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Saturday, January 10, 2009

One Thing About Neuhaus

... that the standard obits haven't picked up:

For many years, long after his crossing of the Tiber, he hosted an occasional gathering of Lutheran pastors in his Manhattan apartment.  The evening began with tobacco and alcohol, continued with pizza and concluded with Neuhaus holding court.  

Although those invited were overwhelmingly conservative (and male, and high-church), and although politics and religion were certainly discussed, it should not be thought that these were some sort of conspiratorial cabals, in which plans for world conquest were hatched.  They were social events, at which people -- including many old friends, now separated by various confessional boundaries -- were able to connect with one another.

Father Anonymous was, briefly, included in this group, as was the lovely Mother A.   It was quite enjoyable, despite Fr. A's lack of interest in cigarettes or hard liquor.   After a year or two, the invitations stopped arriving, presumably because the Family A. didn't quite fit in.  No hard feelings.

He had a dog -- a large one, for such a small apartment.  Whatever our disagreements with him may have been, and whatever our occasio  nal doubts about his character, we find it hard not to enjoy the company of a man with a large dog.  One one wall was a large tapestry with Luther's face, commemorating some anniversary celebration.  On another was something that always amused us far more:  a framed poster for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, a reminder of just how far to the left he had once been.

Perhaps our favorite story about one of these evenings was told by a very senior pastor, who like Neuhaus had left Lutheranism for Papism.  "Well," he says, "there we were talking.  And Richard John is going on about his last visit to Rome, and about the time he spent with the Holy Father, and how 'he said such-and-so, and I said such-and so.'  And after a few minutes, I leaned in and said, 'well, yes, Richard John.  But remember -- he's only the Pope.'"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The trick to navigating these affairs for us younger wimpy less heroic clerics was to bring something reasonable to drink, like a few beers. web