Saturday, February 09, 2013

Call this chapter "The Perverse Lutheran Goes to the ALDE Conference."

ALDE stands for Association of Lutheran Development Executives, and there are a lot of them here. I spent the last hour and half reading through the program booklet, browsing speakers' bios, and flipping through the list of conference attendees, and there are Concordias and Luthers and Lutheran acronyms aplenty. It's another world of Lutheranism, beyond pastors, teachers and church musicians. Given the way institutions are shifting and small congregations are closing, this development world is a big part of the future of ministry.

We're in Indianapolis, so the conference has a Speedway theme--harmless for the most part, except for the session descriptions written in a speedway metaphor. Who knows what those speakers will talk about after the smoke clears from the starting gun.

A conference is what you learn, but it's also the experience of going away. Staying in a hotel room where the hot water in the shower is endless. Walking fast through skywalks and convention halls. Getting a little lost. Going to a Welcome Event in an old and pretty nifty ballroom. Staying up late alone in a quiet room but hearing voices outside.

On the ride down here I listened to all kinds of music--Sinatra, Bach, Van Morrison, Dawn Upshaw. Practiced breathing in silently, lowering the larynx, raising the palate, the air moving along the roof of my mouth and falling to the bottom of my lungs. This is my singing project--trying to become a better singer, with a voice that will subtly do all that I want it to do, and raising the palate is the specific assignment  that followed me out of a voice lesson earlier this week.

But how shall I sing my high C's this weekend? In the hotel room early in the morning? Everywhere I look there are things that absorb sound rather than amplify it. Upholstered chairs, carpet, acoustical ceiling tile, bedspreads, drapes. No singing in "Speedway" sessions on direct mail and graphic design. Not even in sessions on getting your message out there.

So there's a challenge here--something about being an artist and having a day job. I plug away at web sites and press releases and newsletter, at the best and most concise way to say something, at the hook that will get readers' attention, but God for me is in the high C's and the writing that is trying to communicate something deeper than a meeting time or even the mission of a ministry.

Here's another c-word: cardinal. I saw two males sitting side by side on the bare branches of the forsythia bush as I went out the back door this morning. Bright red, feathers puffed out, so much color in a mere bird.

I try to end posts with some kind of connection. I'm a Lutheran, therefore I ask, catechetically, "What does this mean?' I dunno, but I think I'll wear the red turtleneck tomorrow.

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