Sub-Titled The Testimony of a Twentieth-Century Christian. Morris West wrote in 1996, “I offer … an act of witness: the testimony of a pilgrim, a fellow with a cockleshell in his hat, a staff in his hand, with eighty years of living recorded in his brain box and aching joints…” West’s recall of his days as a postulate caused me to reflect over the some 45 years that I have been in United Methodist ministry. His courageous choice not to accept his final vows in the opening days of WWII stirred a series of conscious choices that lead him down a winding path at first away from official association with the faith of his fathers and then back to tell her stories. Even though he clearly could not continue in a priesthood that he considered seriously flawed, he found a respectful curiosity that drew him to return with an open heart, pen in hand.
His telling of these stories is relaxed, compassionate and insightful as one embracing the odd quirks and personalities in one’s own family history. West has no particular axe to grind. He simply embodies the quiet recognition that our lives are shaped by the personalities and landscapes we encounter. His was certainly a colorful passage from the monochromatic days as postulate and soldier to the technicolor studios of MGM.