Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is Entering the Clergy a Better Bail-Out 
than Obama can Offer?

This week's Newsweek has a curious article about the documented rise in seminary enrollment and attendance following cataclysmic events (genre 9/11) and hard times (like recession/depressions).  Turns out most seminaries expect increasing enrollment in the next 12 months.  Ironic because you'll spend about $20,000 a year going to school (for at least 3 years) in order to be ordained and then make about $45,000 a year (if you're lucky).  Not necessarily a good bail-out option.  I'd suggest retraining yourself for green technology, or maybe bounty-hunter to chase down those derelicts that so many fear we'll release once they leave Guantanamo.

The article Divine Refuge in the Storm ends with an interesting quote: "You turn to God sometimes when it's so grim."  I wonder why do we do so only when life is grim?  Is God merely a force to save us when no one else can?  What kind of bail-out is that?


Sarah said...

And during the Viet Nam war a lot of men entered seminary!!

Leila said...

I worked in a culinary school in the mid-90s. One of my colleagues, who had been there a long while, said that culinary and other vocational schools saw rises in admission during downturns. I didn't realize that vocational school included seminary, but hey... it is a vocation after all.

If hard times fill the churches, why should you complain? I know that's what it takes to get me to turn to God: serious trouble.

I think we'll be needing our churches even more in the coming years, and I think churches that think about sustainable living, food security, urban agriculture and building community will be fundamental to our survival. I mean, what if we organized gleaning parties and used the church kitchen to preserve our local foods (citrus, plums, kumquats, walnuts even carob) in groups, sharing the equipment and labor?

Monte said...

I like your idea about "community organizing" at and through the church - ie. the kitchen. Clever solution. My conundrum is more about why do we tend to seek God when we need help, instead of seeking an ongoing relationship with God to sustain us in a regular, or life-style way? I wonder if it's culture, learned or maybe just part of the human condition...

Leila said...

Maybe our modern lifestyle, based on technology and "conquering" nature through machines & fuel, leads us to believe that we "don't need God" to survive. Back in the days when we could starve or die of plagues so easily, we sought out God daily - to bring rain and good crops, to protect the children, to increase the catch of fish, to bring down the stag that would feed the family.

Now with climate change and ecological catastrophe staring us in the face, with economic collapse rendering our leaders impotent, we realize that maybe we need God to change our hearts, change our realities, rescue us from the consequences of our unbridled materialism.

Leila said...

Back to the more "mundane" question of organizing via the church kitchen -

what about a gleaners' and canner's party, in which people with experience canning produce can help the rest of us put up our windfall fruit (plums, pears, citrus)? I say every year that I'm going to make plum jam but end up just throwing loads of bursting rotted plums into the compost. Right now I'm seeing citrus falling off the trees all over our area. And there are still olive trees here and there - think of the good olives we could have in the fall!

A church kitchen would be a great place to host a party with a bunch of people helping wash, core, boil and strain fruit preserves. We could get all Slow Food-y and make it a trendy happening event! You could make it a *class* and charge money - you'd get people who would not come to the free event. You'd have to find a competent home canning expert though. You could have a church event charging a voluntary donation - cash or produce.

You could see if Farmer Joe's will sell produce at a reduced rate, for a plug of course.
I'm just thinking that I want to support neighborhood food security, gain some canning skills, and do it in community because I won't get around to it alone.

This may be more appropriate for a Parks and Rec class - I will ask around.

Monte said...

Ask around and get back to me.

Leila said...

I got five replies from the Laurel list already from people who say they want in. Some are interested in doing it as a donation, i.e. giving the results to food pantry or whatever. I personally would like to keep a part of my effort & donate the rest.