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Open Secrets

Richard Lischer

Open Secrets

Richard Lischer

$32.99

Hardback
Richard Lischer has taught at the Duke University divinity school.

- Publisher 1 Egypt I had a parish in a small town in southern Illinois, not far from the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, where the Missouri shows brown and the Mississippi foams yellow, and the two make a big river the color of cream soda. The farms in my parish rested on the American Bottom at the southernmost tip of the great Illinois prairie. The land was flattened by a prehistoric ocean several millennia ago, then smoothed by a glacier, and finally turned black as onyx by the rivers. The Chippewas called it Mechesebe, the Great River, and it is great. But before you romanticize it, you have to see and smell its twenty-three miles of huge interceptor sewers that, along with a network of smaller pump stations, retrieve the raw waste pumped into the river. Twenty-nine locks on the Upper Mississippi convert the mighty waterway that once offered freedom to Jim and Huck into a carefully regulated series of steps for barges bearing the names of great oil and chemical companies. Near St. Louis, monstrous levees attempt to channel the river's capricious power away from the city and its suburbs. You have to squint like an Impressionist or frame the scene with your hands in order to block out the ugliness of the river. Gazing on the Mechesebe these days makes you want to feel sorry for the river, the way you do a circus elephant or a caged gorilla. I myself grew up only a few miles from the Missouri, just west of where it joins the Mississippi, but I never saw the river as anything but an odd and somewhat ominous extension of the suburban sprawl to which my parents and I, like millions of other city dwellers, had migrated in the early 1950s. The backwaters of the Missouri were explored by boys far more adventurous than I. On the rare occasions when I went along to go crawdadding, I did not know what to make of the crayfish. I knew positively that I would not eat them. Swimming in the Missouri always seemed dangerous to me, and I did it reluctantly out of peer pressure. Many of the boys brought firecrackers to set off on nearby Pelican Island, and a few brought guns, which was one of those details from which a humane only child shields his parents. The land around the rivers is incredibly fertile, and there have always been farmers to work it. The Mississippian peoples settled the land about a thousand years before the coming of the Teuton Lutherans. They grew many of the same crops our farmers planted: corn, squash, tobacco, and beans, though by the size and complexity of their cities they did it more successfully than we. They organized a culture more sophisticated than any that has since appeared on this land. Their plazas and temples would have put our shopping malls to shame. The explorer DeSoto claimed they worshiped the sun, but archaeologists have found numerous masks and earrings commemorating a mysterious, mutating being known as the Long Nose God. The Mississippians apparently used their god for progressive purposes as a ritual symbol of unity between the tribes that lived and farmed together. At some point in the sixteenth or early seventeenth century, the Mississippians were swallowed whole by history. They all disappeared, every last one of them, probably due to a European virus to which they had no immunity. By the time Marquette and Joliet arrived in 1673 all that remained of the Mississippian culture were two hundred mounds used for sacrifice and burial. My parish lay above "Egypt," which is the name later settlers gave to the region where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers make a delta, like the Nile, and head toward the Gulf. Like so much of the American South, our Egypt beheld itself in the mirror of the great civilizations of the ancient world. Many of its cities like Goshen, Thebes, and Cairo (pronounced Kay-ro, to rhyme with Pha-raoh) were named after cities well known in antiquity. Its burial mounds, though not so splendid or famous, were no less m

- Publisher Open Secrets is Richard Lischer's story of his early career as a Lutheran minister. Fresh out of divinity school and full of enthusiasm, Lischer found himself assigned to a small conservative church in an economically depressed town in southern Illinois. This was far from what this overly enthusiastic and optimistic young man expected. The town was bleak, poor, and clearly "not" a step on his path to a brilliant career. ^It's an awkward marriage at best, a young man with a Ph.D. in theology, full of ideas and ambitions, determined to improve his parish and bring them into the twenty-first century, and a community that is "as tightly sealed as a jar of home-canned pickles." In their own way, they welcome him and his family, even though they think he's "got bigger fish to fry." Thus begins Richard Lischer's first year as a pastor: bringing communion to the sick (but forgetting to bring the wafers); marrying two unlikely couples--a pregnant teenager and her boyfriend, and two people w

- Publisher

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About "Open Secrets"

Richard Lischer has taught at the Duke University divinity school.
- Publisher

1 Egypt I had a parish in a small town in southern Illinois, not far from the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, where the Missouri shows brown and the Mississippi foams yellow, and the two make a big river the color of cream soda. The farms in my parish rested on the American Bottom at the southernmost tip of the great Illinois prairie. The land was flattened by a prehistoric ocean several millennia ago, then smoothed by a glacier, and finally turned black as onyx by the rivers. The Chippewas called it Mechesebe, the Great River, and it is great. But before you romanticize it, you have to see and smell its twenty-three miles of huge interceptor sewers that, along with a network of smaller pump stations, retrieve the raw waste pumped into the river. Twenty-nine locks on the Upper Mississippi convert the mighty waterway that once offered freedom to Jim and Huck into a carefully regulated series of steps for barges bearing the names of great oil and chemical companies. Near St. Louis, monstrous levees attempt to channel the river's capricious power away from the city and its suburbs. You have to squint like an Impressionist or frame the scene with your hands in order to block out the ugliness of the river. Gazing on the Mechesebe these days makes you want to feel sorry for the river, the way you do a circus elephant or a caged gorilla. I myself grew up only a few miles from the Missouri, just west of where it joins the Mississippi, but I never saw the river as anything but an odd and somewhat ominous extension of the suburban sprawl to which my parents and I, like millions of other city dwellers, had migrated in the early 1950s. The backwaters of the Missouri were explored by boys far more adventurous than I. On the rare occasions when I went along to go crawdadding, I did not know what to make of the crayfish. I knew positively that I would not eat them. Swimming in the Missouri always seemed dangerous to me, and I did it reluctantly out of peer pressure. Many of the boys brought firecrackers to set off on nearby Pelican Island, and a few brought guns, which was one of those details from which a humane only child shields his parents. The land around the rivers is incredibly fertile, and there have always been farmers to work it. The Mississippian peoples settled the land about a thousand years before the coming of the Teuton Lutherans. They grew many of the same crops our farmers planted: corn, squash, tobacco, and beans, though by the size and complexity of their cities they did it more successfully than we. They organized a culture more sophisticated than any that has since appeared on this land. Their plazas and temples would have put our shopping malls to shame. The explorer DeSoto claimed they worshiped the sun, but archaeologists have found numerous masks and earrings commemorating a mysterious, mutating being known as the Long Nose God. The Mississippians apparently used their god for progressive purposes as a ritual symbol of unity between the tribes that lived and farmed together. At some point in the sixteenth or early seventeenth century, the Mississippians were swallowed whole by history. They all disappeared, every last one of them, probably due to a European virus to which they had no immunity. By the time Marquette and Joliet arrived in 1673 all that remained of the Mississippian culture were two hundred mounds used for sacrifice and burial. My parish lay above "Egypt," which is the name later settlers gave to the region where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers make a delta, like the Nile, and head toward the Gulf. Like so much of the American South, our Egypt beheld itself in the mirror of the great civilizations of the ancient world. Many of its cities like Goshen, Thebes, and Cairo (pronounced Kay-ro, to rhyme with Pha-raoh) were named after cities well known in antiquity. Its burial mounds, though not so splendid or famous, were no less m
- Publisher

Open Secrets is Richard Lischer's story of his early career as a Lutheran minister. Fresh out of divinity school and full of enthusiasm, Lischer found himself assigned to a small conservative church in an economically depressed town in southern Illinois. This was far from what this overly enthusiastic and optimistic young man expected. The town was bleak, poor, and clearly "not" a step on his path to a brilliant career. ^It's an awkward marriage at best, a young man with a Ph.D. in theology, full of ideas and ambitions, determined to improve his parish and bring them into the twenty-first century, and a community that is "as tightly sealed as a jar of home-canned pickles." In their own way, they welcome him and his family, even though they think he's "got bigger fish to fry." Thus begins Richard Lischer's first year as a pastor: bringing communion to the sick (but forgetting to bring the wafers); marrying two unlikely couples--a pregnant teenager and her boyfriend, and two people w
- Publisher

Meet the Author

Richard Lischer

Richard Lischer is the James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of Preaching at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. Before joining the Duke faculty, he served as pastor of Lutheran congregations in Illinois and Virginia. He is the author of numerous books on preaching, theology, and ministry, including "A Theology of Preaching: The Dynamics of the Gospel" and the prize-winning "The Preacher King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Word That Moved America".

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Product Details

Product Details
  • Catalogue Code 174444
  • Product Code 0385502176
  • EAN 9780385502177
  • Pages 243
  • Department General Books
  • Category Biography
  • Sub-Category General
  • Publisher Doubleday
  • Publication Date May 2001
  • Dimensions 242 x 164 x 26 mm
  • Weight 0.494kg

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