This week, Mockingbird is proud to present the latest installment of PZ’s Podcast from The Very Rev. Dr.theol. Paul F.M. Zahl. Here are some words from PZ himself on the latest episodes (as always, PZ’s Podcast is available for free on iTunes):

“What is and what should never be” (Led Zeppelin): An Almost Perfect Church

In the 1935 novel entitled Green Light, by Lloyd Douglas, there is an extended description of an American Episcopal Cathedral. It is idealized, poignant, surprisingly contemporary (for any who’ve been close to such a creature); and it points the way. It points the way to something excellent.

Lloyd Douglas is generally pigeon-holed today as being a writer of Christian sermons in the form of novels. And no one has ever praised his style.

But I disagree about the first point. Douglas was a parish minister and university chaplain for decades when he wrote his novels, and this shows. He understood a lot, especially about everyday sufferers and their troubles.

In Green Light Douglas presents to us “Dean Harcourt,” an idealized Christian pastor. The Dean suffers with polio and cannot walk. His suffering gives him empathy with “all sorts and conditions.”  Dean Harcourt in my opinion is an ideal Episcopal priest. He knows about preaching — get inside people! — and worship — its unstated purpose is to soften up the listener by connecting with the the unconscious and thus help her/him towards an emotional release. Dean Harcourt knows basically everything to do with getting through to people, and all in the context of traditional parish ministry. He is like “Mr. Cudlipp,” the capable Episcopal vicar of James Gould Cozzens’ Men and Brethren, which was written at the same time as Green Light. But Dean Harcourt is more Christian than Stoic, while Mr. Cudlipp is a Stoic who is also ordained.

In my two-part podcast this week, entitled “What is and what should never be” (Led Zeppelin), I describe the idealized church of Lloyd Douglas’ grounded imagination. I then try it, weigh it, and cherish it. You might maybe call this “PZ’s ecclesiology.” Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. (Note: Part 2 has a 25-second silence at the beginning. A small technical difficulty. Just meditate for about 30 seconds, and then everything starts just right.)

This podcast is published in loving memory of Miss Mabel C. Shepherd.