It's true what they say about politics and religion



As you can probably tell from my recent posts, those two subjects are likely to drive me insane. Politics have me contemplating leaving the country of my birth (again), and religion has me questioning everything I've done in life to this point. When you put the two together, I have these potentially irreconcilable needs to 1. move away to B.C. and 2. stay put in the US to finish jumping through hoops so I can be ordained sooner rather than later. (There's also a number 3, which may be incompatible with either or both of the other two--the need to support my wife in her career development). It feels like I've hit a breaking point on a lot of things, and some sort of shift of direction has got to happen in my life trajectory. I'm not convinced yet that ordination in the Episcopal Church and I are compatible--though I have to stay optimistic.

The frustration is that my concerns have very little to do with calling. The role of priest, as I understand it, and as the church outlines it, is as appealing as ever. Theologically the church works, and it seems that on the other side of this process the church works. The frustration is what the next 3-5 years look like. Right now they look like uncertainty, which is driving both Angel an I crazy. At this stage in the process, I really am at the mercy of the Bishop and the Diocesan Commission on Ministry. I'm relatively confident that my church will support my ordination. Once I get to BACOM and the Bishop, I'm relatively certain that they will also (though no guarantees). However, after that it is all up in the air. Worst case scenario, they may tell me that I have to spend three years in seminary in a different state and two doing CPE's (ministry placements). Best case scenario, they may tell me that I can go to Vancouver, do one year of seminary and settle--doing placements there and getting acquainted with the Canadian Church. It could also be anything in between, and it could be that they'll say that I'm not cut out for this. It could be that they'll say that I am cut out for this, and that I have to fulfill requirements that will be potentially damaging to my marriage (i.e., spending a year somewhere and then returning--which would be essentially impossible to make work with Angel's work, at this stage in her career, so could require us to live apart during my training. That's one path that, for me, could be a deal breaker with this church). All of those are real possibilities. Maybe I'll get a significant say in this, maybe I won't. I don't know yet.

The more I get into it, the more I realize that I don't trust this hierarchical power thing that we have going in the Episcopal Church. We're supposedly moving towards a less clerical and more communal, lay-led structure, but we have some work to do--particularly in our approach to ministerial training. Can an episcopally structured church really model a communitarian style of leadership and decision making (can Americans?) ? Can it provide the room for structural change that is needed to integrate Gen's X,Y and Z, and provide a place for young ministers to be formed and do their work? Spiritually, I believe in Anglicanism. In considering the job that priests do, and the way that they function in this church, I'm content with Anglicanism. Structurally, at the top, I have questions about whether our system is capable of adapting to change quickly enough to continue to meet needs. Economically and culturally, I have questions about how committed to doing what's right among the poor this church can be. And, of course, the church in BC stands out there as a great uncertainty, since I know from my experience in NZ that each diocese within the church is it's own story.

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