April 8th, 2010


An old favorite

I try to always post new stuff on here, especially for National Poetry Month; however, sometimes a rerun is warranted. This one is for Venturing Crew 119.

Carmen Possum

The nox was lit by lux of Luna,
And 'twas a nox most opportuna
To catch a possum or a coona;
For nix was scattered o'er this mundus,
A shallow nix, et non profundus.
On sic a nox with canis unus,
Two boys went out to hunt for coonus.
The corpus of this bonus canis
Was full as long as octo span is,
But brevior legs had canis never
Quam had hic dog; et bonus clever,
Some used to say, in stultum jocum
Quod a field was too small locum
For sic a dog to make a turnus
Circum self from stem to sternus.
Unis canis, duo puer,
Nunquam braver, nunquam truer,
Quam hoc trio nunquam fuit,
If there was I never knew it.
This bonus dog had one bad habit,
Amabat much to tree a rabbit,
Amabat plus to chase a rattus,
Amabat bene tree a cattus.
But on this nixy moonlight night
This old canis did just right.
Nunquam treed a starving rattus,
Nunquam chased a starving cattus.
But sucurrit on, intentus
On the track and on the scentus,
Till he trees a possum strongum,
In a hollow trunkum longum.
Loud he barked in horrid bellum,
Seemed on terra vehit pellum.
Quickly ran the duo puer
Mors of possum to secure.
Quam venerit, one began
To chop away like quisque man.
Soon the axe went through the truncum
Soon he hit it all kerchunkum;
Combat deepens, on ye braves!
Canis, pueri et staves;
As his powers non longius tarry,
Possum potest, non pugnare.
On the nix his corpus lieth.
Down to Hades spirit flieth,
Joyful pueri, canis bonus,
Think him dead as any stonus.

Now they seek their pater's domo,
Feeling proud as any homo,
Knowing, certe, they will blossom
Into heroes, when with possum
They arrive, narrabunt story,
Plenus blood et plenior glory.
Pompey, David, Samson, Caesar,
Cyrus, Black Hawk, Shalmanezer!
Tell me where est now the gloria,
Where the honors of victoria?
Nunc a domum narrent story,
Plenus sanguine, tragic, gory.
Pater praiseth, likewise mater,
Wonders greatly younger frater.
Possum leave they on the mundus,
Go themselves to sleep profundus,
Somniunt possums slain in battle,
Strong as ursae, large as cattle.
When nox gives way to lux of morning,
Albam terram much adorning,
Up they jump to see the varmen,
Of the which this is the carmen.
Lo! possum est resurrectum!
Ecce pueri dejectum,
Ne relinquit track behind him,
Et the pueri never find him.
Cruel possum! bestia vilest,
How the pueros thou beguilest!
Pueri think non plus of Caesar,
Go ad Orcum, Shalmanezer,
Take your laurels, cum the honor,
Since ista possum is a goner!
-- Unknown

Cut loose

Had my last PT appointment today. Alles in Ordnung ist. Both legs have improved their flexible range by 20 degrees, and the injured leg is almost as strong as the non-injured leg.

My parting gift was a stronger theraband (elastic strip) for exercising. I told the therapist about using these with plastic colanders to make water balloon catapults for a Webelos Weekend at Camp K. The boys and their dads made two milk jug rafts, after which the dads floated on the rafts while the boys attempted to bomb them with water balloons from their catapults. She was impressed.
how long

Nobody asked me, but . . . Part III

Continuing on with our discussion of how to restructure The UMC. Regarding the clergy . . .

We have the craziest clergy system of any Christian denomination. Since The Walk to Emmaus is operated by The Upper Room (a division of GBOD, The UMC), it states a lot of requirements -- particularly as regards clergy credentials -- in keeping with UM practice. Which means none of the other denominations know what to make of the rules. I've tried to explain our clergy system to non-UMs, and all I get is blank stares. Heck, I've tried to explain our clergy system to my parishioners, only to have their eyes glaze over.

Briefly put, there are two classic forms that clergy take in the various Churches. The first is the hierarchical form, which is seen in Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, (most) Lutheran, and (formerly) Methodist practice. In this, Deacon and Elder (Presbyter, Priest) are successive grades in the ordained ministry of the Church. Most of these denominations also have Bishops; Methodists say that Bishops are Elders consecrated to a particular task, while Catholics and Orthodox say they are a third Order of Ministry. The others trend one way or another.

Reformed Churches, together with many of the newer denominations that came out of the Second Great Awakening -- Presbyterians, UCC, Disciples of Christ, Baptists, etc. -- usually think of Deacon and Elder as lay offices within the local congregation. "Ministers" are ordained as a separate category of persons, though sometimes they are also referred to as Elders -- as in Presbyterian practice, where there are "Ruling Elders" (lay officers) and "Teaching Elders" (clergy).

In the hierarchical Churches, Elders are generally ordained Deacon first, then Elder. In the Reformed Churches, you can be one or the other, and this has nothing to do with being clergy. It was left to United Methodists, beginning in 1996 (the year the Boomers achieved a majority in General Conference) to dispense with tradition and just make up a whole new approach.

We already had a whole bunch of unordained "Local Pastors," clergy by courtesy, so to speak. In 1976, we gave some of them the right to baptize and serve communion. By 1996, they had become, in effect, an Order of the Unordained -- a category of clergy in their own right. No matter how many times you say they have sacramental faculties only when granted by the Bishop, and only in the congregation to which they are appointed, they do not see themselves as provisional clergy. They are just clergy-who-don't-itinerate. They do the ministry of an Elder without the benefit of Elder's orders.

But in '96, we split the diaconate from the presbyterate entirely. Now, you can be ordained an Elder (the pastoral model) or a Deacon (the specialist model), and both are full members of the Annual Conference. Since we no longer associate being ordained Deacon with probationary membership in the Conference, we now have people being "commissioned" Probationary Elders until the time comes for them to be admitted into Full Connection and being ordained.

The whole thing is a mess, and there is zero theological rationale for it. It can't be explained, at least not easily. It can't be defended. It's totally disconnected from any historic sense of identity (tradition), except that it continues to use labels that sound familiar for things that are not. And it doesn't work. Preparation for ordination has become a long death march across burning deserts of earning degrees and piling up debt and dealing with Boards and Committees.

I asked a colleague once if he thought we were getting a better quality of minister by all that we make candidates go through. He replied, we do this because we find it difficult to say No, as in "We love you, but we won't ordain you." Instead, we create a harrowing obstacle course in order to discourage people, so they'll drop out instead of having to be dropped by us. What we get at the end are survivors, not servant-leaders: clergy who know how to keep going in spite of all pain and weariness and the clash of ideologies; clergy who mouth the appropriate slogans and don't care what they mean by them, so long as they make it to the next level. It's crazy, and it's irresponsible.

If I could work my will, I would restrict the administration of the sacraments to clergy: to Deacons under the supervision of an Elder, and to Elders in their own right. But I would then ordain as Elder all those whom we admit have a lifetime call to the pastoral ministry. I would make the Course of Study equivalent to a seminary degree (as it was, historically, in Methodism), and I would beef up the Course of Study. If you wanna join the club, you can go to seminary or do the Course of Study. Your choice. Bi-vocational pastors, etc., could be ordained Elder upon completion of the Course of Study. They could refuse to itinerate by accepting what we call Honorable Location, which restricts their sacramental rights to the charge in which they hold membership.

To minister to the small churches which are too small to have a full-time pastor, I would use retired Elders, and I would tell serving Elders they should expect to be the senior pastor of multiple churches in many cases (with Local Pastor and Certified Lay Speaker help). Being an Elder means surrendering yourself to do the work; it is not a union card that says the good, easy, high-paying jobs are reserved for me.

The diaconate should be the stepping stone to the presbyterate, as it is historically. The difference, is, I would open Deacon's Orders to those who do not have the full boat of clergy credentials -- the specialists. Specialists (youth workers, Christian educators, music ministers, etc.) would be permanent Deacons and Associate Members of Annual Conference. Those on track for serving as traditional clergy would be Probationary Members and go to be ordained Elder at the time of their being received as Full Members of the Annual Conference.