Saint Peter would not get a job with the Church of Ireland

Jan 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: Church of Ireland Comment

Did you ever think about the people Jesus chose as followers?

It’s not that there wasn’t a wide choice available; there were plenty of learned men, plenty of candidates in the rabbinic schools, but he didn’t choose those.  He chose ordinary blokes, working men; men who came home at the end of the day with their hands dirty; men who lived by the sweat of their brow.

The small minority who might venture into church next Sunday would hear these words,

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

But sorry, lads, two thousand years on, and you haven’t the skills necessary to train leaders for the church.

These are the Church of Ireland’s full criteria for a lecturer in practical theology. This is the person who is to train people preparing to be clergy in how to do the practical stuff:

Academic qualifications commensurate with post-graduate teaching. (It is expected that the candidate will have completed, or be close to the completion of, a doctoral degree.)
Experience of teaching at degree level in the required fields
Evidence of published and planned research relating to one or more of the relevant areas
An understanding of, and willingness to implement, the educational philosophy behind the course
A proven ability to teach and to model reflective practice
An ability to organise the development of practical placements and internships
Either an experience of distance learning methodologies or a willingness to master these requirements, and a commitment to deliver in this mode
A level of technological capability that will enable distance learning to be delivered

No experience necessary in actually working on the ground; no understanding as to why the churches are empty; no appreciation needed of working class culture (or even insights into middle class culture, for that matter); no need to have actually done anything.  This is like having a consultant surgeon who is skilled in the theory of cutting people open, but has not actually done much of the nasty stuff himself.

There was a time when I thought the Church of Ireland had an active contempt for working people; now, I think that judgment to be unfair.  We just have a benign indifference to reality.

Rant over!

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  1. Who prepares the ordinands to deal with the raw grief of their flock nowadays?

    The gifts of ‘book learning’ and eloquent public speaking are fine for an academic audience, but not much comfort at the bedside of a dying soul.

  2. I would have thought that it might have been the role of a lecturer in practical theology to talk about such things?

    However, I have never advanced beyond being a bog standard parish cleric, so am probably wrong.

  3. Lecturing in theology?

    Towards a degree in Stuff-We-Made-Up.

  4. Does seem like overkill for a Parish Priest, I’d have thought some qualification in social work might be more appropriate . . .the problem with academics is that often they lack the people skills necessary to implement their craft . .hence the plethora of doctors we have who are technically perfect with no bedside manner. You stay a bog standard parish cleric! (although I don’t believe that for a minute)

  5. Ian you have been born with the gift of knowing how to “be” with people in their hour of need. No one can learn that from a book or no one can teach anybody how to aquire that gift. It is a gift from the God who you serve in the most wonderfully humanly way and are a blessing to all who know you.

  6. Bock,

    There are radical evangelical Christians who would agree with you – people belonging to the Anabaptist Network in England regard much of Christian ‘doctrine’ as coming from the corruption of the church after Constantine became a ‘Christian’.

  7. Some psychological training might have been helpful as well. Anyway, it’s nothing to do with me.

  8. Barbara,

    Thank you – your cheque is in the post 😉

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