My first encounter with a swimming pool was terrifying.
It happened at the old YWCA in what is today a ghost town—Flint, Michigan. The building looked like the Roman catacombs. The pool was in the basement, deep in the crypt. The water was clean, but sure looked murky to us neophytes. Diving in meant descending to hell and never resurfacing. The lifeguard recognized our reticence: “If you touch bottom, you’ll spring back more quickly.” That’s what you can do this Friday.
“My church is a safe place.”
“Safe” is popular in the American church. But “safe” is not popular in the Bible. It’s not part of historic Christianity. In fact, “safe” is a siren song. Sailors drawn to siren songs are not safe. They risk shipwreck. “Safe” churches run the same risk.
When you hear yada yada, do you say Yikes?
From 1989 to 1998, Seinfeld introduced iconic idioms such as “Master of My Domain” and “Not that there’s anything wrong with that…” Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the show was a fictionalized version of Jerry’s life with friends Elaine Benes, George Costanzo, and Cosmo Kramer. But it also fictionalized faith. All you have to do is see how Seinfeld flipped the ancient definition on yada yada.
To readers in the 1950s, Holden Caulfield’s angst came out of thin air. Published in 1951, J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye was prescient in predicting 1960s teenage anxiety. The fact is, angst does come out of thin air. It’s the product of a relatively recent phenomenon called adolescence that asphyxiates youth rather than maturing them.
“We love these values. They really work.” When vice presidents at AES, an energy company, praised the firm’s values, founders Dennis Bakke and Roger Sant turned pale. Bakke and Sant know what works might not be practical. In fact, practicality was historically a two-sided coin. Americans assume practicality is one-sided – what works. This however makes practicality, practically speaking, practically useless.