I don’t usually receive personal letters at my office outside of the lovely thank-you cards I’ve gotten from students or an occasionally note from a colleague. But I received a disturbing set of letters from a man who might be either exceptionally delusional since he thinks the world is radically different than it actually is.
This young man is writing to me and has addressed me Madame Walter. He thinks I’m a woman and he thinks that I am a theologian sympathetic to his cause and will help him in some way. He thinks that I’m a woman, as best as I can put it together, since he thinks that only women are theologians and that the Christian church only ordains women. He thinks it is high time that the church as a whole, not just some of the more liberal versions but “the Pope herself” should start to allow men to serve as priests and bishops. He thinks that this is not what he calls “the will of God herself” but also what “Johanna Christa, God’s Daughter” speaks about. He further cites some evidence that the follower of Christa that we commonly know as “Petra” is properly named “Peter.” These letters cite a Bible very familiar to me but made remarkably strange.
There are many other arguments and pleas for the ordination of men. These other arguments and pleas have to do with all kinds of strange things that people argue that might follow if men were ordained, how the liturgy might be corrupted, doctrine might not be held pure, and many, many other negative consequences.
But these letters also come with a set of drafts of a short story or novel. It seems this young man is writing about yet another world where the church has no pastors and a very odd liturgy and he has invented a Bible that, so far as I can tell, is the same as the one we have. This is very strange to me.
I don’t know what to make of these. Perhaps a reader might. I’ll sample some of them for you in future blog posts.
Dear Madame Walter:I write to you out of urgency and the hope that you won't turn me down. I write to you thinking that you will listen to my cause. I think men should be ordained to serve in God's church. Before you put this letter down out of disgust and think this one more liberal attempt to discredit God, her Bible, and the good new from Christ, I have tried something. I have tried to imagine what it would be like if the early church had decided no one could lead, no one could preside, and no one could speak God's word. I have tried to imagine this in several sketches of a novel. There is no Eucharist in this world, there is no confirmation. No one is finally marked except by the cross of baptism, since anyone can wash a child or adult. This world is a hard world where bread and wine are brought to the altar along with the gifts for the poor but no one ever eats.