Letter to a Young Pastor (c. 1975)

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“The grace of God be with you in all its fulness and power!


I have read your letter and I don’t believe you are suffering a crisis of morality or of morale, but something more serious. You are afflicted by fear and loathing, which is not uncommon in these times that young men are taught by punks and pompous farts that pastors are people who “get things done,” and “make things happen.” What a disaster. The fact is babies are born squalling, people die neglected, and in between the parenthesis of birth, death, and new birth, human ambiguity: adolescents making an unholy mess of growing up and their parents muddling through as guilty bystanders. Then there is weather-worn holiness, stunningly beautiful graveside prayers, sacrificial love surfacing from the tangled emotions of a broken family, a hymn sung in the night, foretastes of the feast to come, the sullen betrayal of a bored spouse quietly redeemed from years of self-imposed self-worship by forgiveness and grace: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; all of this mixed together, churning, aching for that day … That is God’s will, and that is also why I shoot into the darkness at anything that moves. Sooner or later, I will hit the evil one, and feel no guilt … the war-drums roll, and the bugles howl for blood, and the fat is in the fire. So get ready for it, brother. Buckle up and watch your back at all times. We are at war, and it may last a long time, but we have Christ’s own promise, that cannot fail, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against Christ our strength and Christ our might … People go crazy from fear and loathing, but not us, brother, not us. We preach Christ, perfect love and hope, double-barreled, and we will blow the enemies head off!


– Anthony S. Thompson, Letter to a Young Pastor, c.1975


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