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Reviewing the CTP: Ordination Examinations - Chronarchy

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May 11th, 2010


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03:39 pm - Reviewing the CTP: Ordination Examinations
This is not currently a recommendation that I have for the CTP, but more of an entry that begins to explore some of this liminality I'm feeling and tries to make sense of that last "gate" to move from "eligible" to "ordained". . . so this is totally a "talking" post. It just happens to fit nicely in my current theme.

I've done some looking to see what various mainstream denominations require of their clergy, and most require some sort of oral or on-paper examination prior to ordination. Reasons for this are pretty varied (most have a strong emphasis on recall and understanding of religious texts), but they center around a couple of particular things:
  • Exams give the student a chance to allow his or her vocation to truly shine
  • Exams ensure a knowledge of myth and lore
  • Exams ensure the correct interpretation of that myth and lore
  • Exams can show a weakness in practice or doctrinal understanding (the latter being generally unimportant to an orthopraxic religion like ours)
  • Exams provide the larger church body with assurance that the candidate is fit for his or her ordination
In most churches, passage of the ordination exams are not guaranteed (apparently, nearly 30% of Presbyterian ministers fail at least one out of five of the tests and have to repeat).

Not all of the above points could really apply to us: about the only doctrinal item we could ask about is whether the person believes the Archdruid is fallible, after all. But it would be good if we could ask about lore. Here's a set of starting questions that I could see potentially asked (naturally, they'd change from candidate to candidate):
  • Vocation
    • How does your vocation interact with the Vision of ADF?
    • What are the three primary attributes of your vocation and how do they express themselves in your devotional life?
    • Why does your vocation find a home in ADF primarily?
  • Theology
    • What do you believe happens to an individual after death?
    • What makes a god a god, and what is the substantive difference between deity, spirit of nature, and ancestor?
    • How did the world come into being?
  • Lore
    • Describe an instance in the lore where a deity in your hearth culture did something morally wrong (by your judgment). What explanation can you offer for this?
    • Explain the role of the oath in two hearth cultures.
    • Briefly describe the life of a hero from your hearth culture, including birth, major deeds, and death.
    • Recite the Archdruids of ADF in order (or something like that, for a bit of our own lore)
  • Open for questions from the Folk
And all the answers would be available to our members to hear before ordination (for those present) or for viewing after the fact (for those not present).

We already test our Initiates with questions. . . I would like to see us open the ordination process to questioning from the wider Org, where members could ask the candidate anything they felt was relevant (though I would want an "examination board" who could perhaps rule a question irrelevant if necessary). Personally, this scares the hell out of me: I've had plenty of stumbles and flat-out face-in-the-mud moments in the past nine years in ADF, and I would not want to see all that dirty laundry aired. But just because it scares me doesn't mean it shouldn't happen.

("dirty laundry" makes it sound like I've been a very bad boy. . . shamefully, not the case. . .)

Anyway, just some thoughts on the process. I'm interested in hearing additional thoughts. . .
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: "Peanut Butter Conspiracy", -JB

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From:prophet_maid
Date:May 12th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
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So is there currently no exit "exam" for the CTP? Could a CTP student theoretically get consecrated without any direct contact with the Clergy Council, provided their reviewer approves their work?
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:May 12th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
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There is no exam, per se, for Consecration or Ordination. But we do take our personal knowledge of candidates into account when we approve them. We have been fortunate so far that we haven't had any applicants that we didn't know personally, or that we haven't been able to meet prior to consecration.

As we have been speaking about the increased likelihood that the Clergy Council will begin admitting people more-or-less "sight unseen," we have been discussing interview processes, background checks (which will be a later entry), and other things to mitigate the potential risk there. But personal references have always gone a long way toward determining a vote.

We haven't ordained anyone in 8 years (druidkirk is our first since 2002), so we're pulling an Indiana Jones and making it up as we go along. However, Skip was tested in lore and a few other things prior to his ordination, so there is some precedent.
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From:prophet_maid
Date:May 12th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
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I like the idea of an interview/testing process. For instance, I'm out in the middle of nowhere, and while I've met most of the big names on the CC I doubt they remember me from years ago. And I won't be able to go to a festival until I'm up for consecration (again, assuming I do pass). One theme I've noticed in your posts is increasingly making the clergy official representatives of ADF. Accordingly, and by the nature of clergy in general, I think some sort of vetting process needs to be instituted.
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From:chronarchy
Date:May 12th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
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If the clergy become official reps, it'll be more accidental to the process. . . When I think about it, I tend to regard it primarily in terms of "for a church, it's logical that the clergy be reps of some sort, so they should be trained in a way that reflects well on ADF," rather than a "let's make clergy reps for ADF."

But yeah, vetting is definitely needed. It gets a remarkable amount of resistance, I tend to think, for the good it can do.
[User Picture]
From:seamus_mcnasty
Date:May 12th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
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good stuff Michael - I look forward to seeing it all together so I can digest it as a whole...WOOT!

As for being a bad boy...hmmmmmm where are those photos.....
[User Picture]
From:verginiamus
Date:May 14th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
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As some one who would receive clergy services, I do like the system of making sure each candidate is ready to receive clergy training. Then making sure they understand what they are supposed to do as clergy.

I have encountered too many self-ordained clergy who see it as a fast-track to fame or power. They all seem to have some skills in divining and counselling. I am one of those who ordained by the ULC (send money, get ordaination) because the Commonwealth of Virginia requires Reiki Masters (of which I am one) to be a reverend when doing Reiki.

I think since ADF is diverse in its hearth cultures that clergy for the time being need to be conversent in at least two of them. Perhaps more if the numbers support them. By conversent, just basic knowledge of Gods, afterlife, ritual basics.

Then again the exam should reflect the functions of clergy - which are what? Are you still working out what clergy do - divining, ritual, counselling???
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:May 14th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
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I suspect that we will continue to work out "what clergy do" for some time. I've got an article on the role of clergy in ADF that may or may not be in the fall issue of OL. . . or it may be so long that it just needs to go on the site.

I expect our clergy to be able to work in more than one hearth culture. . . I might suggest 3-5 as a good standard, actually.

I do not expect us to spend a lot of time on counseling as a skill that all clergy posses: there are too many folk who think that skill is one our clergy should not be required to have (though individuals with actual degrees in counseling would, of course, be encouraged to do it) for a variety of reasons. But referring people to appropriate services is one of the things that we're planning to do, I believe.

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