Sunday, October 16, 2005

Richard John Neuhaus on Paul Tillich and Taxis

Father Neuhaus writes on a comment by Paul Tillich.
In the current issue of the Weekly Standard, Joseph Epstein has a scintillating analysis of the celebrity cult to which much of our society is in thrall. The article put me in mind of a lecture many years ago by Paul Tillich, a towering figure of the time, at the University of Chicago. In an informal conversation after the lecture, one of the students asked Tillich what it felt like to be famous. “Famous?” he responded. “I’m not famous. My idea of being
famous is that I get into a New York taxi and the driver turns around and says,
‘Aren’t you Professor Tillich?’ That has never happened to me.” Some years ago I
got into a taxi and the driver asked, “Aren’t you Father Neuhaus?” Ah, I thought, this is it. Then the driver explained that his sister-in-law is a parishioner at Immaculate Conception, the church where I regularly say Mass, and she had complained to him about my too long homilies. Sic transit gloria.
I would have asked Tillich to autograph my worn copy his sermons published as The New Being which I've had since College days at Grinnell.

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