Sunday, September 24, 2006

A quote

One of my favorite authors, Neal Stephenson, has a main character in his books who is a Catholic priest. In his novel Crytonomicon, the priest character in an email explains his conception of the highest calling of a priest. This passage has since I read it given me much to ponder and I thought I'd pass it along for general consumption.

It is conventional now to think of clerics simply as presiders over funerals and weddings. Even people who routinely go to church (or synagogue or whatever) sleep through the sermons. That is because the arts of rhetoric and oratory have fallen on hard times, and so the sermons tend not to be very interesting.

But there was a time when places like Oxford and Cambridge existed almost solely to train ministers, and their job was not just to preside over weddings and funerals but also to say something thought-provoking to large numbers of people several times a week. They were the retail outlets of the profession of philosophy.

I still think of this as the priest's highest calling-or at least the most interesting part of the job-hence my question to [the book's main character]...

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