“He’s just been particularly good to me”

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”

I am a movie fan. And a book fan. And I have read “A River Runs Through It” as well as watched the movie half a dozen times. There is something about the father, a Presbyterian minister, and fly fisherman, who teaches his sons about life, and faith, and fishing, that speaks to me. 

But I always cringe at this point in the movie (pictured) when the boys are adults and out fishing with their dad. They each have a trout, which they line up in the dirt to see who’s is the best. And, they are all good, but the dad’s trout is a little bigger than the others.

“God has blessed us” he says, “He’s just been particularly good to me”. And there’s a moment when all of us watching grin to ourselves, as the father walks away grinning.

Here’s my cringeworthy take – It really gets me when people ascribe their ‘blessings’ to God in this way – ‘God’s been particularly good to me’ which has, as its premise, that maybe they deserved that extra good from God. Maybe God is so good to the father, Presbyterian pastor in the movie, just cause, or maybe because …

Okay, you know I am nit-picking as they say. We all toss off comments like this – God is so good to us- and maybe there’s no harm, no foul. But this notion of privilege is getting to me.  Maybe it’s because I read Lenny Duncan’s “Dear Church” which really hits hard on the white privilege in my Lutheran heritage. But I’m noticing a certain cockiness in myself and my churchy friends (real and in books). No, we don’t deserve God being particularly good to us. At all.

This week, my church (Holy Cross Lutheran, in Salem, Oregon) will hear the readings for the Baptism of Our Lord, which includes the readings from Acts 10:34 &35 “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Paul is speaking, as he makes it clear that God shows no partiality. That’s true for me. God is not picking ‘favorites’ out of the populations that God created.  God doesn’t love pastors better because we ‘work for God”, God doesn’t love the successful better, or the devout better, or the needy better. There’s no better about it. God just loves. Any attempt to qualify that love is totally our own stuff, not God’s.

The church of today needs to ground itself in this truth. God’s love is not ‘doled out’ in any way to the ‘special ones’. Nope.

I know, this reads a bit like a rant, but it’s what I was chewing on today, and I wanted to share it with you. Maybe you have been chewing on it too.


Pastor Patricia+