Alternative Narrative, Part 3

“After seminary I had some time to begin to work through some of the long bibliography I had gathered together. On that bibliography were monastics like Thomas Merton and Saint John of the Cross. The works of John of the Cross captured me. Some of the language was arcane. I remember going to my friend at the Catholic Church to ask him if he knew what the word ‘discalced’ meant. The term was not in my dictionary. He asked where I’d seen it. When I told him, he laughed and asked me why I was ‘reading that shit.’ I also spent some time studying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“I was pastoring in the home town of Hormel Meat processing, otherwise known as Spam Town. When I began to preach out of the wealth of knowledge I had compiled, I drew blank stares. I had to change the messages I delivered to the congregation. I decided to use the Common Lectionary and to preach exclusively from the Gospel pericope. I decided to shift from a didactic approach to one that was more exhortatory. This began to earn good marks from the pews.

“This, however, was the beginning of the end to my philosophical enquiries. I spent what study time I had in Biblical study. On Monday, I read through the lections. Tuesday, I worked on the language, Greek, etc. Wednesday, I continued working over the language. Thursday, I dug into the commentaries. Friday, I wrote. On Saturday, I began to ponder what this congregation might need to hear out of all this. Sunday morning, I threw out the manuscript and delivered what I felt led to deliver. Although I did allow myself to be informed by my historical philosophical friends, my main project was the Biblical text. After all, how can one even speak well without committing oneself to a philosophical position. Otherwise language becomes whimsical and difficult to follow. Don’t you think?”

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