Welcome back to COD's live-blogging of the General Ordination Exams 2: Electric Boogaloo
Well, live to me, not you, since Crusty doesn't want to post blogs that have the question in them and thus give any students taking the exam in Hawaii an unfair advantage. Rest assured, GBEC, this will not be posted until well after all students have begun each question.
Crusty Old Dean initially took the Daily Office Readings for this morning as a good sign: the Psalm appointed was Psalm 68, the triumphant declaration that God will arise and scatter one's enemies, that God is the God of orphans and widows, and yea, dogs will lap up the blood of our foes.
|Origen approves of Crusty's exegesis.|
Then Crusty saw the question. As readers from last year might remember, GOEs often have a WTF question: where you really wonder what people are thinking. Last year's exam had some WTF moments (Crusty was perplexed a question on theology and the environment relied on quotes from a book over 40 years old, as if this topic has not been dealt with in any substantive theological works in recent years), but hard to say a real WTF question from top to bottom, and COD was in general thrilled with the 2012 General Ordination Exams, apart from his usual judgmental snark.
It's a whole new year.
Looks like we're hitting the WTF question out of the gate:
Set 1: Liturgy and Church Music
LIMITED RESOURCES:A printed one-volume annotated Bible; a printed 1979 Book of Common Prayer; a printed Book of Occasional Services; a printed Lesser Feasts and Fasts; the printed Enriching Our Worship volumes; a printed Holy Women, Holy Men; and printed authorized Episcopal hymnals. NO electronic or Internet resources.
Create a liturgy for a nature-oriented event in your pastoral context. You may imagine any such situation: for example, the planting or harvesting of crops, the blessing of a fishing fleet, the planting of a community garden, the reclaiming of land after a natural disaster, or the blessing of animals.
1. In a well-organized essay of approximately 750 words:
A. Give the pastoral reason for the rite;
B. Explain the theological understanding of creation that informs your liturgical design.
2. In another essay of approximately 750 words:
A. Outline the celebration, explaining why you structured it this way and why you chose the liturgical texts, readings and music, showing how your choices conform to the rubrics of the liturgical books listed above;
B. Describe the roles of the members of the congregation, including the liturgical leaders;
C. Describe the liturgical choreography (the movement of the assembly, including the liturgical ministers) and the use of space.
Crusty's initial response was one word: "Really?" This is the same word of bemused disbelief that Official Child of Crusty Old Dean (OCOCOD, a condition for which, sadly, there is no known cure) drops when baffled by behavior of COD and CODW.
Really? This is the liturgy question? Let me count the levels of my bemusement:
1) This puts the "occasional" in "occasional" services. Crusty's been going to church his entire life, didn't take a decade off, and been active members of congregations, as lay and clergy, rural and suburban (Crusty spent six months as interim pastor in a farming town of 800 people!) and has been to a grand total of one of these kinds of liturgies.
|Buddy Christ will say your answer is "proficient."|
3) The question is just rife with vagaries, something that concerns COD. If there's one thing Crusty has learned, it's that despite being crystal clear in sermons, people often don't hear what he says, and sometimes hear the exact opposite. Crusty favors erring on the side of clarity. Further, this can be a problem in GOEs if the assessment portion may wind up being based on unspoken understandings or standards. Let's take Section 1, which asks for theological understanding: what kind? Ecofeminism? Biblically based? From an extrapolation of the oikonomia of the Trinity? I would hate for someone to lay out a theological understanding of creation and have the readers say, "Oh but you didn't mention Genesis" or "How could you not mention the work of Sallie McFague in your answer!" Also, what is meant by "creation?" The dynamics involved in defining "creation" from, say, a pet blessing, would be different from, say, blessing of crops. Similar with section 2: "describe the roles" and "describe the liturgical choreography" and "use of space." All of these things are important, to be sure -- Crusty's favorite liturgy professor endlessly repeated the maxim "the space always wins" when it comes to liturgical planning -- but what do you mean by "describe"? What their theological, liturgical, or symbolic roles are? Not what they are supposed to do, because that's asked in the next section. More direction and clarity was needed throughout this question in what, how, and on what basis students are being asked to do.
4) If the intent is to get students to think of creative applications of liturgy to context -- something which would be a fabulous way to demonstrate competency -- Good God, there are other ways to do this than this question. Ask them to devise an emergent Eucharist, or a service that is in response to a natural disaster, not land reclaimed after one.
5) Besides, the whole question is moot: Crusty bets three-quarters do a pet blessing. And that's how we'll judge people demonstrating competency in liturgy.