Friday, June 01, 2018

In the Bleak Midwinter

I have not blogged at all for quite a long stretch. It has been over half a year. I think that might be the longest continuous stretch since I started this blog many years ago. I have not given up on this blog entirely. I am finally coming out of a very dark time in my professional life. I have finally come to the realization that my vocation to the priesthood is pretty much dead.

As many of you know, I decided to step down from the ministry in the Episcopal church over five years ago now for various theological reasons I will not drag up here. That is over and done with. I had hoped to pick up the mantle of ministry again in my new spiritual home, but after five years of getting stabbed in the back over and over again and not even given the time of day by bishop after bishop, I think it is time to finally say that while I have not completely given up on the idea, I've pretty much given up, barring some miraculous Divine intervention. I just am not really open to putting myself in the position of getting stabbed in the back again. If people are serious about remedying a vocations crisis, they know where to find me. If not, it's time to move on with my life.

The final straw came over the last few months back in mid-winter. I felt like finally I had made some forward progress, only to get the final unceremonious left foot of fellowship out the door with no explanation from whom I thought were allies who it turned out had just been stringing me along for years for reasons that I still do not fully understand, nor at this point do I really care to understand.

So, there it is. Maybe this is, in fact, God's will for me, at least at this point in my life. Maybe someday, this will change, but at this point, it is time to face facts: it is time to move on with my life, albeit in a lay capacity.

I am still wrestling with what that means and where to go from here. I have been pondering what a career in some other field looks like, without a whole lot of success. I have a lot of interests and talents, but my job prospects have heretofore not really panned out. Luckily, I have had a job these last 5 years, but it is largely monotonous and not fulfilling.

This brings me to say why I have had trouble finding employment. It came as quite a revelation that my former Anglican bishop, with whom I always had a good relationship and had respected, has apparently been giving bad references about me to prospective employers without telling, lo, these last five years. I only found out this last week when it came out in an interview that I had gotten bad references that pretty much had killed my chances with this one job that I had been really interested in pursuing.

I was hopping mad at first, but, I finally came to the realization that I just needed to forgive and shake the dirt from my feet. I am still shocked at it, but at least I know now why I had had so many job leads go completely sour on me in the last few years with obvious no reason why. So, maybe in a strange way that whole fiasco last week was a blessing in disguise. I can now completely and finally close this whole chapter in my life and try to find meaning in where God is leading me in the future.

Where that is, I have no idea.
What that is, I have no idea.

I hope to relaunch this blog, or at least create a new, fresh one somewhere else, and start writing again. I don't know what that will look like either, but hopefully, I will at least give it a whirl now that I have past the height of the bleak winter.

But, as Gandalf said in the Lord of the Rings trilogy:

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Pray for me, and I will continue to pray for all of you.

UPDATE: Shortly after posting this, I saw this floating around the internet (it's likely a fake, as it's in English). but I think it pretty much says it all:

1 comment:

The Archer of the Forest said...

I received the following message privately. I have redacted the name and info, but I thought I would share it, as it somewhat disturbed me.

Yesterday, 9:47 PM

Hi Archer -- I haven't checked in for a while -- our last e-mails were in 2013.
I'm feeling pretty much the same way you do right now. I feel betrayed by the powers-that-be in the Church. I'm older than you, and I have given up. I rarely go to church now ( I never missed a Sunday, or several Daily
Masses) -- and I don't feel to bad about it. As a priest once said to me: "I feel bad that I don't feel bad."



My response:

I still believe in the Church. Though, it is true that I am no longer the idealistic young man I once was, not that I was ever an off-the-charts pie in the sky starry eyed person. I did go through a very dark period where I very nearly walked away from the Church, or going to Mass. in fact, on more than one occasion I walked out of the middle of Mass from the pews and never went back in that day. I was very angry.

What I was angry at, I am not sure of now. I don't know if it was unfocused rage, or it was directed at the Church bureaucracy itself, or even against God Himself that I was angry at. It was probably a combination of the 3. I think primarily it was a disillusionment with God actually, that somehow God had led me down this path into a dark pit and just left me there. I think in some ways I am still processing that.

I don't think I am angry at the Church, at least anymore. I mean, I knew going in that the Church was full of sinners with agendas. I saw that all too well as an Episcopal priest. I knew full well that humans being humans, we are just very good at corrupted that which is good. I finally just came to the realization that my talents are Mother Church's talents to use or waste. And, at least in the here and now, the Church seems perfectly content with wasting my talents. It was only after 5 years of serious contemplation and prayer and angst and tears that I finally had that little epiphany, along with the notion that those people will one day account for their bad stewardship to an assizes far greater than anything I could subject them to.

That having been said, I still take some comfort in pointing to one of my heroes, old CS Lewis. I argue he did more for the kingdom of heaven than most clergy I know in the 20th Century. And yet he was happily a lay person and would not touch the idea of being ordained a deacon or priest in the Anglican church, even after some bishops often came knocking on his door to such an end.

I finally came to the realization that if the Church has no particular use for my talents, then that really frees me to pursue really anything I wish, as long as its moral and ethical. I can go back to school, I can find a secular job, I can write, I can do any number of things.

Really, at the end of the day, I really should not let the boneheads in the Church ruin my life and my relationship with God. There's an old saying, "Poor planning on your part should not necessitate a crisis on my part." And so it is.

I still go to Mass. I still find ministry in other ways, particularly helping with a Ugandan orphanage that I know of. I would urge you to find your own ministry. Sometimesy you have to go out and find your little piece of the Kingdom of God, even if you have to make it yourself.

Don't let the Church steal your joy. Don't let the ecclesiatical morons ruin your faith. If you do that, in the end, you've let them win. And I firmly believe that's the Devil's ace in the hole. If he can corrupt just enough people for you to lose your faith, he doesn't have to do anything more. Don't make it easy for him.

Fight for what's right. Be the Kingdom if no one else will. If you don't, nothing else will ever change.

-The Archer