These words, the lasting legacy of one Charles Hampton, speak to all baby vicars about the way we aspire to live our lives, how we meet that aspiration, and what the aspiration looks like in the first place.
The snippet from the most excellent Calvin and Hobbes makes the inner monolgue's case in clearest terms. We are all, broadly, ordained from former careers - careers that in many circumstances are driven by success, promotion, the 'bottom line', and the abject fear of failure.
To enter ministry is to take on a kind of topsy-turvy role in this mortal life. We all want to do well, we all abhor failure even more, and yet for priests - what this looks like is something of a conundrum. Yes, we are to a greater or lesser extent lured by the redeemer-complex of ministry.
Perhaps it is just me, of course. I want to be the best darned priest that ever put on a cassock, and am fast discovering that to be this figure is to be condemned to immediate failure - not because it is not possible in itself, but because to crave that is to defeat it. To be 'best' is not be found in wanting to be 'best'. Neither is it to be found in wilfull mediocrity or plain ole' crap-ness. It is perhaps more a case of being the wrong question - oh my head!
I can't handle scripture properly, my prayer life is like a third-hand teabag, my sensitivity lacks a radar, I am grumpy and find it difficult to tolerate fools, I never fully mastered New Testament Greek, my Bible isn't threadbare and full of insightful pencil-comments, I feel like I care far more for liturgy than I do for the 'least of these my children', and yes - I confess here - I am a stinking fraud.
So, with me and the moth-eaten hemp sacking that is the cloth with which God seems determined to work with, I am left to ponder why. Why oh why oh why oh why? So no, the redeemer I am not - but what in the name of Christ am I?