Another hero becomes human-sized.

I saw Barbara Brown Taylor last night. She gave a lecture at a seminary in our little town, and Mr. M and I waited eagerly for months to see her. She's an extraordinary sermon-writer, and many of her perspectives on ministry have sunk bone-deep with their kinship to my own ideas of vocation.

Which was why I felt shaken when I learned that her most recent book is a memoir titled Leaving Church.

Leaving just parish ministry? Leaving the priesthood? Leaving the Episcopal tradition? Leaving Christianity?

I don't know. Definitely leaving parish ministry-- she's now a professor of religion, and does still speak as a visiting preacher.

I'm quietly hoping that it just means a change in call-- a new direction in her vocation. I'm disappointed to learn that she left parish life with some bitterness, something that I see all too much of.

Clergy burnout is monumental. Not just because clergy are overworked, but often I think because they're making choices that are culturally appropriate, when scriptural calls us to question cultural norms. Workaholism is something we talk about with pride, instead of shame for betraying the sabbath. We encourage others to lean on us, instead of encouraging them to lean on God. People try to keep their jobs, instead of keeping open eyes, hearts, and minds.

I wonder often if I really feel called to ordained ministry. And then I watch and listen to how passionately I feel about how it might be done. And I suspect that observation will keep calling me home.

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"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins