What I Want to be When I Grow Up

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. 

6 thoughts on “What I Want to be When I Grow Up”

  1. C.S.Lewis had a nickname that all his friends called him, that was nothing like his real names \”Clyde Staples\”, but I have forgotten it. Anyhow, he wrote an autobio that he entitled \”Pilgrim's Regress\”, with due respect to John Bunyan's \”Pilgrim's Progress\”. This essay of yours reminded me of it. By the way, my answer to your question to me on Dayton church is Comment 14 on that subject. Dr B

  2. I just recovered enough memory to correct myself: His real name was Clive Staples Lewis,and his nickname that his brother and his friends called him was Jack. I got this from the film based on his life that was on TV a few years ago, called \”Shadowlands\”. I lent my tape of the film to some some young people of the Episcopal young people's group that the Rev. JoAnn Leach, the chaplain at the U.of Utah, a friend of mine, was shepherding. (They never returned it! A skeptical professor colleague of mine used to say,\”If you have religion, you don't need ethics\”! Dr B

  3. Your curiosity and propensity for ambiguous answers brings to mind a statement that I think is original for me, and which I have used a few times in the last couple of years. \”I'm pleased to associate with people who seek God's will. Deliver me quickly away from anyone is convinced that he KNOWS with certainty what is the will of God for me.\”

  4. It's certainly makes for more lively engagement with family and friends when one declares they've \”not grown up, intellectually that is\” – the conversations often lead to more expansive hearts, minds, patience, and eagerness to study more for our own sakes and selves:) xo

  5. I have just found your blog, via Rev. Ref, via who-knows-what other links! I was also raised Lutheran (Missouri Synod, no less!) and always had other questions, which our pastor was either unable or unwilling to answer. However, my mother was a force to be reckoned with, and so I continued as a Lutheran until my mid-twenties. I also haven't \”grown up\” but I am certainly enjoying the journey!

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