My earliest memory “tomato-throwing” episode last night must have prompted some dreamwork while I slept. I awoke this morning with the questions, “Why is this my earliest memory?” and “Is this a metaphor for something deeper?”
So I ponder how “chucking tomatoes from behind a fence” is a picture for a basic life stance. I am by nature a safe risk-taker with an ambivalent attitude to authority. Entering the vocation of Christian ministry following a period of Jonah-like resistance seemed to be consistent. However, I always resisted the trap of using the pulpit as a “coward’s castle.” On the contrary, it was a glass house where my vulnerability was often on display, knowing that when one speaks, one cannot avoid telling one’s own story, even, or especially, unconsciously.
I continue to be a questioner, a devil’s advocate, a swimmer against the tide, but often from within the safety of a faith community. I break shibboleths and can be somewhat iconoclastic, but only in an effort to reveal what is behind them.
In matters of mental health and social disparity, I threw tomatoes on behalf of many who were under my pastoral care.
A Minister of the Crown branded me “un-Australian” when my team helped refugees who were abruptly abandoned having been dumped as the result of a new and draconian government policy. I enjoyed the grim satisfaction that a tomato had landed.
Speaking out on TV in support of marriage equality had some tomatoes coming back over the fence, but I was incensed at how a politically inspired wedge had dragged churches into an unseemly polarising debate on pastorally sensitive matters.
Yes, some issues had me coming out from behind the safety of the fence, chucking tomatoes from no-man’s land. And I don’t really care much if the fence is there anymore, although I cherish my faith community.
I’m 73, and I still chuck tomatoes!
And here’s a pic of La Tomatino – it seems chucking tomatoes is quite acceptable in Spain!