Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Frontier Theology

There's a good homily - Feast of Epiphany - posted at Deacon Denny's blog, and in the comments box he gave me a link to a really entertaining page on Frontier Theology by Wes Seeliger. It uses imagery of the Wild West to describe two different ways of looking at and living faith - that of the settlers and that of the pioneers. Here's a bit of it ....


The Church

IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the church is the courthouse. It is the center of town life. The old stone structure dominates the town square. Its windows are small. This makes the thing easy to defend, but quite dark inside. Its doors are solid oak. No one lives there except pigeons and they, of course, are most unwelcome. Within the thick, courthouse walls, records are kept, taxes collected, trials held for bad guys. The courthouse runs the town. It is the settler's symbol of law, order, stability, and most important--security, The mayor's [God's] office is on the top floor. His eagle eye scopes out the smallest details of town life.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the church is the covered wagon. It is a house on wheels--always on the move. No place is its home. The covered wagon is where the pioneers eat, sleep, fight, love, and die. It bears the marks of life and movement--it creaks, is scarred with arrows, bandaged with bailing wire. The covered wagon is always where the action is. It moves in on the future and doesn't bother to glorify its own ruts. The old wagon isn't comfortable, but the pioneers could care less. There is a new world to explore.

... (snip) ...


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--Jesus is the sheriff. He is the guy who is sent by the mayor [Gpd] to enforce the rules. He wears a white hat--drinks milk--outdraws the bad guys. He saves the settlers by offering security. The sheriff decides who is thrown in jail. There is a saying in town that goes like this--those who believe the mayor [Gpd] sent the sheriff and follow the rules won't stay in Boot Hill when it comes their time.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--Jesus is the scout. He rides out ahead to find out which way the pioneers should go. He lives all the dangers of the trail. The scout suffers every hardship, is attacked by the Indians, feared by the settlers. Through his actions and words he shows the true spirit, intent, and concern of the trail boss [God]. By looking at the scout, those on the trail learn what it really means to be a pioneer.

... (snip) ....

The Clergyman

IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the clergyman is the bank teller. Within his vaults are locked the values of the town. He is suspicious of strangers. And why not? Look what he has to protect! The bank teller is a highly respected man in town. He has a gun but keeps it hidden behind his desk. He feels he and the sheriff [Jesus] have a lot in common. After all, they both protect the bank.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the clergyman is the cook. He doesn't furnish the meat--he just dishes up what the buffalo hunter [the holy spirit] provides. This is how he supports the movement of the wagon. He never confuses his job with that of the trail boss [God], scout or buffalo hunter. He sees himself as just another pioneer who has learned to cook. The cook's job is to help the pioneers pioneer .......


I hope I'm a pioneer :)


Blogger Deacon Denny said...

Thanks for the post, Crystal!

I hope I am, too. When I first read that piece a long while ago, it gave me a whole different way of looking at my faith -- very affirming of my sometimes-quirky way of believing & living my faith.


3:29 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks for the link :)

5:47 PM  

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