Subtitle: Or, at the least, I think I believe
Sub-subtitle: Or, at the most, I believe I know
Reputation. From the Latin, reputare (re- “repeatedly” + putare “to judge” or “to reckon”).
In common parlance, that set of opinions that others, the community or the public, have about one’s character; at best, renown or respect and, at worst, notoriety.
A mentor once opined, “One’s good reputation oft is maintained by the silence of one’s family and friends.” Though he spoke in obvious jest, there also was a discernable undertone of solemnity. More than a trace of seriousness.
I have come to understand and to believe the veracity of his word. Those who know us well, which is to say, at our best and at our worst, particularly, in remaining mute about the latter, allow the rest of the world to view us in the best light.
However, over time and through my experiences, I have added, “and our enemies.” For those who do not hold us in high regard and without the sometimes-obscuring veil of familial, friendly affection, may see us more clearly, more honestly. And they, in their choosing (if they choose!), not to give public air to their attitudes about us, permit our reputations to remain relatively unsullied.
(This is true, I think, especially in our hyper-social media era where and when, at any time, anyone, with a swift click of Send, can launch into the cyber-universe the most vilifying testimony, whether genuinely believed or knowingly false, about anyone.)
And, speaking most personally, in my life and labor as a pastor, I have discovered that my good reputation, not entirely, but in real part, rests on the benevolent considerations (indeed, the kindly imaginations) of the folk whom I serve. In a word, the parishioners want to think well of me and I, fully human, thus, surely, not faultless, have striven not to disappoint them too greatly or too often!
© 2021 PRA
 The Right Reverend John Thomas Walker (1925-1989), sometime Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (DC), uttered this word at my installation as Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Washington, DC, on Tuesday, January 10, 1989.