Tag Archives: Granny Weatherwax

Need is not the same as like

[box]“Need is not the same as like.”[/box]

wintersmithI was listening to Wintersmith today (the 3rd Tiffany Aching book by Terry Pratchett) when I came across the above quote. The context being Tiffany thinking about Granny Weatherwax in comparison to Mrs. Earwig and other witches.  Those witches tended to be popular and well-liked whereas Granny Weatherwax was not liked as much as she was needed. Needed in the sense that when the proverbial *#$% hits the fan, you called for Granny Weatherwax and not the others. But if you held a party or just had someone over for dinner, Granny Weatherwax would not be the person you invited.

In thinking about this, I couldn’t help but think about the person I would want to be known as. On an incentive level, I think all of us want to be liked and known as someone who people want to be friends with (knowing that there are a few hermits out there…but in general people want to be liked). And while the need to be liked is there, there is also a part of me who wants to be known as the person who get things done. The person who you call when the cards are down and no one else can help. The person who you know will come even when all hope is lost.

You know, the Granny Weatherwax type of person… the superhero….the Rambo character…the James Bond person who gets the job done no matter what but with whom it is dangerous to be too close or to know too much about.

There are times when it seems that I can balance both parts of myself. That I can be both “liked” and “needed.”

Yet at other times, it seems that I have to make a choice.

By definition, being needed means making the hard decisions. It means making people upset when the status quo is upset. It means calling out injustice when injustice is seen. It is, if I might shift fictional worlds, being the Steve Rogers of the world when it is easier to sign the Sokovia Accords along with Tony Stark and the rest of the gang. As Steve told Tony in Captain America: Civil War, “If I see a situation pointed south, I can’t ignore it. Sometimes I wish I could.”

To be liked.

Or to be needed.

Perhaps that is really the question of the ages.

Learning to Pastor from Tiffany Aching

A_Hat_Full_of_Sky_CoverIt may sound odd to some people, but I think the best pastoring book out there wasn’t written by a follower of Jesus nor was it written as a pastoring book. Rather it was written by an atheist known to write satires against religion of all types.

The book I’m talking about is A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett.

Yes, I just named a fantasy novel about a young witch the best pastoring book out there. Yeah, I know it is strange; but bear with me as Pratchett really does have a lot to say about pastoring people.

The novel A Hat Full of Sky is about a young gal, Tiffany Aching, who is learning to become a witch. At first, Tiffany is excited about her new apprenticeship with an elderly witch, Miss Level. However rather than learning “real magic” like she thought she would, Tiffany assists Miss Level in helping out the elderly, tired, poor and outcasts of the community. These seemingly insignificant and un-magical tasks eventually gets the best of Tiffany who asks Granny Weatherwax (the most highly-regarded witch in the land) why she has do that stuff. Listen to Granny Weatherwax answer:

“Now that’s what I call magic—seein’ all that, dealin’ with all that, and still goin’ on. It’s sittin’ up all night with some poor old man who’s leavin’ the world, taking away such pain as you can, comfortin’ their terror, seein’ ‘em safely on their way…and then cleanin’ ‘em up, layin’ ‘em out, making ‘em neat for the funeral, and helpin’ the weeping widow strip the bed and wash the sheets—which is, let me tell you, no errand for the fainthearted—and stayin’ up the next night to watch over the coffin before the funeral, and then going home and sitting down for five minutes before some shouting angry man comes bangin’ on your door ‘cuz his wife’s havin’ difficulty givin’ birth to their first child and the midwife’s at her wits’ end and then getting up and fetching your bag and going out again…We all do that, in our own way, and she does it better’n me, if I was to put my hand on my heart. That is the root and heart and soul and center of witchcraft, that is. The soul and center!”

In really reading Granny Weatherwax’s response to Tiffany, you realize that witches in Pratchett’s Discworld books act a lot like pastors. Or, perhaps I  should say, they act like what pastors should act like. Witches are the ones who help teach the people, the ones fighting for justice while not seeking credit, the ones helping the poor, helpless, elderly, and the like. Witches, in the words of Pratchett,  help “people when life is on the edge. Even people you don’t like.”

The problem is that not all witches agree with Granny Weatherwax’s definition of witchcraft. Some of them would rather have the gold and glory that comes with positions of power rather than serving in the shadows. Tiffany has to make the choice as to what type of which she is going to be – just like new pastors must make a choice of what type of pastor they are going to be. Are they going to use their position to seek personal glory? To use the trappings of showmanship to wow the crowd and emotional direct the people to follow them just like the antagonists of our book?

It may sound like a simple decision. Say “no” to showmanship and “yes” to loving people. Reality isn’t that simple. Reality is messy with broken relationships, sick people throwing up on you, others taking advantage of your good graces, etc., etc. This is why I like this book and would recommend all new pastors to read it. Pratchett, as a student of human nature, paints a messing picture of a young gal faced with the same decisions a new pastors is faced with. Learning to navigate the emotions that flood our lives…well, I guess that is something we all – pastors, non-pastors, young, old, female and male – must learn to do.

So in conclusion, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. Read it for fun and, while you do, think about the pastoral implications of being a witch.