Saturday, June 4, 2022

On the Passing of Dr. David Pence

Today marks three years since the passing of Dr. David Pence. His loss continues to be deeply felt. So much has changed since June 4, 2019. Be it in regards to the coronavirus pandemic, the riots that plagued cities like Minneapolis, the murky results of the 2020 election, or the war currently raging in Ukraine, our favorite M.D. oncologist would have so much to say. Yet we also know how it would have pained him to see the fires of race hate that decimated the areas just north of his final resting place. Perhaps it’s best that virus-sickened citizens and collapsing Minneapolis have a prayer warrior M.D. among the saints.

Nevertheless, the voice and vision, friendship and comradery of Dr. David Pence is missed beyond measure.

Much has also changed for me these past twenty-four months. I am very proud to say that we’ve kept Dr. Pence’s request to continue AoA’s regular posting of R&G’s, along with our sacred and civic time articles. Our book, The Catholic Palette is now available in both print and eBook editions. This past year I spent a good deal of time bringing the ideas of Dr. Pence to the world of video by further developing the YouTube channel Religion, Sex, and Politics. Today there are almost seventy videos available for viewing and the channel is ahead of schedule in terms of its growth.

Three years without frequent phone calls and emails with Dr. Pence is almost unfathomable. I've been blessed, however, by spending so much of this time editing our book and re-reading so many of his past blog posts. In some way it's all kept me in a dialogue of sorts with my "secondary" father.

This idea of a “secondary father” comes from Joseph Campbell. Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, spoke of it in an interview with Joe Rogan:
“Joseph Campbell’s idea of that there needs to be a secondary father in men’s lives. You’re born – if you’re lucky – with a biological father that you do not choose,” but each man needs “to choose a new father. That father by choice typically is a minister or a teacher or a drill sergeant or a coach… and you put yourself in apprenticeship to the secondary father. And you have to consign your life to the secondary father, and agree to learn what he is going to teach you.

“Whether you apprentice yourself to a fighting coach or to a metallurgist or to a welder or to a bricklayer or to a mason, you are apprenticing yourself to somebody that you’re going to do all this grunt work for but in exchange you’re going to learn to a master skill at something. And so it’s a way of mastering yourself as you master this other thing.

“There is that existential moment when you realize that you have to sacrifice your youth for something. You’re not going to live forever… you have to become a being-towards-death… and you’ve got to give your life to something.”
I would have loved to discuss this idea of a secondary father with Dr. Pence, but I know he’d hear it and say, “I’m hip!” No young male can mature into a man without undergoing a process of socialization both by a group of men and through the guiding influence of a secondary father. As we mourn the anniversary of his passing, I know that no man could have a better “secondary” father than Dr. David Pence. God love you, Dr. Pence, you are missed! The work – the project – continues.

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