Shuck this fit, things gotta change.

Clint from House of Hagen posted this comment on my earlier thingamamimmie.

You know, I agree with you most of the time. And, to a certain extent, I agree with you that people need to learn to feed themselves. But let’s switch the metaphor a minute to one of a hospital, keeping in mind our Lord’s admonition that it is the sick who need a doctor, not the well. If I Went to the hospital because I was sick, and was discharged feeling no better or maybe worse, would you tell me to go out and heal myself?

As someone who now stand on the edge of the church, I have to say that one of my major issues is that a lot of parishes (switching back to the food metaphor) only know one recipe. They’re not open to change. They’re not dynamic, evolving, listening places. The model of top-down spiritual guidance has failed us, and no new system has been put in place that allows “subversives” like me to operate within the system. We don’t need more parish priests – we need more people who minister wherever there are people.

I think Rev. Brown Taylor’s got the right end of this, as do Marcus Borg and many others. I’m glad the parish model continues to work for so many. But what about those of us who it simply can’t (won’t?) accomodate or abide?

And I started replying in the commenty box, but it got too long. So, harhar! you’re going to have to read it here.

I haven’t read any of Marcus Borg’s books. I know I can pick him out of the crowd at Trinity Cathedral, if we both happen to be there at the same time (why do I somehow always manage to go when his wife’s preaching? I’m sure she’s very nice, but she’s not a great preacher…)

Anyway, I’m kind of wondering how you got a “More parish priests=YAY!” out of my last post, or, you know, any of my posts. Parish priest, in my opinion and experience, is a horrifyingly rare calling. And from what I’ve seen, in this time in the Episcopal Church, we’re calling a greater percentage of people to the priesthood than before, and a lot of them as second-career priests *coughPresidingBishopcough*

I think the Holy Spirit’s probably over in the corner, banging her head against the wall, going, “I’m calling you as a second-career priest so you can keep working in the world, being a witness to those who would never darken the doors of a church, and also lead my people, part-time full-heart. Get a couple of you together in a parish, your preaching skills will compliment this priest’s administrative skills, and the lay leaders totally fill in all the gaps. Why, it’s almost like I made up this marriage in Heaven! Who would have thought it?”

It really shouldn’t, for legal, ethical, and spiritual reasons, be the job of the parish priest to both preach and balance the parish checkbook. And yet, it happens. You know what we did at St. Thatguy the Dude? Took the checkbook away from our priest, told her to go write sermons, we’ve got this part under control.

Now, here’s the thing. It wasn’t the Deacon who told Mother to quit messing with the checkbook, it wasn’t the Bishop, it was just some lay guy. For that to work, however, and I think this is what frustrated Rev. Brown Taylor, the laity has to suck it up and take responsibility. Which we don’t want to do, because we’re churning out these priests who think they’re supposed to do it all, that their chausibles come complete with a big red S on the front for SuperPriest, and shoot, it’s just plain easier to let Father or Mother do it the way they want to, let’s not fight, they’re the special ones, after all, they’ve been to seminary and EVERYTHING!

So, whose fault is it that the hierarchy of the church thinks they’re the ones in control? Whose fault is it that people are not getting fed? Whose fault is it that they don’t feel the accomodations are right for them, whose fault is it that they cannot abide sitting in that pew with the status quo being the way it is?

And who the hell put this mirror in front of me?

Shuck that fit, things gotta change, and I’m gonna go get started on changing it right now.

Anybody else coming with?



Filed under me being myself, meditations

3 responses to “Shuck this fit, things gotta change.

  1. Ed

    To paraphrase, More priesthood of all believers=YAY! One of my personal soapboxes, by the way. Thanks for the additional thoughts. I too read the Safe haven story and found it unsatisfying and more than a little bit puzzling. Your comments about priests are equally true in my church (Presbyterian USA); there are many who can do each of the things pastors are typically called upon to do, but few who can do all of them at once (and have what most of us would recognize as an actual life). Of course, letting go of that priestly/pastoral mystique/magic/whatever requires a great deal of personal security. But that’s another matter …

  2. I spent a lot of time in a big city in the nineties listening to people explaining that a priest had to be like a CEO. Yes, really. The image of a CEO preaching and celebrating the Eucharist still gives me weird dreams.

    It seems to me that celebrating the sacraments is the heart of priesthood, and preaching right there with it; having the education and experience to explain the Bible and the history of faith and the heart and experience to listen to people’s faith stories and pray with them, all these things are essential.

    Money skills? Why? Thanks for saying that.

  3. You’re right about this comment box not being large enough. So I’m continuing the discussion over at my place 🙂