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Okay, Father...I've waited long enough for the next (follow-on) article!
fr n

Hmm, your two posts could inspire me to write a book or at least have a preach coming on.

Having spent the last 40 years involved in theological education / training for ministry (not the same thing) for much of the time, I think I know what you are talking about, and despairingly seeing the Orthodox grabbing the worst possible solution with both hands, I've just about given up.

I was recently a member of the SAQA SGB for Christian theology and ministry (those abbreviations dominate everything - did I mention it was all about OBE?). Anyway, it was the Standards Generating Body of the South African Qualifications authority.

The aim was to generate qualifications that could be equivalent, and thus allow futher study (as you say). But it was an exercise in frustration. It was dominated by Methodists, and what Methodists think is important for a minister is entirely different from what Orthodox think is important in a priest or a deacon. What outcomes do you want for leading worship? The Methodists want something creative and inspiring for the punters. As an Orthodox Christian, having seen what hastily ordained illiterate clergy do to the Divine Liturgy, I would say that they need to at least need to be able to read and apply the Typicon and to read aloud their part of the text of the service.

Backtrack 30 years. I was asked to take over the training of self-supporting clergy in the Anglican diocese of Zululand. They gathered one weekend a month at the diocesan conference centre, and 10 days once a year. It wasn't seen as a full-time job, so I was also appointed rector of the neighbouring parish of Melmoth.

Just before I took over six of the trainees had been ordained to the diaconate. So on the first training weekend, I sent the trainees to neighbouring parishes, including mine, and said one will deac, one will preach, and the others will do a critique when we get back to the conference centre in the pre-lunch period.

Not one of the deacons knew what a deacon was supposed to do (and for Anglicans it was a lot simpler than for Orthodox). I discovered that in their home parishes the priests would not allow them to perform a deacon's liturgical ministry, partly because they didn't know what it was, and partly because they wanted to send them out to "outstations" to behave like Methodist ministers.

I immediately revised the whole programme. The whole rationale of self-supporting ministers is that they should be worship leaders, and enable isolated congregations to have sacramental ministry. So I revises the training to train them as worship leaders. Practised in the conference centre chapel. Read the text, follow the rubrics, see what can and can't be done, what variations are OK and what aren't.

But "leading worship" in neopentecostal circles means playing in a band to entertain the audience before the serious stuff begins, like appealing for money.

So what are the outcomes for "leading worship" for Anglicans, Orthodox, Methodists and Neopentecostals?

And how do you measure them?

http://khanya.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/liturgy-saints-and-postmodern-discourse/

Would you reveal the name and location of the seminary where you hold forth? All quite helpful and stimulating in a good way. On a slightly different but related tack, I've often wondered what the ancient orthodox church would think of our obsession with 501(c)3 status, obtaining "licenses" for marriage, etc.

Sorry, my question referring to Sts. Nikolai and Justin was a different thought than the assessments. I believe both attended western divinity schools - if I am not mistaken - so I am wondering if their example tells us anything about acceptable Orthodox higher education (even if it's just that western divinity schools were different back then or that they are only for the rare Orthodox).

JCW: up to the Middle Ages at least, bishops were expected to be able to recite the Psalms, in toto.

The "full confession" refers to the former custom of patriarchs (and perhaps some metropolitans) composing a complete confession of the faith upon their installation as primate. This confession, in turn, was sent to the other primates of the Orthodox Church as a sign of the commonality and continuation of the Apostolic deposit.

The "control of one's passions" is actually the lowest of the three degrees of spirituality (illumination and union being the higher two). St. Dionysios the Areopagite contends that the three degrees of clergy should correspond to the degrees of spirituality: where this congruence does not obtain, there is failure in the church to be the church -- or rather, to be the "house of prayer."

So really, the "control of one's passions" is really the least expectation of the episcopacy.

'Your point about some leaders not being worth their salt is poignant these days, since we are peppered with leaders who may not have passed the apostolic assessment: i.e., memorization of the Psalms, the ability to write a full confession, and the control of one's passions. If a leader is not worth his salt -- to extend your metaphor -- he should be, will be, shaken out'.

Father, bless. Where did you find your criteria for apostolic assessment? I've never heard of them before now.

That, Ariston, is the American Orthodox conundrum: our first language is protestantese, and it is so difficult to learn Orthodox at least as a second language.

"Orthodox-ese", whether in the first or second case, is neither Greek nor Russian, nor Ephraimite, nor Philippian, nor "evangelical of the byzantine rite."

It is more like hobbit than anyone would care to admit.

Hm, my quote from your post should have been italicized. I apologize.

If any one is confused, my comment is the one that begins with "Um…".

This "protestantization" is none too subtle: the very fact that ecumenical seminary discussions can get on so well simply means that the Orthodox have become fluent in "protestant-ese."

I pray they remain conversant in their first language.

Um, couldn't this just be because so many staff and students at Orthodox seminaries speak protestantese as a first language?

Melxiopp, Sts. Nikolai and Justin did not take any assessments of the "scientific" kind.

I am sure that assessments like the MMPI-2, the MBTI, the TAT (which is very weird), the California, the NEOPA instrument (and many others) can offer some helpful inferences. Even the Rorschach, in capable hands, can yield interesting (and tempting) results.

Somehow, the Catholics -- and through them, our Byzantine cousins -- got hooked into the Enneagram of Gurdijeff infamy. This device, too, can present cool inferences.

So can a magic 8 ball, if handled right. Ouija boards do even better.

This may sound abrupt, so forgive my impertinence: Seminaries may as well use Ouija boards than paper-and-pencil assessments.

Your point about some leaders not being worth their salt is poignant these days, since we are peppered with leaders who may not have passed the apostolic assessment: i.e., memorization of the Psalms, the ability to write a full confession, and the control of one's passions. If a leader is not worth his salt -- to extend your metaphor -- he should be, will be, shaken out.

I'm all for the descriptive use of all tools, even objective psychological assessments outside the ecclesia.

I know an Orthodox Christian who worked for a recruiter who had built his career on using assessments in his recruiting and interviewing process. This professional had done his doctoral work under Drucker in the 60s (ABD, but still).

What was interesting was the fact that these assessments were not so much scientific as they were part of his 'back pocket' way of interviewing. It raised questions to ask, but didn't answer them. It also showed trends in personality within a given sample, e.g., Fortune 500 CEOs; it did not provide rock-solid personality types, just a bell curve of potential types. That is, these 'instruments' were descriptive, not prescriptive.

The assessments helped in naming aspects of candidate's personality that may have been picked up on, but left unnamed. You are correct, any leader worth his salt would have picked up on and known these things already, even if unnamed - but are all leaders really worth their salt? An assessment is simply a way to get another opinion about who a candidate is, but it does not tell you whether they would be good for a given Order, parish, region of the country, etc. This is especially true if the assessment's comparative sample is full of less than ideal specimens, i.e., unholy, lazy, insensitive, unwise, faithless, mercenary, untruthful, artless, obsequious, bad with money, vain, etc. It also assumes such things can be measured by a 'scientific assessment'. (Worse, even if the assessment is clear that it cannot measure such things, our awe before Science is such that we do not value that which Science cannot definitively - seemingly - declare to be true. The real danger of assessments is that they are so easily deferred to, an infallible paper Vatican stripping away a person's confidence in seeing and hearing and feeling without professional ratification).

As a curiosity, what 20th century saints studied at and graduated from ATS-accredited seminaries or at least from similarly confused Seminary-Universities? I think Sts. Nikolai Velimirovich and Justin Popovich did. Should they be identified as the rule or the exceptions that prove the rule?

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