Friday, April 16, 2010

This I Believe... (Part IV: Interlude)

Ministry means my life is lived among people who are asking questions. In the Unitarian Universalist tradition the minister is not expected to provide final and absolute answers. The minister is expected to assist people in making meaning and discovering their own answers.

But now it feels as though the tables have been turned and you have asked me the question. “Thom, what do you believe?” When Chad asked me to answer this question I considered his request to be absolutely reasonable. But, ever since I announced that I would be delivering this lecture, I’ve heard interesting things. Several people have said that they have had lively discussions with other people in the church where people have debated what they believe that I believe. I find this a little bit embarrassing. Surely, people have more interesting things to discuss. And, so there is a little bit of fear that by naming what I believe I will actually be taking away your entertainment.

But, on a more serious note, I want to reiterate my concept of ministry symbolized by the hand and the question mark. While this lecture is about me, ministry is not about me. It is about you.

Incidentally, my favorite poem of self-differentiation is by the former Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins. In his poem, Litany, Collins writes,
It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and - somehow - the wine.
Allow me to be extremely metaphorical for a moment or two. It is perfectly all right if my theology is about rain on the roof and chestnuts on the kitchen table while yours is about bread and knives, crystal goblets and wine.

You can hear Billy Collins read his poem here.

Follow the link to continue to the next section, Part V: Disclosure of My Beliefs

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