Monday, July 31, 2006


Do you have certain Frequently Asked Questions which people keep asking you all the time, over and over and over again? Well, I do— honestly, I get asked each of these questions at least two or three times a month— and so I thought I'd list my FAQs here for ongoing reference:

Q: Do you have a garden?

A: Nope, check out my back yard, no garden in sight. Any plant I cast my shadow on had better run for its life if it knows what's good for it.

Q: Do you hunt?

A: No. My grandfather was a hunter, and so is my cousin, who's 3 months older than me. But I've never used a rifle except to knock tin cans off a fencepost.

Q: Do you fish?

A: Not since I was 16. Back in those days I used a bamboo pole sans reel, and a worm on the end of the hook. But it's been a long time since then.

Q: Do you play golf?

A: No, perish forbid! I know I must be the only pastor on the face of the earth who's not a golfer, but it's true. I'm not a golfer.

Q: What does your brother do for a living?

A: He works for a company which manufactures pest control products.

Q: Are you a good cook?

A: Gaaaackk, no!!! I know a few random good recipes, but for the most part, the ease of popping packaged food into the microwave is all that stands between me and starvation.

Q: Can you clear the viruses off my computer?

A: Yes, probably. And I can install free and effective anti-virus and anti-spyware software, too. I might even install some goodies like Firefox and Thunderbird, if you ask me to.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: In a small town in Wisconsin, up north of Madison. Honestly, you wouldn't believe the name of the town if I told you. The US Postal Service got the name mixed up way back in the 1800s due to messy handwriting on a government form, and they never got it straightened out.

Q: How's your Jeep running?

A: Runs like a dream. (Whew! At least there's one question that has a simple, straightforward answer...)


Anonymous Lucy said...

How/why did you become a pastor? Thats one I'd ask you. But I keep forgetting because you write interesting posts.

My personal "FAQ's": Was it planned? What kind of birth-control do you use? Is he getting fixed? Do you work, or just stay home?

Monday, July 31, 2006 5:56:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Eh, actually I started out in life to be a mathematician. I was a math major as an undergrad, went on to graduate school in math. Spent three years as a teaching assistant in the math department at the UW-Madison, in fact. That was when I first got interested in computers.

Since I'd grown up as a preacher's kid, I was quite well acquainted with all the bizarre and often unhealthy dynamics of the institutional church— so well acquainted with them, in fact, that at age 18 or 20 I wouldn't have dreamed of going into the pastorate. Jesus, I loved; the church, with all its dysfunctions and hang-ups, gave me serious pause.

Only thing was, there was this matter of a call to the ministry. A call which I began to sense, slowly and gradually, in my grad school years. I followed a route which I think hardly anyone ever follows: I found myself getting more and more deeply drawn, in my spare time, into reading the Church Fathers. Athanasius, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and many more. Actually I'd been reading things like this since my early teens, but I'd never imagined that it would amount to anything more than a hobby. Imagine my surprise as I gradually realized I was being... dragged... off onto another course in life. With a sense of "weight and power, power growing under weight."

So I bailed out with a master's degree in math, and went off to seminary. The Presbyterian seminary in Dubuque, Iowa— UDTS. That was 25 years ago this August. Actually from there on in, the story gets even more complicated. Don't know if I have the nerve (or the energy) to try blogging anything like the story of my life over these past 25 years.

Don't know if I would've had the nerve to follow it through, if I'd known some of the stretches I'd be going through along the way. Honestly, something in me still curls up like cellophane in an open flame, every time I think of the late 90s. My life unexpectedly derailed. Becalmed in the Horse Latitudes, in the world of wholesale sports merchandise. My infamous frantic Escape to Seattle, which began 10 years ago this coming week.

But there have also been some very, very good stretches along the way. Including these past seven years here in this corner of Iowa, at St. John's and Mt. Hope. Maybe I ought to try blogging some about it all. Though I honestly don't know if nerve and energy would hold out.

And would you believe, this topic is not one of my Frequently Asked Questions??!

Monday, July 31, 2006 7:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

I have found a peculiar joy in blogging about my personal good-stretches. For some reason people, myself included, often forget that good stories needn't have despair and misery. Sometimes, its just nice to read (or write) about the good stuff.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Well, I hear you. And I prefer myself to blog about the happier side of my life most of the time. In large part because I'm thankful to be living such a deeply blessed life in recent years.

Also because... well, as you can surely tell, when I get into some of the darker stuff, I occasionally lapse into channeling Anakin Skywalker!

Oh well. I am still waiting on that UPS package. If it arrives today, I guarantee I will have something much more in my usual mellow character to blog about tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 1:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now here you go again. I have admired you from afar and miss our conversations from the e-mail. I know by reading your posts how very busy you are and I really like to read both you and Lucy.

I am alone and wonder if anyone can love me again with my disease of RA. I get out to church three days a week and plan to do more this next sememster, our fall programs will be coming out.

If I were to ask you the easiest way to learn my computer. I don't get out other than church so going to a school would be hard on me. My church is just three miles from my home and I still drive but that may have to go.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know I truly care about you and I say prayers for you and of course Lucy and others like my son Dean.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 10:13:00 PM  

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