Do you remember Garbage Pail Kids? I never collected them, but they were a hot item growing up. Each card character suffers from some ridiculous abnormality or terrible fate. Take “Adam Bomb,” or “Glandular Angela,” or “Half-Nelson,” for instance. Or, a cave girl in her crib by the name of “Mad Donna.”
Apparently the series is still in circulation, too. (You’ll all be running out to catch the newest additions, right?) There are no limits to the far, outer reaches of Western consumerism, afterall.
And, while he doesn’t make the comparison himself, it would seem by extension that Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and historian Garry Wills would assign priests and the order of priests a similar status- as a silly collector’s item of sorts, with no other intrinsically redemptive value. With respect to my Catholic and Anglican friends, whose tradition I find much in which to admire, I am a bit sympathetically drawn to what I’ve seen of Wills’ argument. The current issue of the Atlantic Monthly features a quote from Wills’ latest book, hot of the press, titled Why Priests? A Failed Tradition. There, Wills writes:
“Some think that the dwindling number of priests can be remedied by the addition of women priests, or married priests, or openly gay priests. In fact, the real solution is: no priests. It should not be difficult to imagine a Christianity without priests. Read carefully through the entire New Testament and you will not find an individual human priest mentioned in the Christian communities (only Jewish priests in service to the Temple). Only one book of the New Testament, the Letter to Hebrews, mentions an individual priest, and he is unique- Jesus. He has no followers in that office, according to the Letter.”
So, what do you think about Wills’ case that the solution to a decline in the priesthood is the elimination of it? And, should we Reformed Christians even be talking about a “priesthood” of all believers in the first place? Do we need to change our vocabulary?