Wednesday, August 13, 2008
An Obscure Pastor
On this side of the Atlantic, Rev. Schultz would be an obscure United Church of Christ pastor of a tiny congregation in rural Wisconsin if it were not for the power of the Internet and his own passion for new-media publicity. Under his pen name, pastordan, he has become perhaps one of the premier liberal Christian voices in the public arena (how liberal? Consider that he is just as likely to verbally trash Sojourners president Jim Wallis as he is more doctrinally correct Christian leaders like former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and American Values president Gary Bauer). That's just to start.That's just the first paragraph. What I love about Pastor Dan is that his physical reality is an obscure pastor of a tiny rural church in Wisconsin. He grew up in Wisconsin. His dad is a retired pastor. Dan lives with his wife & two kids in a parsonage next to the church. He posts his sermons every week, they often take up matters of social justice in rather nonspecific ways, but never deviating from what's considered Christian orthodoxy. A Catholic priest could deliver most of Dan's sermons as homilies. In fact, every so often Dan receives an invite to speak at a nearby convent home for retired nuns.
Mostly via the internet, Dan is becoming a more prominent voice on the Christian political left. How many prominent voices are there on the "religious" left compared to the religious right? Dan has no organization, no books to sell; he hasn't used a 501(c)(3) tax exemption to build himself a little ol' parsonage to go with Parsley's church in the valley by the wildwood.
Pastor Dan mostly doesn't give a crap about Rod Parsley. He's better educated than Parsley & could handle him in a debate, tossing around Bible passages. But if the furnace in his church breaks, he calls the repairman. He performs the weddings, baptisms, & funerals for his congregation, welcoming them individually when they arrive & praying over them individually when they go. He empties the garbage cans at the chicken barbecue & works the kitchen at the pancake breakfast. Because he does much of his pastoral duties at home or across the parking lot at the church office, that makes him enough of stay-at-home dad to get the kids a lot. His lovely wife married him knowing this was a life he was being called to; she has her professions, social services & teaching. Having a lifestyle like Parsley's, insulated from common lives & community, & ambitious for grand political influence, would be a sin for them. They're spending the next two weeks with friends at a beach town in Delaware. Must be a bargain if they're driving all the way there with two kids.