Last night I enjoyed a simple dinner at home with my sister, her young son, a wonderful old coot and his lovely wife. He had been a Methodist minister for 35 years. He said that he's often wished that he'd followed a path more like mine -- had been a carpenter with accomplishments that had a start, a process and an end, and something real to show for it. He said that he eventually realized that he was lying to his congregation, and that realization finally brought him the understanding that he'd been lying to himself all along. And so he quit, and now mostly putters happily and writes poetry. I get the sense that he's not a deist, but we kept that conversation in reserve for another time that I hope comes soon. He uses some of the language of deism as scaffolding for his poetry, and as a way to continue dialogue with the theists with whom we are overwhelmingly surrounded. Here's a sample:
Ruminations of a Dying Priest
The old priest
Whose body is about to give up on him
Begins to wonder
And even regret
Leading people to a dream
About a better life
Even an encounter with God
In another time
And another place.
He is fearful now
He led them away from God
In their every moment real life
Where now God is so real for him.
Even in his retirement, I wonder if he would at all be interested in The Clergy Project. If not now, maybe later, and if he doesn't need their support himself, it may be that he could help out someone else who was getting out from under.
Just a thought...
I thought about that, and maybe it too will be a topic of discussion at the next dinner. He's a pretty smart guy, and I'd be surprised if he wasn't aware of The Clergy Project. These conversations move slowly here in the South, as does everything else.