It Really Is All About Soul

Billy Joel sang it best in one of my favorite songs he wrote and performed, "It is all about soul!"  Yet, there is no doubt, souls are far from today's conversations.  Hard to believe considering Easter Sunday was just this past week but so little talk or consideration of the soul seems to enter into our discussions.

Easter Sunday was at the end of Spring Break and all conversations are focused around CRCT for those with kids in school.  Summer vacation plans are forming as are plans for summer camps.  Sportsmen and sportswomen are out in the lakes and streams and those of us who hunt are chasing gobblers through the woods before we put our gear away for summer.  Baseball is underway.  What about soul?

The last few weeks in preparation for the UMC General Conference it seems talking about the Call to Action is all the rage on blogs like Jeremy Smith and Becca Clark (among many) and Facebook.  In the last few weeks, the news has been dominated by partisan politics and racial divides in our nation from Jeremy Lin to Trayvon Martin.  Soul?

Yet, it is the issue of the soul that has been haunting me day in and day out for months.  I see it in the simplest of issues and in the more complex.  I've run into it while watching a Dr. Who episode on Netflix with our family the other night.  As I hear sound bites I notice the lack of concern for the soul of our fellow human beings.  Just today, I read the words of someone dismissing the Romneys and the Kennedys as people from another planet - in essence - people without souls.  Then they told me to go get in my spaceship.

That is ironic being that I am the "Jedi Pastor."

People often think my interest in Star Wars and being a "Jedi Pastor" has to do with the action and adventure of this movie series and merchandise.  It isn't.  Behind the effects, who shot first?, Jar-Jar Binks, and poor romance scenes of George Lucas, there is a greater theme which has to do with the soul.  Great works of literature and art deal with soul.

It is the soul which is work of clergy.  

Back in 1982, Urban T. Holmes, Episcopal Priest and Professor, addressed the role of clergy in this process,
"...in the Protestant traditions there has been an effort to separate theologically the person of the pastor from the  function of one who preaches the Word and administers the sacraments, it has not worked in practice.  There is a symbolic power in the ordained person, no matter what his or her theology.  The ordained person is expected to be a person of prayer that the person in the street cannot be.  Several surveys of lay persons about what they look for in the ordained show this expectation (pg 34, Spirituality for Ministry (Kindle version is available))."
What we have in Scripture is a history of practiced care for other people’s faith and work of God in their lives.  This is significant for me as I have come to believe in and advocate for practicing spiritual direction.
It is not foreign to our Christian heritage but grounded in God’s revelation to us.  Marian Cowan notes that we can find the beginnings of spiritual direction in the Old Testament.  We see there the Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon to learn from his wisdom.   And it is clear Jesus lived a life offering spiritual direction to others.  He did it with Nicodemus and the woman at the well (John 3:1-21 and 4:7-19).  What is more, this was also patterned in Jesus’ life among the disciples.

We may choose to ignore it.  We may choose to neglect it.  We may even choose to dismiss it.  It may not be rational, psychological or scientifically defensible.  For some, it may be important to dismiss it as not part of their theology.  But if we do so, we do it to our detriment.  It is all about soul.

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