During an interlude of morning worship the organist played Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Brian McLaren was the preacher and lecturer discussing what people hate about organized religion. It isn't that they want sloppier religion, its that religion is often organized toward the wrong goals. It should be organized toward justice and the love of God and working in cooperation with people of goodwill from all faiths and cultures.
McLaren began by confirming that preaching is becoming more challenging, but the larger social factors making it so, are not our fault. He had a litany, which included the powerful, "It is not your fault that American religion has always had a racist subtext."
He warned us, "The time is way too dangerous to waste a sermon."
He declared "If you are signing the songs of empire, you are on the wrong side." We should be singing about our racial problems, about our responsibilities to the environment. Also praise songs, because "all legitimate praise songs are also protest songs."
If you need permission to be a preacher organizing the church for justice, know that "you were given permission at your baptism."
My favourite practical word he gave, an idea I may work on for next year, is that all churches should organize peace marches on Palm Sunday, which would be a more authentic way of living into the story of Jesus.
In the afternoon Otis Moss III said that if you are doing your job as a preacher, then people will leave the church. That's simply part of the pain of preaching. His lecture was entitled "When the Empire Strikes Back."
The preacher should help people to shift their prism and see things from different perspectives. We may not be able to change everything, but we can at least plant the seeds that may work out in a later generation.
On a practical level he said, "You are creating a sonic mural every time you preach."
After lunch I chose to visit the Alamo for the first time in more than twenty years. I sat in garden on a bench in front of a fountain in the cool shade cast by the spreading branches of the live oaks.