Friday, July 07, 2006

"The Body's Grace"

I had this Andrew Brown interview locked up in my pending posts, waiting for a reason to come out. Then Grandmere Mimi linked me to this post by Father Jake. Father Jake, in further turn, links me to this article by Archbishop Rowan Williams before he was "Archbishop Rowan Williams." Now obviously, as Father Jake understands, in the context of the current debate in the Anglican Communion, this is a very interesting article. But I want to take it, first, as the reflections of a pastor.

Pastoral care is often relegated to quasi-psychological status. Pastoral counselors can actually be trained counselors who approach their work as licensed counselors or even pscyhologists, employing religious insights and traditions and beliefs in their work. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But pastoral care is the heart and soul of pastoral ministry. It means becoming aware that "inclusive language" is no longer an abstract issue when faced with a church member who was sexually abused by her father as a child, and now feels some relief in the church when she is given language about God that is not gender specific. It is about real people and real lives and how much you are willing to give up on the "Big Idea" in the face of concrete reality. The "Big Idea" usually prevails in the abstract, the classroom, the essay; but the example of Jesus, wandering the villages of Palestine, talking to people in everyday terms they could understand, is the one pastors have to follow.

Williams' essay is not prosaic in that sense; but it reflects the concerns of a parish priest, of a human being dealing with other human beings and trying to help them make sense of themselves and their lives in the larger picture painted by the Church. For that alone, it's a refreshing addition to this discussion.

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