Saturday, December 04, 2010

Being Bi-vocational

So, one of the things ELCAers going through the candidacy process have been told as of late is that they need to be prepared to be “bi-vocational.”
I would like to stir up the pot a little bit. When we are told that we need to be bi-vocational are we really being told that we need a second job?
If I remember my reformation history accurately part of the revolutionary nature Luther’s teaching was his understanding of vocation. In a sense the medieval church eschewed uni-vocational ministry; or to put it another way bi-vocationality was impossible in that system. By this I mean the only job that was “spiritual” the only job that was actually fulfilling God’s will and calling upon a person’s life was that of the priest.
Luther’s response to this was that a father changing a child’s diaper was as holy as the prayers of a whole monastery of monks. It was a re-capturing of the noble spiritual truth that when we serve our neighbor we also serve God. All of a sudden being a baker, a banker, a mother, a father, a husband, a plumber, or a social worker were all vocations—they were all jobs of spiritual worth, all jobs we are called by God to do because they serve a common good, a communal neighbor, and thus serve Christ and his Gospel.
Thus I have four questions I believe to be worth discussing:
1. So why is it that only now, when there aren’t enough full-time calls for Lutheran pastors, that the ELCA is calling us to discern a second vocation?
2. For that matter what does this “bi-vocational” language say to pastors who are fathers and mothers? GED certifiers? Volunteers of all sorts? What if a pastor has discerned that God has called him to be a pastor, God has called him to volunteer at a homeless shelter, God has called him to be a husband, and God has called him to be a father? That’s four vocations already! Four holy callings upon a man’s life!
3. The lifestyle of a pastor makes maintaining other vocations, such as parent and spouse, hard to do ( why is the ELCA only concerned with a clergyperson’s other vocations once it involves money? (As a side-note yes I am aware of the wholeness wheel
4. For that matter, when we discuss lay-folk and non-ordination track folk we lessen the use of this language of vocation. Why is it only when the work life of ordained-folk is concerned that we trot out this language of vocation?
I guess it seems that as a church it is important to call things what they are.
Chris Halverson

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Sanity/Fear Rally (Part 2)

In a previous post I described the Sanity/Fear rally and Stewart's reason for having it.
What follows are my reasons for going.
I came to the Rally to restore Sanity and/or Fear for civic fellowship, to affirm civility, and to negate the Beck-Tea Party axis’ stranglehold on national discourse.
1.I went to Stewart and Cobert’s rally because friends were going. On one level I mean Onleilove, Samantha and Aaron who I rode down with.
On another level I mean the many friends and friends of friends (for example my Hebrew study partner from undergrad in Oregon and the boss of the woman who convinced me to get Simul in Wisconsin) who also attended, but because of the massive crowd I never saw there.
On still another level I mean all those people who came together who share shades of the same cultural, social, generational, and political views as my own. I’ve heard it said the Sanity/Fear Rally was my generation’s Woodstock. I think that’s a little far-reaching, but the point it well made.
I wanted to participate in a big event in the national-life of our country. There seem to be fewer opportunities for communal and community oriented events in our national life. I think this lack fed into the Beck rally. But it is not only Sarah Palin’s heart that yearns for national purpose, for a public life and the ability to earn some social capital, but my own as well.
2. I also went to the Sanity/Fear rally because I am pro-civility. Much of Stewart’s expressed reason for going to the rally mirrors my own. I think many people are truly fearful. They are acting like chickens with their heads cut off because the media, and, I would add, reactionary people with far more detrimental intentions than simply selling newspapers and gaining high television ratings, are telling us we have everything to fear. These same people also demonize those with whom they disagree, and next thing you know everything becomes a yelling match. I believe healthy discussion and clear discourse can do wonders for understanding what those you disagree with believe.
3. That said, there are people out there with whom I disagree deeply. They are the final reason I went to the Sanity/Fear rally; I went because I am anti-Tea Party and anti-right wing extremist. In fact, because of the way they have handled themselves they deserve to be mocked. Their claims upon the soul of my country (and theirs), their overblown sense of their own strength, and their manufacturing of reality is unacceptable. Thumbing my nose at these tendencies is the third and final reason I went to the Sanity/Fear rally (and yes I am aware there is a disconnect between this and my previous reason for going to the rally).

Simul Justus Et Peccator

As my little sinner-saint kitten, Simul, opens up my kitchen cabnet, climbs in, and goes to sleep, I note two websites that point toward her namesake this day:
Mockingbird points to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and quotes Stevenson thus: "With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two."
And over at LivingLutheran Luther is hailed as our "Patron Saint-Sinner."