Consider pilgrims, nomads, and clergypeople.

A pilgrim journeys with a destination in mind.

A nomad wanders from place to place, somewhat seasonally and/or according to the need for food.

A clergyperson is a fixture in a church institution’s office.

It seems to me that the first guy walks with some underlying purpose beyond himself, the second moves rationally for his own survival’s sake, and the third is beset by fiduciary, institutional concerns (along with whatever authentic pastoral and theological ones might be in mind).

Just as there is a difference between playing on a barnstorming baseball team and working in, say, accounting in the MLB commissioner’s office, there is a difference between a pilgrim or nomad on one hand and a clergyperson on the other.  I prefer to avoid the clergy mindset altogether, minimize the nomadic life, and try to focus on a relatively purposeful pilgrimage.  I trust that the ultimate “destination,” whatever its nature, will be amazing and so much more than anyone—biblical author or otherwise—could describe.

B. Casey, 7/31/17

Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.  ‑ Peter (1Peter 2, NET Bible)

These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth.  For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland….    ­‑ Heb 11 (NET Bible)


2 thoughts on “Pilgrims

  1. David Dorrell 08/03/2017 / 7:18 pm

    This article reminded me of my maternal grandfather, Prince ‘Pete’ Beard. During the Great Depression, he was both Nomad and Pilgrim. He road the rails much like a hobo and I guess he really was a hobo for a time. He absolutely fit the description. But as far as I knew, he was always a God-fearing man. His reason for sojourning was the immediate need to keep from starving. He took whatever work was available and always sent money back home to the family in Loeb TX.
    My aunt, widow of his oldest son Elmer, recently told me that before she and Big E (he was a dead ringer for E Presley) married, my grandfather took Big E out to the railroad and taught him how to catch a freight. Just in case…


    • Brian Casey 08/04/2017 / 6:58 am

      This is a touching anecdote. To be connected both to major historical happenings such as the Great Depression and to be connected with family legacy compounds in marvelous storehouse of riches. I wonder … maybe the difference between “hobo” and “nomad” is only slight, because of modes of transportation rather than any more substantive factor. Survival is the key in each case.


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