December 6 – In Praise of Having Done Nothing

The headline, well, actually the subhead, caught my eye.  The headline read “Pete Buttigieg, Progressive Saint,” and I need not comment on that.  The subhead added, “He hasn’t done a lot, but then neither has your minister.” I think I need to comment on that.

The writer of the column, a guy named Kyle Smith, wanted to make the point that the 37-year old candidate’s rise in recent polls has more to do with his way with words, which can be impressive, than with his accomplishments as mayor of South Bend. The saint part of the headline has to do with the fact that Mayor Buttigieg often refers to his Episcopalian understanding of Christian faith, sometimes irritating his conservative critics. I’ll let the critics have it out on that one.

But why drag me into the argument? And, yeah, I want to take issue with the comparison. Do-nothing politicians are a lot like ministers; do-nothings if there ever were do-nothings.

In his column, Smith makes some comments about Buttigieg’s speaking ability and style, impressive as they are, and the content which he does not like one bit. He goes on to say, “To gentry liberals, this is the new Scripture. Buttigieg connects with his Atlantic-reading, six-figure-earning, Whole Foods–shopping flock as convincingly as Joel Osteen does with his. Asking ‘Er, what exactly has Pete Buttigieg ever accomplished?” is, to this crowd, wholly irrelevant. Do you ask what your local priest or minister has accomplished? No, you simply revel in their homilies (my emphasis added). Buttigieg isn’t really Mayor Pete. He’s Saint Pete.’”

I am not sure what the Atlantic or Whole Foods have to do with it, though the salmon Becky buys at Whole Foods is really good. And for those of you who revel in my homilies, a sincere thanks. For those of you who don’t, no offense taken.

I assume the question about asking what a priest or minister has accomplished is meant to be rhetorical. You don’t ask the question and apparently it would be bad form to do so. Besides, the subhead has already answered the question. We ministers and priests don’t accomplish much. Don’t embarrass us by asking.

So, what do we clergy types do? At least some of us write and deliver the homilies in which some of you revel. By the way, it’s been twelve years. You revelers can out yourselves anytime now.

  • “He hasn’t done a lot, but then neither has your minister.”
  • “Do you ask what your local priest or minister has accomplished?”

A couple of comments. Ask. Ask yourself and ask each other. Ask me if you’d like. What have I accomplished? I’ll ask the question of myself.  Probably worth doing after twelve years.

The question asked, my vain self dreams of one accomplishment after another named, the list going on and on.

But then I am startled out of the dream, a nightmare, by the words of a song we’re beginning to hear around LPC.  (Becky brought Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me [please click on the link!] to a Faith Acts class last spring, we sang it again at Faith Acts last night and plan to introduce it to worship in January.)

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!

I don’t know the first thing about Kyle Smith who wrote the column that caught my eye.  But he must know some ministers.  At our best, we haven’t done a lot.  Thanks be to God!

See you Sunday