Boundary Keepers by Louis R. Tarsitano

Boundary Keepers

Louis R. Tarsitano on the Duty of Professionals

To announce the limits of human skill, and the boundary between the natural and the supernatural, is the primary service that professionals provide to those in their care. Thus, for example, the professional soldier must say to his government, “This much can be accomplished by the means at hand, but the success of any further efforts will require a miracle of divine intervention.” If the governors to whom he speaks are also professionals, they may disagree with him about where to draw the border between the natural and the supernatural, but they will agree that the border must be drawn.

On the other hand, if he is dealing with nonprofessionals (either undisciplined amateurs or men motivated by ambition without any sense of service), he will encounter real hatred when he announces that some goal can be achieved only by an act of God, who may or may not be willing to grant their desires. The old saw that prostitution is the “oldest profession” is nonsense, since a prostitute tries, or pretends to try, to give the customer exactly what he wants. The first two professions (the old First and Second Estates) were made up of priests and soldiers, who served everybody else (the Third Estate, or the Commons) as much by saying “no” as by saying “yes.”

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Louis R. Tarsitano (d. 2005), a former associate editor of Touchstone, was a priest of the Anglican Church in America and rector of St. Andrew?s Church in Savannah, Georgia. He also was the co-author, with Peter Toon, of Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete: The Language of Common Prayer & Public Worship (Brynmill Press, Ltd., 2003).

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