The preacher, the donkey, and drink
The pulpit was cleverly designed to elevate the speaker to just such a height that he could maintain eyeball to eyeball contact. No amount of ducking or leaning could obscure you behind even the largest of frumpy hairstyles in the row in front.
Dressed in a white robe with obscure decorations, the preacher was using his vantage point to full effect, and there was barely a dozy eye in the congregation. I squirmed mentally every time he seemed to gaze straight at me.
A good orator, his voice rose and fell with a cadence of urgency, as he reinforced his message with amusing anecdotes, recounting stories of human pathos, and all flavored with a touch of academia as he quoted from this or that renowned theologian. The combined effect of sight and sound was enough to stir one to think, “Here is a wise man of great intelligence, widely read, and far above me.”
It was only when one mentally stepped away from the captivation of the presentation, and asked “by what authority does he say this?”, that one realized it was all by the authority of man – his own opinion. So much for this type of preacher.
The donkey on the other hand, is a beast of stubborn mind; somewhat crass, smelly, and belligerent. If you go to the opposite extreme of an angelic song and out the other side, you find a donkey’s voice.
Never one to pay much attention to those around it (unless it’s other donkeys), a donkey knows its own mind in a way that one would only imagine could be accomplished after spending a lifetime with a psychologist. A donkey is the epitome of expressing your genetics to the fullest. You can’t make it do something it hasn’t already decided to do, and to accomplish anything one can at best hope to find a mutually acceptable objective. Donkeys fill their personal space, and they don’t let you ever forget it! A donkey will never let ignorance stand in the way of action. So much for the donkey.
Now these two are actually very much alike. Cross a preacher like the above with a donkey, and you get a pronkey – a progeny of a scary prospect, a braying from the pulpit that can scrape the inside of your skin. Because both these creatures, as described above, live by a hyper-inflated sense of self importance which is blind and deaf to the needs of others – one only wishes it were dumb as well.
So what has this to do with this week’s email question: “what about the controversial [Christian] books?” The writer asks, in effect, can I read this or that book, who is a kosher author?
Well, I’m not going to say “Do read this, don’t read that. Go see this movie, don’t see that one!” That’s an answer one would give a child. Rather, let me present three questions to ask yourself.
1. Have you first read THE OTHER BOOK. And again. And again. Do you know it?
2. Is the author a preacher or a donkey as described above? You recognize them by their dogmatism, resistance to reason, overly emotive language, condemnatory opinions, conscience massaging platitudes, and especially by the fact they rarely, if ever, speak Jesus’ words.
3. Does the content of (2) agree with (1)? And you can only answer this question if you’ve done (1).
So what’s the drink bit? Well it’s the drink Jesus gives (Jn 4:14). You can take someone to water, but you can’t make them drink. At best you can help them become very, very thirsty.