Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Preachers' Kids

Being a PK myself (as well as 3 sons) it is always interesting to ferret out another: they tend to be either advanced scalawags or else geniuses of a more positive stripe.

For starters I might begin where I started college, a Methodist college; there were two there that I knew. (This was in 1943, when everyone 18 or older was snapped into the army, but quick.) The scalawag managed to avoid military service by going to sea as a merchant seaman. The genius declared for seminary training, was deferred through the war, and next thing I knew was a D.S. (Methodist District Superintendent), following in the footsteps of his sainted father.

Things rocked along until at 31 I found myself in seminary, where I did a lot of reading, trying to catch up with the gifted boys who had dedicated their lives to religion from an early age.
One of the books was called "Source of Human Good" by a man named
Henry Weiman
. Weiman, the son of a Presbyterian minister, and a Presbyterian minister himself took what was for the early 20th century a strange religious path. He set out in search for what he called the source, (what we perhaps mean by God), but he threw out all belief and depended strictly on naturalistic thought forms.

I have gone into such length about the third PK because friend Henry had a marked influence on my theological orientation. Looking back from a long perspective I can see how it resembles my "search for spiritual authority" and my distrust of ecclesiastical (ostensibly spiritual) authority. In fact he used the same word that I settled on in my skeptical approach-orthodoxy.

I rejoiced to rediscover him after these many years and realized where my distrust of eccleiastical institutions had to some degree its beginning. Quakerism is a refuge for such an attitude; Henry chose a similar one, Unitarianism.

IMO Quakerism and Unitarianism have a great deal in common; the chief distinction may be that some UU's have a stronger theological interest than some Friends.

Blessings to both groups -- and to all groups; the mother group is the human race.


Meredith said...

"Blessings to both groups -- and to all groups; the mother group is the human race." Right on here, Larry; Blessings to one and all of the human race.

It seems that everywhere there are divisions amongst us, and they typically are not very helpful. Looking for the common thread, the uniting distinctions, is my focus. For here, I see possible paths to peace. And this is true peace. Sure, it's fun to debate a point or two, intellectual heady fun, but if we as a humanity are to move toward any peace, it will be in that space where we are not two, but where we are one.


david said...

PK must be an acronym that transcends denominational boundaries. I attended an Anglican seminary and teh profs there would talk of PKs.

One had another cynical saying you might like. "Nothing destroys a person's faith like a seminary training."

Larry said...

Thanks for your response; you've touched on something that I find terribly important.
"Intellectual fun" is okay, but what concerns me is the need for serious conversation (such as we're having in this group). Avoiding this, people resort to all sorts of trivial talk.
In ordinary life people will talk about anything other than religion; that's the only thing I want to talk about, or rather spiritual life.
Serving hundreds of people as a religious functionary I found most of the relationships they offered were incredibly superficial. Talk about the weather; talk about anything, but God.
I had a few significant helping relationships, people who looked forward to seeing me, rather than just hiding the beer bottles. I told God that was what I wanted.
Since then I've had a bundle. When you approach people on a personal level, they will talk; and they don't seem threatened by what you say. Although we live in the Bible belt, we encounter very few ideologues; and most of the Quakers are very un-theological. (Strangely enough I became most interested in theology when I became a Quaker. Even more evangelical because I sensed a spiritual vacuum.)
We have been blessed with many small group relationships. In that setting people seem capable of more serious conversation.

Larry said...

David, you quoted the profs:
"Nothing destroys a person's faith like a seminary training."
Yes, I've known quite a few kids who had that experience. Lots of them have been disabused of some illusions. I have to confess that I no longer believe in professional religion. (You recall that Paul didn't need it.) I have dissuaded some young men from going to seminary. In fact I believe that if anybody can be persuaded not to, he should.
You're probably familiar with Voltaire's quotation: "The first priest was the first knave, who met the first fool." Cynical, yes, but I've known quite a few Voltairian priests.
Incidendentally when Voltaire visited England, he encountered some Quakers and was quite taken with them-- no hireling priests! (I was impressed in the same way.) Jesus said, "call no man father." I spent half my life looking for a spiritual father, and finally realized that I only have one; he's the One, although packaged in many, many places.

Does the priest stand between the worshipper and God?

david said...

Does the priest stand between the worshipper and God?That is the priest's job. That's why the faithful pay him (her) the big bucks. Remember Moses? His face shone so brightly they asked him to veil it after he went the mountain to visit the Almighty.

Larry said...

But David, I don't want anybody standing between me and God. Nor did Moses, for that matter: "Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets", he said. And when Jesus died, God broke down the middle wall of partition, which means to me that Jesus abolished priesthood. The whole point of his message was that we have direct connection, contact with God. (This for now; I'll give you the references later.)

Larry said...

Numbers: 11:29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD's people were prophets,

Matt: 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
The "veil of the temple" shut off the Holy of Holies (God's dwelling) from man.

Matthew is more to my point than the passage I quoted in Ephesians:
Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

david said...

Funny how the prophets and messengers God sends to us all call us to unmediated access to God and the human response is to stick a bishop's miter on 'em and stand him at the front of the church. That's assuming we don't stone, behead, crucify, or otherwise terminate their lifely ministry first.

Larry said...

You sure have it here, ole buddy! I mean to pursue this at greater length in my next blog, and have you to thank for goading me to do it.

I really appreciate the way you faithfully stayed with me over this post.

And thanks to all the rest of you, too.