Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Pastoral Role

One of the things I did for my third unit final evaluation is answer the question below. I made a "learning goal" out of it and for the entire unit I looked closely at what I did as a pastor and why.

As usual with me, I came up with a bajillion answers, but this is the one that I wanted to write about because it kept coming to mind for me. It taps into what I think is a sorely under-analyzed Biblical theme which connects the Bible to the rest of the world's mythology and folklore - the trickster.

Maybe I just need to be turned on to theologians who are talking about tricksters in the Bible and in Christian mythology, but I haven't seen many at all. Well, anyway, read on...

312.1 To articulate an understanding of the pastoral role that is congruent with their personal values, basic assumptions and personhood.
Here's one way I articulate my role: As a pastor, I seek to be a trickster. I find ways to turn weakness into strength, emptiness into fullness. I comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, as has been said by wiser people. I take on a role, and the authority of the role, but never confuse myself with the role, or think the authority is mine. In a situation of partial truths, the trickster says the truth out loud. In a situation of avoidance, the trickster goes for the center. The trickster hears laughter echoing in the heart of everything, as if it was the first sound, and will be the last sound. Jacob, Shiphrah and Puah, Moses, Jael, Elijah, Amos, Isaiah, Jesus and Peter all exhibit aspects of tricksterism in their lives and actions, and God is often tricksterish in the way God is described interacting with the world and with human beings in the Bible.
It is important to me to be a transparent trickster. A classic trickster deity is opaque because there are other more powerful deities about, but as a pastor, I do have power attributed to me that I can claim, and so when I do, I must not be opaque, pretending as if I didn't have it.

What do you think? Am I just blowing smoke again? Am I heretical enough to warrant water-boarding? Or just enough to be fun at parties?

10 comments:

Aric Clark said...

I don't see what's heretical about this. Seems like a clear and obvious theme in scripture to me, if a novel interpretation of that theme.

You should read Daniel Friedmann "To Kill and Take Possession". He has 2 or 3 chapters in there on tricksterism, deceit and moral concepts in relation to this in the Bible.

Aric Clark said...

Also, I think you make 2 very distinctly Christian moves in reference to the trickster - you are transparent, and selfless (or trying to be). A classic trickster does things for their own (private) motives and benefit. It's obvious that you are talking about employing subtlety for the benefit of others.

Doug Hagler said...

Slight disagreement - I think that there are stories of trickster characters who do what they do for the betterment of others, even the betterment of the whole world.

Its just that the trickster wields the only power available to those for whom violence is either morally unacceptable or tactically unfeasible. The trickster must use reversals, oblique thinking, creativity and cunning because brute force or brute authority just isn't available (or is, in my case, morally unconscionable).

Nick.Larson said...

I love it. I preached on sorta a similar topic to this, I was planning on trying to turn that into a few posts or something. Gotta do it now huh?

Craig said...

Doug,

Definitely just heretical enough to be fun at parties. While I appreciate your honesty, I think you might be a little to out of the box for most PNC's. Been there, done that, not sure this will get you looks. Brave of you to go this direction. Good luck.

Doug Hagler said...

Craig - few things make me more sad than the fact that a post like this would require courage.

Also, what is a blog except a place to trot out out-of-the-box ideas? Who wants to talk about things we all agree on? I guess I could just post the Nicene Creed or clippings from the Westminster Confession every week and play it safe...

Doug Hagler said...

Nick - yeah you do. Hop to it!

Craig said...

Doug,

I agree with you on the role of the blog, I was referring to being this "out side" on your PIF. Compared to some of the other stuff this is pretty tame. It's just the kind of stuff that might be a hurdle for a PNC. (been there, done that)

Sorry, for the misunderstanding.

Doug Hagler said...

Gotcha, no problem.

My hope is that, as was the case with my move to Candidacy, your assessment will turn out to be more dire than my experience :)

Craig said...

Doug,

I hope so too. I'll add that in this step, you probably won't see much other than "positive" since PNC's who won't go that far outside the box probably won't provide you much feedback.

As I said to you during your candidacy phase, I'll say again. Good luck.