The Westminster Confession of Funk

Talking about theology, but keeping it funky

I am a husband and father and pastor of Trinity Covenant Church and teacher as St. Abraham’s Classical Christian Academy in Santa Cruz, CA.

I married my Indian Princess just before Y2K. I am an old fashioned Protestant Christian Humanist who lives where people vacation. I love music, love to surf, coach soccer for a hoard of minions, play the drums, and read actual flesh and blood books. I enjoy theology and literature and history and philosophy (if Sophie is serving beer) and Anglo-Saxon Poetry.

If I could have lunch with any three living people, I would have buffalo ribs with a butter, mushroom, cream sauce, Roxy Ray would be singing with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and I’d be at table with Tom Wolfe, ?uestlove, and Adam Schlesinger (and Brad Bird, because it’s my fantasy, and no one can count in my fantasy).

If I could have dinner with any three dead people (and the TARDIS was there with its universal language translation circuit) I’d have slow smoked dry ribs with the author of Beowulf, Herodotus, Martin Bucer, and Polycarp (see the previous paragraph if you have questions about my ability to count). And Janis Joplin would be singing with Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars backed up by Parliament Funkadelic of course.

My carefully crafted internet persona is also much cooler than my actual person, but I can live with that.

Working off of different scripts

How often have you said, “What are we even fighting about?” You are in the midst of conflict and you don’t even really understand why.

Sol Stein, in his book 'On Writing,' tells the story of his early work in theater. In rehearsals of plays still being written, he would take two actors, give them two different setups, and then tell them to improvise once they got to the end of their script.

To one he would say, "You are a school principal meeting with the mother of a recently expelled child. He is a little terror. If this student stays he will sink the entire school into primordial chaos."

To the other he would say, "You are the mother of a sweet child. A brilliant child. He has just been expelled for a misunderstanding. The principle of the school is a jaded old man who ceased liking any children three decades ago. You must convince him to allow your child to stay."

And then he would sit back and see where the scene went. As a writer he was merely doing research. Trying to prime the pump of creative juices. But Stein is really onto something. Because how often is conflict in our lives a matter of two people working off of different scripts. We have different ideas about the kind of scene we are in, thus, the tensions rise.

There is not much to it. One thinks they are the hero of a scene, defending the honor of a friend. The other thinks they are the thoughtfully pious in a scene, talking about staying modest yet fashionable. Each thinks themselves the strong one. Each thinks themselves in the right.

Maybe one is right, maybe both are right, maybe both are wrong. Either way, the ingredients of the conflict are on a slow boil.

If we are in different scenes in our head, casting ourselves into different roles, we need to stop and listen. When you find yourself in conflict, stop and listen. This is the time to remind yourself of James 1:19. "Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (James 1:19b). Because a lot of words lead to a lot of sin. "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent" (Prov. 10:19). 

But what are you listening for? You are listening to understand. Specifically, you are trying to understand what they think the conflict is about. You are restraining your lips so that you can find the differences between your scripts. Look for the ways you are being cast as the villain, and decide if there is truth to it.  

We should, as far as we are able, work to be at peace with all men (Rom. 12:18). And learning to listen carefully is the beginning of peacemaking.