A club for those who have been members since their birth. We’ll let you sit on the sidelines and give us money, but you’re not really part of the club unless you already are.
Fourth of July was hot and dry and everything it’s always been in Austin. I thought a lot more about how I want my life to move forward, and I am finding it harder and harder to see a path that keeps me here at seminary and takes me out of here in two years to a career that makes sense in terms of how I want to spend the rest of my life. I suppose the real defining moment was the conversation with the pastor of my former church down here, and then everything that followed after that. I didn’t think it was terribly important to have people telling you for years that you should be a pastor, but it really is. I thought all of that was just an immature need for outside validation that some people must have, but for this type of vocation, you had better be seeing visions every day of Christ directing you to move forward as a pastor, or some kind of otherworldly faith. And most people frankly do not. What they have is a lifelong membership in their denomination and an assurance that they can always find validation and support among any number of people throughout the organization who more or less see the pastoral calling as a kind of DNA or royalty thing. It’s more or less how the Catholic church felt just to be a member, which I think is much more honest and straightforward. With a lot of Protestant denominations, it’s more a matter of: you can join us and put money in the offering plate all year, every week of the year, but please don’t try to get more involved than attending the occasional Sunday school class and showing up with your check for the offering plate unless you have been with us most of your life.
I’m cool with that. It just took me a while to see it, and it seems to work for a lot of people just fine. I think that for me, the best thing to do is to go back to my own private world of studying this or that, and engaging with God as I see fit. Church will be for my children, so that they might be more socially adjusted than I ever was. I want my son and any future child to walk down a different path of spirituality and sociability than I did. I do want them to be the lifelong member kids who feel comfortable hanging out at any number of retreats with the denomination–heck, I want them to be on the inside track that actually makes it possible to know when and where these retreats are happening.
I want my son to feel like he’s starting a legacy of some kind at his college of choice, to be affiliated with it and join various groups there, hopefully not the worst kinds of fraternities, but something that gives him great friendships all of his life–people he can truly rely on to be there for him when awful things happen, and memories that will make him proud to return to campus throughout the decades of his adult life that follow school. These are the kinds of things you can’t just show up and claim in some organization when you are much older. You can’t wait around forever to try to get things right, but at least I figured out what going back to school looked like for me, and it wasn’t for me.
Would joining the Army have been better for me? I often think so, and to this day I’m not really sure why my dad was so adamant about not letting me join. Of course, I was an adult by then, and I could have joined in spite of his angry insistence that I get off the phone with the recruiter, but I didn’t. I was too scared of my dad. I was too scared of everything back then. I don’t know what my dad saw in me that made him decide I shouldn’t be a part of the Army. I often think it would have been better for me, though. I think it would have straightened me out a lot sooner, and left me with some sort of connection to a group of fellow men that I could be proud of.
Oh well, life has moved on too far along for any of that to happen, unless reincarnation proves to be a thing. I must commence the official declaration of cashing out like every good middle age man who hasn’t made much of himself does, and buy my cookie cutter house in the suburbs for the slow descent into death.