Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Of the taking of polls there is no end...

Gadfry, I am sick to death of Iowa and its caucuses.  The polls tell us Michele is up, then Perry, then Newt, then Ron, then Rick, and now Mitt... who cares anymore!  Just get the whole blankety blank thing over with!  But that is not the only thing in the news.  We have Barna releasing new data every day on how unreligious Christians are.  We have the Southern Baptists (LifeWay) releasing polls on the services held or not on Christmas.  Now a reader in Germany sent me this link that says 80% of German Roman Catholics probably don't believe in a personal God (do they prefer and impersonal one???).  I am being slowly tortured to death by polls.  I even got phone calls over the holidays to ask how I was going to vote in the Tennessee primary (which isn't even until like August and by then there won't be any choice left).

Our government and leaders are failing because they read polls instead of doing what is good, right, and best for us.  Now the media is trying to get the Church to read polls and make changes in doctrine and practice on the basis of the results received by a sample survey with a 3% margin of error.  Really!  I believe that the devil is killing us by polls -- polls that throw in our faces what we thought yesterday, fifteen minutes ago, and what we might think tomorrow.

Once I had a person suggest that we should take a poll to see how people like our worship services.  Once I had a guy tell me that before we take the second of three votes on building on to our building, we might take a poll to see what people really think.  Once I heard of a Pastor who polled the congregation on what he should preach about on that Sunday -- obviously he had well prepared for that sermon!  I have heard calls for polls to decide which hymns should be in the hymnal, how often we might celebrate the Eucharist, and whether or not the Pastor is doing his job to the satisfaction of the folks in the pews.  Polls are the devil's instruments!

I recall when AAL did that study of generations.  It informed of us of the very things we did not wish to know -- that we a flawed, failed, and sinful people who believe half the time and wrestle with our doubts and fears the other half so that at any given moment we are not sure of anything -- even our own names.  I have a copy of that book on my shelf.  It is filled with dust.  I cannot remember the last time I opened it or if I ever read anything in it.  Polls tell us that our faith is fragile, that we have itching ears, that we move the direction of the wind, and that we are fascinated by new and different things (whether real or made up) -- but we could have found all of that out in Scripture for much less than the cost of a first rate pollster and a couple of thousands of computer print offs.

I pray that no one in St. Louis at 1333 S. Kirkwood Road is taking or paying attention to polls.  Now I am not a Biblicist.  I do not believe that we ought to cast lots in the way that Matthias was chosen Apostle.  I am not in favor of governing the Church or the congregation with a group of 12 Apostles.  I am not a Luddite and do not eschew the modern conveniences (aka blogging).  But.... we do not need a magnifying mirror to see the weakness and failings in our feelings and thoughts.  The Church of God deserves something better than the whims of the moment to define who we are and what we are to do in worship or ministry.  God save us from the pollster and their wet thumbs stuck up to test every breach of wind, change, or chance.  It is precisely this that I think the collect is referring to when it calls upon us to pray: 
Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of thy servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by thy gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"What change is this, I Sweet love?" says Shakespeare.  We are in love with change but even more in love with what we think or feel about such changes.  We waste our mighty communication technology to ask each other where we are, what we are doing, what do we think?  Lord, save us from ourselves, from the tyranny of our thoughts and feelings, from a destiny determined by whims, by a snapshot of time that attempts to explain the past and portend the future, and, most of all, from those who make their business finding out what we think about this or that in seven words or less...


Carl Vehse said...

Polls are cheap, quick, and can change with the wind.

Newsreporters (i.e., those people who must fill the printspace or airtime gaps in between income-producing ads) love polls, which serve well as filler.

Jeremy Loesch said...

Ya! You betcha! Nice job Pastor Peters.