Sunday, October 23, 2005

Unpacking the Labels

Here's a bit about why I chose the title and description of this site;

I've been a priest for 17 years. I was trained in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. That's the brief explanation for using such an archaic term. There is another one, however...

I know that God called me to be a priest because God didn't trust me as a layperson. God pulls me from the pit of destruction by the collar of my priestly vows every day. I use the term as a reminder that I am always a "person under authority."

Not my real name. Chosen because since I first read the story as a child, I have identified with Jacob. He's a bit of a rascal, wrestles with the angels yet still blessed in spite of himself.

Personally, I'd rather not use a pen name, but a family member has requested that I do so for personal reasons. It's not much of a secret, however. Most folks that visit Jake's Place also know me by my real name; Terry Martin.

My thoughts here at Jake's place do not represent the opinions of my diocese or the congregation in which I serve. As a priest, I understand my role as being one called to stand in the center, calling all those entrusted to my care to grow into the full stature of Christ. There are no outcasts. Jake represents my own thoughts, which are not always appropriately expressed within the environments in which I have been called to serve.

...Stops the World
This is a reference to some rather unusual experiences throughout my life. Let's just call them "mystical." Maybe some day I'll say more about that. Then again, maybe I won't.

The musings...
Little attempt to be polished or professional. Just the whisperings of the muse, or maybe the ramblings of a madman if I have chosen not to listen to her on that particular day. You'll be able to tell the difference, I think. Madness is not the same as inspiration, although one may well be a component of the other.

...of an eccentric...
Although I am not of the school that thinks we are the sum total of our experiences, I do believe that they may very well awaken things that were previously dormant within us. Here are a few experiences that have led me to claim that particular label.

...and sometimes heretical...
I am given that label so often, I might as well claim it. I see nothing that terrible about sometimes being a heretic. At its root, it means "to choose." Sometimes I choose to think outside the box. I am an unapologetic panentheist who dabbles in some esoteric stuff while remaining a liturgical conservative and a social liberal. I don't think "right thought" has much to do with my relationship with the living God. But, of course, that's another reason why I prefer to be a person under authority.

Even though I have given up on the Church, and my vocation, more than once, I keep being drawn back. Why? I suppose it is because I understand Jesus Christ to be the sacrament of God, and the Church to be the sacrament of Jesus Christ, and I am a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. That still makes me a Christian, doesn't it?

...Anglican priest
I serve within the Episcopal Church. So why the label Anglican? I prefer Anglican because I understand the Kingdom of God to be something that breaks the bonds of time and space. I dislike parochialism and nationalism. My salvation is yoked with the salvation of all of creation, not only those who are of my tribe, or those who are with me now, but also those we refer to as "the great cloud of witnesses." The term Anglican is a reminder that I am involved in a global mission. Maybe more about this another time.

UPDATE: 6/4/04 - With all the threats from the conservative camp within the Anglican Communion of kicking the Episcopal Church out unless we "repent," I have decided to not play their game by identifying myself as an Anglican. So, my label of choice is now "Episcopalian." I don't respond well to threats.


No comments: