advent journal: that kind of love


At the end of the last century, Ron Howard directed a movie called “Ed” that tried to take a look at the preposterous idea that people would watch a TV show that was simply filming someone’s everyday life. I don’t know that even Howard understood how prophetic he was, or perhaps even suggestive. One of the powerful messages of the film  was found in the way the camera changed the lives of those being filmed. They acted differently. In the long run, they became caricatures of themselves all because the camera was running and the filmmakers and the viewers were complicit in the transformation. As reality television has increased, so has my sense that most of it is akin to gawking as you drive by an accident.

My disclaimer: I have never watched an episode of Duck Dynasty. I’ve seen the beards and a few clips of the show here and there and have watched Facebook blow up over the last few days because of the statements one of the guys — Phil — made in an interview in Esquire magazine. Beyond what I read and heard, I know nothing about him or his family other than their duck call business is a multi-million dollar operation, at least in part thanks to the show. I know that both A&E and the family involved are making lots of money. And I know Phil has been suspended from the show, even as the cameras keep rolling on the rest of them. I also know reality television is not real at all; it’s contrived. Created. Fabricated. The genre of shows like Duck Dynasty basically make fun of the people they put on film. A&E wants you to think these people are crazy, just as the others do with shows about kiddie beauty pageants and dance recitals. This is the television equivalent of paying a dollar at the carnival to see Jo Jo the Monkey Boy. The controversy is designed to make the news, however briefly, and then to move on to the next spectacle. Facebook will simmer down, Phil will go back to work, and A&E will keep making fun and making money. This morning, the story made it to NPR’s Morning Edition, and I listened as I made coffee, then I went online and found his quotes about gays and African-Americans. To say I disagree with him would be an understatement.

I was just finishing my coffee when I heard a second story this morning, which was not new to me, about Frank Schaefer, a Methodist minister who was defrocked this week for performing the wedding of his son, who is gay. The wedding took place in 2007 in Massachusetts, where equal marriage is legal. When Frank did the wedding, he also knew he was breaking the rules of his denomination. The trial shone a light on the division within Methodism over how to come to terms with the gay and lesbian people in their number.

By now there are thousands upon thousands of people who have thrown in their two cents about Phil and Frank and what the Bible says and what the Constitution says to the point that we have created a cacophony none of us can listen to. Then again, there aren’t that many of us listening; we are all talking. Or shouting. The reason I am writing tonight is because I have a whole slew of people whom I love who are gay and lesbian. I also have a great deal of people who are profession Christians whom I love as well. The two groups overlap quite a bit. I want them to know I am saddened when their existence as human beings requires somehow that they are always introduced with a preceding adjective. I want them to know I don’t think they are broken or tainted or sinful for being themselves. Jesus didn’t call us to keep the rules; he called us to keep each other and remind each other nothing — not death or life or judgment or ecclesiastical councils or reality television — can separate us from the love of God. I’ll let Pierce Pettis take it from here.

That Kind of Love


Can’t be bought or sold or faked

That kind of love

Always gives itself away

That kind of love

Wiser than the wisest sage

It’s innocence makes me ashamed

Til I’m not sure I can take

That kind of love


Pride and hatred cannot stand

That kind of love

Greater love hath no man

Than that kind of love

Won’t be kept unto itself

Spreads it’s charm, casts it’s spell

No one’s safe this side of hell

From that kind of love


Love rejected and ignored

Held in chains, behind closed doors

Stuff of legend and of songs

Deep down everybody longs for

That kind of love . . . oh, that kind of love


Some people never know

That kind of love

Though it only takes a child to show

That kind of love

Widows smile and strong men weep

Little ones play at it’s feet

Deaf can hear and blind can see

That kind of love


Love triumphant, love on fire

Love that humbles and inspires

No conditions, no restraints

That kind of love . . . oh, that kind of love


How could anyone deny

That kind of love

Every heart is measured by

That kind of love

Even stars fall from the sky

Everything will fall in time

Except those things that cannot die

That kind of love

Oh, may you be remembered by

That kind of love

Love that does not hesitate

We are loved, we are loved, we are really, really loved — every last one of us.




  1. Had a good talk with a co-worker today about when and how so much of America became so overly-sensitive, thin-skinned, and convinced they were being persecuted. It’s the 24/7 media doing their thing (just business) and the rest of us enabling it.

    “Only love can conquer hate” comes to mind, again. Your post makes me want to play What’s Goin’ On start to finish, even more than usual.

Leave a Reply