Monday, January 03, 2011

My GOE post from 2009....

I posted the following back in January of 2009...

"Blogging the GOE" "Should I stay or should I Go Now"

That's me, and Lester MacKenzie just after finishing our final GOE,
yes, we wore cassocks for the final exam
(I hit a 5 on that one, so must have brought me luck.)

There are two kinds of people this week, the kind who know what the GOEs are and the kind who have no earthly clue.  The GOEs are the "General Ordination Exams" that aspiring priests need to take over the course of about a week.  There are 7 canonical areas of the exams, and they are a bit of a stresser for just about everyone involved.  If you are a Harry Potter fan, they are something like the OWL exams, Ordinary Wizard Level, exams - I suppose, but without the bubbling potions and the fear that Voldemort may attack at any moment.

To be sure, the exams feel like a Dementor has come near, sucking the life and good will out of your very soul, but they are not really a hazing instrument, and are not meant to be an object of torture, to my knowledge no one at Guantanamo Bay was required to take them, and there is no proposal on the table for our President Elect Obama to do away with them as a torture device.

What I find extremely interesting this year, in the age of Facebook, blogging and the rest, are the number of blogs (and Facebook interactions) that have been devoted to the subject of the GOE.  There are calls to do away with it, there are pieces from some female clergy who point out that the dreaded GOE was started just about the time that women started to be ordained, there are people who argue that it is a necessary evil, others who complain that the administrators need to take a basic course in web design and hire someone who has more than a dial-up connection to the Internet.

From Episcopalians for Global Reconcilation, "This morning's GOE question--how would you answer it."

The "GOE Report" from "Rev-to-be-Mibi"

From "The Topmost Apple," a reflection on what questions crop up, HERE

From "The deacon's slant," on "God's Only Exam"

From "I will sing," "General Ordination Exams"

From "Telling Secrets," "GOEs" and "What you REALLY need to know for ministry!" a must read!

From "The Ultimage Word" ... "On the third day he rested"

From "Ember Days," "Twas the night before Ember"

A sermon that references the GOEs, HERE

From "OneJobOnly" "General Ordination Exams"

Some "Bible Brief" helps from VTS, referenced HERE

...and there are more...

Having been through the hazing process myself, I have a range of comments to make.  However, my main take on the GOEs is that I don't really understand why it is that bishops can't get some kind of consensus around how to use them or interpret them.   Some bishops and Standing Committees have told postulants (those working through the priestly process) that it does not matter what they get on the GOEs, that they will be ordained anyway.  Other bishops have rejected people for ordination based on failing (sorry, getting an unsatisfactory...or whatever) score on more than one (!) exam.   I realize that in many ways our House of Bishops is a kind of a house of equals, and the Presiding Bishop is not an Archbishop, not a Pontiff, who can make a ruling that all will follow (Lord knows we have learned this fact repeatedly about the human sexuality issue!), but I wonder whether the House of Bishops  should do some work to get some consensus around all of these GOE questions.  If not, it looks pretty lame (from the perspective of a seminarian) to look around when some people taking the exams are already transitional deacons, with a priestly ordination date, while other people are sweating bullets that they might fail (or whatever) one exam, only to have 3 years of discernment, 3 years of seminary education, and Lord knows what else, go down the drain over a mis-interpreted passage from scripture.

Do pray for all those who are working through their last couple of exams!  All will be well, and in all manner of things, all will be well.

And so, a little Youtube reflection, applied to the GOEs, .... "should I stay or should I go now"...

...just picture the "GOE" singing the tune..."should they stay or should they go"....probably some good work needs to be done on this question, don't you think?

~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey


Anonymous said...

Peter, I am not sure if you have seen this but I also posted it as a comment on Seven Whole Days.

I currently serve on the Examining Chaplains of our diocese. Historically we used oral canonical exams and not the GOEs. A few years ago we revised the entire process. We have begun to focus on formation rather than a simple pass fail exam. We now have the seminarians take the GOEs but they are also read and evaluated by the Examining Chaplains. We have an annual seminarian retreat for every year of seminary. It is an opportunity for us to get to know our future priests and for them to begin to establish collegial relationships with us even before they are ordained. Over the course of three days we have small group conversations about the canonical subjects, establishing a life of prayer, family and self-care, as well as the practice of parish ministry. This gives us some indication of how the seminarian is progressing year to year not only academically but also in their life of prayer and priestly formation. Our conversations are very practice oriented. We want to learn how the seminarian is integrating what he or she is learning with actual practice and application. We use this, in part, to learn where people are struggling personally, spiritually, and academically. We can then offer mentoring or guidance in overcoming the struggles. We want to grow competent, academically qualified priests who pray. The GOEs are one part of the overall process not the sole determinant. The seminarian feedback on this process has been very positive.


Steve Hayes said...

Some of the links in your post do not work.

I was atr St Chad's College in Durham in 1968, and passing the Durham postgrad Diploma in Theology exempted one from the Church of England GOE.

Ine of the questions in the Morals paper was "Is a sense of humour a virtue?" and a friend wrote "I hope so, because I haven't left enough time to answer this question." He passed (he'd spent most of his time writing on the question on nuclear disarmament - a topic he was passionate about -- and still is -- he's now a Quaker).

Peter Carey said...


Sorry that some of the links don't work...the post was from 2 years ago so some of them are sure to be removed...I'll try to edit the broken links...

Love that answer!!



Peter Carey said...

Mike, the process you outline seems to be a step in the right direction...

Thanks for your comment!