Wednesday, July 9, 2014

TED and I

Hello.  My name is Michael Sherman.  I have been married for 15 years to my wife, Kristen, with whom I have 4 wonderful children, Cora, Olivia, Naomi and Josiah.  I have been a pastor at Raysville Friends in Indiana Yearly Meeting and now the New Association of Friends for more than 10 years.
I am a recent MDiv graduate from Earlham School of Religion (ESR).  The final year of the program requires a field study/internship.  It is part of the capstone of the program.  I have been pastoring a small rural Quaker meeting for 10 years so I wanted to find something new and inviting to work at and think about for my internship.  Much of the program is designed for students just entering their field of ministry.  This was not the case for me.
 Sometime in the spring of 2013 driving home from playing basketball I was listening a program on NPR I had never heard before, The TED Radio Hour.  This particular episode featured three TED talks the two by Brene Brown her first on Vulnerability and then a follow-up on Shame and a Talk by Brian Goldman, a doctor in Toronto.  While the Brown talks have become inspirational and motivational to many, myself included, Goldman's talk was what got me thinking.Goldman was promoting a practice among doctors to discuss their failures.  He hosted a radio program inviting fellow doctors to come on the show and share their worst mistakes.  I heard organized confession.
Somewhere along in my studies at ESR I became attached to an early understanding of Quaker worship which stressed the ideal of worship as bringing the personal individual struggles in relationship with God into the communal practice of worship.  One of the initial complaints early Friends made against the practice of religion in their times were the ways in which practice and trappings of worship had gotten in the way of relationship with God.  Open worship was intended to remove those obstacles laying bare each members' lives to the gathered body.
Goldman was speaking into this picture of honesty about practice.  We want perfect doctors; doctors who don't make mistakes; doctors who never fail.  The problem is the same problem we have with our relationships with God...a lack of human perfection.  We all fail.  Doctors fail.  Doctors are trained well to avoid those failures, but truth be told there are failures and patients suffer.  Godlman suggested that one doctor's confession of failure and the examination that failure might be an opportunity for some other doctor to learn thus avoiding the same mistake.
In Brian Goldman I had found a conversation partner in my understanding of community and fellowship and I wondered if there were more people on TED, connected or not with Christianity, who would also be conversation partners.
At the same time I had been preaching through the Gospel of Mark and I began to find conversation partners within the TED universe which helped my and aided me as I moved through Mark's Gospel.  My project for you in the compilation of those conversations using the framework of Mark's Gospel as my guide.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Michael, thank you for sharing these insights into the importance of embracing and sharing with each other and with God our human imperfection. It is part of what us makes precious and why we need one another - it makes me think of the beloved community reflection from our Atlanta Friends Meeting Pickett Grantee above.
    in peace,