The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.

Fill in the Blank

I listen to a lot of great podcasts. A while ago, I wanted to like, "get into" podcasts, and thought that there was like, some sort of...way that one did that. Turns out, you just click on some and listen to them and then subscribe if you want new episodes to appear on your phone. And like, I didn't want to listen to Serial or to This American Life or to Radiolab or any of the NPR and NPR-esque podcasts that everyone says "but you HAVE to listen to it!" Sometimes I am a horrific contrarian. I love NPR for life, but INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH there is more to life than NPR.

[Tangent! Once, at a Secular Student Alliance meeting at CLU, we joked for a while about what the podcast would be called that each of us would host. Grant and Evan's podcast (related to their atheism) would be called The Lack Thereof--mostly because they were always punctuating other people's descriptions of things with a jabbing "or the lack thereof!" to underscore how inauthentic everything is in American society or whatever. Hashtag undergrads. Mine, it was determined, would be called Interestingly Enough (essentially an audio version of this blog, it turns out--I just get to tell the world about things I find interesting) because I throw that phrase into a lot of sentences, usually exposing some sort of irony or bullsh or whatever, usually about church. Thanks for playing!]

If you were with me a few months ago, you know that I added some rad podcasts to my life during my white media fast during Lent. [Read all about that here.] One of those excellent podcasts, Call Your Girlfriend, recently spoke right to me.  Not literally--they didn't answer my listener question or something, but Aminatou and Ann were talking about "making it" as a writer (in an answer to a listener question, actually) and I am grateful for the care they took in answering. They noticed that the question came from a place of fear and scarcity--the woman writing in expressed the concern that there were so many great writers around her that she could never be as good as. Ann, a journalist and freelance writer extraordinaire, explained a common phase among writers that involves feeling like nothing you write is ever as good as anything you read. And then she said,
"If you're stopped in your tracks by other people's great writing instead of inspired by it, there's no future in that for you" (Episode 29).
I said, "huh" out loud. I paused the podcast for a second. I "rewound" a bit to hear her again, because I wanted to copy down the sentence so I could eventually write this about it. I do not consider myself "a writer", per se, and as such am rarely intimidated out of writing something based on reading the excellent writing of others--I so do not equate myself with them, and therefore find no problem rambling madly here with you. :)

But the reason this spoke right to me is because I often feel this way about other pastors. I sometimes allow the incredible preaching, teaching, and caring of others to stop me in my tracks and intimidate me away from being my best pastoral self. What Ann has so simply and deeply reminded me is that all those other superb pastors are part of how I am the pastor that I am. We, together, are the church. We, together, are the ELCA. We, together, are the body of Christ. Because a colleague of mine can succinctly/beautifully/boldly/radically/poetically express the Gospel does not mean that I should discontinue expressing the Gospel. So so much the opposite. I need the excellence of my peers to foster the excellence in me.

What about you? If we changed "writing" to a _______, what would it be for you? What do you do, and whose doing of that thing falsely intimidates you out of doing it the way you know to be true? Fill in that blank. And then really fill it.

For He is Our Peace -- A sermon on Ephesians, mostly.

The one where a Lutheran agrees with the Pope