THE PRIEST IN COMMUNITY: Exploring the Roots of Ministry by

THE PRIEST IN COMMUNITY: Exploring the Roots of Ministry

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Better than its title: a broad, suggestive essay on the symbolic dimensions of priesthood. Holmes is a priest himself (Episcopalian) and dean of the School of Theology at the University of the South. In a previous book, Ministry and Imagination, he wrote of the priest as ""mana-person, clown, wagon master, and storyteller."" Here he expands his discussion of the shamanistic roots of priesthood into a somewhat more sober analysis of the priest as ""agent for the illumination of the consciousness of the community he serves."" The priest, for Holmes, dwells on the frontier between the active-rational and mystical-receptive modes of consciousness, a ""liminal servant"" responsive to both Logos and Eros. He is the mystagogue, the ""bridge-maker"" who leads his people into the abyss of divinity. Holmes rejects what he considers tame, banal, or reductionist interpretations of the priest: the ""professional Christian,"" the representative of the clerical power structure, the pious preacher, and so forth. He wants the whole Jungian package. His priest (whether male or female) must be an erotically charged androgyne who bears witness to the ""wilderness of the antistructure"" amidst the stifling anthropocentrism of technological culture. In the conclusion, Holmes descends from these heady mythical heights to outline a theology of the priesthood, and to list some ideal qualities, along with their contraindicated opposites, for candidates for ordination. Needless to say, many noted conservative ministers would flunk Holmes' test, just as he would flunk theirs. An interesting study in religious psychology.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Seabury