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Reviewing the CTP: Vocations and Building Specialties - Chronarchy

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May 8th, 2010


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10:02 am - Reviewing the CTP: Vocations and Building Specialties
Nearly everyone knows what a Priest "is" and what a Priest should "do." The problem is that it leads to people failing to recognize that there are many kinds of Priests out there, and some will have different skill sets. Consider doctors, mechanics, or even football players: yes, they know a little about everything in their profession, but they are particularly good in specific areas (and sometimes not at all good in other areas: imagine an offensive lineman trying to quarterback).

There are generally two ways that Priests are chosen: via heredity and via vocation.¹ ADF has chosen to build based on the vocational model, but this leads to some particularly interesting issues that are magnified by notions of what Priests "should be."

When training our Priests, we must remember that vocations differ. While ADF has never placed as large an emphasis on vocation (or "calling to the Priesthood") as other religions, it is how we choose our Priests. It is vitally important to note that, if we recognize vocation, we must also recognize variation in vocation: every Priest who is called is called equally, but that does not mean that they are called to the same function. To say that "ADF Priests are ritualists" or "ADF Priests are helpers" means that there is no room for, as an example, a vocation for teaching the lore or being a scholar.

Because ADF has chosen to select its Priests based on these vocations (rather than heredity or other criteria), it stands to reason that we will find that those callings express themselves in different ways to different Priests. In short, there is no such thing as an ideal ADF Priest, because each Priest will have different skills related specifically to his or her calling. This brings us to the question of how we train Priests who may have different callings.

Because our Priests will be called in different ways, we should not expect all Priests to learn the same skills or to be fluent in all skills. Original notions of Priests as polymaths who are experts in everything tend to break down quickly (this is the pressure the old Study Program broke under), particularly as ADF has not made a decision on how "reconstructionist" we desire our Priests to be. Many whose vocations tend toward the reconstructionist will never find a calling to be a "helper" of others, and those whose callings reflect a more modern definition of Priest may not find that their vocation calls them to be an expert scholar or naturalist. However, there are things that we can agree on.

Because ADF has a tradition of clergy being well-skilled in ritual, ritual work should certainly make up the majority of the core skills required, particularly on a basic level. Additionally, some training in other fields, such as helping others, magic, and trance, should also be required. Once core training is completed (First Circle), specialization can begin, and courses should be provided for that. By providing core courses, we can ensure that our clergy are prepared for a wide variety of issues, but allow their vocation to drive a choice of specialization. Requiring them to choose two specializations will also keep them from being too focused on a single aspect.

Specialization can also help the Clergy Council (as well as our members at large) understand who they should refer to for specific issues, reducing the issue of requesting services from a Priest who has little or no training in certain areas, or simply finds him- or herself unable to do any more than the minimum in situations their vocation does not call them to. This will require a communication piece.

At this time, I've looked at five different specialties:
  • Helper: Designed for those who wish to be there for others and engage in helping
  • Naturalist: Designed for those who wish a greater connection with nature
  • Leadership: Designed for those clergy seeking leadership roles in ADF
  • Scholar: Designed for those who seek deeper study
  • Ritualist: Designed for those who seek more extensive ritual skills
Those could morph and change, of course (and likely will). You may note that there is no "magician" or "diviner" specialty: I see those primarily being specialties our Initiates will fill.

The deepest advantage of specialization, though, is that it allows us to expand the number of courses we can provide and require of our Clergy students. Initially, I was looking at up to 15 courses per Circle: with specialization, I am able to reduce that to roughly what it is today, with 10-11 courses per circle. In the end, specialization seems to create a more complete Clergy Council made up of slightly less "complete" (but certainly more diverse) Priests.

¹ - Oxtoby, Willard G. "Priesthood: An Overview." Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Lindsay Jones. 2nd ed. Vol. 11. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 7394-7399. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 May 2010.
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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:wcm
Date:May 8th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
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Interesting thoughts. It makes a lot of sense. It seems as if there should be a magician specialty, though. I'm thinking of an Initiate who becomes a priest but is very adept at magic/divination and still wants to focus on that in a priestly function.

Myself, I would probably be more of a blend between naturalist and scholar, but I'm sure I'd have to wear other hats by necessity.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:May 8th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
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A lot of that training is involved in the "core" courses, too. But in the end, deepening those skills starts to become less relevant in comparison to other skills for a Priest. I suspect that, at some point, we will append a Fourth and Fifth Circle, which will hopefully encompass additional work in these things. :)
[User Picture]
From:uberrod
Date:May 8th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
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I suppose Healer would fall under Helper?
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:May 8th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
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Not in our current definition of "helper;" see our two Professional Helping Skills courses:

http://www.adf.org/members/org/clergy-council/ctp/courses/pro-helping-skills1.html

http://www.adf.org/members/org/clergy-council/ctp/courses/pro-helping-skills2.html

The fact of the matter is, no one has ever created a course in healing, so I cannot build any sort of specialty around it. If the Healers' Guild had such a program, I could pull from it to create a specialty like that. So far, there has been no apparent interest in healing training within ADF, so putting the work in to provide a course is not in my priority list at the moment.
[User Picture]
From:prophet_maid
Date:May 8th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
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I do really like the idea of specialization, and it's something I've given some thought to. I know that I don't have the inclination or talent to be a magician or diviner (there are reasons I'm not in the Initiate's Path), but that my strengths lie in organization and scholarship.

Do you see a role for further specialization, like "research interests" for doctors? For example, I'm, interested isn't the right word, in exploring the link between physicality and religion and how to incorporate religion and family life, which sounds a lot broader than I'm thinking of it.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:May 8th, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
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I do, probably in the future and perhaps not initially. I mentioned somewhere else that I can see us extending training into a Fourth and Fifth Circle, as well (the original notions of the SP had five total circles in some cases).

Liturgy Practicum 1 is subtitled "Domestic Cult Practice" and is designed to promote the incorporation of religion and family, actually. It's an LGSP program that we've put in the CTP, and will likely be moved up into First Circle.
[User Picture]
From:prophet_maid
Date:May 8th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
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Cool. I've actually been debating on signing up for the LGSP, since there's so much cross-over and I could use extra liturgical training. Do you think that's too much to do "at once"?
[User Picture]
From:athenamsb
Date:May 8th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)
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Heh, I am currently enrolled in FOUR study programs, one of which is the Liturgists Guild. I find that they balance each other out nicely. If you feel drawn to a study program, I say give it a try. There aren't any time limits on the Guild programs. :)
[User Picture]
From:prophet_maid
Date:May 8th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
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True. The thing is I have something of a personal deadline on the First Circle of the CTP due to logistics and family issues. If all goes according to plan, I should be able to be consecrated at Summerlands 2011. That's the nearest festival to me, and it's still a 6 hour drive. My kid should be old enough to travel that far and I shouldn't be pregnant again, so it all fits. If I take too long, I push it back by a year or more :/
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:May 9th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
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I think it'd be great to consecrate you at Summerland 2011. :) Here's hopin'!
[User Picture]
From:prophet_maid
Date:May 9th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
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Thanks! My "schedule" has me due to turn in my last course in February or March 2011, which should give me enough leeway to be golden for Summerland 2011.
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From:chronarchy
Date:May 9th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
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Sometimes, I wonder if setting "ending" time limits might not also find a use on occasion. . . but I won't be recommending any, I don't think. Just an interesting thought.
[User Picture]
From:chellyisme
Date:May 8th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
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I definitely like this way of looking at the CTP. It allows the person wishing to join the priesthood a greater training in the areas that they are interested in, and in most cases will be most proficient in. I look forward to the possible changes this will bring about in the CTP and working through them eventually.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:May 8th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
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That's what we're aiming for, I think: deepening training in areas that the Priest is called to train in (and provide service in), while providing a core training in things we know they need.
[User Picture]
From:acousticdryad
Date:May 8th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)
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oooh ooooo, can we do two!?
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From:wcm
Date:May 8th, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC)
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That's what I'm thinking! Knowing myself, I would probably want to!
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From:chronarchy
Date:May 8th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
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Hehe: You're required to do at least two, in my current draft :)
[User Picture]
From:wcm
Date:May 9th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
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Excellent!
[User Picture]
From:verginiamus
Date:May 9th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
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I am confused. What is the definition of a priest? What ordained priests do that different from concentrated ones? From what I see as functions is divining, offering to Gods, and rituals. How do the other functions fit in?
Did priests counsel and how did htey do that?
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:May 9th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
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There is a tension between the reconstructionist notions of what a priest is, and the modern needs that we have for priests.

Part of our difficulty in defining the role of the priest has been that ADF is neither a reconstructionist organization nor a completely New Age religion; thus our priesthood cannot be defined by either extreme. We cannot ignore modern needs by justifying them as irrelevant to ancient priesthoods, and we cannot ignore ancient roles by justifying them as outdated.

The aim here is to allow our Priests to understand what is important to them (and what fits in their calling) without forcing our Priests to become experts in things their vocations do not call them to. . . and still giving them the basic tools they will require in order to deal with both ancient and modern needs.

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