A United Methodist pastor with over thirty-six years of pastoral experience, Rev. Wayne Plumstead describes what he has learned about the aesthetics of religion from the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, founded by Eli Siegel.

My Photo
Location: Bloomfield, New Jersey, United States

The Rev. Wayne Jack Plumstead holds a BA from Drake University and an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary. Ordained a minister in the United Methodist Church in 1973, he has served since 1991 as Senior Pastor at the Park United Methodist Church in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Prior to that time he served pastorates in Lower Berkshire Valley, Bayonne, Arlington and Jersey City, all in New Jersey. Rev. Plumstead credits the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, founded by Eli Siegel, with having an invaluable influence on his theological formation. He has given many public seminars at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City. In 1994, the Board of Global Ministries invited him to give a presentation at a consultation on Developing Multicultural Congregations in San Antonio, Texas to assist national church staff in developing strategies for congregations in transitional communities. In 2000, he was invited to give the opening sermon at the first meeting of clergy in the newly formed Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. And, in 2002, the United Methodist Publishing House printed an article he authored in its national magazine for United Methodist clergy, Circuit Rider.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Everything and Ourselves

In a thrilling commentary on Psalm 139, printed in TRO #281, titled "Everything and Ourselves," Eli Siegel discussed this beloved psalm verse by verse. He said it could "accurately be called Everything Has Made Us."

And he continued: "It is clear that in everything we do, there is some cause besides ourselves. Can we spread out our toes just by ourselves, without the help of something outside? Bones and muscles are ourselves and not ourselves. If, then, the movement of our toes is caused by something besides ourselves, can the world be seen as present in what the psalm calls 'my downsitting and mine uprising?' What enables us to stand up or sit down? What enables us to run a block or cross the street?"

These great opposites of self and world--of ourselves and of what Matthew Arnold has called "the Eternal Not Ourselves, in us and not in us, which makes for righteousness"--are at the very heart of religion, as Psalm 139 shows and Eli Siegel so magnificently explained.