Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Noble Minds and Clear Spirits

Well, yesterday in a fit of irony I told the apotheosis of John Milton that we had few if any "noble minds" or "clear spirits" in town - as well as a distinct lack of weeping shepherds. Today I thought I'd take advantage of the tiny escape hatch I left myself, and give y'all a brief glimpse of one or two minds and spirits who may fit the Miltonic model after all.

Hard though it may be to believe, there actually are some humble people in this burg who do not crave the kind of "fame" (read "celebrityhood") featured in yesterday's New York Times article. And what's interesting about some of this rare goup is that they have a lot more to boast of (were they the type to do so) than the plethora of shallow "fame" seekers who have tended to infest this town in recent years. Exempla gratia, I offer the Rev. Ken Kieffer, pastor of the local Methodist church, who hosts a weekly radio program entitled, "Keeping the Rumor of God Alive."

Now, God knows how important Ken's project is in a town where Mammon calls the tune and we erect shiny golden calves at every intersection of Greenwich Avenue. One frequently hears His name on that thoroughfare, of course, but usually taken in vain as two SUVs are jockeying to fit into one parking place. There is, thankfully, the green oasis of St. Mary RC Church midway down the Avenue, where you will often find your scribe sitting on the stone wall reading or wrestling with the double crostic; but even this sacred space has known its share of godless behavior, such as the manifold transgressions of former Msgr. Charlie Stubbs, or the mob scene that transpired at Rushton Skakel's funeral. On that occasion, the family used the "eulogy" period to hijack the service and turn it into a "free Michael" rally, culminating in the call for a standing ovation for the convicted murderer of 15-year-old Martha Moxley. Dear reader, I blush to report that everyone in that church stood up and applauded, even the priests. Only one person kept his butt glued to the pew; and I only am escaped to tell you.

But today's accent is meant to be on the positive, so let's get back to Ken Kieffer and his radio program. Ken describes his church as "a cool place with warm people," and he is one of the coolest - and warmest - people in town. His sermon titles are always catchy, and his sense of humor is rib-tickling. For him the Bible is not a 3,000-year-old fossil, but a living manual to daily life. He actually believes in the Good Book, but he doesn't hit you over the head with it, or with his own faith. Rather, he just lives that faith, and lets you see by example what a great thing it is.

Today I listened on-line to his recent radio program featuring Sarah Darer Littman, author of "Confessions of a Closet Catholic." Sarah's book, as faithful readers of this blog know, deals with young Jussy, who gives up Judaism for Lent and goes into her closet to confess her sins to her stuffed bear, Father Ted. The book has won awards from both Catholic and Jewish groups, and deservedly so. If you haven't read it yet, go get it now.

Ken and Sarah made a great on-air duo. There was warmth and wit and repartee, as well as a discussion of Mel Gibson's recent film, "The Passion of the Christ." Even though just before the release date Gibson toned down (just a tad) some of the bits in which the Jews call for Jesus' blood (while still leaving in the original Aramaic words), it was obvious to Sarah that there was a strong anti-Semitic tone to the film. Ken hadn't seen this at the time they watched it together, but in light of Gibson's latest antics offered Sarah an on-air apology and a chance to kick his shins while saying, "I told you so." Sarah allowed herself the latter, but forbore to bruise the clerical shins, thereby showing herself as capable of Christ-like behavior as the next person (who, of course, happened to be Ken himself).

Long story short, we *do* have at least a couple of noble spirits here in town, and if I can locate others I will try to let you know about them. Meanwhile, it's time for me to go off and deal with the yahoos who make life around here so much less pleasant than by rights it ought to be - if people like Ken and Sarah are to be believed.


Blogger saraclaradara said...

*blushes* thanks Bill!

Ken is way,WAY too nice to kick in the shins! Besides, I make it a policy not to inflict bodily injury on people who have been to my house for a Seder.

August 27, 2006 12:56 AM  

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