Sewing fig leaves is absurdly comic, Anna Carter Florence told us. She once brought needles, thread, and fig leaves to class so her students could participate in the text of Genesis 3. What they learned after an hour of trying is that you really can’t sew fig leaves into loincloths. They wilt, for one thing.
“The Bible is a collection of scripts that God has given us to rehearse.” So, she said literally enacting the story teaches you the point of the story, in the case of Genesis 3 that human attempts to cover up our nakedness are futile.
You have insights like this if you “enter scripture verbs first,” as she was teaching us this morning.
Far too often, Bible study gets stuck in the nouns and trying to explain alien things like cubits, shekels, Nephilim, etc. to a 21st century audience. Instead, connect to the verbs, which have largely remained the same in our daily lives. “The point of incarnation is that God came to share our verbs.”
At morning worship Nadia Bolz-Weber preached an Ash Wednesday sermon about giving our full heart to God. She emphasized that “it is hard to have a human heart.”
The first lecture of the day, by Alyce McKenzie, was entitled “Preaching the Good News in an Era of Fake News.” Though presidential lying is not new, the current climate is teaching us “the irrelevance of politics,” a claim I found surprising and refreshing.
So, what a preaching? McKenzie claimed that “the dust cloud of fake news is enhancing the desire for good news from the pulpit.” She views the current crisis as an opportunity for the church.
The bulk of her lecture was contrasting fake news with biblical wisdom. The purposes of the latter are character formation, fool managements, and shalom enhancement. We giggled at the middle one.
There are a variety of fools, the three most troublesome are the gullible, the know-it-all, and the dangerous.
You don’t become a fool overnight, there are steps to character deformation:
- The isolated foolish act
- Folly becomes a sport
- Beyond correction
- Collapse and rage
In contrast is character formation which follows these steps:
- Humility resulting from the fear of the Lord
- Compassion for others
- Impulse control
- Courage to speak up
The four qualities of a wise person are:
- An awestruck attitude
- A listening heart
- A cool spirit
- And a subversive voice
We lunched in a downtown park with food trucks and live music. Eating my sandwich, I realized that in the middle of the park stood a monument to the Confederate dead. Jeez. Sewing fig leaves indeed.