We had a committee meeting tonight, and afterwards a couple of folk wanted to talk with me about the move and all that. They are telling me important, good things -- like, how they appreciate the fact that when I say something, I mean it -- and DO it (like Go to Africa, make youth trips happen, etc.). You'd think everybody would be that way, but in fact we aren't; I just believe in the importance of keeping promises, not cancelling, and NEVER disappointing a kid if you can keep from doing so. But I digress.
The conversations are important, but they wear me out. And then a friend from Scouting & Emmaus calls me up tonight out of the blue, just to yakk, and I've gotta tell him, and well -- here we go again. And I'm analyzing the whole deal all over again.
It's like a death in the family. We're in the shock stage right now, entering onto the wake. Lots of important stuff needs to be said, back and forth, before we're all ready to let each other go. But, my! it's tough.
Besides, I really wanted to write about something that irks me: How people deal with Smarts, Credentials, etc.
The church in Ellettsville specifically asked to be appointed a pastor who had academic credentials. That means an advanced degree, and NOT a D.Min., thank-you-very-much. They wanted a Ph.D. or something similar. Well, we ain't just stuffed with those guys in our happy little clergy family. I mean, if you aren't on a college or seminary faculty, but a serving pastor, well -- there's ME, and then there's . . . me, I guess. Maybe one or two others. That wasn't all there was to this deal, both DS's assure me, but that's what drew my name out of the don't-ask pile and shot it to the top of the whole Cabinet's list.
So, okay. That's cool. But before I went to meet the good folks of Yonder UMC, I raised a caution flag with both Superintendents. I said, If what they're looking for is some Boutique Liberal who will baptize their prejudices, then I'm the wrong choice. I mean, Ellettsville is right next to Bloomington, the seat of IU, and there are lots of silly people who think that Bloomington is the only civilized place in all of Indiana; meanwhile, the rest of Indiana refers to Bloomington as "Little 'Frisco." Well, the people on the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee were just folks, and I think I'll do fine there. Of course, the organist has a Ph.D. in Music from IU, and the Webmistress has a Ph.D. in French Linguistics from somewhere in Canada, and so on and so forth, so we'll see who wants what. But I'm not irked by the folks at E'ville. We'll work that out.
What I'm irked at are the people I'm dealing with among my clergy colleagues who have a stupid view of what being an intellectual means. My DS thinks that the only problem replacing me will be that nobody can preach with my brilliance (baloney). And other people congratulate me on going to the Bloomington area, because surely I'll find that more congenial (they say) than ministering in (shudder) Dearborn County.* Whatever the ELLETTSVILLE folks are expecting, it's obvious that my fellow clergy think I'm a Boutique Liberal, which only proves that they haven't been listening.
Being smart -- being educated, come to that -- has NOTHING to do with how much alphabet soup you have after your name. I am a good preacher because 1) I say only what we affirm as true, and 2) I really believe the things I say. The fact that I say these things well is a bonus. A simple person saying stuff that is really true and which one really believes would be just as honorable and effective, in my book. But we have all these clever people, who say stuff that only sounds like what we're supposed to officially believe. "Waterless storms," I believe Paul called them.
So, here's my take on being an intellectual:
A) A true intellectual is interested in ideas, and doesn't care who first put them forward; a true intellectual is not a snob, and listens as respectfully to the uneducated but experienced as to the people with power or reputation or diplomas.
B) An anti-intellecutal distrusts ideas, because he or see sees them as a trap; often there is a massive inferiority complex at play, and a sense of disenfranchisement going on in the anti-intellectual.
C) A pseudo-intellectual thinks that your credentials (or place of birth, or political party) enhances what you say -- in effect, substituting these ephemeral things for ideas; they are snobs to the core, who spout slogans as a substitute for thinking.
I feel sullied after getting such compliments from these slimy Clevers. Ugh! </rant>
*Note to said colleagues: my sentiments include the horse you rode in on.