I’m an Episcopalian who grew up in the Lutheran Church where, with most of my friends, I underwent the arduous multiyear task of studying for confirmation. I don’t recall falling in love with bible study or the catechism, but I do recall wanting to learn more and dig deeper. The questions so carefully scripted in Luther’s catechism were interesting, but they were not my questions. We were to memorize his carefully scripted answers, but they were not my answers. I’m not sure how I got confirmed. Maybe the pastor just got tired and gave up. For whatever reason, God type questions kept me interested in many other things.
European history revolved around God questions. Philosophy emerged from God questions. America, with it’s Puritans, Pilgrims, Virginia Anglicans, Maryland Catholics and Rhode Island Baptists lurched into being with God questions. I was fortunate to have a high school civics teacher who used an anthology of great thinkers as our text book, and that introduced me to Augustine, Luther, Calvin, DesCartes, the Enlightenment, Edwards, American pragmatism and more. The theme of God questions ran through them all.
As I reflect on my life, I’ve had a generous taste of just about everything and anything one could imagine or hope for. I always attributed that to my poor judgment and intellectual curiosity, but the experts now say it’s a learning disorder affecting those with short attention spans. What dull people they must be, those experts I mean.
Anyway, here I am in my late sixties with several universities and a thirty year career in government, teaching and business preceding yet another career in ordained ministry, still interested in God questions that keep on changing and answers that remain elusive. That drives some people crazy, especially those whom I have led and taught. Why can’t I just say what is irrevocably true like other pastors do? One of them said that what he wanted was a one handed priest so he wouldn’t have to keep on hearing “on the one hand this, but on the other hand that.”
It turns out that I am a thoroughly convicted Nicene Christian who, nevertheless, happily engages in arguments with the creed because it is too Greek and not Jewish enough. I am an ardent Anglican rooted in the Mennonite writing of Yoder and whatever Rene Gerard is. I love Polkinghorne even though I understand only half of what he writes and none of what he says (some English accents are meant only for the written word). I look forward to becoming an educated man when I grow up, but it seems an unlikely thing. I managed to get through grade school without memorizing the multiplication tables, and that alone dooms me.
With that in mind on this late, rainy, gloomy dark winter day in our fogged in valley, I think a glass of wine and Times crossword is in order.