Monday's Mild Rant...

What you're after is this antiphony. This calling back and forth...
- Barry Lopez

The African-American pastor stands before the congregation and says 'I'm not gonna make it unless you help me.' The people nod and sway and begin their 'yes, yes'...the response...antiphony.

Its what we want for Christmas. Its what we want for Easter. Its what we want for our birthdays, anniversaries, Father's Day, Mother's Day, Boxing Day, any day for that matter. The antiphony, the response.

I heard a sermon not long ago, impassioned, loud, on the subject of marriage, about how its never to be a 50/50 deal, give and take, two way street, but rather we should love 100% regardless of the other's behavior or attitude. When I listened to the pauses in that sermon I heard a man's silent cry - 'dear God, I hope what I'm saying isn't true, what a life without parole that would be.' I read a blog post recently where the conversation in that domain proclaimed that comments were not important, that the writing was for the writing's sake, maybe even for the ever popular 'audience of one' - whatever that means, and that whether or not you and I read and respond are, in the final analysis, rather beside the point. When I paid attention to the margins of that blog what I saw was armor, protection, resistance to hurt.

Both of these examples had a strong whiff of spiritual on them, the Bible was stood upon, verses were waved, God's name was invoked, a fleece of devout placed just so. In both of these instances my heart grieved 'dear brother and sisters, this should not be so.' Once that bathroom Polo of holiness dissipates I believe a stench arises, one where the other is not important, one where forth is all that matters and back don't mean a thing, one where response is driven from the camp, antiphony crucified.

Spend fifty years, a rarity these days, of giving 100% in marriage while the other never responds and you might die some Hosea-like-saint, but your bitterness and regret and pain will be as dark as your age spots. Spend a lifetime writing for the writing's sake with no concern for hearing from the other and maybe when you die we'll publish your stacks of journals and you shall be more powerful in death than in life...but then again, maybe your mountains of print will be burned as wood, hay, stubble by relatives who never got the chance to respond and, to be quite honest, are glad to finally be rid of you.

When the call is 'thank you'...the response is 'you're welcome.'
When the forth is 'I love you'...the back is 'I love you too.'

The response is not only what we want, it is what we need. It is courteous - a word akin to courting, that old fashioned dance of manners and nuance...(I'll have to return to drive that post another day).

Antiphony...break that word in half and you have anti-phony, the antidote to a phoniness that all too often passes for some humble-bumble devotion that's shiny at first blush but upon careful inspection is revealed to be the currency of fools.

Antiphony. It is, I believe, how God so loved the world and therefore how we should then love it and one another too. Without it, we're not gonna make it.


  1. we have a strange little community up here in new brunswick, before we arrived here amen ended up on the cutting room floor because it had so much baggage to it - and so "bingo" took it's place. it is fun to hear bingo-s from the crowd when the weekly teacher strikes a chord with those listening. so i shout a hearty BINGO for your words written here john. BINGO!

  2. You always make my thinker think, PB. Thank you.

  3. Amen! Good words, O Scribe! May God bless you...I still believe your and Mer's prayers for us from 2007 are on reverberation (antiphony!), as I contiually am reminded of them and give thanks and pour back prayers for you and your family.

  4. Heidi, I think I could like your strange little community...thanks for the BINGO though - love it!

  5. Gretchen, when you write 'PB' I always think 'peanut butter'...goofy, huh? Thanks for stopping by...hope you and yours are well!

  6. Holly, thank you for the prayers...we'll take 'em!

  7. Fine, okay already. I'll leave feedback! Nice work, John. Totally agree. And that's why it's important to always leave a comment!

  8. Saint Mickalos? Wow, thanks for stopping in and yes, comments are important, so thank you for yours. Be well...

  9. I like BINGO as well!



    ~Random blog happened-upon-er

  10. Thanks for such a thoughtful post. To be in relationship is to be in a conversation. I like to compare it to clapping hands, you need two :)

  11. The dance, the conversation, the back-and-forth and call-and-response.

    We're yearn for dialogue in a world of monologues.

  12. John, good words. I sure appreciate your heart.

    When my son was three he would hold my chin when he talked to me. He wanted eye contact and I loved giving it to him. It was one of our love languages, our back and forth.

    Bless ya today bro!

  13. Good words, as usual.

  14. Anonymous4:13 PM

    Glad I happened by on this particular day, John.

    Be well ...


  15. A-freakin'-men!!

    I love the way you think. Actually... I love the way you help *me* think.

  16. Pounce2:52 AM

    i wonder if anyone ever disagrees with you?