Professor Mike Leeming and his wife Karen Leeming were missionaries to Mexico for many years. Presently Mike teaches Cultural Anthropology, English, and Bible courses in Bethany College of Missions, Minneapolis. He is an avid reader of Christian fiction.
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GLORY OF THE BLUE COLLAR - WHITE COLLAR GOD
1. BLUE COLLAR GOD, WHITE COLLAR GOD
Blue Collar God, White Collar God by Terry Esau, published by Thomas Nelson is a collection of 17 "non-traditional pictures of God," using certain occupations as sketches to reveal the character of God and how He does things for us and with us. These seventeen sketches are short stories in themselves, narrated through the eyes of the author, experiencing the world around him, and through this experience, gaining knowledge and wisdom as these ordinary people reveal, through their honest occupations, the character and presence of God.
In the introduction, Terry Esau says,
These stories aren't all neat and tidy. They're pictures of real life and the things that sometimes happen in real life. The symbolism may disturb you at times, but stick with me, follow the images all the way through and reach for the underlying nugget of truth. My wish is not to offend, but to jump-start our thought process by sketching some pictures of God that are a bit non-traditional (p. 3).
2. THE ART OF STORYTELLING
The art of storytelling to teach spiritual truths is certainly ancient. Jesus used it often with His listeners. In Matthew's Gospel alone, Jesus illustrates the Kingdom of Heaven by saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like…" eight times.
How many pictures do we have of God in the Bible - - a rushing wind, a consuming fire, a dove, a King on the throne who is high and lifted up, a Rock, a potter, etc.? (I'm sure we could all think of many more.)
Since a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, these pictures should give us a lot to talk and think about, or even to meditate upon.
3. THE IMMANENCE OF GOD
In Blue Collar God, White Collar God, Esau gives us pictures of God based upon the idea of specific occupations - both blue collar and white collar. If there is a biblical premise for these stories, I believe it would be found in John 1:14, in a God who "became flesh," and, in a non-literal sense, is still "becoming flesh" even today in certain situations around all of us.
It all begins with, I suppose, the Lord's command, "Love thy neighbor." If I do not have love for my neighbor, how am I going to see him in positive light? How am I going to treat him as an equal before God? How am I going to serve him as well as his Creator? He is equally good, he is equally contributing his best to the community, just as I am. Unfortunately, such feelings are not necessarily the cornerstone of every belief system. Individuals, despite their best upbringing, may consider themselves superior to others for various reasons, thereby betraying their own selfishness that is not approved by the Lord. Jesus considered that paganism is not merely idol worship or negating God.
But Jesus called them to Him and said unto them, "Ye know that they that are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you shall be your minister, and whosoever of you would be the chiefest shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be minsitered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:42-44 KJV).
Jesus associates himself with the people's suffering:
Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I hungered, and ye gave Me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in; naked, and ye clothed Me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited Me not.' Then shall they also answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when saw we Thee hungering or athirst or a stranger, or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee?' (Matthew 25:41-44 KJV)
And about work, the apostle Paul writes:
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you: that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10 KJV)
4. REJECT KARMA
Our Lord associates Himself with us and with what we do. There is great dignity attached to human labor if that labor is lawful and approved in the sight of the Lord. As the cited verses above show, He even associates Himself with the social offenders in the sense that He wants us to be merciful to them, praying and hoping for their salvation and physical well-being. Tanning, a profession dealing with the dead bodies and looked down upon as the lowliest of lowly jobs among the peoples of some faiths, was practiced by the apostle Paul.
Work with your hands, do not take pride in your great mental abilities, be of good cheer to help others and do everything lawful that helps the community, is the theme of Christian living. Fortunately, we have not lost the zeal and zest for this kind of living yet.
5. WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST
This book, Blue Collar, White Collar God, is a solid re-affirmation of Christian faith and sound repudiation of Karma.
The fact that we are the body of Christ, with every little part doing its best and complementing each other, comes out vividly in the monologues of the author who sees God in the people around him.
6. THE OCCUPATIONS, BIG AND SMALL
Here are the occupations that Terry Esau chooses to talk about in his book. He describes each of these occupations in such a way that some aspect or the other of these occupations can serve to illustrate to us how God's everlasting power of salvation is everywhere. The attributes of God and His functions in our life as individuals and as members of the community around us come out with refreshing understanding. At the end, we begin to marvel at the great goodness that abounds all around us.
Blue Collar Contents - God as ...
- A Hitchhiker
- A New York City Cab Driver
- A Bartender
- A Homeless Insurance Salesman
- A Kite Maker
White Collar Contents-God as ...
- A Computer Technician
- A Painter
- A CEO in a Factory (that manufactures light)
- A Mansion Owner
- An Architect
7. SOME ILLUSTRATIONS
Jesus turned and met her eyes just in time to see a dam of tears break the dike and pour down her seemingly innocent cheeks. Wanting to pose the more urgent question, Jesus simply asked, "Can I take you somewhere please, miss?"
After a couple of stuttered breaths she said, "Just drive. i'll figure out where later." Jesus pulled out without the usual I've got-someplace-to-be-in-a-New-York minute frenzy. Driving down Fifth, he glanced at her in the mirror. She didn't look like she was any nearer to ascertaining a direction for their trip. Sensing his stare and the imminent question, she said, "I don't know. You're the guy with the map. Why don't you tell me where I wanna go."
Finally. The response he loved. The reason he and his father had tooten into the taxi businesws inthe first place. A lost rider--who knew she was lost--desperately looking for direction. (p. 84, The J. C. Cab Company)
I was looking through the Yellow pages for a new garbage removel service. It's not that my old one wasn't doing an adequate job, but there was the occasional piece of trash left on the driveway, no holiday service, and punctuality -- I believe he put it this wa, "I'll gets to it when I gets to it."Seems like the raccoons often got to it before he did.
So how do you pick a new garbageman? The fanciest ad? The one with the largest and newest fleet of trucks? The environmentally responsible refuseologist?
The one that caught my eye simply read, "God's Garbage Removal. You carry it, we bury it!" Seemed simple enough. The "God" thing threw me a little, but hey, everybody's got to have an angle.
What I wasn't prepared for was teh thoroughnews of God's garbage plan. He called it his "Theory of Trash."
"Everybody's got it," he said. "It doesn't matter how hard you try, you're gonna end up with all kinds of rubbish. And when something goes bad you want to get rid of it right away, get it out of the house. If there's one thing I know, it's that you can't live foreever with trash in your house. No, sir." the way he said it I sensed he had an unnatural dislike for trash, almost a hatred. Which of course mad me wonder why he was inthe business. (p. 32-33, Garbageman God)
TELL ME IT'S TRUE... A Book Of Poems | WHY INCLUDE THE CHRISTIAN ARTS IN WORSHIP - A Caymanian Perspective | INTO THE LIGHT ... Sigmund Brouwer's Out of the Shadows | CLEVER THIEVES AND SMART ROBBERS: SHOULD WE ADMIRE STEALING? | THE COVERS OF CHRISTIAN FICTION |HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR
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