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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

February 28th, 2013

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02:20 pm - ADF Elections are Coming: Some Thoughts on Voting That Won't Make Me Popular
Over the last few years, I've been watching as ADF waxes and wanes in membership numbers, but never really gets anywhere new. We're mired in a lot of things, and in many ways we seem to be spinning our tires. Brave new ideas like Teo Bishop's SDF can't really get off the ground, and even though it's been successful for the first few months, no one seems interested in helping to support it by providing a structure within ADF to allow it to thrive: it's not even mentioned on our website, except on the Members' side.

As a result, I've been thinking about the upcoming elections and what they mean to ADF. It really comes down to two issues, to me, born from years of watching the MG from both the inside and the outside, and from being a Clergy Council Officer.

1) Crossover in the MG and the CC Officers

We have nine voting members on the Mother Grove (AD, VAD, Secretary, CoCoSD, CoCoRD, and 4 NOD's). The MG is the only body that can over-rule the Clergy Council, which is by nature a rather conservative body (it has to be, and should be). It can get stodgy as a result. But if the CC Officers hold over half the votes on the MG, ADF ends up with that same deep conservative streak, and gives up its ability to be nimble in the face of new challenges. Right now, Priests hold 7 of the 9 votes on the MG, and 5 of those votes are held by CC Officers.

Check out the list of CC Officers and the list of MG officers (remember not all MG Officers can vote, such as the MA or the Treasurer).

Every so often, someone will suggest that the number of clergy members on the Mother Grove be limited. The suggestion came in again recently, and while I'm behind it entirely, it appears no one else is. The request was put to the CC Officers (not the Clergy Council in general), and then promptly ignored. . . or so it seems from my perspective, as a CC Officer myself. And this seems to happen reasonably often, where good ideas are overruled or questions ignored because action isn't required on them: no one can force action from the Clergy Council, after all, due to the number of votes they hold on the MG.

The crossover seems to ensure that the MG remains in line with the CC, which is an unelected body within our organization. I'd really like to see the MG hold the CC responsible for certain things, and for there to be more transparency into what the CC is doing, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards until the makeup of the MG changes.

The folk have the power to bring new ideas to the MG, but the concentration of power in so few hands is a bit mind-boggling to me. The only two groups that make decisions about how we practice Our Druidry and what its basic structure is have their majority held by the same five people.

So, how do we, as members, fix it? The first step is to simply vote. Because any member of the CC can become a Clergy Council Officer, the simplest way to resolve this is to vote for people who don't have "Rev." in front of their names. We have a lot of extremely qualified folks running who don't have that prefix, and it would be really, really nice to see some new faces meeting the challenges of running ADF for a while.

The real issue worth addressing, though, is this one:

2) Administrative positions place constraints on the production of stuff that helps our members

I worry a lot about how little our Priests seem to produce, and the lack of emphasis put on production that benefits others. Over and over we emphasize coursework (something that benefits the individual, a single person, unless that person chooses to share those benefits. . . and nothing requires that they do) over the production of other things like rituals or articles or podcasts or books (which benefit large swaths of our membership).

Electing people to the MG puts them into a position where all they have time to do is administrative work. Check out the list of ADF authors or pick up a copy of Oak Leaves to see who has published recently. Additionally, projects waste along for years due to inadequate management, because people are pulled between spiritual pursuits and administrative duties, and when the people who have projects that should be managed by the MG are effectively managing themselves, it just gets worse.

In other words, rather than electing our Priests to do administrative tasks, let's give them the freedom to deepen their religious work. Putting Priests in charge of the administrative aspects of a church might seem logical, but in reality, few churches do this. They find people who are competent outside of their priestly ranks to run their administrative arms, and they only really leave theological choices to their clergy-folk.

So maybe this year, give someone new a chance in this election. I'm interested in seeing new blood flow into the heart of ADF, and in seeing us take a fresh look at challenges rather than doing the same thing over and over. This is a small election: only a couple of seats are really open for the membership to vote on, so the MG will retain a continuity of experience even if every currently-sitting MG member loses. Help re-balance ADF's leadership, and let's see if we can't finally start to grow again as an organization, toward the Vision we all share.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: "Time To Go Home", -JB
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(53 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
From:Eld Nathr
Date:February 28th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)

Good on ya, mate!

I'm glad to see there are still those on the inside of the CC who are willing to question the existing status quo while pushing for that damn question (to which most seem to just give selfish consideration) an answer that is three dimensional (Personal Path, Clergy Path, Community Path).

I left ADF several years ago after running into the party line used as an excuse for existing clergy not acting for their congregation as the clergy of other religions do. I had gone through a dark time, and while everyone around me new it there was only one sad attempt by my clergy to do anything proactive about it and this attempt ended with me being pressured to give up my officer position within the grove.

It saddens me to see a growing religion that has the potential to change the entire Pagan landscape in a profoundly positive direction falling into the same elitist rut that was the religious down fall of our ancestors.

It is my personal opinion that ADF started the learning curve on the wrong side of the equation and has become too top heavy. By focusing on how to create clergy, how to create a personal transformative journey for those destined to lead ritual, ADF has left the very people they mean to serve behind: the Folk. The journey that has been created and is being used to ordain Clergy, creates individuals who have enormously powerful connections to the Kindred, but lack any real connection with those they would serve as ambassadors to said Kindred.

To put it bluntly, when an individual takes the ADF Journey up the Mountain they return to the Folk as a servant of the Kindred; and NOT AS A SERVANT OF THE FOLK! The history of Neo-Paganism is rife with the need of the individual to take back the power of their own inherant Divinity from the so called authority of others. ADF's current path would reverse this by not providing the Folk with any concrete reason to take this Journey with any potential clergy. The clergy is not really providing anything to them that they cannot as Neo-Pagans provide for themselves at their own altars.

"Why not excellence?" should apply to more than just the individual journey. This is especially true of the proto-clergy. If the proto-clergy does not have deep and continually renewed connections with the Folk as they take their Journey up the ADF Mountain, then they return simply as powerful individuals with deep connections to the Kindred.

Imagine a proto-clergy who has the full support of the Folk and a constant flow of Ghosti energy to and from them. Imagine how different this individual's experience with the Kindred would be. Instead of seeing an individual who comes to worship and forge personal relations with Them, the Kindred would see a representative of the Folk, come to forge alliances with Them for all of the Folk and not just themselves.

To do this, the clergy program must become Folk-centric rather than Kindred-centric. The current program produces very powerful liturgists and ritualists and weavers of magic. It fails to produce actual clergy. It fails to produce ambassadors of the Folk to the Otherworld.

(this is the humble and possibly skewed oppinion of a former member of ADF; ponder or ignore as you will)

Eld Nathr (sic: facebook)
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2013 11:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Good on ya, mate!

I would really like to see us have a "lay clergy" layer that's simply empowered by their local congregation, based on local congregation rules. I've never really been able to figure out how that might work, in general, with the way ADF seeks to vet its clergy, but it's become more appealing to me recently.

We've had a lot of resistance to the notion of counseling clergy within ADF, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad reasons. The biggest reason, from my general viewpoint, has always been a lack of good people to teach the skills, to write the courses, and to provide the materials. I worry much about sending a Priest off half-cocked, to deal with someone undergoing grief. But I want someone to be there for that person, too. At some point, we will need to make a leap.

Your central point, though, that "Why not excellence" must apply to what we bring to others is what I am mostly getting at here: it's not just an internal journey through a study program, and it cannot be. If it is, we will fail the folk. It has to be external with the folk as well. Power with, never power over.
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2013 12:24 am (UTC)

Re: Good on ya, mate!

1. The very reason Kirk insisted on having non-clergy place the stola on the shoulders of new clergy was to remind them that it is the Folk they serve. Perhaps individual clergy have failed to remember this, but the intent is there and if they forget, they *should* be reminded (perhaps more often).

2. The CTP has recently been revised to include Crisis Response and Professional Helping Skills (1 & 2). I think these address some of those "shortcomings" you mention.

3. Because of our focus on individual sovereignty over belief, it is perhaps a natural consequence that individual clergy may not "measure up" to another individual's expectations of them as clergy -- especially as compared to clergy of more hierarchical and monotheistic religions...

4. The reason ADF has been focusing on clergy training is that we didn't have clergy, and there are plans to expand their roles as we go along (already happening with "Specialties"). Also, the DP serves the individual folk as well as the pre-clergy; we have already rewritten the handbook at a middle school level and determined the reading level of all the books on the approved reading list to better suit them to Dedicant student's reading abilities.

As you can see, a lot is being done (by volunteers) to remedy some of the problems. It takes time, and it isn't perfect, but striving for Excellence...
[User Picture]
Date:March 4th, 2013 12:33 am (UTC)

Re: Good on ya, mate!

What are "Specialties", in regards to ADF and it's clergy? This is the first time I've heard the phrase (That I'm aware of) in this context.
[User Picture]
Date:March 4th, 2013 02:53 pm (UTC)

Re: Good on ya, mate!

I believe these specialties were introduced with the latest revamp of the CTP program, in response to similar concerns about clergy "not being like clergy of other religions" and you can see them here: http://www.adf.org/members/org/clergy-council/ctp/outline.html (near the bottom of the page). Perhaps this would make a good OakLeaves article (hint, hint...). However, since it takes time to make new clergy (having to study the coursework and then be consecrated/elevated/etc.), it will take time to "populate" ADF with these priests.

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