From the Archives of Clergy Clatter

September 2006

I was sort of asleep and sort of awake when I first heard the news over my clock radio. Pluto might not be a planet. I was suddenly fully awake.

Of course, Pluto is a planet. I learned that in school. We’ve always had nine planets in our solar system. I had to memorize them with their orbits and characteristics. I was intrigued in school by the clockwork machine that demonstrated each planet rotating in its orbit around the sun – and Pluto was there. That’s the way God made our solar system. One doesn’t just change what God made. It’s simple – there are nine planets.

But as I listened further, apparently no one has ever clearly defined “planet.” It might be a body that moves in its own orbit around the sun. If so, there are perhaps another sixty planets. It might be a body that has enough gravity to be almost round – that could include hundreds more. But being only half the size of earth’s moon, it might not be significant enough to be a planet. I had my first chuckle of the day. This sounds like the church. When the Virgin Birth comes up, we have to discuss what the ancient prophets would have meant by “virgin” and how that would have been interpreted in Greek 2,000 years ago. Surely a virgin then wasn’t what a virgin is now. And what about the Holy Ghost, Holy Wind, Holy Breath, Holy Spirit? I had just preached a homily on the Transfiguration, and even I couldn’t understand what I had said in my own homily.

Then, the announcer reported that a group of astronomical scholars was soon going to make a recommendation to the astronomic community, but that for the time being, it was very secret. This simply had to be the Church talking, and I was getting worried. Pluto just had to stay. I’m flexible. I want to be modern and progressive and inclusive and current. But I draw the line when you start messing with God’s planets. And then there were the concerns of the astrological community. Would this throw everyone’s horoscope out of whack? God forbid!

Well, the announcement was officially made. Pluto is now a “secondary planet.” I can live with that. It’s still there. It’s still named Pluto. God’s order has not been changed. It’s all called compromise. Yep. It sounds like the church, and I’m happy with that.



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