Thursday, May 25, 2006


I had a really fortunate experience on Saturday. I went to our ladies' breakfast and our featured speaker was our own rector, Carol Anderson. Carol told us the story of her ordination. Which is an amazing story. She was actually in a history book I read. She was one of the first women ordained in our church, you see, and she doesn't often talk about those times. But what a tale!

I can't possibly recreate it for you, and I wish so much I could point you to a recording, but it was one-time-only (which gave her some freedom). I will tell you the stories that made the biggest impression on me.

One time she was giving out the bread during Eucharist and a man walked up to her with intense hatred in his eyes and said, "Go to hell." She said, "I can't, I'm busy."

She did all these wonderful performance-art/theatrical protests. They would attend men's ordinations and stand behind the men. Once they went through the entire service alongside the men, and after each guy was ordained, they went up and knelt before the bishop. He was shaking. Then he sat on his hands. He later told them he wanted to ordain them so badly but he just knew he couldn't (he wanted to stay within church boundaries), and he had to sit on his hands to keep them from doing something he shouldn't.

I love that story because it's got so much ritual power in it. The fact that it was this man's hands that were the key to the magic of ordination...I mean, some people would completely pooh pooh this, but I love it. I think it's so amazing, so embodied. The hands hold the power. And he had to sit on them. Because once that power goes out, it can't come back.

That's why it was such a big deal to ordain the Philadelphia 11 (which Carol wasn't part of, because she was in parish ministry and they didn't want to disrupt anyone's present ministry). Because we believe ordination can't be taken back or reversed.

And then there was the bishop who, when it finally passed (by ONE vote!), was telling reporters it was the Holy Spirit speaking to him, and his wife is in the back telling the women: "Pfft...Holy Spirit! I told him I'd never sleep with him again!"

Anyway, it was a wonderful morning. I can't even tell you everything.

I did go home and in my rascally way write Carol a note about how hard it's increasingly becoming for me to answer people when they ask me why I'm not being ordained. I also asked for an internship. Question 2 got a no because she wants me to branch out (fair enough). Question 1...well, she wants me back in discernment with a new committee. So that's good too.

Anyway, if anyone local wants to recommend me to or for an internship position, that would be fine. Pay would be especially nice, but we're getting along without it.

And if it doesn't work out, I'll just do it later, next summer, after classes are done. It's looking like the USC job isn't going to pan out either (because, of all reasons, they can't figure out how to pay me! Honestly, the bureaucrazy...) (that was a typo but I think it's appropro). But I think as I look ahead to what I have to take: Hebrew, Systematic Theology (3 classes), and history (3 classes), as well as Greek and Hebrew exegetical classes - yeah, I'll probably be okay not to work, and I'll probably be even a bit relieved not to intern. I'd most love to keep TA'ing for my favorite prof, so that's kind of a priority.

We'll see. So far grace has been provided in huge measure to accomplish whatever comes along. I'm blessed in that way.

Oh, Dad is doing okay. He's being treated for angina, although they haven't exactly determined what's going on. He's staying overnight in the hospital and having a stress test tomorrow. He thinks he had a heart attack but my mother says he's overdramatic. The worst of it is that he's in a hospital that's 45 minutes from their home (out by where he works) and it's apparently not a very good hospital. So hopefully he doesn't have to stay there any longer than overnight.

I guess that's all I have to say right now. I finished my interfaith theology thoughts and will post them in the next couple days. Looking forward to your responses on that (hopefully not too much vitriol).


Marshall Scott said...

I'm glad your father is doing better. And, despite your previous post, I find it hard to believe your statement, "It doesn't sound too serious." When it's your flesh and blood it's serious, whether the doctors make much of it or not. I've worked in hospitals virtually all my career, and I know too much - and when it's me and mine it's still frightening.

Well, hang in. He's been prayed for.

Anonymous said...


In his recent post Figleaf had linked to your story about your rector, Carol Anderson, and the confrontation she had while administering the Eucharist. I think I will remember the "I can't, I'm busy" response for a long, long time, not only because it was witty, but so free of venom.

While my comment to Figleaf's thoughtful post is secular, I was raised as a Roman Catholic and was forced to look at the clash of beliefs that resulted from the need for sexual equality in the workplace and the sexual exclusivity of the church. My comment does not reconcile the two, but it was my way of explaining why these two concepts are at odds in our culture.

I had the good fortune of pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies degree at a college where many of the faculty were theologians, nuns and priests, many of whom had left the clergy. The time I spent in their company and classrooms made a tremendous difference in my ability to understand these conflicting ideas and beliefs.

The relevant portion of my comment is presented below:

Both Roman Catholicism and certain Protestant sects do believe that the respective roles of men and women were preordained by God to provide the best means of creating and sustaining life here on earth. To depart from the accepted beliefs of how God took on human form, and the proper duties to family, society and church of men and women is willfully playing with a divine order created for our benefit. While I do not share these beliefs, I am trying to write about them as respectfully as I can, which is what we should do when speaking of the beliefs of others.

The whole idea of pre-ordained roles of men and women do not allow for women to administer sacraments. That's as dangerous as assuming that Jesus Christ enagaged in sexual intercourse [as portrayed in the DaVinci code], because it undermines His authority as God. However, these beliefs currently exist in a culture that is a democratic republic (we hope), and, as such, is based on individual freeedon and rights, which were not even considered important at the time of Christ, or even before the eighteenth century.

We are accustomed to studying comparative religions in our universities and even in theological seminaries. Centuries ago, this would have resulted in charges of heresy. There is nothing democratic about Roman Catholicism, or about the beliefs held by Fundamentalists sects in this country. And like two tectonic plates moving in opposite directions, these differing views of individual freedom and divine authority send tremors throughout our culture.

My best wishes to you in pursuing a vocation, which will not be an easy one to fulfill, but can make a big difference in the lives of others.