I suppose the main reason that I accepted a calling to ministry in 2018 is that I had grown weary of making a living primarily for myself and being too self-centered. I worked in business in a less-than-thrilling occupation. And I spent several hours a week poring over social media sites, posting my thoughts in blog-like bites, and commenting on posts by others.
After a while, the routine grew tired and I doubted that there was really much point to it. What could I do that could make a real difference? I even wondered if I was really succeeding at building the “Integral community” when it was so fragmented with weak ties on Facebook. Was it even a true community or just an odd assortment of individuals who liked water cooler banter and arguing with “talking heads”?
As I thought of it, my vocation would have been obvious had I remained in the Roman Catholic Church. In the Church, men with a lot of commitment to spiritual things and passion for nurturing community go into the priesthood or become monks in one of dozens of religious societies or serve the Church as theologians. However, in my 20s, I stepped away from the faith on a sabbatical, and then in my 30s, I announced my resignation from Catholicism (you can read the post “Breaking Up with God is Hard to Do” in Soulfully Gay).
Having eschewed the most logical choice for my vocation and acknowledging that I needed a new career, I felt that there might be an innovative alternative: I could become an Integral Minister. This posed a problem because there was no integral church or spiritual community that I was aware of, and the one or two people who had tried to become ordained integral ministers failed to get it off the ground. I hear that an aspiring integral minister even asked Ken Wilber for ordination, but he said that it wasn’t in his job description.
After a search for ways of accomplishing my objective, I found a spiritual organization with ordained ministers, and after reviewing my background and essay they let me know that a bishop in the Esoteric Interfaith Church was happy to ordain me as an Integral Minister. This accomplished the formal part of the ministry process, but it all happened by email and mail, and it felt probably too cheap. When I compared it to the years-long and rigorous vetting given to ministers in a wide range of religious organizations, I wondered how much this piece of paper was really worth. I was grateful that they satisfied my request for ordination, but I was only just beginning to discern what being a minister was all about.
Today, that process goes on. It would be so much easier if there was an established organization that could provide ministerial formation and support, but without one, I feel that I must do this virtually alone. And my thoughts and plans for this vocation have come and go. Yes, I can design a future in this occupation with the privilege of working full-time in an unrelated occupation, but this comes at the cost of making me feel divided. It’s like I don’t trust my religious vocation enough to “step into it with both feet”, and I’ve hedged my bets in ways that may prevent me from succeeding (I fear) in either occupation so long as I don’t choose between them.
And so I have found a way forward that allows me to resolve a lot of these outstanding problems. It allows me to bridge divides in my spirit that I didn’t even know I had. It is risky as I can stand it, but the upside potential in terms of my own happiness can’t be priced. I want to tell you what it is but this post has gone on too long, and so I will tell you soon what I have in mind. But in the meantime, let me just say that I will be going back to Divinity School where I will finish a degree that I didn’t finish a few decades ago. By making up my mind, I haven’t resolved all my vocational questions, but I have picked a way to answer them with the help of a supportive community and many intellectual resources for my education and formation.