Death Coming Before Resurrection and All That...

In the middle of a long, bad period, I think I have finally achieved a moment of clarity. Several realizations that have crystallized in my mind over the last few days:

1) In the examination for ordination to the Episcopal priesthood (which outlines a priest's calling), there is a lot of language that resonates with me, and feels like a calling:

"Now you are called to work as a pastor, priest, and teacher...and to take your share in the councils of the Church...

As a priest, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in accordance with its precepts. You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. You are to preach, to declare God's forgiveness to penitent sinners, to pronounce God's blessing, to share in the administration of Holy Baptism and in the celebration of the mysteries of Christ's Body and Blood, and to perform the other ministrations entrusted to you."
Other than administering Holy Baptism, I'm already doing all of those things (and the rest of the things outlined in the service). In some ways, I'm probably doing them more freely and authentically than I will be able to with a collar on - right now I don't carry around the theological, social and institutional baggage that is the Episcopal Church.

2) Episcopal Priesthood isn't an employment basket that I'm presently comfortable putting all of my eggs in. I'm not one to predict the immanent demise of the Episcopal parish church - I think the fundamentals of America's religious economy are strong, and I think Episcopalians fill a niche ('progressive catholicism') that will continue to have an appeal. We have some serious work to do w/Gen X and below, but I think we'll figure out a way to survive. However, I've grown increasingly convinced that I don't want to spend my life as a parish rector (or even working full-time for the church, for that matter).

3) 'Anglicanism' - Episcopal spirituality and theology - is the primary place where I find hope for Christianity, and is a more practically compatible with the post-modern globalized world than are most forms of Christianity. I'm happy to continue to work on the Anglican project as part of the larger world religious dialogue. I have something to say in the religious world.

4) I'm not particularly keen on uprooting my life (and Angel's) and spending massive amounts of money on (more) theological education to prepare for what might not be a paying career for me. There is potential that that may trip me up.

5) I'm fine with being ordained or not, but I'm not willing to compromise my integrity to become a priest. I'm going to figure out a way to be honest through this process and try not to 'rig' results in one direction or the other. That's easier said than done, b/c the discernment process does at times seem to lend itself to political games - on both sides of the table. The church is the place where I try to keep my idealism alive (wisely or not), and selling that out would defeat the whole purpose for me.

In all of this, finally some peace with this damned process.


Mike Croghan said…
Praying for you, brother. I'm happy that you're finding some clarity in this process, and I'm not saying that just because I'm pulling for the red pill - honestly.

As painful as it sounds like it's been for you, you're making me wish (somewhat) that I'd been able to begin the discernment process when I was scheduled to do so two year ago (holy crap, was it only that long?), but it was out of the question given my emotional state at the time, and I'm pretty sure it's out for good now. But a good, painful, life-challenging discernment process is a good thing, most of the time, I think.