Monday, May 10, 2010

Ecclesial Thoughts Whilst Composing Papers...

I was avoiding my papers while chatting with a friend, who already has an M.Div. and is working as a hospital chaplain intern. The topic came up about lay versus ordained ministry, and the thought struck me how odd it is to call someone with an M.Div., who has been working in active ministry, a "lay minister". I am wondering, (not that I currently have the power to change things either way), if it might not be time to rethink the two categories, lay or ordained/religious.

The definition of the laity is that they are not ordained, and not a member of a religious congregation. But more and more of the laity are getting the same training and preparation, and with the exception of confecting the sacraments, (which most religious don't do either), their day to day jobs are identical. Are they still "lay" ministers, and if so, what does that mean when it includes both those with training and expertise in theological ministries, and those without this training?

To the other objection which could be raised, that ordination constitutes an ontological change, I wonder whether three years of theological training, (alongside future priests by the way!), and ongoing chaplaincy training can really be argued not to also create "an indelible mark on the soul"? More and more these "lay" ministers will be asked to fill the roles previously filled by the ordained or religious, yet there is the linguistic problem of their title. Rightly or wrongly, it is still the prevailing opinion that "lay" is the equivalent of the prefix "sub". That these ministers are less than the ordained ones.

So could we drop the "lay" distinction? I really think it is time! So long as we are not allowed to go about in roman collars and not given faculties for celebrating the Eucharist or hearing confessions, is there any real danger that we, (especially, unfortunately for now, us women!), will be mistaken for the clergy? My friend is a minister, not a "lay" minister. And one day, if I ever get these papers done, I hope I will be also.

What thinkest thou, gentle readers?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nothing of Note

With great trembling and adequately stupendous anticipation I await the next semester. This grand thrill of joy and wonder will be short lived, and will be replaced with breath-taking speed by the crushing despair of unfinished reading, and looming papers full of increasingly doubtful scholarship. Which leads to the ultimate question - this is preparing me for ministry how?

Before then though, I retreat in search of meaning and purpose. I am convinced that this time, I will actually find it. Except that if I actually found it what would I do with it? I suspect it is rather like the dog who actually catches the car.... But none of that despair! Come forth and discover the - the what? I have no idea. But no matter - it should be fun. And it is just possible that even I will be able to find God there. It is always nice when that happens....

Next semester includes a preaching class - which is not scheduled to be a great success. But I just have to pass. It is that greatest of all cliches - going beyond the comfort zone. Why do we have to go beyond the comfort zone? It is comfortable in that zone.

As you can see, I have nothing much to say here, but felt I should pretend to be a blogging type person.... Perhaps something of note will happen, and I will have something of some vaguely interest producing thing to write about. But probably not. I have a remarkably ordinary life...

Happy New Years to all the bloggy type people!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Don't Touch Them!!!!

Well, I didn't do to well with my blog pledge. Thus proving that I am no writer. Sigh. But instead of despair, and in spite (in the truest meaning of that word) of my approximately 5,000,000 (rough estimate) pages of reading I am supposed to be doing for this week, I thought I would write another one.... I still have a nagging feeling this is all futile - but then, so is life.... (mid-semester always does this to me - I don't wear well at school).

I am, in addition to being irresponsible, also annoyed and depressed about the latest liturgical dumbness. The bishops in the area have all decided all of a sudden to command (temporarily they say) the cessation of all human contact within the liturgical assembly, and the banishment of the cup from communion. Not that this is in any way detrimental to the intrinsic spiritual value of said event, or of any lasting liturgical importance, but it got me thinking about how it is getting increasingly rare to actually TOUCH another human being you aren't direct family with. I have my own doubts about the seriousness of the H1N1 epidemic - it seems they have declared wolf-flu once too often lately. But even without the fear of a deadly contagion the normal advice for pastoral workers nowadays is to avoid all touching of any kind of those we minister to.

I can't help but find the irony of having just canonized Fr. Damien. Or of the number of times Jesus touched those he ministered to, and don't tell me Jesus didn't sometimes catch a nasty cold from the unwashed masses. Either you believe in the incarnation or you don't. But in the interest of safety we are now reduced to giving the vague nod of peace to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Something's wrong here. I am not a touchy person, but even I am beginning to wonder what this hands-off approach is doing to us spiritually - especially the lonely and shy, for whom family members are hard to come by.

In academic news, I am having great fun trying to translate into English theological texts from their original English. Why is this? Although I have also rediscovered art - which probably explains my inability to focus on my readings like a good little divinity student should. It is just much more fun sometimes to sit in the sun and doodle. Luckily for me and for the kingdom, winter is coming....

That is enough prattle for now. If you feel moved to, I love comments (they make me feel all warm and special inside - and since I am not allowed to touch anyone, I need all the help I can get...)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Look! I wrote another one!

So, I said I would do it, and I have done it! The sad fact is, nobody cares. How sad.

Two more weeks of summer school - truly a purgatory for students and teachers... And I have the exciting responsibility of telling one of my poor charges they get to be a freshman again. I don't want to. I was going to tell her today, but she ran off too quickly. So she gets one more weekend of joy....

Here I stand, soon to be without job and housing - and yet I can't help but think I am not as worried about it as perhaps I should be. The grace of God working in my life, or the immature avoidance of responsibilities? I like to believe it is an expression of my enormous faith - but I am not sure I can get away with so great a tale... Still, I like to think God is looking after me. We shall see.

Perhaps the secret to this blog life is to let go of the dream of brilliance, and let the post end here. There is a deep spiritual truth in that I think. Well, perhaps not. But we'll try anyway. Good night sweet prince!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

About this Writing thing....

So it seems my prior commitment to do this blog thing has failed somewhat in these recent months. This I declare - made with typical bravado and pomp - indicative of a truly frivolous statement. I will attempt to do one of these things a week. We'll see how that goes. Besides, I have a month to relearn being a literate person.

Part of my silence has been my confusion about a rather central point. What is my role here? Not just in the meaningless world of theological lint, but in rather more important spheres. My life of late is a slow getting used to the path ahead. If that sounds a little cryptic, I don't care. I can't bring myself to be more explicit than that. Perhaps one day I will be able to accomplish so great a task.

I am nearly done with my year of exile, and I am both happy and sad to realize that. This year at the high school was something I was certain was beyond me, and that I was foolish to even try. I survived! I do feel most of my fellow tutors did a more competent job than I did, and that I am right to think my vocation is not to education. But I had fun, and I think some of my kids may actually have learned something they would not have known if they had not run into me. This is a pretty heady sensation. It is now time to say goodbye, and I am ready to return to the artificial world of education, and the full time search for my exact place in God's ministry.

In the interim, I must find a job and lodgings, and bring myself to complete financial ruining paperwork. God help me! I feel odd borrowing money to get a degree that will qualify me to get a job where poverty is certain, whether or not a specific vow is made to that end...

For those who are inclined, say a prayer for my precarious immediate future, and we'll see how long my new dedication to the blog goes...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Random Notage

Today during academic support, one of my students picked up the book I've been reading in an effort to avoid his Civics homework. It was Jim Martin's book, "In Good Company". He read about half a page of it, put it down, and without a word picked up his textbook. It was one of those beautifully surreal moments. I've been having a lot of them lately... My area of study don't get no respect.

I have gotten used to the college school year length, and am getting a little tired of this school year. Two weeks of classes left. On and on and on.... I think I have learned something very valuable this year. I have learned that I don't want to teach high school. I like the kiddies, its grammar I detest.

I was reading my local diocesan rag - the one I never actually subscribed to, so I'm not sure why it keeps showing up at my door... An editorial there about the utter evil of Obama argued that faith was the opposite of doubt. I have to wonder if this is true. I certainly hope not. Otherwise the world is getting one more faithless theologian, and do we really want that?

Now that my year long vacation from school is drawing to a close, I am both too excited to stand it to get back to being obscurely irrelevant, and dreadfully frightened that I have once more completely mistaken the direction the Spirit is leading. What does one do with an M.Div. in the end? Should I, instead of throwing many thousands of dollars into a black hole of education, go and start community gardens (despite my not being able to grow mold...) Here I have faith (trust) that the Spirit knows where she is going, but I also have several buckets worth of doubt about it. If you are completely certain, you are completely dead. I hope...

On the plus side, I am now an absolute wizard at finding the slope of a line!