Sunday, November 30, 2014

Where Righteousness is at Home...

2 Peter 3:8-15a

"But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home..." 2nd Peter 3:13

I simply love the imagery offered to us in this week's lesson from Second Peter.  In these words we are encouraged in this long wait that is ours. More than that, though, we find here a clear reminder that the object of our waiting is meant to show in our living: in how we live between now and that time 'when the day of the Lord will come like a thief..."  This is how it reads: "Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish..." as we wait for that time and place "where righteousness is at home."

It goes without saying, I suppose, that that time is not yet.  In fact, the 'new earth' referred to here has seemed just about as distant as it possibly can in these last days.  And while yes, perhaps this is so every time these words roll around for us to listen to deeply once more, I am especially jarred by the lack of congruity this time around. 

Indeed, I expect I sat with many of you several nights ago, almost holding my breath as I waited for
the verdict from Ferguson, Missouri.  And, you will recall, there was plenty of time to hold one's breath as the announcement was delayed for reasons I may never understand.  At least not if I wish to put the best possible construction on it. I kept the news on just long enough to begin to witness a community erupt in frustration and hopelessness and rage. And in the days since I have started each day hearing about the same not only there, but across the country. Oh, I imagine that some take advantage of the situation to simply wreak destruction ---although such behavior is so far beyond my understanding that I find it hard to fathom.  Either way.  In ALL of it, regardless of one's take on it, and surely in the fading hope that is ebbing out of the hearts of our brothers and sisters?  Righteousness is surely not yet at home.

I have to say that I slept poorly that first night.  One might think that when the news of the tragic death of Michael Brown first broke in August, it would have kept me awake already.  Oh, I stood still in it then, but part of me was waiting to hear the rest of the story --- or to hope against hope that it would play out in a way where the justice I want to take for granted would make itself known.  It is hard to say if justice was done in this case.  Indeed, in spite of my suspicions, because of how it was handled, you and I may never fully know.  Either way, Monday night of last week I tossed and turned and couldn't get past the certainty that there is so very much I don't begin to understand. I was kept awake as I tried to think about how I can learn more deeply what I cannot possibly know all on my own.  Namely what it is to live as a person of color in this country. Or even or especially in the community where I live and serve.

And yes, this is surely part of how I know that righteousness is not yet at home.  Not yet here and certainly not now.  For you see, I truly did not really know how to begin.  Ninety percent or more of the people I interact with on a daily basis look an awful lot like me.  One hundred percent of the people with whom I have relationships of trust look an awful lot like me.  How can 'righteousness be at home' if I don't even know how to begin to hear the stories of my neighbors? 

Sometime in the midst of my wakefulness, though, I thought of Florine.  For you see, Florine is African American. She recently began to work for the Lutheran Social Services Ministry which is housed in our church building.We have spoken casually when we have crossed paths in the atrium outside my office. Once I paused to ask her about her tattoo.  She told me it was for her grandmother who had raised her and who had died, leaving her to fend for herself, when she was just eighteen years old. So in the middle of the night I thought to myself --- what if I were to talk to Florine?  What if I were to ask her what she thinks of the decision in Ferguson?  What if I were to ask her what life is like for her right here in DeKalb?

The truth is that as soon as I thought of it, though, I found myself deciding not to follow through.  It felt intrusive to me. I thought she might think me rude.  It felt risky.  And then, almost on an impulse, when our paths crossed on Tuesday, I asked her to sit down with me. She did and in the moments that followed she told me what she thought about the decision in Ferguson --- that she thought it was wrong. She shared with me also her dismay at the rioting that followed. She told me, again, about her grandmother who raised her and how she was brought up around all kinds of people so she didn't have it in her to judge people by race. She talked to me about her children and what it is like to raise them here. She shared with me her own faith that God would provide ---- even as she tries to provide for them alone in this community which costs more than where she came from. Through a conversation which took up much of her lunch hour she was, quite simply, full of grace and kindness with me in a time when I surely could not have presumed as much.

We talked, too, about how it might be possible for me to know more deeply the experiences of her neighbors and friends.  She told me, 'You have to get out there --- into the community.  Once people know you, they will trust you.'  And she promised to help me think about how to do that.

I don't know where this will go.  I only know that 'righteousness will never be at home' as long as I do not even know the stories of my neighbors. Indeed, as long as we are separate from one another?  We are in no way 'at peace.'  It was only a first step, of course, but I wonder if that simple conversation repeated a million times over might enable us all to begin to see one another as the precious human beings God made and for whom Jesus lived and died.  I wonder if that wouldn't at least be the beginning of 'righteousness being at home.'  What do you think?

  • I know that it is not nearly enough for me to have these conversations on my own.  I am called to lead a whole body of God's people, among whom, --- at least in the time I have been with them ---  we have had no public conversations about race. Or probably a whole lot of things that matter.  By the time you read this, I will have made a first attempt, using the Church Innovations Model: Thriving in Change.  You can visit their website here to get more information. If you are interested in training in this process go to the main website for Church Innovations. 
  • Advent may be the hardest time of year to ask the sorts of questions which this lesson poses.     People are so busy with so many things and their expectations of what Advent is for run far afield from the intent of those who put together our readings in the Revised Common Lectionary.  In your place, how do you observe Advent?  What is it to yearn for a world that is so very different from the one we live in?  What is it to live as though one is yearning for a world that is so very different from the one we live in?  How do we stage conversations about this among people for whom this may never have occurred to them?
  • I am reflecting above on the 'new heavens and new earth' in relationship to race in this country. There are certainly other places and ways where we are 'not there yet.'  Where in the world have you experienced that 'righteousness is not yet at home?'  How are  you called to live a life of 'holiness and godliness' as you address that?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Watching and Waiting

Mark 13:24-37

It is late November. Every year at this time it is a challenge to get the leaves raked and bagged or pushed to the curb before 
the city's December 1st deadline for removing them.  One year I simply waited too long and was left with a dozen bags of leaves still sitting at the end of my driveway the morning after I thought they would be taken away. While that year I had only my own procrastination to blame, it is so that I have one tree which always refuses to finish dropping its leaves until it's almost 'too late.'  Indeed, this week we have had snow and below zero wind chills, and as you can see those leaves still hang on!

I think of this as we hear Jesus' words for us in Mark's Gospel today.  Of course, Jesus' example is of a fig tree that leafs out, and I'm offering up an oak tree that won't let go, but either way, such as these are on their own timeline and in their own very concrete ways they offer a signal of what is yet to come.  More than that, I have found my tree is very predictable.  After just a season or two, I pretty much knew what to expect.  And yet, I have to say that 'having to wait' --- or more to the point, not being able to control the timeline is something I find somewhat annoying.

Because you see,  I tend to think I am in charge of my time lines.  So much so, that waiting and watching is something I don't do most of the time.  At least not willingly or gladly.

Of course, there was a time in my life when I had no choice.  I grew up in a time and place where our family only owned one automobile until I was well into high school.  On weekdays my dad would walk to work, leaving the car for my mom to drive to school across town to teach third graders.  Oh yes, I remember well in those days long before mobile phones, sitting on the front steps of the old Rochelle Township High School after volleyball practice or a meeting with my speech coach --- watching and waiting for my ride home. In those days I was always certain someone would come eventually.  I remember, too, being in the second or third grade and being the last one left at church after junior choir practice.  A family emergency had taken my folks and the car to the local hospital emergency room and there was no way to let me know they would be delayed.  You can be certain that I waited with an anxious urgency that night.

No, at least where I live now, watching and waiting with the urgency Jesus describes today is not something I do well.  I get busy with other things.  It think to lift up my head and pay attention to the wait in short spurts and then the wait becomes too long for me and I find myself turning away and getting on other, seemingly more pressing matters. Unlike when I was a child, for a long time now I have become far too accustomed to being in charge of my time lines.

And I find myself on the expressway and an accident or road construction has brought traffic to a stop and there is nothing to do but wait.  Or my leaves threaten to refuse to drop again this season and there may be no raking them until spring.  Or I find myself in a hospital waiting room waiting for a call from the operating room to let us know all is going well.  Or I sit at the bedside of a loved one and count the beats between breaths and know I cannot control the time line.

This Sunday's Gospel lesson reminds us once more that you and I are not in charge of the timeline -- not the ultimate one or often even the ones that seem ultimate in our lives.  Indeed, we hear that even Jesus didn't know when that day would come.  But even in our not knowing --- perhaps especially in our not knowing we are called upon to live in such a way that we are aware of the certainty that our 'ride is coming.'  Like a certain second grader with her nose pressed against a cold church window on a winter's night.  Oh yes, in a way these words today push us to live as children again: knowing and trusting that finally we aren't in charge.  Really, what a gift it is to know that we don't have to be in charge of those things that matter most of all. 

As we enter into these Advent days, may even those everyday times of waiting which inevitably come to all of us be a blessing where we find ourselves also called upon to watch for the arrival of Jesus once more. May we discover in those times not impatience and irritation, but perhaps even the chance to reflect on what matters most of all.

  • In your life, what does it mean to watch and wait?  When have you found this to be just annoying?  When have you been able to find the gift in it?
  • In the midst of so much which distracts us, what does it specifically mean to watch and wait for the coming of Jesus?  What does it mean to you to 'keep awake' --- as it is put in the last words of this Gospel reading?
  • Is it gift or burden or some combination of the two that you are not finally in charge of the time line --- especially the ultimate one pointed to today?  Why is that so?
  • This is one of those weeks where the 'world changed' since I first posted this.  I will be considering what it is to watch and wait in the wake of the Grand Jury Verdict in Ferguson, Missouri.  If you are preaching or teaching this week, what do you think it means to watch and wait in the face of such brokenness?  How will you be in conversation with your community about this?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Face of Christ

Matthew 25:31-46

I know the images offered in today's Gospel lesson speak of a final judgment where 'goats' and 'sheep' are separated one from another. I know this. And yet I find it most helpful to hear this as encouragement even now to see and experience and respond to this world in new ways. Indeed, I hear Jesus' words today reminding me that I simply don't know when I will encounter the face of Christ next: thus making nearly all ground holy ground.  And in the end, maybe that is precisely what these words are meant to do.

One day this past summer, I had driven the half an hour to my mother's house for Friday chores and errands.  By now it was early afternoon. I had taken her car out to fill it up with gas for her.  Now, I have to say I noticed the trio as I drove north on 3rd Street. Two Latino men were trying to balance a very blonde Anglo woman between them. They were all three walking south on the sidewalk --- although the woman did not seem to be doing well. In fact, as I drove by they were trying to pick her up off the ground.  Well, my errand felt pressing --- or maybe I just wanted it to be pressing --- and so I kept going. Ten minutes later when I returned, I noted that they had not made much progress, so with no ready excuse to do otherwise, I pulled the Buick over and rolled down the passenger side window. I asked if they needed help.  The younger of the two men had an almost audible look of relief on his face as the two of them steered her to the front seat of the car. She was insisting that she was having seizures which caused her repeated stumbling as she walked. The younger man gestured to me that she, rather, was drunk. It took me a few minutes, though, to put that meaning to the hand gesture he was using.

I asked what her name was. She said it was Brenda.  I offered to take her to the hospital emergency room which was less than a block away. She declined saying she just wanted to go home.  She said the hospital would only find something wrong with her and charge her a lot of money and she's had these 'seizures' before and she knew she would be just fine.  Almost against my better judgment I gave in to her request and drove her home to her apartment in subsidized housing just beyond the hospital.

I'm sure it was quite a spectacle to behold for the two old men sitting on the park bench out in front of the apartment building watching that afternoon.  I pulled the Buick up close and stopped in a no parking zone.  I walked around the car to the passenger side. I opened the door and steadied Brenda as she swung her legs out of the car. Oh, I knew our journey together could not end quite yet and so she leaned on me as we walked to the front door where she handed me her key card and I swiped it.  We walked inside and rode the elevator upstairs where again, she gave me her key, and I opened the door. When we walked inside she flopped down on the sofa.  I asked her if she needed anything else.  She asked for my phone number. I didn't give it to her.

As I headed past the lobby on my way out a few minutes later, I overheard the old women sitting  there talking about me and my passenger.  "I think she took her upstairs..." I heard one of them say.  So I walked over to them and said hello and introduced myself.  They had lots of questions for me for which I had few answers.  One among them volunteered that sometimes she gets lost when she goes out like that. I suggested they let someone know Brenda was up there and someone might want to check on her later. And I went home.

I've thought of Brenda from time to time since then, wondering what has become of her.  I think of her now and wonder: "Was that holy ground that afternoon?  Was it, in fact, the face of Christ that could be seen in Brenda who apparently had too much to drink and got lost walking those few blocks home from the Dollar Store that afternoon?"  It would seem so, wouldn't it?  And unlike far too much of the time, this time it was presented itself to me in a way I felt I could not ignore it. 

The reminder today is straightforward, it seems to me. We will encounter Jesus in the 'least of these' --- in the hungry and the thirsty. In the stranger and the naked and the sick and those in prison. Oh no, our faith is not only of the mind and of the heart, but is also for the hands and the feet.  We live our faith in what we do. We live it in what we do in places that aren't always pretty. 

Perhaps most of the time we can ignore that this is so.  A lot of the time I don't have the courage to step towards it.  Too much of the time, not unlike the story I offer above, I do just enough and then extricate myself as quickly as politely possible.  Indeed, I don't offer that story now to pat myself on the back for I really did so very little.  I offer it only as a reminder that we don't know when such opportunities will present themselves. I offer it now as a way to begin to wonder what it means to see the face of Christ and respond.

So let me give you a thumbnail of what I'm struggling with right now.  Yesterday morning, my instant messenger 'pinged' on my cell phone long before dawn.  Now I had watched in fascinated horror the evening before as the husband of an acquaintance ('friends' on Facebook really can be a misnomer, can't it?) spilled his pain all over the screen. The story was hard to piece together, though, and I closed my IPad not long after as my alarm was set to go off early the next morning.  At 4 a.m. I read in sleepy surprise what sounded like a suicide threat by the same man. I confess, I did not respond right away for I do not know the young man and in my less than wakeful state I couldn't figure out how I would do that anyway--- especially since he lives several states away. A little over an hour later, though, I realized I could, in fact, just reply to the message. Would it be too late?  I couldn't know so I simply responded wrote back assuring him of my prayers and that God wasn't done with this story yet. A few hours later he replied with his phone number. I'm still trying to decide if I should allow myself to get more deeply embroiled in this. And yet. Isn't he the hungry, hurting, heart-broken that Jesus speaks of now? Isn't he 'the least of these?' Isn't he also the very face of Christ?

It is important to note, I suppose, that Jesus doesn't explain the actions of those who respond to such aching need in the world.  In the end, he just looks to see who did and who didn't.  And yet, for all of us, too much of the time, we find ourselves weighing and wondering, don't we?  Somehow I doubt that I am alone in this.

So I return to where I began today not knowing fully if I am 'sheep' or 'goat.'  I return to where I began and am grateful for Jesus' words now which at least seem to be opening my eyes to see the needs right in front of me. At least part of the time. I return to where I began and hope that more and more I will do less wondering and weighing and simply give from what has been given to me. I return to where I began and pray that I will see ever more surely that all ground is holy ground for the face of Christ is everywhere.  Especially where we least expect to see him.  Oh, I do return to where I began and yearn for a world where you and I live more and more like this is so....

  • It is a 'judgment scene' that is described today. It seems to be meant as a gift for us.  Are you able to receive it as such? Why or why not?
  • Think of a time when you were confronted with great need.  How did that seem to be 'holy      ground' for you?  How did you respond?
  • What difference would it make if we saw the face of Christ in all who need?  For us as individuals?  As families?  As congregations?  As communities?  As a nation?  How would we then weigh what matters?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Fearful Slave

Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus offers us a rich image today --- literally.  For as we hear about the example of the master taking off and leaving three slaves in charge, we hear that he leaves them with more wealth to tend than you and I can probably imagine. For the talents spoken of here are not aptitudes or abilities. They are, in fact, piles of gold coins. Bushel baskets full, in fact. To my understanding, one talent of gold coins weighed between fifty and seventy-five pounds.  So even the 'least' of the slaves received enough that he may have been challenged to carry it all on his own.  As Jesus tells the story now, we hear that these piles of gold were left with each one of them to tend and manage and grow. And there is no growing without risk. There is simply no growing without risk.

And yet, I completely get the third slave in our parable today. Perhaps you do, too.  I mean, many of us have seen what can happen when we invest our resources in ways too risky.  At least by burying the money, he didn't lose it, right?  At the same time, we can't help but recognize that his existence is small and timid and not what God would intend for us at all.

Still, I completely 'get' him. I recognize his fear in me far too much of the time. Here is a prime example of just that:

When I began my seminary internship many years ago now I was afraid.  I remember it well.  I think I will not ever forget driving alone on the last Saturday in August from Minneapolis south to Des Moines where I picked up Route 80 west to Omaha.  From there I drove west on Highway 6 to a little town called Wahoo, Nebraska, which was destined to be my home for the next twelve months.  I drove those many hours with my heart in my throat, for I was afraid.

Quite simply, I did not know if I would be up to the challenge that was before me. In fact, I think if I had been given any 'out' at all in those months leading up to it, I would have taken it. At the same time, I knew this was what I was called to, and I was deeply aware that the next year could alter the course of my life. My supervisor, the pastor of the congregation there, did, in a very real way, hold my future in his hands. And without a doubt, in those first months I saw him as judge, not benevolent helper --- almost as adversary more than as a friend.

I had been there a couple of months.  We were driving together to a meeting when he confronted me. This is how I remember it. He said, "Janet, you're doing fine.  But you're not taking any risks!"

I remember still how that stung. I heard it as criticism, which, in fact it was. No doubt part of the reason it hurt was I knew it was true.  I was doing what was required of me. I was holding fast to what I knew I had to do. But I wasn't really stretching -- not even in that year which was meant, in part, for taking risks. In fact, from my vantage point  today, I know that would have been one of the best times in my life to do just that. For interns are forgiven many mistakes ---- they are students still, after all, and their time there is brief.  It took me a while to learn that there. In fact, I expect it is a life lesson I'm still learning.

So let me offer a story which gave me real perspective on this.

It was November of 1996 when I first offered this to the congregation I was serving at the time.  My dad had been sick for some time by then with heart problems. Prior to his illness he had been retired a while. Never one to sit still, in his 'retirement,' he set up his own handyman business --- mostly doing odd jobs for widows who were not able or others who were just too busy --- everything from painting, to installing drywall, to repairing doorknobs and toilets.  He also kept busy sharpening knives and cutting window glass for a local hardware store.  He loved it.  For the first time in his life he was in charge of his own schedule.  He was still productive.  He loved people and interacting with them.  He loved learning new things (and many a dinner table conversation had us in stitches as he regaled us with tales of things he had learned and the risks he had taken to learn them!). 

Only he got sick, you see. And he was on a potent blood thinner.  And because of his heart issues, sometimes the blood flow to his brain was interrupted. So naturally, my mother and sisters and I worried about him and his odd jobs.  Truly, we did not think he should be climbing ladders, installing air conditioners, or cutting glass. It was all too risky!

But you know what?  He wasn't worried at all. He just kept going until he couldn't any more. Because you see, by the end of his life, he knew what I'm still having to learn.  A life spent only staying safe is no life at all. Deep down, I expect we knew this even then. So in the end, we just urged him to be careful and let him go.

He died two months after I first shared our struggle with this--- for reasons entirely unrelated to cutting glass or climbing ladders. But in the meantime he invested all that he had in living the life he felt called to live. The lesson he taught me then is one I carry with me still.

So back to Jesus' story now. Like these three slaves, God has richly blessed us in a thousand ways.  Indeed, our bushel baskets are so full we can't lift them on our own. God has given us all of it and asks only that we use it, spend it, invest it, grow it. God has given it all to us and asks only that we love and trust him enough not to sit on it, hide it, or bury it.  So what are we afraid of? For that matter, what are we waiting for?

One last thing. At first glance, it seems awfully harsh to me --- perhaps to you, too, --- that the third slave was punished so severely. However, don't you think that even before his sentence was pronounced that he was already there?  Already in that dark place --- put there not by the master, not by God, but by his own fear?  What do you think?

  • Do you identify with the timid slave in this parable?  Why or why not?
  • What do you think the 'talents' represent in this story?
  • What do you think it means to take risks with what God has given us specifically 'for the sake of the kingdom?'  Do you think Jesus is getting at that here or is his intent something else? 
  • Looking back from the perspective of the end of your life, what will it take for the master to say to you, "Well done, good and trustworthy slave..."?  What would it look like for you to trust enough to risk for the sake of growth in the time that is yours?  What does the opposite of that look like for you?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Foolish Bridesmaids

Matthew 25:1-13

The story I offer now is an old one.  It comes to mind today because the ending is the same as the one in the story Jesus tells today. The door was closed on me.

I was in the 3rd grade.  Our class room was on the second floor.  There were two entries --- the one we normally used and the one we used for recess.  The one we used for recess was actually an old iron fire escape.  Without a key, the door only opened from the inside.

It was afternoon in the fall of the year and we were outside for recess.  Normally, I would have been playing with friends from my own class, but the second grade class was enjoying recess at the same time.  My sister, Martha, was in that class and I got to playing with her.  When I looked up again, my class was gone.

Now ours was a new teacher, and no doubt, she was still learning how to best corral the energy of 40 nine-year-olds.  Her method for gathering our attention and signaling it was time to go back inside for lessons was to stand in the middle of the playground and hold one hand up in the air.   We were to make a single file line in front of her and she would lead us back inside.

I was not the first one to miss it.  In fact, just the week before two boys had gotten busy and had not looked up at the right moment.  When they realized they had missed it, they went around to the school's front doors and came in.  She sent them back outside and ordered them to sit at the top of the fire escape steps until the end of the school day.

As it turn out, that day it was my turn.  I ran as quickly as my nine-year-old legs would take me to the top of the stairs.  I peered through the window to see my classmates taking off their coats and hanging them on their assigned hooks.  I saw our teacher tell them to ignore me --- not to open the door to let me in.  By the example of others, I knew it would do no good to enter by another way. I was something like those foolish bridesmaids we hear about today.  And so I sat on those top steps and waited until the end of the school day came and I was finally let in.  I was told to sit down at my desk where our teacher told me to make up the work I had missed.  I will never understand her surprise that by now I was choking back tears. (If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may wonder how I ever made it through grade school -- not to mention a couple of graduate degrees!)

Again, I offer this now because it ends in similar way to the parable Jesus tells today.  Recalling my third grade experience of being locked out' helps me test the point Jesus offers now.

But here is my struggle with the words before us today.  While the words of the parable end with Jesus telling his listeners to ' keep awake' --- my sense is that is not really his point --- at least not in the way we might normally understand it.  For as the story is told, both the foolish and the wise bridesmaids fell asleep.  So it seems to me that this 'keeping awake' must not be that of a third grader keeping her eyes glued to her teacher during afternoon recess so as not to miss her silent signal. Otherwise, what would be the point of recess at all?  Even so, this 'keeping awake' does have to do with being prepared --- always aware --- that the end of 'recess' is right around the corner ---- that the bridegroom could come at any time. In fact, Jesus is expected --- even if he is delayed.  And somehow our living should reflect that.

No, in many ways, my third grade playground experience is a pretty poor parallel here.  Indeed, the 'signs' of the bridegroom's return are only silent if I put in earplugs and tie on a blindfold and if I harden my heart to it.  Oh yes, in this meantime for all of us, in many ways it seems to me that Jesus would want us to live our lives not unlike a certain third-grader on the playground that afternoon so long ago; with abandon and joy. Only in the case of our whole lives, our 'abandon and joy' is focused on and because of what it means to live as a child of God in the world even while we work and play and care for one another and rest! 

Now I am deeply aware that such single-mindedness seldom characterizes how I am much of the time.  Oh yes, this is a quality I probably abandoned a very long time ago.  There are always so many distractions --- some welcome and some not so much --- that it takes real effort for me to stay fully in any moment for very long. And so it seems to me that Jesus tells this story now as a gift --- to remind us that like those bridesmaids so long ago, ultimately we are here for but one thing and all we have to do is keep our focus there.  In their case?  It was the arrival of the bridegroom and the celebration which would ensue.  All they had to do was make sure there was 'oil' in their lamp so as to be able to finish the wait.  It is the same for us, don't you think?
  • What experience do you have with being 'locked out' because of your own lack of attention or preparation?  How was your experience like or unlike the story Jesus tells today?
  • What does it mean to be 'keep awake?'  What do you think the 'oil' represents?
  • Do you experience Jesus' story today as a gift?  Why or why not?