Perhaps you have read the recent comment from Kendal Sommers. He thanked The Old Fool for telling the story of the memorial service for Willis Brechbill, the veteran church leader who lost standing in the church because he loved and defended his lesbian daughter. Kendall lamented the way the church drags its feet on so many issues. Then he added that the post gave him hope! The Old Fool felt affirmed for that is one of the main reasons he writes. He knows that some readers are perplexed and disappointed in him, but he hopes to give hope to the many who are visiting his site. Yesterday there were 120 visits!
Today (Saturday, November 10, 20120), The Old Fool attended the Philip Gulley seminar sponsored by New Perspectives on Faith. You will notice that the claim is not for TRUE perspectives on faith, but for NEW perspectives. Gulley’s seminar gave The Old Fool new hope. The first part of the seminar related to his book, “If the Church were Christian.” He told many stories gleaned from his spiritual journey. According to Gulley, if the church were christian it would not threaten anyone with hell. Instead it would be affirming and welcoming. The second part of the Seminar was from his latest book “The Evolution of Faith.”
Gulley concluded the seminar with a personal testimony about prayer. As a young adult he firmly believed in prayer as a way to get things from God. In mid-life he lost all faith in prayer and abruptly stopped praying. Now he believes in attentive listening to others to be effective prayer.
The Old Fool experienced Gulley’s attentive listening. He told Gulley that he began life as a farm boy in Pennsylvania. Without much training he became a pastor in Florida, a bishop, and a conference executive, and “now I am here!” Gulley’s face broke into a kind smile as he asked, “And that’s good?” Yes, it’s good, agreed the Old Fool.
The Old Fool believes that he has experienced attentive listening as prayer. Years ago he had served on a listening committee to listen to gays and lesbians. He listened attentively as they described suffering inflicted on them by the church, their families and communities. He told Gulley, “I have often said that I never felt more like Jesus then when I was listening to gays, lesbians, and their parents.”
Now, in 2012, The Old Fool is thankful for the prayers generated by past attentive listening when he is told that his writings inspire hope. Those prayers are still being answered. If you know anyone you don’t understand, and wish to pray for, try attentive listening.