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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Being "Pastoral" and Being Fatherly

It's Fathers' Day, so, listening to Wagner, in honour of...

Frankly, needed to take a shower, a bit muddy from the rabbit hole down which I took a tumble.
Oh, Internet - the things you get me to do!

The Internet, God's gift to conspiracy theorists and extremists of all kinds.
And remember, the social fabric has fringe on all sides...

Sad to say, most of the muck from which I'm trying to extricate myself is written by my co-religionists.
You know, the right-wingers who think the Church is in thrall to the Democratic party, the left wingers who think She's in bed with the Republicans... a shameful way to think about your Mother, isn't it guys?
And a lot of the thought I was examining was NOT of recent vintage. La plus ca.... how do I make that little mark under the "c"? No matter.
In reading about hierarchical skulduggery, and backroom presbyteral politicking, I was struck, (not for the first time, since it has been a talking point for most of the commentary on Pope Francis and his appointments,) how people like to say, "we need men who are 'pastoral', not...."

Not what?
What is the opposite of pastoral? What do we think "pastoral" mean?

As a musician I was accustomed to hearing the word used approvingly as one of the "three judgments," in selecting and preparing music for liturgy - well, more than approvingly.
It is a most lop-sided stool,  we musicians are asked to sit upon, one leg is always favored, isn't it?

Yes, musical excellence; yes, liturgical appropriateness; but above all, pastoral sensitivity!

The which, far too often, boiled down to "give the people what they want!" (and just as important, don't give them what they don't...)

But anyone who's serious about the task, in other words, not an NPM adherent but an NMLPM adherent, were there such an animal, knows it is not a zero sum game.

It's not just with musicians - I think there's a tendency when "being pastoral" is proclaimed as the sine qua non of episcopal eligibility to forget that there's a lot more to shepherding than keeping the wolves at bay.

I'd wager any crook wielded by a shepherd worth his salt makes a helluva lot more contact with wool than with wolf.

But I don't know, do I? I've never met a shepherd, good or bad, (though I have had way more contact than was good for me with a particular sheep, or rather, with a "little lamb"  - smelly, noisy creatures who won't let an ingenue get on with her business!)

And I doubt I am alone in this. (In the non-acquaintance with shepherds, not in doing musical numbers with livestock.)

But most of us do have a pretty good acquaintance with a father, good or bad, and are better equipped to say what made him so, (mine was spectacularly good and I shall miss him every day until I die,) so I think that's a metaphor we in the first world could probably utilise more effectively in speaking of our bishops.
You wanna go play in traffic? Oh, okay, I don't care what ya do, it's all good.... gee, I love ya, kiddo!
Gosh, dang, I'm afraid we might hafta move, I drank up my paycheck, and there went the rent, but lemme give ya a big hug!

Sorry I forgot to teach you right from wrong, but we sure had some great times fishin', huh, Sport?

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