Words of Faith: Moral and Doctrinal Standards among Clergy


During a track and field meet, something interesting happened at the high jump. It was perfectly ordinary at first, until one athlete, having missed two attempts, was making his third and final approach. He made a misstep, and knowing he couldn’t make the leap, he gave up and simply ducked under the bar.  Of course he fully expected to be disqualified, but when he looked to the judges, they appeared not to have noticed. They simply signalled for the next round to begin.

Confused at first, and relieved, he walked back to the line up and prepared to go on as if nothing happened.  But he had an amusing thought – why not see if it happened again? So on his first attempt he faked a stumble, ducked under the bar, and looked to the judges. Once again they didn’t seem to notice, and he saw that he had automatically been advanced.

Of course it wasn’t long before others caught on. Several athletes began to walk under the bar, while others continued to jump as normal.  Though the crowd began to jeer the new interpretation of high-jumping the judges paid no attention, in fact they seemed to be entirely absorbed in conversation among themselves.

Slowly the high jump devolved into a bit of a farce. Those walking under the bar began to amuse themselves as they crawled, slid, and limbo-ed past the apparatus. They began to get a few chuckles from the bleachers, and soon were playing  to the crowd to applause and laughter.

Shortly the change took on a new edge. Those practicing the high jump were boring and conventional. Whenever they rattled the bar, or knocked it down, the judges, disturbed by the noise would impatiently turn to their jobs, mark their records and disqualify the failing jumpers. Soon enough even the crowds turned on them, jeering their pointless efforts, mocking them when they rattled the bar, and cheering the judges when a high jumper was disqualified.

The event isn’t over yet. There are still people lining up to run under the bar, but it must be noted that the crowds have shrunk dramatically. In the long run it turns out  that what happened at the high jump just isn’t that interesting after all.

My apologies: I was going to write about the decline of faith, moral, and doctrinal standards in the church. I appear to have run out of space with my little digression so, perhaps another time.


Pastors' Union Seeks First Contract


Dr. Miller,

Many years ago I submitted a redraft of the Articles of Faith, in an attempt to take a light hearted look at theological drift. Theological Digest was kind enough to publish it.  I just came across a “new Item” I created  four years ago, when I heard that the CAW was trying to organize clergy. I thought you might like the opportunity to reject it:


I just received another appeal from the CAW (Canadian Auto Workers Union) to join the union drive among the United Church of Canada Clergy. Seriously. And I ran across this bit that I wrote when I first heard about it in 2005. Today I can only add that if the CAW does for the United Church of Canada what it has done for the Auto Industry, would God be pleased or displeased?

Pastor's Union Seeks First Contract

Ottawa, Canada - Preachers, Pastors and Apostles United Local 0904 is considering expanding its current job action to secure its first contract. “Our work-to-rule campaign is having a huge effect,” insists Rev. Buster Hardcore. “We believe all our demands will be met once the full impact hits our communities.”

Read more: Pastors' Union Seeks First Contract

An Open Letter Concerning Justice

Rockland Saint Andrew’s Pastoral Charge, a small but vital congregation in Eastern Ontario, just got served notice that they will be charged $55/month by the United Church of Canada for the privilege of being invoiced for their monthly Pensions and Benefits remittances.

Rockland employs one settled minister, who was recently moved from ½ salary to ¾ salary. It’s his partial pension and healthcare benefits cost (@ $790/month) that is the sole issue here.

A couple years ago, the General Council of the United Church passed a measure requiring all pastoral charges to enrol in the services of a large payroll company. The reasoning was that payroll was getting complicated and church treasurers couldn’t handle it any more.

Read more: An Open Letter Concerning Justice