Monday, November 17, 2008

Conversations with a Curmudgeon

I have this wonderful old man in my congregation. He sits near the front each week in exactly the same spot. He very rarely says a word to anyone, and only ever comes to worship--that's it, nothing else, ever. He usually looks like he's sleeping during my sermons, but will sometimes surprise me with a follow-up email note about something I've said. Usually something he didn't like, but hey, I'm not easily offended, so no big.
Like I said, he doesn't talk much, but he's one of the few old folks in the church who uses email pretty well. So he'll send me a message, and again, it's usually a complaint couched in a 'suggestion.' He'd prefer worship using the KJV and no hymns written before 1900 (not said quite so overtly, but I got the hint). Ok, so that's not really my style, though I've tried not to go too radical for this church. They like traditional. I'm fine with that as long as it doesn't end up mind-numbingly boring with absolutely no room for anything new. So far, as long as I've asked my worship team or session first before I try something too crazy, most of the time people are ok with it (and of course I have the back-up of my session members!) Usually, as long as I tell them that we can just try it for a while and if it is just too horrible, we'll change it back.
Anyway, today my curmudgeon sent me an email with a link to 'youtube' (I told you this guy was hip with the techy stuff!) with the traditional music to the doxology (Old Hundredth) explaing that he prefers this tune. (We've been using the traditional words to the Tallis Canon tune lately-but I switch it up a few times a year.) I explained that I've been using the traditional tune on communion Sundays for people who feel that way that he does, so he can hear it at least once a month. Then he sent back another telling me he doesn't like all the political correctness or 'dumbing down' of scripture. I explained that what he calls political correctness I call inclusiveness. I don't think 'fishers of people' has quite the same poetic ring as 'fishers of men,' but that doesn't mean that I think women should be excluded. I laid it on the line and flat out said I dislike the KVJ because of its egregious translation errors and sexist language, going on to explain that while those were products of its time since they didn't have the scholarship or equality that we have now, I don't understand why people still insist on its use. I said a few more pastoral things about language barriers and modern understandings and trying to use words that appealed across generations, etc. I also thanked him for engaging me in these conversations, giving me his perspective and such. So far, no response. I'm anxiously awaiting it though, to be honest. This is the most I've gotten out of him thus far. I love my curmudgeon!

No comments: