Song 14: "A Tune to Say Goodbye"
Song 13: Flag
New Track: I Want to Want to Be Good
Song 11: Tall Tales for the Young
The Opposite of a Restraining Order
Today at the hospital I told Eli that I had filed a •constraining• order against him. He had to stay within 8 feet of me. Of course I lost him tout suite. He was making cocoa in a waiting area; two cups. He's a keeper.
Song #10: "Zina Lahr"
This song is about Zina Lahr.
Track 9: "A Rock Chorus"
Inspired by T.S. Eliot's Choruses from 'The Rock'
Track 8: Delicious Distraction
New Song: Lose Myself in the Radio
(I really like this one)
The PCA's Cruel Pastoral Training and Calling Process
The Presbyterian Church in America operates an unethical and cruel system of pastoral training, calling, and support, and we ought to do something about it. If you think I'm exaggerating, read on.
As background, take a minute to read the heartbreaking story of one of my seminary classmates: "A Time to Quit"
In the PCA, local churches search for, find pastors, and then extend a call to the man they choose. Generally, the minister and his family then move to the town where the church is located and begin their service. Before the pastorate is all completely solemnized, the minister must go before the presbytery to receive further scrutiny. At this point, even if the man is a member in good standing in another presbytery, the new presbytery may shut the door, denying the congregation's choice and leaving a man in a tough spot. The standards employed by each presbytery are far from uniform. While all have the same formal standard, the scriptures and the Westminster standards, presbyteries apply different degrees of leeway when considering a candidate's exceptions to or quibbles with the Westminster standards. Thus we have the odd situation where there are ministers in good standing in the Missouri presbytery who teach at the PCA's official seminary yet who could not be ordained in some of the denomination's presbyteries!
Congregational churches (with local autonomy to call the pastor they choose) have problems, no doubt. There is often no authority beyond the congregation to which appeals can be sent when there are scandals or pastoral malpractice. Most congregational bodies have associations to deal with this problem, but many exist in situations where there is no ecclesiastical authority higher than the pastor. Presbyterianism, as practiced by the PCA, avoids many of the pitfalls of congregationalism but it has its own problems as well. The presbytery itself is supposedly a congregation. It does not, however, do the hard work of interviewing and selecting a pastor for its member churches. Member churches often conduct a months long (even year long) search for the man they believe the Holy Spirit wants to bind to their church as pastor. No matter the approach to controversial points of doctrine taken by the congregation (paedocommunion, age of the earth, deaconesses, etc) the presbytery can override the church's choice based on a contradictory opinion on those same contested points. This brings great trials to churches and to the men whose calls are aborted.
Several remedies are possible for this situation:
1. Pastoral search committees could include a certain number of presbyters from outside the congregation. The committee could be prohibited from extending a call to a man without the consent of the outside presbyters and a man so called could not be denied transfer or establishment of credentials by the presbytery for positions already in evidence before the call was issued.
2. The general assembly could impose uniform standards on exceptions to the Westminster documents, thus every presbyter will be fully aware of the standard that will be applied to him when he seeks ordination.
In short, with regard to training and ordaining ministers, the PCA has major problems. It is cruel to train men only to throw them to the wolves. I wasn't exaggerating when I said the system is unethical. If your money or energy goes into the PCA then it is worth asking how complicit you are in this mess. I know I'm complicit given that I'm a member of a church in a state that wouldn't even ordain some of my seminary professors. I don't know what I could do about it, but I'm sure some of you have ideas--please share them in the comments.
New Track: "Torquemada Politely Declines to Attend his High School Reunion on Facebook"
New Song: Lullaby for the First-World Husband
New Single: "Bookish Southern Man"
My longest song to date, and also the first one where I play electric guitar.
My New Single: "Gotta Work"