Monday, September 24, 2012

Just Don’t Call Me “Reverend”!

It’s taken a very long time to reach this point, but at long last, I was ordained yesterday as a pastor (the technical term is “teaching elder”) in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

I was just remarking to Brandon last night, it seems like you really have to be a little crazy to want to become a pastor. In fact, I’m pretty sure that every single pastor I know is at least a little bit crazy. Yes, every single one. But then again, probably every person I know, period, is a little crazy. Still, it’s a nutty sort of job. One’s primary responsibility is loving God and loving people. And really, what the heck kind of a job description is that? It’s nebulous, it can’t be quantified, you’re never going to be able to do it perfectly, and it’s just plain difficult.

But it’s exactly what I want to do. So I have now joined the ranks of those both determined and crazy enough to spend years in study and submit to all the many other requirements of the denomination to be ordained as a Presbyterian minister.

I will say, I am not filled with glee, in the that way I am, for example, upon seeing the people I love, or while contemplating a beautiful work of art, or recalling happy memories—but I feel a kind of completeness—I have a sense that I “fit” better into something (hard to say what, exactly). It’s just a sense of rightness filling me. I am happy in a deep, soul-pervading kind of way.

The only irritating thing is that find it theologically inappropriate that pastors are addressed as “reverend”—as if they were holier than other folks. Of course that’s not right at all. So now I’m going to have to tell people all the time—please—don’t call me “reverend.” Unless, as Brandon points out, it's meant ironically!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Several weeks ago, walking by the Asian art museum near our apartment, I stopped short and stared for a moment, being quite taken with the image on their advertisement, a man playing a flute on a windy night. Being a forgetful sort, I only just barely made it to see the special exhibition before it moved on. The artist is Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, woodblock printer of the late 19th century. A few favorites (click on the images to view larger size):

This one may go up on my wall: it's a monk doing penance under a waterfall. The story is that he stays in so long, he falls unconscious and those fantastic figures watching on the side have to fish him out.

Here is the full triptych of the flue player--the guy behind him is an assassin. He decides not to murder the flute playing aristocrat because he is so enchanted by the music. This one is definitely going to hang in my office.

And this one I did not see at the museum (sadly)--but I discovered it on the internet--found it quite charming/amusing.