Sunday, July 04, 2010

Doomed to the Decent Thing

Seamus Heaney uses this phrase of a young man training to be a priest:

I could only see you on a bicycle,

a clerical student home for the summer
doomed to the decent thing. Visiting neighbours,
Drinking tea and praising home-made bread.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (in 3 Minute Theologian) makes a similar reference to the whiphand of conformity, and how we have to "act nice" even if we don't "feel nice".

      the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease in answer to conversation which does not interest us. The muscles, not spontaneously moved, but moved by a low usurping wilfulness, grow tight about the outline of the face with the most disagreeable sensation.

One of the good things about being a retired priest is not having to be generally agreeable when you don't feel like it - not having to say that every show you see (by the kiddies in the church hall) is wonderful, when it isn't. In fact not having to go to such shows at all.

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