Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Men of the cloth - not

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" it is written in the first letter of Peter. It seems the "Reverend" Wright has forgotten those kind of lines. The nauseating and odious Wright refuses to go quietly into his good night (all ten thousand square feet of it on a golf course) but rather wants to screw with the taller one. I am unclear as to the motive - perhaps it's the latter's failure to tithe on his full income. Anyway, among the many absurdities offered up to all and sundry the other day (Farrakhan one of the most important voices of the 20th century! - that says it all right there) Wright insinuated that being a pastor made him different from other men (read better), like the taller one is lesser by being a politician.

I think it is the conventional wisdom that the men of the cloth have a higher calling and purer motives; and so they tend to treated with greater reverence than mere mortals. Exactly how the likes of Sharpton, Jackson and now this Wright fit that image I'm not sure. In my experience though, pastors are no different from us non-pastors. Scratch them do they not bleed? They too have ambition, harbor lust for money, women and the trappings of success, enjoy the privilege of power. And these pastors are powerful people in their kingdoms. Church organizations are typically very top down, demanding and expecting obedience from the flock (sheep - appropriate description of the faithful even though it shares the image with the lamb of God). There are very few checks and balances provided the church leadership is tame and easily ruled by the pastor.

Sitting through sermon after sermon, it struck me how non-interactive the process is. In the classroom we long and hope for students to question and interrupt our sermons on bonding or stoichiometry. Such interruptions on a Sunday would wreck the timing of the script.

I should not unfairly tar all pastors with the brush used on the aforementioned. I recently listened to an interview with one Evelyn Davies on my favourite spiritual radio program from BBC Wales "All Things Considered" (not to be confused with the synonymous very different NPR animal). Evelyn Davies had just retired from being a vicar in a windswept remote St Hywyn's church at Aberdaron on the Llewn Peninsula on the north coast of Wales within sight of Bardsey Island where legend has it that thousands of Welsh saints are buried (or something like). She had gained some renown for having run a successful campaign to restore the historic (6th century!) church from near ruin. A figure more diametrically opposite to Wright in character is hard to imagine. In response to the question, "How would you like to be remembered?" came the immediate response, "Oh I don't want to be remembered at all." That is the humility that Peter was talking about.


shirazgirl said...

I had the opportunity to experience a Wisconsinian Catholic mass this past weekend for my nephew's communion. I think I could have strapped a recording of the typical catholic responses to a cardboard cutout of myself and nobody would have known the difference. (I could have used the Dr. Jarhead, except I have a little more girth around the hips..cotton batting, mabye?) Anyway, all was exactly the same except for these ridiculous hand swirls during the "alleluia". I suppose that is the church's attempt to draw its parishioners into the celebration. All I got was a slight breeze wafting about my curls.

Aylwin Forbes said...

Shirazgirl where have you been? I was beginning to think my readership was down to two, or maybe less.

One of our neighbours is a certain Father Barrett. His license plate is the rather amusing GRIN'N. However, when one learns that the origin of it is actually "Grin and bear it" that tells you all you need to know about Catholicism.