Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My name is Mike, and I'm a Parrothead. All right, maybe not a fullblown Parrothead. But I do like Buffett's music. (I have one of my elders to blame.) You've heard "Margaritaville" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise," of course--along with "Come Monday." Yeah, yeah. Probably even "Fins" and "Volcano." But how about "Tin Cup Chalice," "One Particular Harbor," "Migration," "School Boy Heart" and "I Love the Now"? Maybe "Meet Me in Memphis" or Jimmy's version of "Brown-Eyed Girl," "Mexico," or "Southern Cross"? - - - - One of my best reads last year was Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The novel is a long letter from a 76-year-old minister to his 6-year-old son. John Ames married when he was young, but his wife died in childbirth (along with the daughter she was giving birth to). He remained single--and at the same church--for four decades, when he married a woman thirty years younger. Near the end of his life, he writes to his son to tell him who he is (was) and to let the boy know about his grandfather and great grandfather, also pastors--one a big war-promoter and the other a pacifist. There are so many things I love about this novel, but one of the most significant things to me was her insight about sermon preparation, about preaching, and about ministry. How could someone write this who hasn't been a minister herself? Here's a sample: "Your mother is respectful of my hours up here in the study. She's proud of my books. She was the one who actually called my attentionn to the number of boxes I have filled with my sermons and my prayers. Say, fifty sermons a year for forty-five years, not counting funerals and so on, of which there have been a great many. Two thousand two hundred and fifty. If they average thirty pages, that's sixty-seven thousand five hundred pages. Can that be right? I guess it is. I write in a small hand, too, as you know by now. Say three hundred pages make a volume. Then I've written two hundred twenty-five books, which puts me up there with Augustine and Calvin for quantity. That's amazing. I wrote almost all of it in the deepest hope and conviction. Sifting my thoughts and choosing my words. Trying to say what was true. And I'll tell you frankly, that was wonderful." And then this: "I suppose it's natural to think about those old boxes of sermons upstairs. They are a record of my life, after all, a sort of foretaste of the Last Judgment, really, so how can I not be curious? Here I was a pastor of souls, hundreds and hundreds of them over all those years, and I hope I was speaking to them, not only to myself, as it seems to me sometimes when I look back. I still wake up at night, thinking, That's what I should have said! or That's what he meant! remembering conversations I had with people years ago, some of them long gone from the world, past any thought of my putting things right with them. And then I do wonder where my attention was. If that is even the question." One more: "A good sermon is one side of a passionate conversation. It has to be heard in that way. There are three parties to it, of course, but so are there even to the most private thought--the self that yields the thought, the self that acknowledges and in some way responds to the thought, and the Lord. That is a remarkable thing to consider." - - - - And speaking of sermons, just a moment for preacher geek. I just finished Paul Scott Wilson's Preaching and Homiletical Theory. I had already worked through his books God Sense: Reading the Bible for Preaching and The Four Pages of the Sermon, but I enjoyed this one much more. If you haven't had a chance to catch up on works on homiletics for a while, this will provide a lot of help. The opening section on the Bible (with chapters entitled "Biblical Preaching," "Exegesis for Preaching," and "Homileticians and the Bible") is excellent.


  • Mike,

    Thanks for this morning's post, the part where he says, "I wrote almost all of it in the deepest hope and conviction. Sifting my thoughts and choosing my words. Trying to say what is true."

    I needed to hear that, sometimes I get flippant with scripture. Enough said.

    By Blogger happytheman, at 1/12/2006 05:08:00 AM  

  • I generally find that parrotheads are very laid back, easy going and always up for fun. I love Jimmy Buffet's music, new and old, but am not sure that I am a true parrothead. My old boss from about 20 years ago, when I worked in a music store was a true parrothead. He was a fanatic in the best way, which most Buffett fans are.

    By Blogger Tammy M., at 1/12/2006 05:43:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    One of the things I like about your posts is the introduction to great reads.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 1/12/2006 06:19:00 AM  

  • (Think 'Margaritaville')

    Wastin' away again in Blogville
    Searching for some insight on God
    Some people claim that Mike Cope is to blame
    All I know is - it's not on iPod

    By Blogger Beaner, at 1/12/2006 06:22:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Gilead moved me and even made this Southerner have fond thoughts of Iowa.

    The book still resonates with me, but I'm left with a nagging mystery. I tried to narrow down Ames's denominational or theological association and could not. I'm quite sure he's not a CoC guy, but there were conflicting clues that seemed to eliminate every denomination I suggested. Perhaps that's the point.

    Any thoughts?

    By Blogger JRB, at 1/12/2006 06:57:00 AM  

  • Randy Harris introduced many of us to "Gilead" last year at the Pepperdine Lectureship. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, but your post prompts me to make another Amazon encounter.

    I love Buffett also, but for me the line forms behind JT. I would love to see those two in concert together! Hey, stranger things have happened.


    By Blogger David U, at 1/12/2006 07:51:00 AM  

  • Originally a Parrothead, but definite Church of Buffett, Orthodox.

    Except I do make an exception for Floridays, particularly "Creola". So I guess I have a liberal bias.

    By Blogger Seeker, at 1/12/2006 07:54:00 AM  

  • What the heck is a Homiletical?

    I mean..can I use it? I love new words! I just told Dora Weathers not to be so homiletical!

    Christy Weathers just told me that Homeletical is her favorite rap group...

    yo yo

    By Blogger Beverly, at 1/12/2006 09:19:00 AM  

  • Beverly - I gave the warning: "Preach Geek Ahead." Homiletics is just the study of preaching. Once I delved into the depths of geekdom, writing a paper on The Pedagogy of Homiletics. :)

    JRB - I'll have to think about that. Are there clues? I've pictured some sort of prairie Presbyterian Church. Of course, his father became a Quaker in reaction against his grandfather.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/12/2006 09:32:00 AM  

  • There is a stack of Buffett songs (Guitar Tabs) I am learning. My goal is simple. Play a little 6 String Music for my kiddo. Examples are Lone Palm, Delaney Talks To Statues, One Particular Harbor.

    By Blogger EBC, at 1/12/2006 09:45:00 AM  

  • Mike -

    If you haven't read it yet...you really need to get Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. It is in many ways, reminiscent of Robinson's Gilead.

    By Blogger Jarrod Robinson, at 1/12/2006 09:46:00 AM  

  • Hey Mike, I looked up geek and man, you are so not that!

    official webster definition of geek: : a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake.

    By Blogger Beverly, at 1/12/2006 10:10:00 AM  

  • I don't know, Beverly. Sounds like Mike to me...

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/12/2006 11:24:00 AM  

  • This from the woman who just suggested a children's book by Howard Stern! (See deanaland.blogspot.com.)

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/12/2006 11:46:00 AM  

  • Mike, I'm going to have to hire you as my publicist.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/12/2006 12:10:00 PM  

  • My intro to the great Jimmy Buffet came just a couple of years ago...The summer of 2004 we decided we needed a brief sabbatical from ministry (and the sweltering heat of South Houston!). We spent a week in a beautiful home on Topsail Island. You know the area Mike...Just close enough to visit Wilmington (if we so chose), but far enough away to be totally isolated from the world. One evening we ventured down a deadend road and found a quaint seafood restaurant nestled against the Intercoastal Waterway. We chose a table outside where the live entertainment was a middle-aged gentleman wearing a Hawian-print shirt, khaki shorts, and sandals. He strummed his guitar, and sang, and chatted with the dinners. He was a true parrothead and sang all of the classics (until he started taking requests and my kids asked for some Elvis!). Ever since then my ear has been trained to listen for Buffet!

    By Blogger Angela, at 1/12/2006 12:39:00 PM  

  • Jimmy Buffet? Hmm. Doesn't he sing a bit with Alan Jackson in the song "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere"?


    By Blogger reJoyce, at 1/12/2006 12:43:00 PM  

  • True story.
    I worked for a large restaurant chain, and supported the beverage manager. To some of you, that translates, alcoholic beverages.

    We were having a convention for all our suppliers and one of our wine suppliers underwrote a Jimmy Buffet concert.

    I did not get to go, but I did make arrangements for Jimmy's stay at the Mandalay in Las Vegas. I can also testify that when he checks into a hotel, he has an alias, and it is Lee Mealone. I loved it and still chuckle about it to this day.

    By Blogger Hoots Musings, at 1/12/2006 07:25:00 PM  

  • Mike,
    It is amazing how much is accumulated in a lifetime of preaching and writing, and how much can be revealed in a person's journey of faith by those writings.I think back to the conviction, or insight, or joy that came with preparing a class or sermon and realize what a privelege it was to be entrusted with that task. Sometimes looking back at old notes I would be amazed at how patient God was with my handling of His Word, and would wonder if I would think the same things twenty years in the future. Last summer, I pitched twenty two years of sermons and studies into the dumpster, at that time it seemed the right thing to do, now I am not so sure. Thanks for the book suggestion and for your blog. Mark.

    By Blogger mark, at 1/13/2006 08:01:00 AM  

  • Mike Cope asked how could an author know so much about preaching and not be a minister herself?

    FYI, Robinson has done her share of preaching, so I hear. She on occasion serves as a substitute preacher at a UCC in Iowa City when the pastor is absent.

    By Blogger hermit greg, at 1/14/2006 08:18:00 PM  

  • I'm partial to Buffett's deeper stuff as well. "Money Back Guarantee", "Tampico Trauma", and "Life is Just a Tire Swing" are some of my favorites.

    Got Sirius Satellite Radio for Christmas. They have a "Margaritaville" channel! They play an hour of the "Buffett Buffet" three times a day. Greatness.

    By Blogger Corey, at 1/17/2006 07:18:00 AM  

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