one, since he had the audacity to write to the church, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe — and shudder! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
Nightfall descended upon the true way to life, and truly, as the Savior said, no man could do the works of God. This dead faith and the fallen incumbency, which has held the reigns of power for almost 1900 years, have been inseparable. Very early, the church left behind their roots in the ancient Hebrew faith36 and the Jerusalem pattern of full participation in a life together, sharing all things in common. They even abandoned the original Hebrew name of the Messiah, Yahshua, meaning “Yahweh’s Salvation.” Instead, they adopted the Greek name Iesous Christos and became known as Christianity, characterized by a professional clergy and a largely passive laity. Little or no participation or accountability was required of its members beyond their attendance and their tithes, and their assent to a doctrinal creed. The resulting rampant hypocrisy grieves the few who still long for the vibrant life of the first-century church.
But there is Good News! That life is sprouting again on the earth! Anyone who is willing to do God’s will can become a full participant in the way of life of our good King, Yahshua, the Messiah. It is a life based not on doctrine but on love, following the ancient pattern of the early church. We invite you to overthrow the incumbency of dead religion in your own life and join the true Commonwealth of Israel, God’s holy nation. Here everyone has a voice and a vocation to give their all in building up the witness of the coming Kingdom as a foretaste of the age to come. This will actually bring about the end of this wicked age and the return of the Messiah to establish His Kingdom on earth.
April 24, 2008
I am going to do something a little different here for the next several weeks. As I said in the last post, our forums are still going well, they can be followed at this site. i have been pretty busy doing some stained glass for our cafe that we are going to open in Oneonta NY. I have compleated the central peice which i show partially cut in the last post.
We have used the image of the prince and the pauper sitting at the table together sharing a pot of tea. in the image, the pauper is wearing the crown while still in his ragged clothes. Our cafes are generally called “Common Ground Cafes” and we have tried to create an atmosphere where all can share common ground with their neighbors and friends.
The folkloric story of the Prince and the Pauper presents an admirable theme. These two unlikely characters have been brought together on “common ground.” For there is truly only one way for the barriers that have divided humanity for thousands of years to be broken down in reality. It is through expressing a LOVE that lets us see beyond our differences into the hearts of others. Only then will we be able to truly find common ground. This peacemaking love has been sought by many as the solution to many of the world’s problems. But, unfortunately, common ground has rarely been found. For without tapping into the SOURCE of this love (the source is the eternal God himself), even the most valiant attempts, by the noblest souls, seem to be thwarted.
We do not want to just be another restaurant with a catchy theme, but to us, “Common Ground” represents our desire to stand together with you in that place where men’s hearts can finally find peace. Remember, “finding common ground with someone you have nothing in common with is uncommon”
April 18, 2008
I have not really been posting here much in the past few weeks for a few reasons…. The first is that we have gotten on a topic schedule with a few others, and to reference what we are going to do next go to here. The other reason is that i am heavily involved in doing some stained glass work for the cafe that we are going to open in Oneonta, NY
This is the way it looks right now. All of the glass is cut for that section, and it is ready for copper foil. That oval is about 26 inches by 46 inches. when the window is done it’ll be about 17 feet long… so this has been consuming my time a little bit
April 1, 2008
There is an old story that i recently re-discovered. It is a classic and very discriptive of what i have been trying to look at through this site……..
Recently I rediscovered a toy, a plastic church I’d played with when I was a small boy. It had been so long ago that I had completely forgotten about it, and I wondered if everything was the same. So, just as I had done years before, I removed the plastic roof and looked inside.
As always, the whole place seemed to come alive with tiny plastic people. They weren’t exactly the same. Some of the older ones were gone, and there were some new young ones; but they were mostly the same plastic people I had put there, except, of course, they had kept pace with the times.
In the rear of the sanctuary, a group of college-age youth was planning a Sabbath afternoon meeting. The leader, a bright-looking, nervous young fellow, rubbed his plastic hands together and said, “Well, I guess I have somebody for everything — except prayer. Any volunteers?”
“I guess I’ll have to do it myself again this time. Now let’s all try to be here on time. Remember what happened last time. Now let’s all go downstairs and get something to eat.”
In the recreation room a meal was being served to members of the youth club, who were eating, laughing, and having a generally happy time. They hardly looked up when the club leader and his committee entered.
One young fellow, his plastic freckled face contorted into a wide grin, was telling a joke about Martin Luther and the pope. Everyone within hearing range thought he was tremendously funny — as indeed he was.
In the choir room a mixed octet was practicing with excellent harmony when one lady, her plastic red hair glowing like fire, suddenly stopped singing. Everyone looked.
“It sorry,” she said, “but I can’t sing with Mrs. Brown. Somehow our voices just do not harmonize!” Then she walked out, followed by her husband, the first tenor, their plastic shoes making an odd sound on the floor of my plastic church.
“Well!” said Mrs. Brown. “Well, I never!”
But Mr. Brown, cooler, said, “Let’s form a sextet and sing something else.”
In the pastor’s study the church elders were discussing how to raise funds for the annual offering for the poor. “People just don’t seem to want to give anymore,” Mr. Gray, who had made his money in real estate, was saying. “They think they can leave the whole program in the laps of the richer members.” He leaned back in his posh plastic chair and eyed Dr. Black.
Dr. Black, the richest elder, said, “That’s true, Mr. Gray. Everyone wants to leave the burden on the backs of the richer members. We need something that will appeal to the ordinary member, I mean something that will really appeal?
“I have an idea!” said Mr. Green, the youngest elder, a man definitely on his way up, his plastic face shining brightly with expectation and enthusiasm. “Why don’t we sponsor a raffle! It’s surprising how much money a raffle will bring in. The large Catholic church on the corner sponsors a raffle every year, and every year — bingo! — another smashing success! Just like clockwork. They give away a new Cadillac donated by one of the dealers in town. It doesn’t cost the church a cent — except for advertising and incidental expenses.”
“W-e-ell,” said Pastor White, a conservative man. “This is a new idea to me. We’ve never sponsored a raffle before. This is a conservative church, you know. And I doubt that a raffle would be accepted by the denomination.”
“Someone has to pave the way,” broke in Mr. Green, sitting on the edge of his plastic chair.
“Maybe it will work,” said Dr. Blue, who usually says very little. “It does have definite appeal, whereas giving just to help someone in need has gotten rather passé. The idea of winning a new car appeals to different motives entirely. It should be a lot more successful. After all, the money will be going to a worthy cause. What do you think, Dr. Black?”
“Oh, I’m all for it. Fact is, I’ve been thinking the same thing for a long time myself. I’m all for striking out in new directions. What this church needs is more spirit. We need to bring the ordinary member back into the picture. It’s too much strain on the richer members to have to raise the money all the time.”
I was about to replace the plastic roof and walk away when I noticed a woman standing alone in the narthex. She obviously was not yet a baptized member, wearing, as she was, heavy eye makeup, a necklace, and earrings. My little plastic church was a conservative church, and the ladies wore only a touch of makeup; maybe some of them wore wedding bands, but never a big gaudy ring like this one, and never ever a necklace or earrings.
She looked somewhat out of place standing there beside the great stained-plastic window with its intricately jeweled design, all alone, with the conservative, formal church ladies parading past. A few eyed her as though she ought to be “spoken with.” Most ignored her.
I was glad, because turned away from them as she was, facing the stained-plastic window, her hands folded on the ledge and her eyes closed, she couldn’t see them anyway. I knelt there over the plastic church for a long time, watching her, before I finally replaced the plastic roof and walked away. She was praying.