Good morning, dear reader. Welcome to another post for this infamous blog segment, The Morning Rough. Before I begin talking about this story, “The Pastor’s Paradox”, I must say that I’m not too sure I can call this story. In some sense, it could be called a parable, but even then, I am uncertain because I have ended it rather abruptly, mostly due to time constraints, so I may write another story to continue it, out of pure necessity. As it stands today, though, it may serve its purpose.
Most of the concepts of this story are laid to bare within the story itself, but it may be necessary to contextually elaborate it’s core concept. See, for both last night and this slow-moving morning, I had dived into the concepts that C.S. Lewis had written and spoken about. One of the joyful things about listening to Lewis’ ideas is that it helps me think about what Christianity, as a philosophy, means to me. Unfortunately, as much as I could talk about Lewis, one could argue that this is about as far as his influence may reach.
In regards to my context of Christianity, perhaps more so laid bare in this story, I must explain certain things about the way I think. See, my method Christianity stems from a Protestant methodology to faith. If, for whatever reason, this unsettles you - especially if you were convinced that Protestantism had been done away with, or that Protestantism is kin to Puritanism - then you are quite welcome to stop reading right now and make sure to ask your priest for some extra holy water.
All religious jokes aside, I have to assure you that the original conception, at least as far as I have understood it as, of Protestantism is to come at faith with both head and heart. Certainly, I am willing to accept “mysticism” to a degree, but I cannot abide by the authority of a man to tell me that my soul is saved. Of course, to base faith purely on the Holy Bible may be run into several traps, often literally enacting certain things that should not be enacted, or by feeling certain things toward others that should not be felt. This comes with the idea that you must follow everything within the Bible, else you run the risk of contradiction.
Because of this, as a Christian, I cannot be confined in the box of Catholicism (despite agreeing and respecting more than a handful of Catholics), just as I cannot be strung along with Puritan sentiments that can plague any Protestant or Catholic (despite understanding that this sentiment isn’t as stereotypical as certain mediums might sway people into believing). There is certainly something to be said about the benefits of a congregation, but if everything goes as far as that congregation is concerned, rather than tailoring individuals’ relationship to the Holy Trinity (in so far as those concepts are stretched), and no further then that congregation has softened the soul, in my opinion, rather than strengthened it.
I could be wrong, of course. There is a possibility that my ideas are as crazed as a conspiracy theorist shutting himself in his closet, frantically gluing his tinfoil hat on his head. Some things, I think, need an air of mystery. Wish I could elaborate more, but I think I should not let the story do the telling.
As always, please feel free to read and comment. My hope, too, is that your day make you stronger with each strange and perilous hurtle.
"The Pastor's Paradox"
"The Pastor's Paradox"
William Thomas was a man of shame.
But, then again, we are all people of shame. For William, however, it had often plagued his mind that being a man of shame was unacceptable because he was supposed to be a man of God, as well. This means he was a pastor, a man who preached the Word of God to his small church… a man who was supposed to lead his community down the righteous path. It seemed to him, as it likely seems to many who have looked upon religion with disdain, that he was caught in a contradictory life. Certainly, there was a word for it: hypocrisy.
There is a problem, though, when assessing this judgment to William. It can certainly be correct if he had shunned away any notion of his sins, if they were pointed out, which they never were in a public sense. Privately, the pastor was quite open to those who were in need of his guidance in a confidential setting. Oddly enough, since he had spoken to every member of his small congregation in this confidential setting, every member knew of his contradictory life, but there was not one breath of gossip spread amongst the usual matriarchs of the congregation, nor were rumors crafted to do away with him in the most dramatic of circumstances. Why would a group of people readily condone William’s willingness live this contradiction?
Also, it should be noted that Pastor William was often praying about this contradiction. “Please,” he’d plea, “please, Lord! Do away with this shame I keep inflicting upon my soul!”
So, to say he was a hypocritical Christian may be to speak in pure ignorance. Inwardly, of course, he may certainly be hypocritical, as one could argue that he may speak of wanting to do away with his shame, but since he keeps enacting his shame, often being shameless in the action at the pure heat of the moment (as the proverbial “they” would say), it is clear that his heart yearns for sin. But, there is a problem with supposing this: Pastor William’s shame over his hypocrisy was greater than his shame for the contradiction of his life. In point of fact, his shame was so great that, when he prayed about it, he’d punch, scratch, and kick at the wood of his desk. How that desk endured such abuse is, perhaps, a testament to the love and care of its crafter.
Now, as with anything, we must suppose that something about William’s problem has to be confronted somehow. It certainly cannot be confronted by a mob who’re in great upheaval about his moral compass that they’d do anything to bend him toward their purisms. This story is certainly not just about how the contradiction of this pastor’s life is, in a very real sense, actually a paradox. But, perhaps I’m destroying the illusion of the story?
Well, perhaps it should be in our interest to go into the real meat of this story, which happens to also be proverbial “they” might say. If a story is to have “meat,” we should suppose that there are more characters at play than William, his congregation, and his poor, battered desk.
But, I digress…
It didn’t often happen, but William knew it was going to happen. The day was never certain, but the hour was always around ten o’clock in the night. For whatever reason, when the witching hour came on this night - of all nights! - something felt off and different. As he put on his gray suit, his red tie, and fitted on his gray hat, the feeling had latched onto William, and when he was putting on his shoes, the feeling seemed to be kin to cold shiver that never ceased to crawl up his spine.
Regardless, he was out the door.
First stop was always the bar, and in the blink of an eye, William would find himself in one bed after another, be they man or woman. His fleshly desire burned in a carnal heat so great that each lover would always compliment him on his performance, and they’d often beg him to continue to spend the night with them, but at the same time, they would never go too far with their begging.
Of course, though this seemed like a usual night where William’s sins had taken hold of him, that feeling from earlier had persisted. It grew more and more, often growing faster at those moments where sweat and pleasure had reached their epicenters for each encounter.
Then the feeling stopped.
Gone in the middle of stroll to a brothel, but this had immediately paralyzed him and gripped him with shaking fear. William eventually found himself looking around, this way and that, like a small lizard jerking his head in search for its insectile prey, as if he were looking for that feeling that had plagued him earlier.
Suddenly, he ran into a priest.
Apologizing, William went back to his search, but after a few paces, he stopped dead in his tracks. The small hairs, on the back of his neck, had risen. A small drop of sweat rolled down his brow and past his cheek.
When he turned around, something had compelled William to stare at the priest, who was strolling quite casually. Then William began to follow him at a far distance, head desperate to understand why he was so fixated on this priest.
Eventually, after a while, William began to notice a peculiar detail: the priest was following someone. Certainly, the pastor was surprised to find the woman, whom the priest was following.
She seemed beautiful.
But, also, everything about her, from the way she dressed to the way she held herself, seemed to suggest a great deal of tragedy. Not just any kind of tragedy, though. Hers was a life of shame, and it certainly made a tear spill out of William’s eye, knowing he could relate to both the life and the desperation to pull away with something that seemed impossible to let go…
Then she turned the corner, into an alleyway, and the priest soon followed. It was clear as daylight, to William, that something horrible would happen in that alley.
Now, there is an unfortunate reality, when it comes to being confronted by certain horrible epiphanies or revelations, and it is something that may happen to us in one sense or another.
William was no different.
Upon realizing the priest was meaning to do harm to the lady, the pastor had found himself frozen and filled with fear. It was not the kind of fear you might think, though: he wasn’t fearing his life; nor was he fearing the priest, who could’ve harmed William’s reputation with his status, despite the two of them being of different denominations; and William did not hold a fear of confronting the priest.
No one wants to witness a horrible act…
He had to, though, and William would, just as he would save her life…