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              Tuesday, October 23 2001 

Memoirs—mourning turned to joy

Continuing last week's answers to questions about my earlier career in the ministry....How do you feel about the loss of your ministerial life?

As indicated in Thursday's "short answer," though I stayed depressed for years after the loss of my ministry, now that I'm Orthodox I think it's for the best. Every believer is familiar with, and should take encouragement in, St. Paul's assurance, "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Though no one should even ask, as C. S. Lewis reminds us repeatedly, "what might have been if something had gone another way?" it's hard to imagine my focus turning from my Protestant upbringing and education toward Orthodoxy if my campus ministry had continued to grow and thrive. I'd have been too busy teaching my "own" take on the life of faith to pay enough attention to others' testimonies. Most likely—but no one can or even should try to say. Stopping short of anything that could be construed as proselytizing (which isn't the way of Orthodoxy and expressly not done in this forum), I'll say only that my present state is by me much preferred.

This does open more thoughts about the divorce. Once the divorce was in the courts, I quit my ministry because I believe no one whose own marriage has failed should be counseling young people about their futures, or married people about their relationships. The Bible and church have always taught that pastoral leadership shouldn't be undertaken by people whose own family life is in disorder. God hates divorce, the Old Testament says (Malachi 2:16), and so do I, However, an unexpected plus to me in the years of single parenting was developing a much closer releationshp with my children than I can imagine having if most of the "parenting" had continued being their mother's role almost exclusively. This doesn't offset the loss the children underwent when their family was torn apart, but for me it was an enriching and highly educational experience.

In the final "installment" in this series, I'll take up the question about the person "nudged" into a ministry without a strong personal conviction about it.

And a note about yesterday's memoir. It failed to mention that during the four years we were living in Southern California (Santa Barbara), I took a graduate degree, in journalism, at UCLA. I wanted that on the record in case someone looks over these notes and gets misled. That was a very important milestone in my life for three reasons: 1. My undergraduate degree at a small Christian college in New Jersey had undercut the value of most of my college studies, at Pitt/Johnstown College. 2. It gave me the opportunity to finally get a major in journalism/mass communication, which Pitt had discontinued. And 3. It meant open doors to have a successful ministry at Stanford University; without it...well, here we come to "if not for" speculations again. But it seemed to be the key to everything we did at Stanford, the second-highest ranked University in the Western Hemisphere.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Answers to computer class test questions in a South Carolina High School (series):

Mac - Big Bubba's favorite food.

Megahertz - How your head feels after 17 beers.

Modem - What ya did when the grass and weeds got too tall.

Mouse pad - Where Mickey and Minnie live.

Online - Where to stay when taking the sobriety test.

Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

To govern is to correct. If you set an example by being correct, who would dare remain incorrect?


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