Achilles had been trained has a minister in the flagship Seminary of APE (Apostolic Presbyterian Ecclesial) and had spent some 20 years in the Ministry. He was, by all accounts, well liked and successful as a Churchman and Minister.
Achilles had a standing appointment with his ministerial colleagues at the local pub. At the pub (named aptly “Haags Hall”) community ministers from liberal, yet diverse, backgrounds and denominational affiliations would show up to talk about their lives, their faith, and the times in which they lived. Usually matters were congenial. When hard disagreements did arise they were quickly followed by a shot and a beer which either made the various ministers gathered forget the disagreements or made them ready to fight. The ministers had a rule that if someone raised their voice in a discussion they would be forced to down a Boilermaker as discipline for their unseemly ministerial outbursts. This was supposed to keep hissing, clawing and pushing (what liberal ministers call “fighting”) at bay. Fortunately for all the ministers in attendance, ministers fight like Junior high girls and so little damage was done the very few times disagreements were raised to a level higher than what a Boilermaker could tame.
At this bi-monthly meeting Achilles decided he was going to probe the issue of gays in the church. He wanted to discuss, with his liberal counterparts, how it was that the Fundamentalists couldn’t see the necessity to accept the LGBTQ crowd into the Church. Achilles thought if nothing else the assembled clergy could have a good laugh at the way the Fundamentalist troglodytes read the Bible.
The Sherry, Margaritas and wine spritzers (the preferred drinks of liberal clergy) were flowing like the water off the head of a dozen baby baptisms. All assembled were in a good mood when Achilles tossed out the topic of conversation of “gays in the Church.”
The conversation went pretty much as expected. All the liberal clergy gathered drank to the health of gays. Many of them knew what good givers the LGBTQ crowd were at their local churches. They also knew that the quickest route to losing their positions was to stand up against the zeitgeist. And so they laughed and guffawed at their clumsy and backwards fundamentalist “brethren.”
After agreeing, over several rounds, at the nekulturny character of the fundamentalists Achilles piped up with a complaint about the few remaining old school Presbyterians that remained in his denomination,
“I think one of our problems in the Apostolic Presbyterian Ecclesial (APE) is that many of our Pastors belong to the intellectual class and they have this overwhelming necessity to be right. They sense that being right is of ultimate importance. They are always studying, always reading and so being right is important to them. And I think we must agree that is poisonous to the Church.”
All agreed but suddenly the waiter, who was serving up the girly drinks, couldn’t resist and asked,
“So, tell me Achilles, are you insisting that you are right about that observation you just made?”
This waiter was not unknown to the Liberal, Sherry-sipping clergy. This was the walking conundrum waiter they loved to tease good-naturedly. Christopher Roberts was an anomaly that the liberals couldn’t resist. They always insisted on his being their waiter. Christopher was a tent-maker minister who had no problem with an occasional stiff drink, salty phrase, or stinging pejorative. Christopher didn’t have a pietistic bone in his body and the only people he lampooned more than Fundamentalist preachers were the Liberal and “diverse” crowd that gathered twice a month during his shift.
Achilles was mute over Christopher’s question, and so he asked again, amidst the nervous laughter of the other assembled clergy.
“Achilles, you just noted that the problem with too many of the fundamentalist clergy in your denomination is that they insist on being right.”
“What I want to know Achilles, is if, whether or not, you are, as a non fundamentalist minister, insisting upon being right about the poisonous scourge that clergy are who have to be right?”
Achilles looked as if Christopher had just thrown a ice cold beer in his face.
All were looking on waiting for Achilles response.
Finally Achilles offered up,
“I don’t know.”
Christopher let out a booming laugh. The diverse and liberal clergy just stared at their waiter not getting the joke.
When Christopher looked at their puzzlement he doubled his laughter. Finally, upon regaining composure, Christopher, between continued intermittent peals of laughter, informed them,
“You liberals are hilarious. You can’t even see the delicious irony of Achilles answer. When Achilles says, ‘I don’t know,’ all you can hear is the idea that Achilles is being consistent with his statement on the poisonous nature of clergy on insisting on being right.”
“But,” Christopher continued, “the irony is that Achilles and all of you can’t see that Achilles and each of you, in the depths of your post-modern muck, can’t see the joke that you can’t even be certain in your decrying of certitude. You complain about Fundamentalists having to be right, but you can’t even own the fact that you are right in your complaint about them having to be right. You have to be uncertain of your claim on the wrongness of certitude. But are you even certain that you have to be uncertain about the claims of certitude?”
All stared up from their pretzel bowls and wine spritzer glasses with the look of a waitress that had just been goosed by an anonymous patron.
“And the really funny thing is,” Christopher continued, “is that all of you here are so dull that even after explaining this to you, you’re still either to dumb or to drunk on wine spritzers that you don’t have any understanding of what I just explained to you.”
“You complain about your Fundamentalist competition having to be right, but you can’t even be certain about your uncertainty … and yet you still have the moxy to complain, as if you were right, about the faults of other ministers, who you think, have to be right.”
“I could spend a week laughing at your idiocy, but other tables, who tip better then you guys do, are waiting to be served.”
“Let me know if you ever figure it out.”