Crossing the boundary unscathed

This post continues the “Old Fool’s”  musings about mysteries in the known and the unknown. How can he worship God in the church and respect science in Borderlands?  He has dubbed this exploration “my sci-tho-lo-gy.”


A petrified stump on Calendar Garden grounds; (color enhanced) perhaps millions of years old. Do old people petrify though not dead?

One Sunday morning I enjoyed the sermon so much that when I crossed over into Borderlands I said, you should all have heard this morning’s sermon. One brother replied that “should” had limited use in Borderlands conversation, that it didn’t sound right to him, that it made him uncomfortable.

My brother’s discomfort is easily understood.  Neither he nor I like being told what we should do. It’s so easy and comfortable to tell others what they should do. In baptism we promised to give counsel and receive counsel.  Is giving counsel always easier and more comfortable than receiving counsel?

Here is how the morning worship is viewed by many Borderlanders:  the hour is heavy with shoulds. We should be quiet except when we should sing.  We should listen to the sermon, should believe and should not question. We should ignore data.

I do not automatically resist the shoulds of the first service.  Using Paul’s language, a should (law) may be written on my heart.  It becomes an inner motivation by my choice. But when I cross over into Borderlands I am expected to leave “shoulds” behind me.   If I tell Borderlands members that I have decided to do something, I will likely be asked for the data that moved me. Data gathering is the Borderlands way of learning.

Navel Orange Tree given by North Tampa Mennonite Church loaded with so much fruit the limbs may break if unpropped

Navel Orange Tree (color enhanced) given by North Tampa Mennonite Church loaded with so much fruit the limbs may break if unpropped

Jeb Hostettler scholar, humorist and magician provides an example.  Uneasy because of the data related to gun violence he feels he should do something about this crisis in US society. He is so deeply disturbed that he has decided to act against gun violence. He informed readers of his decision in his blog and invited them to advise and join him. Go to his blog and the comments by clicking here and read for yourself.

I invite you to ponder the Haiku below:  (Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry: 1st line five syllables, 2nd line seven syllables, 3rd line five syllables. Count them.)

“Should” is not all bad.
“Should” when self imposed is  good.
A good “should” births deeds

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
This entry was posted in Biblical Interpretation, Church, Faith, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Crossing the boundary unscathed

  1. Bill Swartzendruber says:

    Martin – I’m reminded of the preacher I heard who said you shouldn’t let others “should” on you. We are called to walk together and share our ideas, to ask a question when we aren’t sure why (like your Borderlands members request for data). It’s part of discipleship and discipling. Shoulds mean we’re placing a stop stone in front of our fellow traveler and imposing our way on them; but they, like us, have the freedom to choose their own way. The journey together is what it’s about. I’ve been blessed when you and I have walked together. Peace, Bill

    • Lloyd Gingrich says:

      “Something to think about.”
      If you feel uncomfortable with the word ” should ” you have the meaning of
      “must” confused with” should”. Should conveys the thought of choice.
      Must conveys the meaning of not having a choice. Shepherds must lead by going out front. Driving a flock with a “must” scatters the flock.
      Doing something by choice is much easer then doing something I must do.

  2. Nate Lehman says:

    In the 70″s there was Transactual Analysis,a system of thought that explained thinking in three categories: parent, adult and child and explained that should, ought to, have to and must were parent messages. Adults are reluctant to accept parent messages. Ministers are misguided when they use parent messages and put themselves in parenting positions. Parents reject it, children don’t listen and adults just feel very uncomfortable and often do not know why. All in all it is poor leadership!

    • Carl Metzler says:

      Oh, the problems our use of language presents to us. Many dictionaries give three uses of ‘should’: (1)recommendation, (2)obligation, and (3)expectation. Martin, while I affirm your desire to respect your fellow Borderlands members, to what extent do you allow them to define the language? For myself, in worship, I recommend “quiet except when we expect to sing”. I recommend that we listen to the sermon. And I have never felt any obligation to believe.

      • Lloyd Gingrich says:

        Carl I agree with your comments except why not feel obligated
        to believe? In addition to my earlier comment. If we do not as
        we should then indeed we should feel uncomfortable.

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