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Author Topic: What is Clergy?  (Read 12422 times)
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« Topic Start: April 12, 2007, 02:46:06 pm »

Spinoff of the religion-building thread:

What is clergy to you?  Does your religion have a separation of clergy and laity?  What's the difference?

Is clergy a life calling, or a hat you wear at appointed times?

**

FlameKeeping doesn't currently have a clergy-laity split.  More a beginner-not beginner split, between when you first start investigating FLameKeeping and when you contribute to it.

As far as clergy, though .. I'm very open to the idea, and I think that a separation which enables people to take on greater or lesser religious roles depending on their own desires is important.  Simply saying that everyone is clergy destroys the chance of people to have a faith which impacts them but doesn't take up untold hours of time.  Setting the bar too high, though, pushes out people that would be interested in some aspects but not others.

I think clergy is a life calling.  But it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  There needs to be a scale of involvement, something for every type of person so they can give as they can instead of feeling inadequate about what they do or don't have.
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« Reply #1: April 12, 2007, 03:19:44 pm »

Spinoff of the religion-building thread:

What is clergy to you?  Does your religion have a separation of clergy and laity?  What's the difference?

Is clergy a life calling, or a hat you wear at appointed times?

**

For our group, there is a fine line of seperation between the two.  There's definitely room for that to grow into our group, as I don't believe it necessary for everyone who is faithful to be a priest or priestess, or clergy.  When I laid out the progression in studies, I deliberately created room for laity to form around the core members who are initiates, priests and priestesses.  We currently have one member of the laity, a priest, HPS, and a dedicant who will likely be ready to initiate next year at Imbolc.  We're a very small group right now.
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« Reply #2: April 12, 2007, 05:54:58 pm »

Spinoff of the religion-building thread:

What is clergy to you?  Does your religion have a separation of clergy and laity?  What's the difference?

Is clergy a life calling, or a hat you wear at appointed times?

**

Judaism has clergy.

The difference between clergy and laity is wether they are getting paid as a rabbi; wether they've graduated from a yeshiva; or wether they have gotten the phone company to list them as a rabbi (old joke).

There is nothing that the Rabbi does in terms of religious functions that any Jewish male over the age of 13 who has been Bar Mitzvahed can not do. In Reform that extends to females over the age of 13 who have been Bat Mitzvahed. We had a pair of 15 year old girls lead services when the Rabbi was out of town last month.

I think there is a need for paid full-time professional clergy when a group reaches a certain size. The job is to be the expert, to be there at need, and to organize things.

There are some religions that require clergy to perform certain religious (or most) functions.
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« Reply #3: April 12, 2007, 11:07:51 pm »

Spinoff of the religion-building thread:

What is clergy to you?  Does your religion have a separation of clergy and laity?  What's the difference?

Is clergy a life calling, or a hat you wear at appointed times?

**

As I said before (and hopefully I can elaborate a bit here), I don't like the idea of clergy acting as a "necessary intermediary between the laity and the gods". I believe that *everyone* has the ability to form relationships with the gods, and the divine. There are skills which can be learned to help with that, but everyone can do it. I don't agree with the idea that only the clergy can communicate with the divine.

Any "clergy" within my religion would take the role of teacher, of elder (almost like a tribal elder or shamen). They would lead many of the rituals, (but there is nothing saying that anyone else *cannot* lead them) and would help the less experienced ones develop the skills they need to grow within the religion. There would be a certain "more" that they would have to devote to the religion and their practice, of course. I really can't see it being a paid position unless my one-man religion becomes a full scale "church" with many members and then it becomes necessary.
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« Reply #4: April 13, 2007, 08:29:39 am »

What is clergy to you?  Does your religion have a separation of clergy and laity?  What's the difference?

Hellenic Paganism as the Greeks practiced it did not even have clergy in the modern sense. Priests did things in temples for the Gods, they did not usually lead services for "lay people" or even preside over things like marriages. Etc.

This is one of the problems Hellenic Paganism faces today. The world has changed dramatically in this area. People expect a completely different type of prirest than the ancient Greeks had.
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« Reply #5: April 13, 2007, 08:31:18 am »

Any "clergy" within my religion would take the role of teacher, of elder (almost like a tribal elder or shamen). They would lead many of the rituals, (but there is nothing saying that anyone else *cannot* lead them) and would help the less experienced ones develop the skills they need to grow within the religion. There would be a certain "more" that they would have to devote to the religion and their practice, of course.

Teacher, mentor, elder, as well as counsellor, bookkeeper, organizer, chief cook and bottle washer.  That's the role that *I* play.  All but our single-member laity can perform all necessary rituals already, and he probably could, but he's not fully trained in the rites, so he doesn't feel comfortable taking that role.  Definitely none of us need an intermediary to the gods, and that is not my role at all, nor is it a role I would want. 
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« Reply #6: April 13, 2007, 11:28:46 am »

Teacher, mentor, elder, as well as counsellor, bookkeeper, organizer, chief cook and bottle washer.  That's the role that *I* play.  All but our single-member laity can perform all necessary rituals already, and he probably could, but he's not fully trained in the rites, so he doesn't feel comfortable taking that role.  Definitely none of us need an intermediary to the gods, and that is not my role at all, nor is it a role I would want. 

The role of counselor is one that I forgot to mention...I think that it is important to have someone in that role. I mean, how many people go to their priest to talk about their personal issues, or their Rabbi? I think that any clergy is going to end up filling those shoes anyway.
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« Reply #7: April 13, 2007, 01:25:04 pm »

The role of counselor is one that I forgot to mention...I think that it is important to have someone in that role. I mean, how many people go to their priest to talk about their personal issues, or their Rabbi? I think that any clergy is going to end up filling those shoes anyway.

Whether you want to or not...   Tongue

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« Reply #8: April 13, 2007, 02:26:45 pm »

Spinoff of the religion-building thread:

What is clergy to you?  Does your religion have a separation of clergy and laity?  What's the difference?

Is clergy a life calling, or a hat you wear at appointed times?
Sometimes I wish the neoPagan movement had never gone near that word.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, there's a bunch of religious terminology I've struggled to come to terms with because of the hefty load of implication it's picked up.  In most cases, that's meant getting a sense of what it means in context of my system of beliefs and practices, as distinct from any other system - it's been very helpful to look at a variety of systems to see the differences between them.  In the case of "clergy", the implication of "laity" is so ingrained that it's either useless, or has to be considered as non-identical (though possibly overlapping) with "priesthood".

There is nothing about my religion that requires lay members - it's religious witchcraft, which doesn't just mean magic is allowed or encouraged, it means it's part of how the religion is practiced.  As a priestess, I'm a skilled technician - I'm not so sure about the phrase "technician of the sacred", because I'm not sure if "sacred" is a meaningful word in this context; "technician of the theurgic" might be closer.  That can be as simple as the theurgy necessary to conduct a religious-witchcraft ritual (without which, it's not witchcraft - it's that form of generic Paganism that practices the non-magical aspects of religious witchcraft [as they often put it, "the religion but not the magic", as if those were two separate things], or NeoWicca, or something), or it may get into more complex theurgy.

What I do is far more shamanistic than it is pastoral, and the main thrust of what is pastoral has to do with the well-being of those whose paths may be taking them toward similar work - becoming qualified can be traumatic, and attention to their well-being helps ensure it's not more traumatic than necessary.  ("Dead, mad, or a poet" as the saying goes.)  That's not ministry, though; it's teaching.

I'm sure I sound a bit grumpy.  That's because there's a laity out there that thinks it's the same religion as I am, is convinced that it needs clergy, and occasionally pouts at me because I won't apply my years of experience as a priestess to making sure they have a church like everybody else does.

(I've got an essay that's been simmering on the back burner of my head for about sixteen years, on the subject of assumptions among Pagans about how to "do" religion - the congregational model is one such assumption.  I try to write it from time to time, and can't; I can't maintain articulation well enough even for a rant.  Questions like this, Shadow, may make me grumpy, but answering them helps get me closer to being able to get the damn thing out of my system.  So, thanks.)

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« Reply #9: April 13, 2007, 02:42:01 pm »

...there's a laity out there that thinks it's the same religion as I am, is convinced that it needs clergy, and occasionally pouts at me because I won't apply my years of experience as a priestess to making sure they have a church like everybody else does.

There's a place for such a thing, but not every priest/ess needs to be clergy.  The laity are there, whether we want them or not.  Any festival proves this reality.  Some of us (myself strongly included) don't really want to be clergy to a group any larger than our own tight knit group.  I am clergy, to a whopping four people worldwide, and that's more than enough!   Grin

For you, being clergy may not be something you will ever wish to do for even one person.  And that shouldn't be a problem for anyone.  There's ample others who either want to serve in that manner or who will whether they really want it or not (you know, those who are called and all)

I've always thought that the traditional covens and solitaries, who were trained as I was (though I'm far from BTW, I am traditional) as the "cloistered priesthood", not clergy.  Some of us become clergy to one extent or another.  Most do not.  That's not how religious witchcraft is laid out.  Those who do are called to serve their community in that manner, and that's fabulous for them.  I like the idea of not having to serve more than just my own tiny group in that manner.  The laity formed from those who are called to our gods, but not to the priesthood.  They're not quite as driven to be a part of that inner circle, and that's fine, too. 

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« Reply #10: April 13, 2007, 10:23:31 pm »

This is a cut-and pasted comment that I made to someone on another forum some time back who was complaining that (among other things) Christians get to take it for granted that people will respect their clergy's religious credentials, or that their clergy can be clergy full time and not have to take on a "regular" job. It seemed appropriate here also.:

Quote
Ya know...as far as um..."pagan" (I really hate that word)religions go, I think that a lot of the problems regarding clergy isn't so much the non-pagan majority, but the folks practicing the religions themselves. I dunno about you, but I frequently encounter people saying that we don't need trained clergy and then going into rhapsodous odes about how we are all our own priests to the gods and we don't need an intercessor, etc etc etc, and somehow refuse or are unable to see that "priest" and "clergy" aren't necessarily the same thing. One may be able to lead a ritual of celebratory observance...but that's a far cry from dealing with other matters that clergy deal with, like conducting funerals. I think that if attitudes changed from within, we'd see a lot more of this.
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« Reply #11: April 13, 2007, 10:39:26 pm »

There's a place for such a thing, but not every priest/ess needs to be clergy.  The laity are there, whether we want them or not.  Any festival proves this reality....  The laity formed from those who are called to our gods, but not to the priesthood.  They're not quite as driven to be a part of that inner circle, and that's fine, too.
I've got really mixed feelings on this.  You're right, there's a wholly legitimate laity out there who, though not the same religion as I am, are of a sufficiently similar one that I could effectively serve as clergy for them, were I called to do so.  But do they need clergy?  And if they do, do they need "technicians of theurgy" to be that clergy, or is the need better served by folks with a pastoral skill-set (who may, or may not, also have a theurgic skill-set)?  Or some other skill-set?

I've encountered way too many people who don't really consider these questions, most of whom care far less about determining the answers than they do about how nice and normal and acceptable it is for a religion to have clergy and congregations and church buildings.  Perhaps I need to get out to festivals, if they're a place to meet non-fluffy laity.

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« Reply #12: April 13, 2007, 10:51:12 pm »

I've got really mixed feelings on this.  You're right, there's a wholly legitimate laity out there who, though not the same religion as I am, are of a sufficiently similar one that I could effectively serve as clergy for them, were I called to do so.  But do they need clergy?  And if they do, do they need "technicians of theurgy" to be that clergy, or is the need better served by folks with a pastoral skill-set (who may, or may not, also have a theurgic skill-set)?  Or some other skill-set?

I've encountered way too many people who don't really consider these questions, most of whom care far less about determining the answers than they do about how nice and normal and acceptable it is for a religion to have clergy and congregations and church buildings.  Perhaps I need to get out to festivals, if they're a place to meet non-fluffy laity.

Sunflower

I'm going to cheat a bit here.  http://www.ecauldron.com/opedexpect.php is to an article I wrote a number of years ago about moving the pagan community towards a congregational model.

In many ways it means that clergy are a way for a bunch of people to pay somebody else to do the heavy lifting of religious organization. The clergy will be paid to be there to run rituals on a regular basis. It won't be a political matter each week as to who'se house and who will lead the ritual.

I don't want to have to be the inner circle to practice my religion.
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« Reply #13: April 13, 2007, 11:53:02 pm »

I frequently encounter people saying that we don't need trained clergy and then going into rhapsodous odes about how we are all our own priests to the gods and we don't need an intercessor, etc etc etc, and somehow refuse or are unable to see that "priest" and "clergy" aren't necessarily the same thing. One may be able to lead a ritual of celebratory observance...but that's a far cry from dealing with other matters that clergy deal with, like conducting funerals. I think that if attitudes changed from within, we'd see a lot more of this.
I think I agree with you - at least, I like the part where you distinguish between "priest" and "clergy".  I am, though, a bit wary based on past experience; I've been scolded for "only doing part of my job" because I don't do the pastoral clergy thing outside my coven.  I'm guessing you're talking about the attitudes of the "look how free I am!  I don't need an intercessor!" idealists, not the attitudes of the non-pastoral priesthood, but I want to double-check.

Or maybe we're coming at this from really different places - I'm not sure what's involved in ADF ritual or ADF priesthood, so that could be quite a different skill-set than mine, too.

That's another aspect of the original question - who exactly is the "we" that needs, or doesn't need, clergy?  There's going to be a lot of variation in that, and in what the various we's would want from clergy.  The ADF answer is not the Hellenic Pagan answer is not the FlameKeeping answer (and so on).

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« Reply #14: April 14, 2007, 12:07:49 am »

I'm going to cheat a bit here.  http://www.ecauldron.com/opedexpect.php is to an article I wrote a number of years ago about moving the pagan community towards a congregational model.

In many ways it means that clergy are a way for a bunch of people to pay somebody else to do the heavy lifting of religious organization. The clergy will be paid to be there to run rituals on a regular basis. It won't be a political matter each week as to who'se house and who will lead the ritual.

I don't want to have to be the inner circle to practice my religion.
No time to check your article out just now, but I'm sure there'll be some worthwhile thoughts in there.

However, I'm going to take issue right away with "moving the Pagan community to".  What, all of it?  The BTWs and the Hellenics and the Discordians?

I'm pretty sure you've got something more specific in mind (though you may not have more specific terms with which to refer to it) - apparently, something in which *every*flippin'*thing* got all caught in group-dynamics jockeying.

You shouldn't have to be the inner circle to practice your religion.  But is moving everyone to a congregational model the way to resolve that?

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