Maybe Preaching To The Choir Isn’t Always Such A Bad Thing

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Angry Math/History teacher

Angry Math/History teacher (Photo credit: sleepinyourhat)

Last Tuesday I got out of the house late. I was in a big hurry to get Nicholas to school on time because I had to get back across town for Julianna’s eye appointment. Naturally, this meant I ended up behind World’s Slowest Driver on the interstate. But we were close enough to the exit that I couldn’t pass him.

We got to the exit, he pulled off going 42 mph…and began braking…at the bottom…of the ramp.

We braked all the way up the exit ramp, toward a green light that I knew couldn’t last much longer. I knew he wasn’t paying attention to the green light, because I could see him talking on his phone. When he braked all the way to 15 mph about six car lengths ahead of the green light (did I mention it was green?), I started honking.

And he STOPPED.

And GOT OUT OF HIS CAR TO TALK TO ME.

He thought I was honking because he’d lost something off the top of his vehicle.

“No,” I said, “I was honking because you were STOPPING AT A GREEN LIGHT!”

“Oh, sorry,” he said.

I spend so much time trying to figure out how to teach my children to recognize the moments when Christian discipleship crashes into real life and requires you to DO SOMETHING. And then I turn around and pull a stunt like this.

Yes, he was being annoying. But was it Christlike for me to honk and yell at him? After all, it was my own fault I was in a hurry. Taking it out on him was definitely not my finest moment as a disciple of Jesus.

Every so often, I go through a little blogger-identity crisis. The conventional blog wisdom is that you pick a focus and you stick to it, but I can’t sustain a blog that way. Here’s where being such a “jill-of-all-writing-trades” presents a challenge. I try to be a little more in depth than the phrase “mommy blogger” implies. When I write about Down syndrome my stats go through the roof, but I know that’s because I don’t overdo it. I have a large Catholic following and faith issues are very important to me–obviously, since I have a column and three books–but my fiction is not religious and I worry about alienating people who come here because of secular writing connections.

Image by One Way Stock, via Flickr

And then, too, there’s the question about whether there’s really any point in writing about faith issues at all. Am I not just preaching to the choir?

But this weekend, it occurred to me that maybe preaching to the choir isn’t always such a bad thing. The central theme of my Liguorian column is that faith shouldn’t be compartmentalized; it has to be lived out in time and in moments and in relationships. Christianity suffers in the public perception for being all talk and judgment and “sin, hell and damnation” without kindness, compassion, and the witness of holy living. And there’s a good reason for this. We who call ourselves Christians, of whatever denominational stripe, too often fail to recognize how un-Christlike our behaviors, our words, and decisions frequently are. And when we do recognize it, as I did last Tuesday even while I was punching the horn, we don’t seem to have the self-control to correct before we space jump off the Sin Cliff.

We are all lukewarm followers of Christ to some degree. And perhaps, just perhaps, my preaching to the choir might light a fire under someone other than myself. If something I write causes someone else to think more clearly about their situations and relationships and habits and actions, and if that thinking causes them to move toward a truer, more lived faith–in other words, a real one–then preaching to the choir was worthwhile.

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13 thoughts on “Maybe Preaching To The Choir Isn’t Always Such A Bad Thing

  1. Katherine

    I appreciate hearing from other Christians and especially my fellow Catholics that we are not perfect. We sin. To admit to your sisters and brothers in Christ that you too are a sinner makes me love you that much more! Our path to Christ is surely not easy. We are faced with so many situations where we have a choice to be a sinner or Christ like! As important as it is to decide to be Christ like, its just as important that you recognize when your not, repent and then you are able to receive God’s unending mercy and grace!

  2. I totally “get” this post. I think that is why I write all over the map as I do..,I can’t focus on one topic—but I realize there is so much toe and I choose to invest myself fully in my blog. I read you because you have more than one message too. And one of my biggest faults is being non-Christ-like while driving.

  3. As for the honking- been there, done that.
    As for the preaching- I don’t see it as preaching. I see it as sharing. You were sharing a moment in your own life that can help the rest of us. Or remind us.
    We need that kind of sharing from each other. Those reminders that we are all human and we screw up and btw- remember how we are SUPPOSED to act.
    I share too and I like it when others do. We are a community and we need each other to share and remind.
    And to know we are not alone.

  4. You are a far better person than I am. You were just pointing out his inattention. I would have been honking and them passed him at light speed, possibly showing him one of my fingers. Yeah… I need to work on this.

  5. First of all, this is exactly why I don’t recommend that anyone have one of those fish stickers on their car. 🙂

    As for the blogging identity, I hear what you’re saying. My travel site has much, much better stats than Never True Tales, because I am very focused on what I’m writing about, and my audience knows what to expect. But NTT is for ME. It’s for whatever I need to write, and even though it’s sometimes all over the place, I always feel it’s genuine. So I guess you have to decide whether you’re writing for your audience or for you. Both are ok, but will require different strategies.

    • That’s true. (About the fish stickers, too! 😉 ) I have become less and less obsessive about stats in the past year or two, because I recognized that what I was getting, “bang for the buck,” was not worth the emotional energy I put into it.

  6. Oh and did you ever read that Anne Tyler novel where the protagonist gets so fed up with a slow, erratic driver she waves him over to tell him his tire is flat (though it’s not)? And he turns out to be this little old man who then worries and worries about the tire until she finally admits she’d been lying? So funny and awkward and real!

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