Beyond the Zero-Sum Game

Exorcising Preaching Crafting Intellectually Honest Worship

By Nathan C. Walker

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This an urgent call to replace unhealthy practices from sermons and replace them with exercises that enhance the craft of preaching.

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“Beyond the Zero-Sum Game” excerpted from Nathan C. Walker (2014) Exorcising Preaching: Crafting Intellectually Honest Worship. St. Louis: Chalice Press.

For centuries, insiders
have been democratizing their religions.

Incremental moments of institutional reform
have led to a new era of theological enlightenment.

From out of ancient times
into the twilight of now,
these reformers have made a sacred vow:
to never mischaracterize freedom
as a zero-sum game.

True freedom is not jealous.
True freedom is not envious.
True freedom is not spiteful.

True freedom does not desire
to restrict the rights of others.
True freedom knows not a selfish thought,
knows not how to threaten.

To sense true freedom is to know that
your win is my glory and that
your suffering is inextricably tied to my own.

For, the sum of all that is holy shines far beyond
the tools of our evolving democracy––
from party jingles to picket signs.

The sum of all that is holy is found
in our collective desire to know freedom
not as a political slogan,
but as a way of life.