Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Pig Priest Speaks

I am a pig priest.

What self-respecting priest would call himself a pig? Well, I would.

Because it’s true. I’m a pig. Don’t try to change me -- I'm happy with my pig-dom.

No, this isn’t self-loathing -- the novelist Barbara Kingsolver once called herself something very similar because she didn’t bother rinsing dishes before sticking them in the dishwasher. But she likes herself just fine.

That’s sort of me. Only, I don’t bother putting clothes away once they’ve been washed -- that’s what sofas are for. I don’t bother taking those dishes out of the dishwasher -- they work just fine there. Same for the kitchen counter. I always figured it was meant for holding books and mail, and soccer shin guards. And every time my wife steps into my study, she says “What a pigsty! You can’t even see your desk.” You get the idea.

But I’m an intellectual pig, too. I’ve seen a lot of blogs by colleagues and stand in awe of them. Not only are they cool looking sights, but these folks are just so smart.

Me? I’m the kind of priest who coaches soccer kids, drinks beer in the locker room after an “old farts” hockey game, and who picks up worms with his kids on a rainy day so we can see who can get the slimiest.

With all this, you might be asking yourself two questions. One, how’d this joker ever get to be a priest? And two, what has he got to offer the blogosphere?

Well, I often find myself asking that first question. In fact, most priests I know do. We find ourselves standing behind the altar celebrating mass and all the sudden the thought clicks in: “Someone’s going to find out that I’m a fraud and don’t know what the heck I’m doing!” Not that I wasn’t properly ordained -- it’s just that it seems so weird. I remember not long after getting ordained standing in shock and thinking, “This dude just called me ‘Father’ and he’s like 80 years old!”

I think you’ll find most priests are way out of their depth -- because God is just so big, so deep, so awesome. Even though most of them are much more brilliant than me, none of them are brilliant enough to figure God out. We all just try to do the best we can and hope nobody jumps up in the middle of the service and yells, “Fake!”

And what do I have to offer? I’ve been looking at a lot of blogs, and they’re fantastic. They keep you up on church news (all that schism stuff), and the world’s needs (poverty and war are still there, gang), as well as really good theology.

I look at things from a little lower level -- and find that God is there, too. Sitting at a minor league hockey game, I find grace. Listening to an elementary school band butcher the “Star Wars” theme shows me the genius of God's creativity. I find a piece of heaven in an early morning cup of coffee before anyone else in the house wakes up.

I expect to talk about the big issues, too. That Akinola guy? Fergetaboutit! But my focus is a little narrower, and sometimes you need to see the trees as well as the forest. Heck, sometimes you need to see the little seed at the foot of the tree, trying to make a go of it.
So, call me a pig. I won’t mind. Just remember, beneath all that mud pigs can be pretty smart.