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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Is It a Sin To Be Stupid?

In the Lutheran denomination I belong to, it is recognized that the only legitimate reasons to expell a pastor from his call are: persistence in false doctrine, openly immoral life, and physical or mental incapacitation. It's a good thing that "doing something stupid" is not one of those criteria. Every pastor, myself included, makes foolish mistakes. But sometimes you hear about something that just makes you ask "What in the world was he thinking?!?!"

CBS News reports that a 78 year old Roman Catholic priest in Austin, Texas asked a group of children to come forward during mass - I'm guessing for some kind of children's sermon or something - and he proceeded to prick each one of them with a pin.

When I read this article, I was dumbfounded. Apparently, he'd taken a single unsterilzed needle and poked, breaking skin mind you, a flock of children. The article also states that he nailed a few adults in this stupid exercise as well. He claims that this was to illustrate that suffering is part of life and that Jesus suffered for us.

So what's the big stinkin' deal, you ask? Let me count the ways:

1) It's a health risk. Especially if it's true that he poked adults as well as children. Do you trust your fellow parishoners enough to share needles with them? Anyone hear of HIV or hepatitis? I realize the risk is probably relatively small, but it was a stupid thing to do. Listen, I'd drink the blood of Christ out of a chalice in a cathedral full of AIDS patients, but I would not let someone prick my son and two dozen of our closest friends with a single needle.

2) The report says that the priest wanted to teach them about the pain that Jesus suffered on the cross and, in his words, "that suffering is a part of life." Oh come on. There are much better ways to teach children about the pain Jesus endured. How about a good scourging? And it is ridiculous, in my mind, to think that we need to give pin pricks to children to teach them a lesson most of them ALREADY know all too well. That life hurts.

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Carl said...

Well, I guess Forrest Gump was right: "stupid is as stupid does!"
Of course, doesn't this kind of thing go along with the RC view of Christ being sacrificed every time the clergy celebrates the Lord's Supper?

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Maybe he thought it sounded like a good idea at the time.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Cubicle, I'm sure he did. Like I say, I've done stupid things too that I lived to regret. But this just seemed particularly clueless to me.

TKls2myhrt said...

"What I was trying to teach them is that suffering is a part of life," said the Rev. Arthur Michalka, 78, on Friday. "

Pastor, I would sure like to know more about this train of thought. Since becoming Lutheran, I have been taught that suffering and death was never part of God's plan for our world. A minor point, perhaps, but I am left wondering if the priest was trying to teach that suffering was normal or that Jesus suffered. Suffering is not normal, it is wrong; God detests it and has offered us hope for a life to come ONLY through the suffering and death of God's Son Jesus Christ. I hope that was his lesson.

Kurt Wall said...

tkls2myhrt, suffering was not part of God's plan, to be sure, but it is part of our condition. That is, it is normal in this life. Of course, that pain and suffering exist doesn't justify sticking children (or adults) with a needle to make a point about it.

I'm with the Cubicle Reverend: perhaps it seemed like a grand idea at the time.


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