It hasn’t reached the front page yet, but my first post at PaganBloggers.com is up today!
Here’s a snippet for you:
I’m well aware that other people consider me an authority figure, and in certain contexts, I have to accept and work with that. I wield authority, whether I ever wanted to or not, especially when interpersonal and ethical conflicts arise within the groups I organize. Still, I mostly consider myself an expert, not an authority.
What’s the difference?
- An Authority tells you what to do, and can inflict consequences if you don’t obey.
- An Expert gives you informed advice so you can make your own choices, and while it might be foolish to ignore their experience, it’s not their place to inflict consequences.
I believe that clergy serve best when we serve mostly as experts, rather than authorities. Some traditions argue that clergy aren’t needed at all, because everyone can connect directly with the Divine without an intercessor. Even so, they have those who step up to serve the rest of the group, or those outside their immediate group, when the need arises. Even Wicca, which designates all practitioners priests, has individuals who step up to serve as chaplains and hospice ministers where needed.
While I agree that intercessors are not absolutely necessary, I don’t agree that this means we shouldn’t have any. Every community needs a variety of experts and specialists. Clergy are simply one category of service people, whose job is to provide spiritual aid to those who need it. Everyone needs to eat and use lights and follow the law, but few are moved to become a chef, or an electrician, or a lawyer. Similarly, everyone needs their own spiritual relationships, but not everyone will feel called to ordination.