Tuesday 17 September 2019

zeitgeist the progressive priest

Julia Molony

Father Paul (or just Paul, as he prefers to be called) doesn't intend to give up his flock without a fight. Since becoming a man of the cloth a few years ago, he's seen his congregation dwindle so much that last Sunday morning he found himself delivering what he considers to be his most inspired sermon to date (it was all about the internet as a metaphor for Christian morality), to a handful of blue rinsers and three Spanish exchange students without a word of English between them. He's aware that all souls are equal in the eyes of God, but he can't help feeling disappointed with the demographic he's been lumbered with.

Paul is adamant that he has what it takes to shake things up. As he's fond of saying, sometimes one just has to learn how to think outside of the confessional box.

With this in mind, he has recently joined Facebook. His profile picture is one taken a few years ago at a David Gray concert (minus dog collar) in which he thinks he looks both contemplative and endearingly lost in the music. His tagline proudly declares him to be 'priest and environmentalist', because he firmly believes that, these days, eco-friendliness is next to Godliness. He's got his membership to Greenpeace to prove it.

After two weeks as a Facebook member, he already has 31 friends, most of whom are eco-warriors of one kind or another, and who seem rather tickled by the prospect of having a priest in their ranks. One of them wrote on his wall the other day, inviting him to join a group heading to Glastonbury in the summer. So long as he gets the nod from the bishop, he'll join them. Father Paul is convinced if you can't get young people to mass, the next best thing would be to bring mass to young people.

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