I try to write this blog in an ecumenical spirit, because
I view all Protestant denominations as basically interchangeable we all serve one Lord, profess one faith, and share one baptism. But I have to take a moment here in cyberspace to give a shout-out to my fellow Episcopalians. Specifically, those who are in their final year of seminary and preparing to square off with the General Ordination Exams.
Hey, friends! You’re feeling a little down lately, huh? Seminary is not nearly as fun as it was two years ago, am I right? You’ve been reading all those depressing studies about gender-based clergy pay discrepancies, haven’t you?
And now, to add insult to injury, you have to spend Advent getting ready for the GOEs.
Life truly is unfair. Continue reading
Hey, everybody. Welcome to new readers, especially those who found their way here from Episcopal Café. It’s been humbling to receive such an outpouring of support in the wake of my last post (although awful to hear such a chorus of affirmation), and especially humbling to hear from those of you who have endured sexual harassment, abuse, or assault. You are not alone, even when the world conspires to make you feel that way.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the last week over the culture of sexual violence in the church — or, more accurately, the culture of sexual violence in the world, which the church has enthusiastically supported for centuries — and what I most need men to understand about it. Not only because men are statistically more likely to be perpetrators and less likely to be targets (although this is also true), but also because, by no coincidence, men are more likely to be in charge.
Listen up, men. You are, overwhelmingly, our rectors and senior pastors. You hold, disproportionately, the positions of highest lay authority on our church boards. You are, with depressingly rare exceptions, our bishops. All the hashtags and social media campaigns in the world aren’t going to make one little dent in the church’s complicity with sexual violence unless you decide you want to do something about it.
Are you ready? Let’s go. Continue reading
Reading through hundreds of #metoo stories this week, I caught myself thinking that I was lucky.
“Lucky” that I have never been sexually abused or raped. “Lucky” that my experiences of sexual harassment have been relatively minor. “Lucky” that I can tell stories about those experiences without traumatic flashbacks or the threat of harm.
If you are a clergy woman or femme reading this blog, you don’t need me to tell you that sexual harassment and assault are problems in the church. You probably got a fresh reminder of that last Sunday, when someone gave you a hug in the receiving line that lasted just a little too long. Continue reading
Field ed: the best and worst part of the seminary experience. I completed three field education placements while I was in divinity school — Clinical Pastoral Education at a big hospital, a very traditional seminarian internship at a church, and a not-so-traditional case management internship at a teen health clinic. Here’s what I learned, or in some cases watched my classmates learn, in the process. Continue reading
Money: If you are answering God’s call to a vocation in ministry, you are probably not going to have a lot of it. Still, even in graduate school, there is no reason to be more broke than necessary.
If you’re looking for a holistic framework for thinking about money from a Christian perspective, Boston University is offering a cool-sounding free online course in Faith and Finance that starts next week. Here, all you’ll find is a handful of lessons I learned courtesy of experience, my least favorite teacher. Continue reading
Hello, everybody! I hope you’ve been having a fabulous summer. I’ve been offline for most of it, first for an incredible two-week seminar at Canterbury Cathedral and then preaching on this island you can reach only by boat and then serving as a summer camp chaplain at this awesome place. But now I’m home again, snuggled in with my wife and the cats. It feels pretty darn good.
And somehow it’s August, and the start of school is around the corner, and I’m remembering the all the excitement and dread I felt in the last weeks before I began seminary. Overall, I had a positive experience there. But there are a handful of things — mostly nuts-and-bolts kinds of things — I wish somebody had told me beforehand. The next few posts here on Rock That Collar will be a messy roundup of just those things. If you’ve gone to seminary yourself, do comment and let me know what to add.
And if you’re just about to start seminary? Hooray! This post is for you. Continue reading
Like so many others, I feel a thrill whenever I wander through a store aisle full of back-to-school supplies. Even if I am just on a quick dash to CVS to buy ant traps, that intoxicating odor of fresh pencils and tempera paint gets me every single time.
I remember squeezing my father’s hand as we gazed together at shelves and shelves of spiral-bound notebooks. I remember carefully attaching those sticky multicolor tabs to the dividers in my three-ring binder. And, not least, I remember the enormous care I put into selecting the perfect day planner.
Every single year — even once the math facts and spelling quizzes had given way to college essays and problem sets, even once I was old enough to know better — I managed to convince myself that, if I only bought the right planner, everything else would fall into place. Continue reading
When I was getting ready to be ordained, my dad called me up and said, “So, should we buy you a chalice?”
I thought about it for a minute, trying to imagine what on earth I would do with my own personal silver chalice.
I said, “Is that a thing?”
Oooooh it is your last semester of seminary! The graduation gown has been rented! The denominational exams have been passed! And the long-awaited job interview is finally on the calendar. Nice work, proto-Reverend.
But wait. The job you want is a clergy job … so normally you would wear a clergy collar to the interview? Except you don’t have a clergy collar because you won’t get ordained until June.
Fear not. I am here to help. Continue reading
I serve a liturgical church, so we walk the Stations of the Cross during Holy Week. But it is also a Protestant church, so I have a lot of flexibility in the design of the liturgy, which is good because our sanctuary has very skinny side aisles and accommodating the traditional fourteen stations would be rough.
It’s also good because I sometimes want to highlight other parts of the Passion narratives. Like, what about all the women whose stories we never hear? How come Joseph of Arimathea gets the spotlight while we ignore Mary and Mary Magdalene, who kept watch at Jesus’ tomb?
I searched far and wide for a resource offering devotions based on the women of the Passion, and I found lots of reader’s-theater monologues and ’90s feminist lectionaries and other stuff that looked kind of cool but was so not my church’s jam. What I wanted was a service following a traditional format, with updated stories. So I put one together myself. Continue reading