Irrelevant And Immaterial

While I was jotting down notes from all over there was this article in the Christian Century called “Notes from an Irrelevant Clergyman.” It was written by Warren Carr, who is said to have “a Baptist church in the South.” What gets Mr. Carr is that in the midst of a big and very sensitive race situation, after Mr. Carr has spoken strongly and clearly on the subject, the committees for his city are all set up and they don’t know how to use him. The current attitude of the layman is seemingly: “Stand aside now. We have a real job to do.”

About two months ago friends of mine were entertaining me in their lovely home and fell to talking about the PTA; from that they launched out on the school board, and there it seemed that someone had concocted a program on the problem of pornography. The word was now moving around town that this program was underwritten by some “shadow” organization, and all kinds of people were getting agitated. The wife of my friend was getting a list of people to telephone for protest, and when she suggested calling the outstanding preacher of the community her husband said, and I quote exactly, “Don’t get the preachers in. They will just confuse things.”

At long last I am working my way through Will Herberg’s Four Existentialist Theologians; the four theologians whom he describes and quotes are Maritain, Berdyaev, Buber, and Tillich. Herberg points out that three of these four men are not clergymen but laymen. Only Tillich is a clergyman, and he is primarily a professional philosopher.

All this sounds a little hard on the clergy. Maybe we have been looking at ourselves in the wrong light or expecting our successes in the wrong direction. We are supposed to sow seeds, not reap crops; ...

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