I constructed a long theological argument in an attempt to justify some selfish behavior. After patiently listening to me for 10 minutes, he simply stared and said, “You know, the Lord Jesus wouldn’t put up with all your bull shit.”

Unaccustomed to such plain speech from a member of the clergy, I immediately began a relationship that has lasted for about 25 years. During that time, I have often found myself quoting his inimitable spiritual wisdom to friends.

Here is a brief list of some of his more printable quotes.

• His advice to other clergy about hearing confession, “Here’s the thing. If someone is confessing their sins to you and you start getting a hard-on, you need to tell them to get a different confessor.”

• Almost the entirety of his marriage counseling went like this, “There are no new sins. Just like monks take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. It’s money, sex, and power. These are the things you will fight about in your marriage. If you figure out a way to get past them, you will stay married. If not, you won’t.”

• On facing the inevitable discouragement that comes from working in a religious institution, he once said to me, “The Church is a bitch-whore that eats her young. Now, get in there and love that bitch-whore that calls herself the Bride of Christ.”

• Once I called him for advice on raising teenagers. He said, “I’m going to tell you something one of my elders in Christ told me when my kids were teenagers. ‘There are some aspects of raising teenagers that are difficult and unpleasant’.”
I responded saying, “Yes, and…”
He said, “That’s all I’ve got for you. Try not to let it split you marriage apart.”

• Once, when we were discussing some theological issue, he said,
“Circumcision is one of the great proofs of God’s existence. No group of men ever sat around a fire and one of them said, ‘Hey! I got an idea! Let’s invent a religion where you have to cut the end of your dick off!’ There’s no way that ever happened.”