Friday, May 25, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Moving into the Real World

I am becoming more and more convinced that I need to be looking in a different direction.  I really don't feel like the church has a place for me; at least not me with Nik.  Unless I can find an exceedingly liberal congregation, I think I am going to be constantly set up just to get struck down because "others will be uncomfortable."

As I said before, this leaves me in a bit of a predicament:  I haven't used my psych background in almost 14 years.  I have experience but most people are not comfortable attributing clergy with all that we do.  It seems that most people want to keep their Fr. Dowling assumptions about clergy.

What I am afraid is that I will have to go back to school.  I am STILL paying off grad school.  I actually think with the forbearances I have had that I owe more now then I originally borrowed.  But to get anywhere near employable, I am going to need to spiff up my skills.

I hope to find some grants that may help me.  I would like to learn some stuff about computing/graphics.  I have always been intrigued by electronics.  I also would like to learn more about the nexus of art and computing.  It could be cool.

At least I have been able to work on stained glass.

Friday, May 18, 2012

That Awkward Moment...

...when you receive an e-mail from a congregation that will not call you to be their priest, but asks you to supply on Sunday.

Yep, that happened.  The congregation I have been talking about the past week or so sent me a request to supply.  Now, to their credit, the person who does the leg work to get supply priests is not on the call committee.  But you would think that the call committee chair would have informed the supply person.  Oh well.  Yes, it was a bit (BIT??) uncomfortable to send back a message that as of last week, my  supplying for this congregation would not be a good idea.

This whole thing has been odd.  For those of you who do not know how the call process works in a congregation; A person sends information to the congregation.  The call committee looks over the information.  If the call committee feels that the person may be a fit, then they schedule an interview.  Often the interview will also coincide with an "Audition" sermon where the person in question will preside and preach for the congregation.  In the Episcopal church, the decision of who to call is entirely within the hands of the call committee.

I had supplied at this church before submitting my information.  I also was supplying for them while they were considering my information.  They had my information for at least three months before we had an interview.  This makes for an uncomfortable situation within the congregation also.  People had a chance to get to know me and to chat with me.  I would stay for coffee hour and chat with those around.

Many people have stated that they would like me as their priest, to which I would respond, "We will have to see!"

At the risk of sounding conceited, I do feel sorry for the person who is called.  If the congregation really does want me, but the committee has not chosen me, the person who comes in will have at least one obstacle to confront from the very beginning:  That person will have to prove to the congregation that he/she was the better choice.  The person the call committee calls may very well be a better choice, but that is not something that I would want to face upon entering a congregation.

When I applied, I asked the Bishop's office if I should continue to supply for this congregation and I was told that I should.  I don't know if it was just assumed that I would become the Rector there or not.  I now do see how this has become a bit of a mess.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Continued Struggle

Nic and I have talked about my joining his denomination.  That wouldn't be a bad thing, however, it would entail another 1 -2 years of classes, internship, interviews.  I am really tired of what constantly seems to be evaluations of my being.  It seems that I cannot be me; and when I try to be me, I can't find a call.

I spent close to 40 years pretending to be straight (to greater and lesser effect) and now I feel like I have to pretend again.  I don't want to pretend.  I know that there are accepted standards in society, but I am tired of those heaped upon clergy because we are supposed to be "oh so holy."

I think part of the problem of the church today is the "oh so holy" crap.  Who can keep it up?  And then when we mess up, those who have worked harder to deny their being can look down on those who decided to be real, or the world forces to be real.

I don't seem to be able to do anything good enough anymore.  And this may sound like a spoiled "first-world" problem, but I don't know if I could do something like work in a factory or go back to SBUX.  I am afraid I would be sent to jail for assault.  For those who work in factories and the food service industry, I applaud you; but I don't think I can do something like that any more.  I am afraid I would just deck someone or develop a drinking problem.

This is part of the "painted in a corner" predicament I mentioned in the last post.  I know I am pretty bright but I just can't seem to find the proper place where I can be of help.  I see all these things on FB about being "The best You that YOU can be!" And I want to barf.  What if the "Me" I can be is not what the world wants?  I guess I feel like the small-pox virus.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pair 'O Dig 'em Shift

Thanks for the comments on the past few posts.  I have been feeling down and to know that people are still with me has been helpful.  I am not doing this for attention, in fact, I have contemplated turning off the comments because I do not want to be seen as an attention whore.  But part of the reason for the blog is to work out problems.  So I will be working through things.  Anyone reading may commiserate or feel superior as the case may be.

How does one deal with a paradigm shift when one is living through it?

I don't know if I could ever become an atheist, but I feel agnosticism lurking right around the corner.  It is difficult when the things that you are told to rely on, (God, church community, faith) seem to continually let you down in a best case scenario and are abusive and bullying in a worst case scenario.  When these things that you have been taught to rely on seem to fail, where is one to turn?

Now, I know that I am guessing that the reason I did not receive the last call is because of my being gay.  And not even so much that as my being gay with a husband.  The previous priest was gay, but did not have a partner.  When he wanted to get his groove on, he would go out of town.  But Nic and I would be eating in the restaurants, going to the community events, and maybe even walking down the streets.  I would not bring this up other than the fact that a comment was made about it during the interview.  ("Well, I don't know if the people in town will get used to it.")

If this is the case, this is the second congregation where "oh that is no problem" was actually a problem.  The first congregation used, "We are not homophobic, but other people might not come because they are homophobic" as an excuse.  Again, at this last congregation I was told it would not be a problem, but for the question to come up in the interview means that it is a problem.

I have moved into the realm of not wanting a whole lot to do with the church and not wanting to even hear "God Talk."  It is hard to place over 45 years of indoctrination, and people can trot out Job and Jonah, but I have reached the weary point.  It all sounds empty to me.

The whole thing becomes crazy-making:  Believe!  And when it all falls apart, believe some more!  And then continue to believe!  And when the world smacks you, turn the other cheek and believe!  This has the ear-marks of Self-Defeating Personality Disorder.  (Is that even a diagnosis anymore?  I am too lazy to dig out my books and look.)

So I am in a house that, until recently, held two preachers.  Christian symbolism abounds.  Now to look at it feels like a slap.  There is a part of me that wants to throw clothing out and smash some glass.  But there is another part of me that understands that this could be transitional.

I hate the feeling of being painted into a corner.  It brings up all sorts of three-year-old fears and anxieties.  I just want to latch onto Nic and have him make all the meanies go away.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Little More Info

Well, as you could tell from my last post, I did not get the call to the church I had been supplying at for the past 5 months.  It kind of feels like a slap in the face.  The people always seemed nice.  They always made it a point of telling me how much they liked my sermons.  I enjoyed chatting with them and they seemed to enjoy chatting with me.  Many have said that they hope I am the person who is called.

This church had sat for almost two years without anyone even applying for the position.  I was told that after I applied, they had gotten another application.  There was a comment about not being able to contact this person to even get an interview.

And yet, I got the "Dear Ben" letter.

I guess I should see this as another opportunity, but it really doesn't feel that way.

What I have to wonder is if this is something that I should even be doing.  Now part of the mythology is that "One is supposed to wait on God."  But the question becomes, "How long?"  When is it a matter of wills:  I want to do the church things so I just keep knocking my head against the same wall.

But, truthfully, I am finding that when I look at the church, I see something in its death throws.  Those who are in it seem to want to keep it as a private club or as some way of showing to themselves that they are better than everyone else.  It has lost its role as the standard bearer for justice in the world.  (Not that it ever had that role.)  I also have been feeling that to be a leader, I have to pretend to be something I am not.

Who knows, maybe I will be more mentally healthy if I can once again claim my "wild child" side.  (Yes, there is one!)

Yes, I think my being turned down was, in part, due to being gay.  Now I am not trying to scream "Wolf."  This church did have a gay priest before, but the man was not partnered.  I think it might be easier for the congregation to accept things when they do not see the priest's husband at church every Sunday, or the priest does not refer to him in a sermon.  IDK, I am just speculating here.  And speculation really does not make anything better.

I just want to put the whole church thing behind me.  I will be paying for the (usless) degree for many years to come.  But if I want to get the loan paid, I will need to find a different line of employment.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

(This may be a bit childish, you can always go someplace else.)

I received what may be my last rejection letter from a congregation.  When do I decide that the Church just does not want me?  I seem to be getting plenty of signs.  I am so tired of the whole thing.  I have waited for over a year for something to rear its head, and when something seems to be good, it collapses.  Am I really that bad?  I must be a horrible person.  I look at others, and they have congregations.  Why can't I seem to find one?

Well, I am pretty much pitching it.   I am not sure what I will do, but whatever it is, it is not going to be in a church.  And the church that sent me the rejection letter.  You can wait another 2 years until you find someone. If you find someone at all.