Sunday, April 15, 2007

I can talk about it now...

I have been such a bad blogger (bad! bad!!) but there is a reason--huge discernment process about whether or not to proceed to ordination in my denomination. This has been a helluva year so far, but now I have made the decision NOT to go forward and have notified both my supervising pastor and the PTB in the denomination, so there is no reason to be silent about it anymore. I couldn't be open because of the (admittedly very remote) chance that someone would discover this before all was said and done, and I feared that would complicate matters. I have disagreements with my denomination over some things that are extremely important to me and found myself unable to compromise, and even though the denomination is entering a period of theological change and growth, it occurred to me that going forward on the hope that the denomination would move in directions that would make me more comfortable would be the ethical equivalent of choosing a life partner who "will be perfect as soon as he/she stops doing X..." In other words, not ethical or feasible at all.

Having made and communicated the decision, I feel tremendous and deep grief and also a sense of openness and possibility that has been missing for a long time in my life. I graduate with my M. Div. on June 1, and am looking for work now; I will also be looking for a denomination! One unanswered question is whether I am called to ordained ministry--it's unanswered sort of, in that I believe I am called to ordained ministry but not in the denomination where I thought I was called. That's one difference I have with them--I have a rather stricter notion of pastoral role, and theology of ministry, and their notion and theology is sort of indeterminate right now. Officially it takes one shape, but codes of conduct and so forth do not support what is verbally stated, and there is an undercurrent of resistance to the official position that means effectively that individual churches have different notions and individual pastors have individual notions, with sometimes very little theology behind them I think. There are wonderful people in that denomination and many find the openness both theologically and rulewise to be the most liberating thing about it, but I have found that I need more structure. And I need a place where I can ask some theology questions that interest me, that I think the place I've been is not ready to engage. Things like: how can we use religious sources of authority to reach sexual/relational ethics, without either oversimplifying to the point of absurdity or being so restrictive as to be irrelevant to much of current society? And, is it feasible to hope for an ethical framework that is valid for all persons, regardless of gender or orientation?

So that's that, and I will try to be a better blogger. Any thoughts on my questions, the one of you who reads this blog, let me know!!! It feels good to be back.

Also I am scooter riding again which cheers me immensely.


Blogger Hot Cup Lutheran said...

Mmm... your struggle sounds painfully saddening. And yet horray for you in discerning what you feel you need to do. No denomination is settled & perfect (no matter what they claim)... always a gathering of sinners, always going to be disagreements, always ministry happens in the relationship between pastor/church family & usually the governing body in the church tries valiantly to dictate policies... and rarely do pastors pay any attention. Such is the nature of the beast. Amazingly enough God still works through imperfect people and imperfect churches. Don't give up... if you in your gut & soul feel God is calling you. Listen. Listen... and because in my experience until you do listen & then asnwer the call - God has these amazing ways of calling you even louder (think burning bush type of things). Until then while you sort it all out, spend time with your doggies. That is good medicine.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Susan Palwick said...

Thank you for this post; it's helpful to me in my own struggle over discernment -- although I haven't yet reached the closure you have.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Mary Beth said...

Just catching up with this...praying for you.

5:40 AM  

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