Monday, November 16, 2009

100 proof chaos

I delivered Charlene to the airport this morning for her 6:30 flight to Haiti. In the security line ahead there was a young man wearing a t-shirt with the words "100 proof chaos" on the back. If he had not been inaccessible I might would have asked him about it.

The term "100 proof" stems from the days when sailors were paid in rum. To test whether the rum had been watered down, they would ignite it. If it would burn, it was considered 100 proof. Rum wil burn at about 50 percent alcohol. So "100 proof" means about 50% of the possible strength.

So the young man was telling the world he was in a state that was about half chaos, meaning "a state lacking order or predictability" or a "state of confusion."

Isn't that where the church is today? About half of what we do is highly predictable. We show up on Sunday morning and often the format is exactly as we would have laid it out, based on our experience with having been there before. So at the congregational level we are highly predictable. But across groups of people trying to follow Jesus we are chaotic. One group endorses the practice of homosexuality, another condemns it. One group has women in major speaking roles, another prohibits it. One group insists on baptism for membership, another does not. One group acts on their concern for the poor, another does not.

It would not be a proud label to place on the church, but might be an accurate one. How can we change it? By loving one another anyway, by getting to know each other better, and through dialog. Let's keep talking.

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