04 December 2006

Chronicling a Journey (Part III)

I have a good friend who likes to say, “A man is seduced to become a pastor. He falls in love with studying theology, and pretty soon he is bearing the cross of ordination.” I think he’s right; and I was true to form. In the summer of 1985 I enrolled in seminary determined that I would simply “try it on.” Having lived through what Lutheran parishes had done to my father (who is a Lutheran pastor) and other pastors I knew, I wasn’t sure I wanted that life. So I proclaimed to my friends, rather naively, that I was going to seminary to become a deacon. (I honestly believed such a thing was possible, although I had never met or heard of a Lutheran deacon.) And I thought, secretly, that I’d see what would transpire in 2 years, believing I could always fall back on my teaching degree.

At seminary, I was promptly identified as “Mr Orthodox” because I spoke favorably about infant communion, I was earnest about the historic liturgy, I read and studied patristics, and I knew a local Orthodox priest. I got to know this priest because I continued going to Saturday Vespers—this time at an Antiochian church (again, because they spoke English). I also continued using my Eastern Orthodox prayer-book for private prayers, even while I was learning the intricacies of the 1962 Latin-English Roman breviary.

By October, I was called into the office of the seminary president. He knew my father quite well, and years before I had gone to school and played with some of his children; so it was a friendly chat. He had heard rumors about me believing in infant communion, and being favorable to Orthodoxy. He pointedly told me that I was not there to make a confession of faith, and that he would not run me out. This was a time to learn, he said, and that meant trying on ideas. All he wanted to know was which professors I was talking to about these issues. I gave him a half-dozen names—all well respected men with whom I had been talking and continued to talk. He was satisfied. Later, as I was walking with my wife, he saw us and said to her what he usually said to most wives: “I hope you’re keeping your husband orthodox” (by which he meant “orthodox Lutheran”). She said, “I’m trying to keep him Lutheran!” That remark bewildered him for some time.

1 comment:

Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

Heard the radio ptogram and enjoyed it. Actually I am enjoying your "CHRONICLES" even more. I found this one especially informative. I had always known Lutherans as ultra-protestant with a liturgy. According to this, Lutherans in America used to be more 'catholic'. Why do you think this change occured? Very sad.
The journey continues..................
the road goes ever on-
for all of us.