Everything changes when one is introduced with the title of “Pastor” or “Reverend” or “Father” or “Preacher.” An individual self-consciousness seems to invade the social space, consistently altering the subject under discussion. People somehow seem obligated to qualify themselves, dropping a sentence or two about their spirituality, church attendance, or lack thereof. Frequently there may also be a reference to childhood upbringing, ethnic traditions, or family practices.
Since I was often introduced to such a title, I was self-conscious of the expectations. I was now the church or religion representative as the discussion twisted to a disagreement or disillusionment with “organized religion.” Over the years, I usually discovered I was in agreement with the person expressing their discontent and fully understood why they chose to disengage.
While I have never taken a poll, I certainly have a lot of anecdotal evidence to conclude people’s primary distaste for organized religion is founded in what they perceive as hypocrisy. Leaders allow themselves to be perceived as more holy, more together, closer to God, and wiser than the average Joe. It can be quite off-putting, but it is also very seductive. Who doesn’t want someone with an into God? Why listen to sermons if the one preaching it doesn’t have something you don’t have?
But then the hammer comes down, and the stories unfold. This preacher didn’t know how to keep his pants on. That leader, she had her hand in the till. The neighbor always going to church was rude to me.
In some ways, this whole discussion can get mundane to me. I’ve had it hundreds, if not thousands of times. That’s sad, but cause it isn’t mundane. It is so the opposite of what the Bible teaches from beginning to end, perhaps nowhere more prominently than in the leading figure of Old Testament Israel, King David.
Let’s find out more from our two guests today, who I will introduce in a moment after an excerpt from their work “The Odyssey of King David” read by D. Paul Thomas.
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