The stranger the better
This counterintuitive idea was the theme of the sermon at the church I dropped in on yesterday because it was too nice to drive an hour to my meeting. Worshipping locally has several good things going for it, and yesterday the benefit was guest preacher Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, president of Chicago Theological Seminary. Explaining and then applying the multilevel system of rabbinical interpretation used in reading the Hebrew Bible, she argued that an interpretation style that argues with the text makes us better equipped to deal with differences in general -- with diversity, with lack of agreement, with lack of commonality. We go beyond the literal and obvious and look more deeply that way. It's a big idea to pack into a Sunday morning homily -- more like Sunday school with a good teacher.