A Man Called “Reverend”

In the state where I live, a person can officiate a wedding without religious credentials.  As a holder of one of those other types of credentials, I conducted a wedding ceremony for two friends many years ago.  The bride and groom rented a church building in which the wedding took place, but neither were regular attendees there.  Likewise, most of the guests had never been inside that church building before.  So, seeing me on stage, people who didn’t know me assumed that I was the pastor of that particular church.  (Nothing could be further from the truth, by the way.  I am simply a typical business man.)


At the reception, someone shook my hand and said “That was a wonderful service, Reverend.”  I replied, “Thank you, and I’m not ‘Reverend’, I’m Steve.”  His response was “Oh no… I would never call a minister by his first name.  My parents raised me too well for that.”


That experience still saddens me.  I felt isolated from those with whom I wanted to relate and enjoy a good time.  I was sure that any words or deeds resembling salt and light – not that I think I’m overly prone to them – would have been viewed as what a Reverend is supposed to do, rather than a way of life for ordinary, everyday people.  It was as though the distinction of being a minister actually diluted the value of the ministry.


In history, the Monastic Movement of devout monks living in monasteries, etc., comes along about the same time as the Dark Ages.  I’ve heard some interpret that this way:  “It’s a good thing that there were monks and monasteries during those days, or spirituality might have been wiped out entirely.”  My take is a little different.  I say “No wonder the Dark Ages were dark… all the spiritual people locked themselves up in monasteries.”  Perhaps if a few sincere God-seekers had remained in the marketplace, things would have been different… or maybe I’m just a dreamer.


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2 Responses to A Man Called “Reverend”

  1. Rob says:

    Interesting thoughts, Steve (and very apropos of what we discussed the other day at lunch). I’m still not certain that having a, well, different kind of natural respect for full-time clergy is a bad thing, at least not in every way. Of course, to the extent it dehumanizes or isolates them, I don’t think the benefits can outweigh the harms. But St. Paul seemed to think spiritual leaders, fathers, whatever we call them or however we choose to classify them, deserved special esteem.

    The point about the Dark Ages also interests me. It reminded me of something C.S. Lewis wrote about that period and the one the succeeded it; namely, that the change in literature between the “Dark Ages” and “Renaissance” is no where near as marked as that in more modern literature. (As someone else noted, the real large chasm is between us and Jane Austen. As well, looking at the change between 12th century art to 16th century art is no where near as different as 19th century art to 20th century art. We also have the machine age (including the computer age) which is a much larger leap than the petty differences between the Middle Ages and Renaissance.)

    “It is not the remembered but the forgotten past that enslaves us… the unhistorical are usually, without knowing it, enslaved to a fairly recent past.”

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