Friday, June 22, 2007


"it's great that you got a job there, just don't get stuck," he said. "excuse me," i countered, "what exactly do you mean." "well, don't take this the wrong way," he opined, "but i've known a number of seminarians who started lightway as a means to an end only to find out that it was more of the latter than the former."

of course no one really talks like that, slinging terms like latter and former into informal conversation, but that's how i remember it. it was early fall in the year of our Lord 2000 when i met this stranger at a seminary ice cream social - which is pretty damn close to my idea of hell - and before i knew it he was offering unsolicited advice on my life. i don't know about you, but i hate it when people do that.

provided, of course, that unsolicited advice does not emanate from me.

anyway, at the time i scoffed at the guy's advice and i forgot to heed the warning. in the end it took a five and a half years and an unexpected firing to set me free from the bonds of lightway and another year or so for the wisdom of that guy's words to hit home.

i wish i would have listened to him as well as to the advice of the long-term missionary who encouraged me in the midst of my college years to choose the pastorate over academia and the accompanier who suggested i stay at l'arche instead of subjecting myself to seminary.

but so it goes. you make your choices, some good and some bad, and then spend years trying to bind the bits together by remembering the wisdom of unsolicited opinion, learning from the road not taken and perhaps even praying if that's your sort of thing.

maybe it's just the influence of sacred games and the yiddish policeman's union but lately life feels a lot like an unsolved case that it's going to take a holy sleuth to unravel. on my better days i believe that ultimately the criminal will be caught and convicted and whatever is beautiful, good and true will be set free. but on my worst days, i have my doubts whether things will conclude as cleanly and quickly as a hardy boy's mystery. i think that's what faith is for me, namely, trusting that once again the holy sleuth will get his man.

one way or another, here's to the mystery.


Agent B said...

I can see you as the type of guy who hates unsolicited advice, but is willing to give it.


g13 said...

agent b, you have no idea.

of course, in true jaded style, i would like to note that in my experience a lot of unsolicited advice, especially when given by christians, is completely worthless. here's a sample of the sh*t that i've received unsolicited over the years.

- "Jesus is coming back tonight (Sept. 12, 1988), so you shouldn't go see your girlfriend."

- "i just get the feeling that you aren't confessing the true depth of your sin. you need to share everything with us. for instance, when i was younger, i lived on a farm. sometimes when i could not surpress the sexual desire i would go out to the barn..."

- "you're 23 and still unmarried? what a waste. it's time for you to get moving."

- "you are wasting your life by ministering in a home church. why disciple only two or three people when you could disciple 12 or 15?"

- "i wouldn't worry about the fossil record too much. haven't you heard that paleontologists just find those bones and arrange them in any manner they want?"

i'm curious to hear snippets of the unsolicited advice, both good and bad, some of you have received.

Agent B said...

that is funny.

Especially that barn one, because that is not even real. They took that straight from Of Mice and Men...

g13 said...

well i didn't take it from mice and men. if memory serves, i cliff noted that essay.

i took it from the boston church of christ. a bloody bunch of heretics.

Before Girl said...

"Uh yeah, we aren't going to put you in Honors English because your grades in math aren't that great. Of course, if you were willing to try and improve your grades in math, maybe next year we can put you in Honors English." -guidance counselor, 9th grade

Agent B said...

Boston coc, ehh?

Having grown up in the coc, we were always warned about those from "the boston movement".

Now I know something good CAN come out of Boston.

g13 said...

agent b, they were right to warn you. many of the individuals involved in the BCOC are Christ-focused passionate individuals with nothing but the best intentions. however, in my experience anyway, the leadership of that church is shamelessly authoritarian and abusive to their church members.

fortunately, from what i've heard, the BCOC is in the process of reforming or dying out. if the former is true, it gives me faith in the positive development of young christian groups. but if it's the latter, i don't think the catholic church will be any weaker for it.

by the way, the more i think about it, the more i suspect that i shouldn't have applied the term "heretic" to this group since my issue with them is not so much theological as it is personal. there's never been any love lost between myself and authoritarian individuals and/or groups. thus, it is unsurprising that my participation with the BCOC in the mid-nineties was rather short.

ok, i'm going to shut up now.