Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

April 5, 2014

Opinion: Standing in a garage doesn't make you a car

EFFINGHAM — "Excuse me, Father. But do you think you could spare a dollar for a cup of coffee?”

“I can give you a dollar, but I’m not a priest.”

“You’re not? I thought you were.”

That was an exchange I had several years ago with someone on the south side of Chicago. It was the third time in a span of two months that someone had confused me for a priest.

What the hell, right?

I suppose I could have replied “No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express.” Remember that series of television commercials? The message was that ordinary people could perform extraordinary feats after sleeping there.

The truth is I have never slept at a Holiday Inn Express. And one night wouldn’t come any where close to transforming me into a priest! At one time, however, I did entertain the idea of religious life. I even attended a prep seminary my freshman year of high school, but it wasn’t for me.

Today I have no religious affiliation; I attend no conventional church. When people ask why I don’t, I reference the late Groucho Marx: “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member.”

Do I believe in God? Yes, I do. Do I have to attend a church, or belong to a specific religion in order to believe? Many people have told me I do. I respectfully disagree. What’s that famous line about “sitting in church no more makes you a Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car”?

Isn’t it what we do outside of church that should matter?

I mention all of this because someone said my column from last week was like a little sermon. That wasn’t a conscious decision on my part. But after rereading it, I could see how one might interpret it as such. So, OK, let’s call it that then: Pastor Ron’s First Sermon.

You know, I actually have a card and a certificate that says I am a pastor. (Yep, you really can get anything off the Intemet.) And it’s all legitimate! A couple of years ago it gained me visitation rights to see a young man incarcerated in a county jail.

I have to be honest and tell you that I felt a bit out of place during that first visit. You see, I was visiting my young friend at the same time two “traditional” pastors were visiting other inmates. They were engaged in Bible study and such; I was simply talking with my friend. Should I have been there?

Later that day I told a friend of my discomfort. “Your friend had been in jail for well over a week, with no one to talk to,” she said. “You knew he was getting depressed and having dark thoughts.” All of that was true.

She then looked me in the eyes and said, “You were every bit a minister to that young man as those others. Don’t think for a minute that you weren’t! Your visit mattered.”

There are numerous things I need to work on and improve upon in my life. To that end, I keep plodding and stumbling along. As I do so, I hope I am never just standing in a garage pretending to be a car.

To comment, email editor@effinghamdailynews.com.


Text Only
Local News
  • IMG_9368.JPG Storm interrupts power to 1,000 Fayette County residents

    Southwestern Electric line crews worked into the early hours of Thursday morning, restoring power to 1,700 members after a small but intense storm swept through the area Wednesday night.

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADM donates to Blessings in a Backpack Archer Daniels Midland Company recently donated $1,000 to Effingham’s Blessings in a Backpack program. The donation will go toward purchasing food for area students for the coming school year.“Support and partnerships with area businesses are a stron

    August 21, 2014

  • golf Golf benefit raises $36K The Friends of St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s 6th Annual Golf Benefit was held July 18 at the Effingham Country Club. The event, which evolved through a partnership with Jonathan Kabbes and “Golf for a Cure” held in 2009 and 2010, netted $36,000 t

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nursing students make dean's list Students who are enrolled in at least six credit hours at Lakeview College of Nursing and who achieve a GPA of 3.6 or higher on a 4.0 scale are named to the dean’s list for the semester. Students recently receiving that honor include the following: B

    August 21, 2014

  • Heartland hosts depression presentation Heartland Human Services will host the presentation "Fed Up With Depression? (Discover The Foods That Can Help You Heal)" at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, by the agency's psychiatrist, Dr. Rhoda Gottfried, MD, entitled, along will her husband, Dr. Sam

    August 21, 2014

  • Stocks advance for third day, despite Fed minutes NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market rose for a third straight day Wednesday despite a report from the Federal Reserve that showed a growing chorus of central bank officials willing to raise interest rates sooner rather than later.In the bond market, pri

    August 21, 2014

  • $500K coming to sports complex

    In a 3-2 vote Tuesday, Effingham City Council narrowly approved $500,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue to help fund the construction of the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Center during a meeting in which the council approved funds for other entities as well.

    August 20, 2014

  • Shimkus not taking anything for granted despite past electoral success

    U.S. Rep. John Shimkus  hasn't had a serious election challenge in more than a decade. But the longtime congressman said he's not taking anything for granted, even though his sprawling district appears tailor-made for continued Republican representation.

    August 19, 2014

  • Power out in Effingham subdivision; cause not yet known

    A small number of Ameren electric customers on the west side of Effingham were out of power this morning.

    August 19, 2014

  • Unit 40 presents $57k deficit Thanks to a series of personnel moves, Unit 40 officials have estimated a $57,136 deficit for the school year — much less than the $834,000 deficit the previous year. With this year’s expected revenue at $28,695,717 and expenditures coming in at $28,

    August 19, 2014

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.