Proverbs 26:22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. (NRSV)
[Scripture quotation from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]
John Caputo: “God does not exist; God Insists.” I am an “insistence whisperer.”
Years ago, as part of my Doctor of Ministry training, we learned about a “horse whisperer” who identified her approach as “telling the horse a truer story about itself.” She often dealt with horses that had been poorly trained. As a result, those horses were living inside a corrupt story. Her job was to invite them into a truer story. Because the ‘corrupt’ story of a horse is often written with pen strokes of power (and violence), this horse whisperer saw her task as one of inviting, encouraging, and supporting a new way for the horse.
During my active ministry as a church pastor and, later, a regional church administrator, I understood my primary role to be that of a “church whisperer.” All too often churches (congregations, as well as regional and national church bodies) have lived into corrupt stories written by those whom the gospels call “the Long Robes” or by cultural values. My job was to invite those churches into a truer story about themselves. We often engaged in conversations framed by appreciative inquiry.
In retirement, things have changed. I have changed. I no longer find myself held hostage to God as an external Supreme Being, out there. I find that my trust is stronger than my beliefs. I am more concerned about being in solidarity with the societal victims of injustice and marginalization than with so many of my Christian brothers and sisters who are inimical to LGBT persons and their rights, who are conceptually opposed to women having the final arbitration in decisions about their own bodies, and whose fear of foreigners and hatred of Muslims is scary.
I would now describe myself as an “insistence whisperer.” I find myself encountering people who are not satisfied with they have been taught about religion, God, and salvation. Most of the people I encounter who are looking for deeper meaning in their lives are in the church. Actually, there are many more outside. No longer are they satisfied with a heavenly God (“up there, out there”) who will fix it for them. They are searching for significant answers, but not are not always sure where to look.
I would now describe myself as an “insistence whisperer.” I find myself encountering people who are not satisfied with what they have been taught about religion, God, and salvation. Most of the people I encounter who are looking for deeper meaning in their lives are in the church. Actually, there are many more outside. No longer are they satisfied with a heavenly God (“up there, out there”) who will fix it for them. They are searching for significant answers, but are not always sure where to look. My job is to invite them to explore a truer story about themselves – namely, that they have within themselves the resources for intimacy with God, with deeper spiritual meaning. Those resources include a compassionate concern for connecting with others, talents and abilities to use creatively the resources they find in the world, and a capacity to experience a lure, draw, nudge, call toward that which is beyond themselves. The insistence which draws them out beyond themselves fosters an openness toward those in need. This is the insistence that comes in the name of God. So, for them I whisper an event within themselves, a potential transaction with Deep Reality, a sense of call and meaning and integrity. I am an insistence whisperer.