Men of the Church
My new friend, Gus, invited me to a men’s gathering in the church lounge at a time when 8 a.m. was colder and earlier than usual. About 18-20 men—three professors, a doctor, hard-nosed businessmen, some retired, others not, assembled in the church kitchen, had donuts and coffee, and then gathered together in the lounge.
On this particular morning a professor of philosophy led the session with a brief introduction to Spinoza. What I remembered about Spinoza would fit in a thimble. Yet, most of the group peppered him with questions that were germane. I was amazed! I was even more stunned when at the conclusion, the philosophy professor poked me in my side, and said, “You’re next, Art!” Why don’t you do Tillich?” “The Courage to Be?” I said. “Yes,” he replied.
Fortunately, I have six or seven books by Tillich in my study. I took an excerpt from his book of sermons, The Courage to Be, and prepared a brief introduction. Before I could elaborate, we were off! There were more questions than I could possibly have anticipated. The amazing part was that they were so caught up in Tillich that they bought several books and used a xeroxed copy of a chapter of one of them for three sessions when I was not able to be there, and they were winding up a fourth discussion when I returned.
What impressed me most was the presence of smart, inquisitive, and jolly “He-Men” who, for the most part, are out on the perimeters of the church. I got to thinking about these men, their refreshing frankness, exuberant laughter, and the healthy candor of their jibes as they challenged each other.
Here are men who know their way around, they’re up on the latest events—problems in the court system or the problems Ohio had in their voting technology for example. These guys aren’t shy in saying what they think. They surprise me with their openness in discussing. Not a one goes home pouting. Instead, they can’t wait for the next confab. For them the concrete problems are in the world itself, but they still want to bring them out in the open for spirited discussion—“spirited” in saying what they know and what they think is utmost.
Even if I’m sleepy when I get there, I’m soon ready for the “free-for-all.” Vital discussions wake us up. I hope the day will come when we’ll see these men as part of the church. The Christian Church needs them! The masculine touch! BRAVO!