Do you think of yourself as a “realist,” “tough-minded,” and “all facts”? Maybe you’re just a fatalist.
The great philosopher of religious psychology, William James, once observed that there is a personality type who consider themselves, “tough-minded.” The tough-minded believe that life is run by facts, that what is real is confined to what can be seen and measured, that skepticism is the signature of the truly smart. The tough-minded look down on religion as the refuge of sentimentalists, the “tender-minded,” “the idealists.”
In this Sunday’s sermon we’ll explore one such tough-minded man – the father of John the Baptist, Zechariah. Zechariah doesn’t believe that God will fulfill the prayers and hopes of Israel. Zechariah is a fatalist. And he is so certain of his realism — his “facts” — that an angel can’t talk him out of it!
This Sunday is the Advent Sunday of Joy. Fatalists have a hard time experiencing joy. Fatalists will never believe that people can change, that life can improve, that God can bring healing and hope. Even if confronted with the facts of a miraculous change, they’ll explain it away. They live in a gray world of predictable disappointment.
But even tough-minded, fatalistic Zechariah does change – and when he does, he’s surprised by joy.
Are you feeling joyless and fatalistic about our world, that nothing can change and improve? This Sunday’s message is for you (or that tough-minded spouse!)