Parental Advisory – this post is long
Already I feel the question of ordination will be equal to the length of the actual process. I have started to discuss it with friends which feels a bit weird because for all I know the first official discussion could result in a ‘you must be kidding’ kind of response, which would make me look just a tad foolish.
The thing is that my friends are my sounding board so it would be impossible for me not to make them my first point of reference. Friends provide rational honesty while poking fun at me, which I find is the best kind of instruction and learning. After the initial shock has passed it makes for an interesting discussion. I can see people trying to process the idea of me in that role and conceding that it is not a bad idea. I get that ‘not a bad idea’ is hardly a resounding yes but it is early days :)
Two comments that have occupied my head for the last 24 hours, from two wildly different sources, have made me think a lot … the first from bigbulkyanglican (I am aware he has a name, but as I don’t think we have ever met it would seem presumptuous for me to use anything other than his pseudonym)
‘God calls real people, not clones who meet certain requirements or standards’
And the other from sychar (now this is odd – a new blog and a well written one and I have no idea who it is – someone sent me the link and I know it isn’t them – we have entered into email dialogue with each other and this was her comment on ordination)
'In James Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" the boy is asked if he would like to be a priest. After several pages of agonising, he decides the priesthood gives individuals too much power: the lure of power is too dangerous and that he would ultimately abuse that power. '
Those two comments place themselves, one each, on the horns of my dilemma. I do believe that against my better judgment, I see the logic in people like myself no longer standing outside pointing the finger and actually getting involved and making a difference where it counts. It makes sense that God picks on/chooses people who do not fit. Nothing would be gained by adding another cloned thinky-a-like to the mix.
Then again ‘the lure of power is too dangerous’ sums up the other horn perfectly. Our culture shows perfectly the results of giving someone everything, music and film stars who have more money than they will ever need and indulge their whims for instance. (no really I am clear that this is not the path of untold riches – but you get my point). The extremes of human behaviour reveal the weakness in the system.
Mrs Steve gave me the analogy that resonated with my soul, I was questioning the fear of selling out myself and holy joes and all our principles, when she pointed out that bands such as The Clash could have stayed underground and small and be highly thought of by a select few. Going mainstream, getting a major record deal means they leave a musical legacy for millions. Which raises the question if we have done all we have with our limited resources and exposure so far, how much more can we do with backing and support and how much change can be achieved from within the larger community.
Then again what will holy joes become and more importantly what will I become. My biggest reason for extracting myself from church over 15 years ago was that I realised they had spent an impropriate amount of time trying to change me to what they thought a better of version of me should be. Now God says ‘oh would you mind going back so they can have another go – hmmm). I am not afraid of change, it just has to be the right change.
Then I go to the other scary pace of debate, what would I do to the church, I am no longer an angry young man, so not so easily dismissed. I have very strong positions on some stuff, other stuff I refuse to take the party line because I feel it is not my place. Am I placing myself in a position of using conflict as a career.
Like for instance the time when I came off a stage having hosted a debate with young people,to be told by a woman (holding a very scary large bible) that I should have told them that sex before marriage was wrong. I put forward the concept that it was not my place to tell people what to do she said as I was a Christian leader that is exactly what I should have done. Easy for me to laugh away the idea that I am a Christian leader in that situation not so easy when I might have a dog collar in the back of a drawer somewhere.
Accountability for me means God, people I trust, people i respect, not some unknown civilian with weird ideas who think they have the right to correct me. I’m guessing you can see already where some of the pitfalls are gonna be. Civilians? What is the right expression? … oh yeah … members of the congregation … God’s people … a concerned parishioner … sheesh this isn’t going well and we are only at the planning stages
Many times I have made decisions to remove myself from a job, a position of power, because of the conflict of not being able to square it with my no compromise stance on some stuff. Hardly possible once you are ordained, the days of door slamming exits stage left may be over.
I don’t do politics or gossip very well, not that I can’t, I just try not to. In my experience the church thrives on it, and nothing makes me surge to the position of blunt honest communication faster than the feeling of being manipulated or an injustice being executed under my nose under the guise of ‘concern’ or ‘sharing’.
The last night of
Her response was … ‘if you were a vicar I might consider going to church’
No higher praise – and has the added bonus of me being able to blame her a bit if this all works out so everyone wins :)
I also appreciate living in a time where things like blogs allow for a wider reach of discussion about stuff. Obtaining viewpoints from people with no motive other than the debate is very healthy and keeps me thinking to the edges where the good answers reside.
If nothing else this discussion (virtual and real life) has taught me more about myself and others. Maybe I shouldn’t ever get ordained, maybe I should just sustain the discussion about the possibility of it and have lots of interesting thoughts. Yeah let’s waste more of my limited time on this planet.