aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Relearning what I once knew

I've been re-reading C.S. Lewis's The Pilgrim's Regress after many years. I identified with Lewis's spiritual searching so much when I was a young man. Here was a person looking for something definite, he knew not what but which turned out to be God, stumbling through one kind of religion, anti-religion, pseudo-religion, philosophy, ideology, literary movement, and so on, discarding each when he realized how empty it was.

It made me realize how empty so many preachers and other wise men still are. I read the words, the manifestos, of many of my fellow clergy (particularly those currently ramping and snorting about the recent General Conference) and I think, What I yearn for is not there.

The God I sought is not there. I don't know if they ever knew him. Certainly, if I were looking for him still, I would not waste my time trying to find him in these preachers' company or in their congregations. It's not just that I disagree with them on their ecclesiastical politics or their stance on LGBTQ clergy or whatever. I just realize they wouldn't understand what this church orphan was looking for back when, nor do they now. Whoever they think needs welcoming, it wasn't anyone like me. Whatever answers they're touting, they certainly don't fit any questions I wrestled with.

Please don't mistake me. I don't dislike these folks; indeed, some are friends of many years' standing. We have cooperated together on many things. But many of them seem just -- insubstantial -- to me now. They have nothing real to say -- not just in terms of today's controversy, but in terms of anything that feeds my soul. They are mere ghosts and don't know it. Their theology is unmoored from any real source that would anchor it to reality. What they think important to say is just blather.

To be fair, some of my evangelical colleagues are almost as indistinct and wraithlike as the progressives. Oh, we agree on far more things, and the things we agree on are among the most important things, but . . . The young Arthur who ached to find something or someone to believe in and belong to would find no understanding, no welcome, in their tribal dances, either. They have no interest in the questions I had, and no place to accommodate someone seeking what I was seeking.

Bist du allein klug? the Pope's legates asked Luther. "Do you think you alone are wise?" No, not at all. But I know what I'm looking for, and you guys don't have it. You don't even know what I'm talking about.

I preached this morning to the Scouts and Scouters taking the Wilderness and Remote First Aid course. Some of these have strong church relationships. Some used to. Some probably have none. And I spoke to them on finding the will of God from Psalm 19. I spoke to them as I would have wanted someone to speak to me fifty years ago, to that bright Scout on his quest. I tried to point them to where they can find what they're looking for, this thing that they desire but maybe can't even put a name to. Afterwards, I could tell by the response I got that some of them heard me. Not just understood what I was saying, but were thrilled to hear someone speak of it.
Catch as catch can -- but the higher caught in the lower,
the lower in the higher; any buyer of souls
is bought himself by his purchase . . .
And so I continue on my way, to fulfill the call of God on my life.

There is a District clergy meeting at Crawfordsville early in the morning, and I've spent all weekend out in the woods with little sleep, helping to staff the WRFA course. I imagine a great deal of blather will be said about GC'19. Somehow, I can't muster any enthusiasm for attending this meeting, and not just because I'm a retiree. Yes, I have strong opinions about GC'19, and I want to uphold what I think is right and proper. But even if I do all that, nothing in this meeting will have the slightest to do with the yearning that brought me to Christ and that still calls to me from every tree and star and hill.

"Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."

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