Ord Advice

Sarah over at deeper in me than i is asking about the PCUSA ordination exams–Theology and Worship specifically. I actually did well on these (unlike another exam…), so I can tell you what I did.

As for the ordination process in general, I went into it thinking that I ought to be as honest as possible, presenting my doubts and fears and struggles, and once the committee understood the purity of my motives and call, then they would be compelled to allow me to be ordained. I quickly learned that I was going about it the wrong way.

A good professor took me aside and told me, “Don’t look at any of this as an honest exploration. Treat every step is a job interview. Every step.” He told me about the hot debate that was going on regarding the virgin birth when he was in seminary. He was asked if he believed in the virgin birth and he said, “Yes. Is there anything else you would like for me to believe?”

His advice to me was, “Lie, lie, lie, and lie some more, if you have to. Just make sure that you get through the process.”

I am not passing on this advice… exactly…. I’m just saying that it was good for me to hear. I am overly honest in general, but they didn’t really want to hear about all my problems. So, I got a lot smarter in the process. I learned that there would be other times and places to shake up the establishment, but as long as I was in the ord process, I needed to play by the rules.

So, for the ord exams. Of course, you can make sure you study the Creeds and the Directory for Worship. I think the Directory of Worship was the main thing that I read to prepare for the worship exam.

My theology professor in Seminary was Stacy Johnson, so I read everything he wrote (as I did with all my profs). And I found that the Reformed Readers, Volumes One and Two, were extremely helpful. Actually, I think you might just get away with volume one…. They go through the Reformed thinkers, set out the history, and give you a condensed segment of their work.

Of course, I had to ignore many of the personal rules that I often maintain when presenting theological thought in my congregation. For example, when teaching classes in a congregational setting, I try to always include a woman, a person of color, and/or someone from a liberationist position (I use the term “liberationist” quite broadly). I also try to include an American, because we spend so much time in Europe, we don’t always reflect on what theology looks like in our own country.

And yet, it seems like the Ord readers aren’t much interested in modern or diverse thought. So, I stuck with the classics. And that’s why I point you to the Reformed Readers.

Another general piece of advice, that I’m sure you’ve already gotten. You’ve been writing for professors for the last couple of years. You can make certain intellectual jumps, and your teacher will understand where you’re going. But while taking your ords, imagine writing basics for a typical church member. Use plain words and keep it simple.

Anyone else have some advice? What about the graders and COPM members out there?

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35 thoughts on “Ord Advice

  1. That’s good advice, Carol. Right: leave you creativity at the door and just answer the question in a straight-up clearly Reformed way. You don’t need a 5, you just need a 3.

    I haven’t run across Johnson’s books yet, but highly recommend Shirley Guthrie’s “Christian Doctrine.” The newest edition also does well to include more recent and multiple perspectives. On ords, I would try to have some modern quotes/ideas as well. Sure, you need Calvin, and probably a Barth, but it’s cool to add in a PTS female or liberationist after you’ve set the groundwork. Some readers do seek that diversity.

    The best piece of advice I’ve heard–from someone who wasn’t successful the first time–is in terms of how you imagine your audience. Think of a session you know. Now think of your most theologically-educated elder (that one who reads philosophy for fun) and then think of your elder who has the least interest in all that theological crap. Got it? Now right ords at a level smack dab in the middle, friendly and impressive to both.

  2. I’ll second “Christian Doctrine.” Guthrie uses a lot of Scripture to explain Reformed theology. Quoting scripture is always good on ord exams. Or if you can’t memorize it, it is still good to just refer “to the passage in Ephesians where Paul write about…”

  3. A third on Guthrie. I think repeatedly citing Scripture and classic thinkers such as Paul, Augustine, Luther and Calvin is the ticket. It is easy for a reader to disagree with me. It is much more challenging for them to disagree with Augustine.

  4. I aced the ords. Seriously. I’m a really crappy student, but I got 5’s in all of them. Why?

    a) i didn’t go to a Presbyterian seminary so nobody told me what to expect (this I expected to be a downside–ended up a positive. I had no real anxiety. I didn’t know anyone who’d failed one, so I really didn’t think it was possible. Pretend you’re me, 15 years ago.)

    b) I took it as my mission to explain Presbyterianism to my audience. So I wrote as if I were teaching an adult ed class. I referenced Calvin and Barth but never quoted them. I tried to write in a style that communicated that polity is fun (I think it is) that reformed theology is fascinating (I think it is) and our worship does have some sense and logic to it that is grounded in our theology and our polity. It seemed to have worked. When I was on COPM (10 long years), I found that this was what the committees scored highest—writing that was aimed at local congregations–not self-conscious theology paper writing, and not dumbed down writing. On the instructions for grading it said (or used to) something to the effect of “does this communicate well to a local congregation?” Our students that have failed exams tended to do so because they’d either written with a lot of jargon that confused and offended the lay readers, or they had gone with the seminary favorite of picking apart the readings. This isn’t a seminary paper. About the inclusion of your opinion, I’d go with teacher style–you know how in a class the (better) instructors make sure you really understand a concept before they argue with it (and let you argue, too)? Do that. Explain the Presbyterian standard. Really explain it. Then (and only then) argue with it. But if you argue, be sure that your arguments are a) theologically based and b) short. You want them to remember that you know your stuff–not that you can argue with it. The test is on what you’ve learned, not what you think.

    c) I took seminars in Calvin and Barth, so I had that background, but once again, it didn’t occur to me to study them for the exams. What I studied? Shirley Guthrie. Shirley Guthrie, Shirley Guthrie. The dude writes (wrote) at the exact right pitch–not too high, not too low. He was my safety blanket. I totally wore my book out, and had to buy a new one (which I now lend to Presbyterians facing the ords.)

    I guess I take issue with the idea of “lie, lie, lie”—I never felt that the ordination exams were a test of orthodoxy. I think they’re a test of what you know about the tradition in which you seek ordination, and how you can apply it to basic church life. Even when they ask your opinion, they want it to be grounded in your knowledge.

    Now orthodoxy tests—that would be the trial for ordination. I know they’ve renamed it “examination for ordination” but seriously, folks, it feels like a trial–call a spade a spade.

    But that’s a worry for tomorrow. For today, know that I’m a crappy, crappy student. I’m not very smart. And I did really well. Just set your pitch. Imagine that room full of adult ed students (or session) and write for them.

  5. For some unknown reason, I aced them all too. I have no idea why…theology was the “most likely to fail” our year. Eschatology was the first question on that one.

    I agree with the above advice, and will join the Guthrie fan club. It helped me (a detail person like no other) to be able to see broad categories of theology and place the question into one of those categories. Our syllabus for Theology class also helped me do that.

    My other advice, which also works for oral examinations with the Presbytery, is: answer the question and then Shut. Up. It’s worse with the oral exams, but don’t keep talking just to show off how much you know or because you think you should write some more to fill up the page.

  6. I do agree with finessing around a direct answer if asked an opinion on a certain theological point but only if you find yourself limning the margins of orthodoxy. Something like, “We in the reformed tradition have always held…” I was given the same advice and found that presenting myself as a milk toast middle of the road Reformed person straight out of late 19th to middle of the 20th Century Presbyterian always brought me great reviews. It is my prejudice that most presbyterians with a stake in the process are fairly moderate in their theological leanings. So, it only makes sense that they would be gatekeepers for the status quo perspective. I know other people who have paid dearly for their honesty about being openly liberal (I am not talking about cultural hot button issues like homosexuality and abortion). I just find it hard to believe that if you have a different view of resurrection, divinity of Christ, atonement, sovereignty of G-d, Virgin birth…than the narrowly accepted spectrum that person would be passed on their examination. I would love to be wrong, but that is not the church I know.

    I agree with the Christian ed perspective that Susan presents. That seems like a very good tact to take. I think that it would work with pastors as well as the laity. The reason I think this is that if I was grading the ordination exam I would want to know that someone’s answers could be easily communicated to the laity.

  7. Yeah… Brian and I were two young liberals who had just graduated from Moody Bible Institute, trying to get ordained in a Presbytery in Nebraska. We had no friends in the preparation process (although we had received great support from the people who knew us, most of the COPM didn’t have much time to get to know us). We had prove ourselves to people on the left and the right. And the middle. I had to learn to be as cautious as possible.

    I know I’m going to get blasted… but… why is anyone failing ords? At least… why is the failure rate so high? Does it really weed out the people who need to be out of the process? It seems like the first pastorate is what REALLY weeds people out (not that I’m happy about that either…).

  8. I serve on a CPM in a relatively conservative presbytery, and what I always tell people is this:
    * practice on old exams. Answer the question–not more or less. Just the question.
    * Read Shirley Guthrie. Then read him again.
    * memorize a few Scripture quotes, a few Directory for Worship quotes, and a few theologian quotes. Make sure they’re sort of broad so you can apply them to any question across all four exams. Then, under pressure when you can’t remember exactly, pull out the “As Paul said” or “as Barth said…” (then paraphrase if necessary, but tell people you’re paraphrasing). Some of these you’ll be able to pull right out of Christian Doctrine, thus not in fact necessitating more reading.
    * Answer the question. Don’t answer more or less than the question. Answer each person in the question. Don’t assume anything about the people (especially genders) and, if you can avoid it, don’t talk “to” people in the third person–write in the first person directly addressing the issue as though you’re part of the conversation. But don’t ramble–answer the question. It is DEFINITELY okay for you to write an outline first.
    * write it as though you’re writing a script for an adult sunday school class or a newsletter article.
    * Answer the question.
    * watch your spelling and grammar–these things matter.

    I don’t know if those things are helpful, but they worked for me.

  9. I have a friend who has served on the team that actually reads the exams. She has expressed frusration with folks who clearly don’t take time to read and understand the question they were asked.

    So like Teri said. Answer the question.

    And make sure the question you answer is the one you were asked!!!!!!

  10. “Lie, lie, lie, and lie some more, if you have to. Just make sure that you get through the process.”

    I don’t mean for this to sound obnoxious…but is it of any concern that deception seems to be a primary strategy of getting ordained? If a person has to lie in order to be ordained within a particular denomination, shouldn’t that person rather reconsider if they are truly seeking ordination in the right denomination?

    i ask this sincerely…

  11. It’s a great question, and I think a lot about my suitability for the PCUSA.

    The advice (here and originally) was given tongue in cheek. It was just a wake up call for me to be careful. And I didn’t lie, but I did begin to leave things out a little more.

    You know, I was coming from a Baptist tradition. What Baptists want to hear is that you grew up godless (in fact, you probably went to some mainline church and got nothing out of it), you sewed your wild oats, then you saw the light and became Baptist. They love that story.

    Presbyterians like pure bloods. They want to hear that you grew up Presbyterian, that your family was Presbyterian for generations, that you wear tartans around the house, and that all of your children are taking mandatory bagpipe lessons. From my experience, they don’t always take to kindly to converts. Especially in the ordination process. (Which is, of course, why we’re getting smaller). Many people in the process were VERY suspicious of me.

    But… the PCUSA is my home now.

  12. I disagree.

    I’ve never met an ordained presbyterian pure blood.

    I’m not one.

    None of the men and women in process in my 2 presbyteries were…..I think Presbyterians have always highly prized education. And the last vestiges of that are in the ordination system. In the Hebrew and the Greek (which might not seem like such a big deal but we are one of very very few people requiring it) in the exams.

    I guess if I’ve seen prejudice in the system it’s in that: if you aren’t smart enough, or are smart and not willing to learn the stuff they want you to know….they don’t want you.

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience.

    And yes, Teri is right: answer the question.
    I have a friend who graded for years and years before he retired, and he said that was the number one reason to fail: answering a question that was not the question that was asked. Which of course, sometimes works in seminary….oh, I don’t really know anything about eschatology so I’ll sort of slide into an essay about soteriology and make it seem like I’m making a leap….

    not so much on the ordination exams.

  13. Here’s a little Methodist perspective:

    For the last eight years, I have been on the theology and doctrine committee of our Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, and for the last four years, I’ve been the chair. We would have been appalled at the idea of someone lying their way through the process, but I understand you were using that language tongue in cheek. I did encourage candidates (before the interview) to share with the committee the main thrust of their theology, not to get off on any tangents or any peripheral beliefs. For example, to say, “well, you know, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about purgatory, and if you understand it this way, it begins to make more sense…..” would not be a good strategy.

    I like to think of our interviews as examples of “Generous Orthodoxy” (as Hans Frei and Brian McLaren would say). We didn’t insist on everything, but if a candidate denied or was unclear on a part of the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed or an essential component of Wesleyan theology, he or she did not pass. We did not use the term “fail.” We used the language of “you did not pass this year. Please study some particular ideas more carefully and come see us again next year.”

  14. Oh… satire’s not translating well on the blog, I see. I was exaggerating with the “pure blood” comment. And, yes, it probably has more to do with education.

    I have been very affirmed in my denomination, except in the ordination process. And I still maintain that there’s something that needs to be fixed there. I appreciate everyone who’s working really hard on CPMs. It’s nothing personal. I know some people have really, really good experiences, and some committees are doing amazing jobs. I just know a whole lot of gifted and wonderful people who are not encouraged in the process.

  15. Well, all this is great advice. I will be writing my Ords next Friday and Sat. Yes, answer the question has been drummed into my head. I’m a bit late for Gutherie so will “speed read’. I have the pastoral piece. At least I think that is what they want. The process is rugged. I just hope the readers can see the “me” in the answers. So, prayers please. And for those of you who are ordained, how can we (I’m planning on being ordained) move the process to the point that it makes sense. I understand a rigerous education and ordination process but I’m not sure that Ords is the way to go. I’ll just be so happy when Aug. 28 is here and I am finsihed and Oct. 27 is here and I have passed.

  16. “Presbyterians like pure bloods. They want to hear that you grew up Presbyterian, that your family was Presbyterian for generations, that you wear tartans around the house, and that all of your children are taking mandatory bagpipe lessons. From my experience, they don’t always take to kindly to converts. Especially in the ordination process. (Which is, of course, why we’re getting smaller). Many people in the process were VERY suspicious of me.”

    So should I mention my past decade in competitive bagpipe playing on the worship, polity or exegesis exam? Where will it offer the most force? jk

    Thanks for the input Carol, and all those who have shared. I have indeed been reading Guthrie, along with Roger’s book on the Confessions, and i have enjoyed both, but esp. Guthrie. I also take heart from those of you who are coming out of experiences taking ords while at non-Presby seminaries, which is the situation I find myself it. I have friends who took them, but I don’t know anyone who has failed. The few presbys I know at HDS all signed up for all four at once, just get them out of the way, which apparently sounds like suicide to all the PTS kids I have met while down here in PHilly this summer.

    And just to add in– it does make me sad that many of my very talented friends have to “finesse” their way through ords to get ordained, or be dishonest about their true feelings.
    🙂

  17. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeek! Ahem, sorry… that’s my response to this whole conversation, after spending my life for the past several months in studying for the exams. One week from today….((( panic! )))

    I’m in school with Susan and we’ve been meeting weekly, going over past exam questions. Our Polity professor drummed the “answer the question” advice into our heads. Guthrie has been on my desk for over a year. I’ve read the Directory for Worship a bunch of times. I’m having nightmares about the Confessions. Am I prepared? Oh yes, let’s not forget Hebrew and good old prophet Zechariah. Thanking God for the changes to the exegesis exam this year!

    Unfortunately our Presbytery requires us to take all four at once. So…. that means six hours of exams on Friday, three more on Saturday, then the take-home. Oh and since we’re at a Methodist seminary and they don’t schedule themselves around our exams, we have classes that start that Monday — so we’re doing our Hebrew exam plus thinking about classes.

    Sorry… not complaining. Just panicked!

    And Carol, I met your husband on Sunday. He showed up at my church and introduced himself to me after I mentioned the exams during the prayers.

    Okay, I’m off to read Guthrie again, I think. 🙂

  18. Another vote for Shirley Guthrie. I was deemed ‘theologically incompetent’ the first time I took the Theology ord (while doing well in the same subject area at Princeton). Read Guthrie. Live Guthrie. Ace your ord.

  19. So now in additoin to all of Lorraine’s comments I need to read Gutherie for the 1st time. Ouch.

    I really need to hear two things; bagpipes and the angels wispering as I work with Hebrew. 🙂

    Susan

  20. A woman from my CPM said that the exams were designed to be taken all at once, and there is a high pass rate among student who take them all at once.

    Strange, I am yet to meet anyone who passed them all at once on the first try. It sounds to me though like graders want to celebrate candidates moving through ordination though, rather than being out to get anyone.

  21. Funny thing about Guthrie – he always would laugh that his book (which was written as an adult ed. piece) was used to prep. for ords.

    I too have served on CPM –

    my advice: yep, READ and ANSWER the question

    and

    You’ve been studying for 2+ years so remember to breath, relax and in the words of my greek prof: you know more than you know you know!

  22. i know there are many reasons for people not passing the exams. i speak as one who did not pass all of mine the first time around (also as a cpm chair). but i have an issue with those who feel that they have to “lie”, or not fully be themselves, to make it through the exam process.

    i think it helpful to know what the graders have to do in preparation for grading exams. they receive a large (i do mean large) packet of materials including the questions and the theological, pastoral, exegetical, practical, etc background to those questions. they also have a list of identifiable “points” that should be made in resopnse to those questions. this list is to help guide them through the 2.5+ days (literally wake up, eat, read all day and go to bed) of their lives they spend reading hundreds of exams (as faithfully and prayerfully as they can, i might add).

    it might sound a little too rigid to think that they are only really looking for 4 or 5 “points” to be made, but it is a standardized exam that is meant to ascertain in a relatively quick amount of time how much you know and whether you’ve integrated some of the basics of reformed theology into your own working theological and pastoral framework.

    i wish that candidates could bring all of their creativity to such an examination process (though they ought to be doing that when meeting with their cpm and presbytery)– those whose theologies might be on the fringes of reformed theology or maybe even outside of it. i think those can be affirmed and are needed in the church. but for a standardized exam, it really is hard to express yourself and demonstrate that creativity if your liberation theology, non-substitutionary atonement theory, etc, is not going to be one of those “points” that a reader is looking for.

    so, for me the question is whether this is a battle you feel you need to fight now, to have your theology and/or creativity affirmed and recognized. maybe there is a time and place where that battle is more important, perhaps letting it take shape once in the practice of ministry, where it is of greater need. just my $0.02…

  23. Thank you for your honesty in your reflections on this process. I ended up stepping out of the ordination process (or at least tabling it) about 6 years or so ago. I was unable to pass the Theological Competence exam after five attempts (the last one being an oral exam). A lot of people told me this same advice:

    A good professor took me aside and told me, “Don’t look at any of this as an honest exploration. Treat every step is a job interview. Every step.” He told me about the hot debate that was going on regarding the virgin birth when he was in seminary. He was asked if he believed in the virgin birth and he said, “Yes. Is there anything else you would like for me to believe?”

    His advice to me was, “Lie, lie, lie, and lie some more, if you have to. Just make sure that you get through the process.”

    Ultimately, I simply could not accept that kind of thinking. If that’s what the PC(USA) requires of it’s would-be pastors, I decided that being a PC(USA) pastor must not be my call. Although I have been through a long process of exploration since then, I have since decided that the PC(USA) part of my call remains as strong as ever, but I’m still assessing the pastoral portion of it. I simply cannot accept a “just go through the hoops” and “tell them what they want to hear” philosophy of pastoral ordination. Either God wants me to be a pastor, as I am, with all of my idiosyncrasies in my sense of Reformed Theology; or God doesn’t, and has something else in mind.

    But to simply accept that “tell them what they want to hear” reasoning would be a sacrifice of my very integrity, and I find that unacceptable.

    So my search continues….

  24. May God bless and keep you on your search. I hope you can find your way back to becoming ordained in our denomination, and be able to maintain your integrity. And… I wish I didn’t hear these stories all the time….

  25. jg,

    Thank you so much for your insight. It is good to hear. My concern is that the exams are open-ended. You know, there could be more than 4 or 5 possible right answers for some of these questions. I hate that some people are being failed, not for the wrong answer, but for different answers.

    There is mandatory testing in many professions. I just wonder if our testing mechanisms are the best.

  26. jg-

    I think you also explained the problem with the whole process, but I do respect those who serve the process. I really respect the hard work of our CPM’s across the country. I also do not question their integrity or commitment to keeping to the strictures given or assumed of this test. I have however heard (even in the comments of this post) mean spirited responses by graders and wild inconsistencies.

    Sometimes it is not a battle or fight to have a different theology affirmed, but our denominations fleeting and increasingly irrelevant attempt ignore difference. It is not for grading against creativity that make up most of the complaints that I hear about, just the common complaint that many do not think that they are graded fairly.

    Unfortunately, I think it is also bad advice to tell people to show that creativity in front of CPM’s or Presbyteries before becoming ordained. I know of ministers in full standing who have been hassled relentlessly if they do not tow the party line. For some, not all, probably not even most, getting ordained or changing presbyteries in this denomination is like a fraternity hazing ritual. In this environment of extreme suspicion I would not encourage someone to let their CPM know that since going to seminary they question the Virgin Birth. Do not even volunteer such information without them probing first.

    I want to make clear that I have not intended to indicate that individuals in our ordination process should lie to pass the examination process. There is a difference from volunteering more information than anyone is actually probing for and answering the question in a way that stays true to your convictions. In my experience it doesn’t really matter whether you try to play by the “basic reformed” rules of the game or not, if you in some way appear different in the end there will always be purists on the right and left to find something wrong with what you have to say. Wow that was cynical, but hey it is my experience.

  27. Yes, read Shirley. Read old exams. Answer the question. Hope that it all makes a differenece.

    I’m a first-time “Reader” (what they call graders) for the ords this year. I’ll go to my appointed location at the American Airlines Training Center in Dallas at the beginning of October. Don’t ask me why it’s there. We’ll spend Monday through Wednesday reading whatever they put in front of us and trying to evaluate whether the examinees are prepared– intellectually, I guess– to become ministers. I’m not sure when I receive my packet of preparatory materials. I promise, to all of you taking the exams, that I’ll try to read openly and fairly. I know we’ll get more instructions about what to look for, but here’s what I’ll be looking for:
    Can this person write decent English? I’m not a complete grammar nazi, but I don’t want it to sound like . . . you know, like it was written by your 2nd grade child or whatever. Exception made, of course, for ESL folks, if we grade those . . . I’m not sure how that works.
    Does this person believe in the sovereignty of God and in the amazing grace of Jesus? At least that much . . .
    Does this person express any original thought or personality? I know it’s not a likeability contest, but I do want to get a sense that there’s a person down there under all that studying.

    To tell you the truth, though, I think I worry more about Presbytery examinations committees than I do about Ords. At least the ords are kind of standardized, and instructions are expected as to a range of appropriate answers– I hear too many stories about presbytery exam committees going off on weird tangents and not allowing people in, even with excellent references and fully completed requirements otherwise. Hopefully y’all will not run into this.

  28. I know it’s a bit late in the conversation, but I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about PCUSA as I sit here in Scotland writing my “Annunual Report by Ministers having special ministry relationship” to my Presbytery in the States.

    I vividly remember taking the exams and stressing about them the weeks leading up to them. I had the pressure of being engaged to a Scotsman at the time, supposedly the Scottish Presbyterianism was to rub off on me. 🙂

    The only advice I have was to write the answers as if your professors were grading it but a little old lady or gentleman in a congregation had to understand it. When writing mine, I imagined trying to explain my answer to grannie so-and-so of First Presbyterian of Anywhere, USA. Referencing theologians, the Bible and confessional statements never hurts, but not as though they don’t matter. Show a bit of your faithful self and the zeal you have for the ministry even if its not a topic you love. I don’t remember the questions I had to answer, but I remember the process of figuring out “HOW” to go about answering the questions one might face in a church the BEST lesson of the exercise. That’s what the ord exams, I think at least, are there for – to test your ability to approach the questions of real life ministry using all the tools available to you (and the COM is a tool to be used when in certain situations).

  29. Matt, I came from the era when one HAD to take all 4 at once. You weren’t allowed to split them up except in dire situations. And yes, I passed all 4 at once (as did everyone in my presbytery–12 of us–save one who failed one exam). When I first heard that they’d loosened this up, I was jealous. I thought how much easier it’d be to prepare for one at a time, and then realized it’d just be more stressful. There’s more room for perfectionism that way, and you drag it out over more months.

    That said, if it’s easier to pass all 4 at once, I would guess it’s simply in the mental factor–as your exams are parceled out to a whole bunch of different readers and committees, so there’s no way a reader would know whether you were taking one or 4. And Becky—they give the exam in several languages, so no worries!

  30. Well folks. I have just finished the 1st 3 ords and I feel awful. I am a retired educator who field-tested, administered, and scored test of writing with the kind of
    “rubric” some one suggested (a list of 4-5 points). Even with that it is so subjective. i know my Reformed theology and have a good pastoral sense ( I think) and have no idea that I came close to passing. That makes me mad. This is no way to determine my compentency for anything except a brutal marathon. There is hardly time to reflect (pastorally please)when one is writing the ords. It is just a huge, ponderous marathon of searching for the moving needle in the moving hay stack. i can’t wait to be ordained and use my background as an educator to help come up with something better. I am ready to quit. S

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