Identity and Integrity in Clergy Formation

University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Mar 2018

Charles R. Foster

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Identity and Integrity in Clergy Formation

Bluebook Citation Charles R. Foster, Identity and Integrity in Clergy Formation Identity and Integrity in Clerg y Formation Charles R. Foster - Article 6 ARTICLE IDENTITY CLERGY AND INTEGRITY IN FORMATION CHARLES R. FOSTER* I. INTRODUCTION: THE CHALLENGE OF FORMING CLERGY IDENTITY AND INTEGRITY Seminary educators must negotiate two often disparate expectations in the formation of an ethical professional identity among their students. The first expectation runs deep in the traditions of professional education. It emphasizes the development of expertise—especially the expertise of critical reflection.1 This leads seminary educators to focus attention on developing among their students capacities for the technical reading and analysis of classic sacred texts, the human situation, and the social contexts of human interaction for understanding their roles and responsibilities as preachers, teachers, caregivers, liturgists and administrators. William Sullivan, co-director of the Carnegie Foundation’s Preparation of the Professions Program, argues that this commitment to “cognitive rationality” pushed seminary and other forms of professional education “toward the near-equation of detached analytical reasoning with professional competence” and technical proficiency with professional identity.2 Religious communities, however, desired something more than cognitive expertise in their professional leadership. They expected seminaries to align professional knowledge and skill with religious commitment and moral integrity, emphasizing the integrity of professional practice in clergy identity.3 A seminary education from this perspective not only advances * Professor Emeritus of Religion and Education, Emory University; Senior Scholar, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This article was written in conjunction with the symposium, The Formation of an Ethical Professional Identity, hosted by the University of St. Thomas School of Law and the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions. 1. See CHARLES R. FOSTER, LISA E. DAHILL, LAWRENCE A. GOLEMON & BARBARA WANG TOLENTINO, EDUCATING CLERGY: TEACHING PRACTICES AND PASTORAL IMAGINATION 89–96 (2006) (offering an expanded discussion of approaches to critical reflection or critical thinking in seminary education). 2. William M. Sullivan, Introduction to FOSTER ET AL., EDUCATING CLERGY: TEACHING PRACTICES AND PASTORAL IMAGINATION 3 (2006). 3. Id. at 11. religious knowledge, but also nurtures authenticity in the faith and observance of religious leaders.4 These two values have long influenced the course of seminary education—the first predominantly in the academic coursework of the seminary and the second in programs of field education and spiritual formation.5 Often they functioned in parallel fashion. Seminary educators typically assumed their students integrated these two values while negotiating academic and field education requirements. Faculties in other schools sought to link them more directly. Despite these efforts, little was actually known about how a seminary education integrated theory and practice in forming the alignment of identity and integrity in clergy practice. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching provided an opportunity to explore such issues in the education of clergy when it launched a study of “The Preparation of the Professions” focused on law, engineering, medical, nursing and theological schools. I had the privilege of directing the study of clergy education in this project from 2001 through 2004.6 Through survey instruments, site visits, classroom observations and interviews, my colleagues and I generally explored ways seminary educators prepared students for religious leadership and, more particularly, sought to discover how seminary educators fostered among students the imaginative capacities for integrating the knowledge and skills of the theological disciplines with moral integrity and religious commitment in the professional roles, relationships, and responsibilities they would be assuming. This research agenda focused our attention on the pedagogies and cultures of seminary teaching and learning—what we eventually would describe as the individual and communal practices of teaching in seminary education. In the course of this study, we discovered some faculty members and some schools moving beyond the traditional dichotomies of academic and clinical, cognition and skill, professional and spiritual, to engage students explicitly in their integration. Their experiences highlight several challenges for contemporary seminary educators in aligning clergy identity and integrity. II. A FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING THE CHALLENGE An ancient Hebrew story, important to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, provides a lens through which we might identify and explore these challenges.7 The story recalls an incident in the larger-than-life figure of 4. FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1, at 100. 5. Sullivan, supra note 2, at 6–7. 6. The report of this study may be found in FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1. 7. The story is found in the biblical book of Exodus 3:1–4:17 (New Revised Standard Version). For an expanded discussion of the story, see Walter Brueggemann, The Book of Exodus: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections, in THE NEW INTERPRETER’S BIBLE 701 (Leander Keck ed.,1994). Moses, a child of Hebrew slaves raised in the royal court of Egypt.8 It took place after he had grown up, after he had—in an act of solidarity—killed an Egyptian he saw beating a Hebrew slave, after he had escaped the reach of Egyptian authorities in the Arabian Desert in a land called Midian, and after he had married the daughter of a sheepherder who had taken him into his employ.9 This incident occurred while out in the fields watching his father-inlaw’s flocks. In the distance he observed a burning bush. Moving closer, he saw that the flames did not consume it.10 Drawing near, he heard a voice. It first called him by name then told him to remove his sandals because the ground on which he was standing was holy. The voice identified itself as the God of his father and of his ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.11 Having been moved by the oppression and misery of their descendents, God told Moses to “bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”12 Awed by the encounter and frightened by the possibility of seeing God, Moses hid his face. He retained enough composure, however, to argue with God over his choice of emissaries.13 Five times he protested; five times God deflected his protest. Each protest highlights a clue to the seminary education challenge of integrating knowledge and skill with moral integrity and religious commitment in forming clergy identity.14 Clue # 1: The alignment of clergy identity and integrity is formed in a matrix of relationships. “Who am I,” Moses first challenged God, “that I” should be the one to “go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”15 In this most primal of identity questions, Moses’ primary concern was not centered on self so much as it was on self-in-relation—to the God of his ancestors who confronted him through the medium of a burning bush, to his family, to the tribal community enslaved in Egypt, and to the political and economic powers who impeded their well-being. In this situation, issues of integrity and identity were implicated in issues of authority, skill, and status. Moses lacked all three. How could he, a shepherd with a murder rap, presume to represent God, speak to power with authority and motivate a despondent and oppressed people to seize an alternative future? God did not directly answer Moses’ question. Instead, God said, “I will be with you”16—highlighting the sufficiency, at least from God’s perspective, of that relationship for the task before him. Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann reinforces this point.17 He has observed that in this story of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, individual personhood is viewed as a communal enterprise.18 This means that the development of the self is “never merely about interiority”; rather, it is “always about interaction” with others in both “formative and transformative ways.”19 Identity, in other words, is always about integrity. In the story of Moses, the interaction of self and others in the alignment of identity and integrity originated with God’s initiative and continued in a series of encounters with the king of Egypt. It eventually culminated in the struggle to lead an often resistant and recalcitrant band of former slaves through an inhospitable environment toward a vague promise of a future homeland. Forming the alignment of clergy identity and integrity in clergy practice similarly takes place in a matrix of relationships that also includes God or the God language of some religious tradition,20 those who are objects of God’s compassion, and inevitably those who subvert or abuse God’s intentions for the world. The challenge for seminary educators may be traced to the recognition that norms for the interplay among these relationships can neither be fully defined nor understood. They cannot be summed up in bodies of knowledge or methods of analysis nor the doctrines or practices (as important as they each are) used in preparing students for professional clergy practice. Neither can their results be measured in any ultimate sense against quantifiable external standards. Rather, the norms for clergy identity and the integrity of clergy practice exist more as a horizon of possibility than an objective reality. This “sets up” as Sullivan has also noted, “a powerful tension between the university’s predominant model of knowledge and religious knowledge.”21 New circumstances and situations expand the boundaries and create new openings in that horizon, which often reveal hidden personal limitations and possibilities for clergy practice. A new insight into self, for example, can readily alter one’s view of one’s relationship to the powers that exist in the social, political, and economic contexts of professional practice. A new consciousness of some facet of God or the God language of one’s religious 16. Exodus 3:12. 17. WALTER BRUEGGEMANN, HOPE AND HISTORY 9 (1987). 18. Id. 19. Id. 20. We used this phrase in the book, EDUCATING CLERGY: TEACHING PRACTICES AND PASTORAL IMAGINATION, supra note 1, to acknowledge that in some religious traditions more attention is given to meanings of God embodied in practices associated with God, while others emphasize meanings originating in the relationship of persons or communities to God. See Sullivan, supra note 2, at 4. 21. Id. tradition can transform one’s relationship to the structures and dynamics of power and their impact on human behavior. This observation brings us to a second protest of Moses. Clue # 2: The alignment of clergy identity and integrity is grounded in religious knowing. Moses was not satisfied with God’s answer, so he challenged God to be more forthcoming: “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”22 It is important to note here that for the ancient Hebrews nothing existed without a name.23 Indeed, the essence of something was “concentrated in its name,” whether as people, animals, the sky, night or day, or the gods.24 This meant that if Moses could learn the name of God, he would have known something of the character of God. He would have greater certainty of the kind of support God could give him when confronting the king of Egypt and persuading Hebrew slaves to swap the familiarity of bondage for the risks of freedom. For the ancient Hebrews, to know something was to have a personal relationship with it.25 The danger before Moses was therefore real. Ignorance of God’s name would have reduced his credibility before the rulers of Egypt and diminished his ability to motivate Hebrew slaves into thinking about their own freedom. Again, however, God did not answer Moses directly. To have done so would have limited Moses’ knowledge of God to the constraints of human language and to the knowing that is dependent on sight and sound, touch and memory. God, in one of the most enigmatic statements to be found in Christian and Jewish sacred texts, opaquely responded to Moses’ query by stating, “I am who I am.” He then added, “when people ask who ‘I am’ is, tell them ‘I am’ has sent me to you.”26 This exchange contains two interrelated issues for seminary educators. Sullivan, again, has identified the first: [T]he question of God, although deeply cognitive, cannot be approached on the model of empirical science. Like knowledge of art or deep cultural understanding, it benefits from critical reflection and experiential exploration. But it demands a stance different from that required by science. It requires engagement as well as critical distance. And in this instance, engagement leads.27 We are back to the “relationality” at the heart of clergy identity and the moral urgency that gives rise to clergy practice. This relational epistemology emphasizes the interdependence of cognitive, affective, and kinetic knowing. This means that when clergy preach, teach, pray, or give leadership to a congregation or community, they not only analyze and describe, but they also witness and testify to the depth, power and significance of the mutuality of knowing and being in “I am who I am.” The first is a kinetic and affective form of embodied knowing; the second is an experiential form of cognitive knowing revealed in professional action. A primary task for students as they take up the roles and responsibilities of the clergy, therefore, is to come to grips with the meaning God has for them. This means being open to possibilities of transformation originating in their relationship to “Being” itself. For seminary educators, it involves cultivating among students an openness to revelatory claims hidden from direct knowledge. That requires, among other things, developing the competence and confidence to discern that which is hidden so as to be able to speak for or represent the ultimate form of “hiddenness”—namely God—to those with power and on behalf of those with none.28 Clue # 3: The alignment of identity and integrity in clergy formation takes shape around the quest to make sense of God. God’s answer led Moses to a further protest. “Then Moses answered, ‘But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, “The Lord did not appear to you!”’ ”29 Moses’ protest highlights an important challenge for seminary educators. They must help students make sense of God in the many roles and through the varied responsibilities they will be assuming as clergy in situations and circumstances never twice the same. In this effort, they must take into account “traditions of thought that antedate the cognitive revolution of modern science,”30 and pay attention to the variety of personal and cultural perspectives and assumptions informing the beliefs, values and commitments embedded in the practices of the congregations and communities they serve. They must strive against the potential for ignorance, hypocrisy, or idolatry that exists in any human effort to make sense of God. Hence, much attention is given in a seminary education to the quest 27. Sullivan, supra note 2, at 4. 28. In EDUCATING CLERGY, Foster et al. described this capacity as a pastoral imagination which, following Craig Dykstra, they described as a way of seeing and interpreting in a way that shapes everything a pastor does. See FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1, at 22–26. 29. Exodus 4:1. 30. Sullivan, supra note 2, at 4. to help students make sense of God or the God language of their religious tradition in congregational and public settings. Those efforts influence the formation of clergy identity and integrity in at least three ways. First, seminary students must become adept interpreters of God or the God language in their religious traditions. The formative shape of this pedagogical expectation may be illustrated by a description of the teaching practice of Dianne Bergant, a professor of the Old Testament.31 In almost every class session, she engages students in the repetition of an exercise through which she hopes they will gradually develop expertise in reading sacred texts.32 She assigns a biblical text for class discussion and, as students become familiar with the content of the text, she draws attention to what they bring as interpreters to the text. She does this by asking them to identify what they find “in front of the text”—i.e. what experiences, assumptions, knowledge, and skills for interpreting they bring to that reading. Further reading of the text then draws their attention to the historical events, literary patterns, and social perspectives that may have influenced the writing of the text. She describes this moment in the interpretive act as discovering what lies “behind the text.” This sets up a dialogue between the interpreter and the background of the text about what “is in the text.” All this happens in community—not only the community of the classroom, but also in the community of scholars and religious leaders in the past and present who have examined this text. In the almost daily repetition of this exercise, she hopes that students will not only become increasingly proficient interpreters of biblical texts, but also able to increasingly identify with the moral urgency associated with the task of interpreting those texts with others. Second, some will note that this teacher of Old Testament wants her students to think critically about what they are reading. At first glance, this exercise in critical thinking looks very much like the teaching and learning in any other text-based course in a research university, but there is a significant difference. In the education of clergy, the products of critical thinking are not ends in themselves; rather, critical thinking—one of the most highly desired outcomes prized by seminary educators for clergy student learning—anticipates the possibility of human healing, the exercise of justice, and personal or community liberation or transformation. Critical thinking 31. An expanded discussion of Professor Dianne Bergant’s teaching practice may be found in FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1 at 59–60. 32. David Tracy, a theologian, in describing the dimensions or elements in the practice of interpretation, calls this the “phenomenon to be interpreted.” Other elements that he identified in this practice include “someone interpreting that phenomenon, and some interaction between these . . . two realities.” DAVID TRACY, PLURALITY AND AMBIGUITY: HERMENEUTICS, RELIGION, HOPE 10 (1987) (emphasis added). See also DAVID TRACY, THE ANALOGICAL IMAGINATION: CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND THE CULTURE OF PLURALISM 111–20 (1981). The “conversation of the interpreting community” is an important fourth influence on the practice. See FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1, at 72. from this perspective is not value-free. The interpretive act is never simply a cognitive activity. It is directed to the possibility of change in an individual or community and their context or circumstances. Finally, the cognitive activity of making sense of God or language about God inevitably engages seminary students in the exercise of practical reasoning—of making judgments about the significance and implications of those meanings in the midst of their pastoral activities. This means that as they develop expertise in reading sacred texts in the context of preparing to preach or teach, of praying with someone through a health crisis or of developing mission strategies, they participate in a way of thinking that shapes, in turn, their participation in clergy practice. Clergy efforts to make sense of God consequently are never only cognitive exercises; they have ethical implications. At this point Moses’ complaint again becomes pertinent. The phenomenon he was to interpret was God’s desire that the Hebrew people should be freed from their oppression. He was immediately aware of his lack of preparation to communicate that desire in a convincing manner, especially to the rulers of Egypt who had little experience with this God. He lacked confidence in his ability to respond to the inevitable challenges of his interpretation of God’s message by the Egyptian authorities. So God gave him a sign—a stick that could be turned into a snake—with the expectation that this exercise in magic in a society that took seriously the powers of magic would be a sufficient interpretation of God’s power to accept Moses’ message.33 Just in case this sign was not persuasive enough, God gave him two even more potent signs.34 Yet, like many students confronted with the difficulty of making judgments about the meaning God might have in some pastoral challenge, Moses still was not convinced of his ability to be God’s agent. He offered yet another excuse. Clue #4: The alignment of clergy identity and integrity is refined in practice. Moses’ fourth protest highlights sources to the exercise of integrity in clergy identity and practice. Moses did not feel competent to do what God had asked. A gap existed between his knowledge of God’s expectations and the sense he had of his ability to deliver on those expectations. “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent . . . I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”35 His experience was in leading sheep, not in persuasive public speaking or community organizing. God’s response, however, once again deflected the 33. Exodus 4:2–5. 34. The first sign was the ability to cause a hand to become leprous and then to restore it to health. The second sign was the ability to turn water into blood. Exodus 4:6–9. 35. Exodus 4:10. concern of Moses. “Who gives speech to mortals? . . . Now go, I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.”36 Moses desired the confidence of performance associated with technical competency. God had other standards in mind—standards that in seminary education include, but move beyond, emphasis on cognitive dexterity or technical skills to competent participation in practices of God’s transforming activity. In Jewish and Christian traditions, these standards are typically identified with justice, redemption, and liberation. The pedagogical implications are significant. Pedagogies that move students from either theory to practice or from practice to theory are not adequate to this identity-forming task because neither adequately addresses the challenge of learning how to respond to the ethical challenges that occur in the interaction of theory and practice. Sensitivity to this problem has led many seminary educators to rely on pedagogies of engaged practice for drawing students into the complex patterns of practical reasoning that occur in their encounter.37 Practical theologian Craig Dykstra has argued that a practice consists of “a sustained, cooperative pattern of human activity that is big enough, rich enough, and complex enough to address some fundamental feature of human existence.”38 Students develop competency in a practice if their participation is sustained long enough for its patterns of interaction to become habituated and if it involves enough collaboration and cooperation to intensify and reinforce its values and commitments. Some practices are specific. The practice of interpretation addresses the human quest for meaning. The practice of hospitality creates space for meeting strangers. The practice of teaching maintains and renews a community by incorporating its children and youth into its ways of thinking and being and doing. The practice of forgiveness seeks to heal broken relationships. Other practices are complex configurations of specific practices like these. In this regard, we may speak of liturgical or pastoral practice—even clergy practice, or medical or legal practice. Seminary students typically first engage clergy practices as novices in their ways of thinking, patterns of belonging, and modes of knowing and doing. Unlike their peers fifty years ago, a significant percentage of contemporary seminarians were not mentored into ministry by the pastors of their childhood and adolescence or trained in roles of pastoral leadership in church or synagogue youth organizations. Like Moses, they come to the ministry as adults; unlike Moses, they come as adults exploring ministry as one vocational option among others; and, like Moses, they come questioning the extent to which they can identify with expectations associated with being clergy. UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS LAW JOURNAL In the Carnegie Foundation study we asked seminary deans to identify teachers reflective about their practice.39 We discovered that their attention to variations in student background and preparation helped to distinguish these teachers.40 For example, they modeled in their teaching the relevance and significance of disciplinary knowledge and skills, habits and perspectives for clergy practice. They did more. They coached students with varied backgrounds—much like the biblical professor above—into those same ways of thinking, being and doing through their repetition in class sessions and assignments.41 By engaging students in the rehearsal of dispositions, habits, and ways of thinking embedded in the deeper structures of their teaching practices, they cultivated student expertise to prepare them for the pastoral improvisations needed in addressing both familiar and unexpected challenges in daily clergy practice.42 Confident participation in the disciplinary contributions from class learning for clergy practice, however, does not yet ensure the identification of students with the practice and its values. Moses makes this point with yet one more complaint. He pleaded with God to “please send someone else” to the Egyptian rulers.43 E. Clue # 5: The alignment of clergy identity and integrity is confirmed in a community of practice. It was not enough for Moses to know he was God’s choice or that he had God’s support as he anticipated confronting Egyptian authorities and leading Hebrew slaves to freedom. He still lacked confirmation that the Egyptian authorities, or the Hebrew people for that matter, shared God’s point of view. In our story, God’s patience ran out. Angrily, he cut off further argument, reminding Moses that he had an eloquent brother who could do the talking.44 In his protest, Moses makes an important point. One can never be fully prepared for the challenges—intellectual, ethical, and practical—of professional practice. Through the apprenticeships of a seminary education, students may identify with values embedded in clergy roles and responsibilities. They may acquire sufficient knowledge and develop appropriate skills to analyze pastoral issues and challenges, assess their ethical and practical consequences, and project lively options for shaping a congregation or community’s future, but the risk to self and inevitably to the communities of clergy practice is high. For the seminarian anticipating ministry, possibilities of rejection and failure are as real as possibilities for accept39. Sullivan, supra note 2, at 15. 40. FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1, at 54–59. 41. Id. at 142–44. 42. Id. at 27. 43. Exodus 4:13. 44. Exodus 4:14. 25-SEP-08 14:07 ance and success. In this regard, the contemporary seminarian shares the experience of Moses: one does not become a leader until one begins to lead. Neither efficacy nor integrity in one’s leadership is transparent until one assumes pastoral, priestly, or rabbinic roles and responsibilities. Once again we encounter the critical influence of the relational patterns in a seminary education in forming ethical clergy identity. The writers of the biblical book “The Exodus” have illustrated the point by continuing the epic story of Moses’ struggle to live up to God’s expectations of his leadership.45 The authors trace the growing identification of Moses and his brother with the moral urgency of the mission of God as they awkwardly and audaciously take up the task of liberating the enslaved Hebrew people. They speak of God’s promises to the people and gain their trust. They meet with the rulers of the land who, with much help from God, eventually release the Hebrew slaves. They move on to the challenge of organizing an oppressed people into a coherent traveling community—a challenge requiring different knowledge, more complex ethical sensibilities, and new skills. They did not encounter the deepest challenges to their identities as agents of God’s mission, however, until the promise had dimmed, moral and spiritual values had been tested, and the task of providing the basic necessities of daily life had become difficult. Social scientist Etienne Wenger has observed that we become “who we are” in the way we “live day to day.”46 Ethical dispositions and habits in professional identity from this perspective are not only learned, they are also learned by “engaging in action with other people” over time. They are produced by participating in the complex ensemble of practices that make up a community’s lived experience.47 The pedagogical shape of that ensemble Wenger calls a community of practice.48 Many scholars today describe the band of freed slaves wandering in the desert with the leadership of Moses and Aaron as a community engaged in the practice of liberation49— in the transformation of consciousness from bondage to freedom, and from an ethic of fear to an ethic of responsibility. A primary challenge for the contemporary seminary is the extent to which it engages in a community practice that culminates in the formation of an ethical clergy identity for its students. Its possibilities are embedded in the seminary’s ensemble of pedagogical practices that emphasize the integration of professional knowledge and skills, moral integrity, and religious 45. Exodus 4:18–40:38. 46. See ETIENNE WENGER, COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE: LEARNING, MEANING, AND IDENTITY 149–187 (1998). 47. Id. at 152. 48. Id. 49. See ANTHONY R. CERESKO, O.S.F.S., INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT: A LIBERATION PERSPECTIVE 77–79 (1992); TERRENCE E. FRETHEIM, EXODUS 18–20 (1991); GUSTAVO GUTI E´RREZ, A THEOLOGY OF LIBERATION: HISTORY, POLITICS, AND SALVATION 87–89 (Sister Caridad Inda & John Eagleson eds. & trans., 1988) (1973). 25-SEP-08 14:07 468 UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS LAW JOURNAL commitment. In the course of our study, we discovered that this integrative practice happens effectively in some schools and haphazardly in others. In seminaries where a commitment to this integrative practice permeated the curriculum, we discovered several shared pedagogical commitments:  The curriculum maps an integrative journey for students. As students move from novices in the journey toward the expertise required for the roles and responsibilities of the clergy, they engage increasingly complex integrative challenges—in the interplay of course work, field education and the community life of the seminary. When this happens, courses do not function as academic silos. Supervised learning in clinical and field settings is not isolated from academic learning. Questions about professional identity and integrity in professional practice are not left up to ordaining bodies. Instead, their interdependence is persistently highlighted.50  In classrooms and clinical settings, faculty members do not report the results of their own investigations as much as they model and coach students into the practice of integrating the disciplinary knowledge they have appropriated and the professional skills they have developed with dispositions and habits rooted in religious experience and moral integrity.51  Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of schools engaging students in an integrative pedagogy is the vitality of the conversation among faculty members about teaching and learning in the production of knowledge, the formation of character, and professional preparation. Among the schools participating in the Carnegie Foundation study, the patterns and content of these conversations varied widely. In an Episcopal seminary, for example, the shared practice among students, faculty and administrators of preparing to give liturgical leadership in fifteen chapel services a week provided a primary impetus and context for those conversations. The merger of two seminaries—one embracing a theory to practice curriculum and the other a practice to theory curriculum—prompted a conversation seeking to embrace important features from each. A decision back in the 1970s in a third seminary to pair all members of the faculty with clinical supervisors in small group critical reflection on ministry experience shattered dichotomous ways of thinking about the relationship of theory and practice in forming clergy identity and integrity across the curriculum.52 50. This commitment is explored at length in FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1, at 298–325. 51. See FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1, at 340–42. 52. Field notes, Clergy Education in the Preparation of Professions Project, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2001–04. 2008] IDENTITY AND INTEGRITY IN CLERGY FORMATION 469 Wenger helps us understand the formative influence of these community practices of teaching and learning. The sense of belonging that develops through one’s participation with others in a practice translates over time into a “form of competence.”53 That competence becomes evident in the heightened imaginative capacities of students for integrating professional knowledge and skills with moral integrity and religious experience in specific pastoral tasks. The formation of an ethical clergy identity from this perspective is distinctively influenced by student participation in the complex ensemble of pedagogies devoted to that integrative task in a seminary’s community practice of teaching and learning.54 III. CONCLUSION Drawing on observations from the Carnegie Foundation study of the preparation of clergy, it should be concluded that the formation of clergy identity in the context of a seminary education necessarily attends to the formation of clergy integrity. Although a seminary education embraces the intellectual rigors of a research university, clergy formation is intensely relational. It is grounded in religious ways of knowing shaped by the human quest to make sense of, and respond to, God or the meaning of God language for specific human situations and contexts. Some of the pedagogical implications of this educational effort may be seen in the intentions of a professor at Hebrew Union College for student learning in a course on “Constructing Theologies of Pain and Suffering.” She intended through her teaching that her students would increasingly “be rooted in Jewish tradition”—a pedagogical task cultivating the identification of students with the knowledge, skills, and practices of that tradition and its ways of relating to God. She structured the course to help them draw on the resources of that tradition “to construct theologies that have integrity” and not “marginalize people who are suffering”—a traditional academic exercise directed to the honing of ethical sensibilities in rabbinical practice. She concluded by noting these commitments require that she also help students “face their own fears and learn courage” as they encounter challenges in the course to ways they have previously understood themselves as participants and bearers of that tradition. She assumes, in other words, that forming clergy identity and integrity in the seminary context is a highly integrative, intellectually rigorous, and intensely relational educational enterprise—a view widely shared by colleagues across the spectrum of Jewish and Christian seminary education.55 53. WENGER, supra note 46, at 153. 54. FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1, at 319–22. 55. FOSTER ET AL., supra note 1, at 24. 22. Exodus 3 : 13 . 23. The paradigm for this observation is found in the text of the first chapter of Genesis, in which God's acts of creation are completed by naming them . See CLAUS WESTERMANN, GENESIS 1 -11: A COMMENTARY (John J. Scullion trans. , Augsburg Publishing House , 1984 ) ( 1974 ) ; GERHARD VON RAD, GENESIS: A COMMENTARY ( 1972 ). 24. R. Abba , Name, in THE INTERPRETER'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE: AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA IDENTIFYING AND EXPLAINING ALL PROPER NAMES AND SIGNIFICANT TERMS AND SUBJECTS 501 (G . Buttrick ed., 1962 ) [hereinafter INTERPRETER'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE] . 25. O.A. Piper, in an essay on biblical views of knowledge, makes this point. He notes that the Hebrew verb “to know” implies “a personal relationship between knower and thing known.” O.A. Piper, Knowledge, in INTERPRETER'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE , supra note 24, at 42. From this perspective, “knowledge is an activity in which the whole individual is engaged, not his mind only . ” Id. at 43. 26. Exodus 3 : 14 . 36. Exodus 4 : 11 - 12 . 37. Cf. FOSTER , ET AL., supra note 1 , at 345-48. 38. Craig R. Dykstra & Dorothy Bass, Times of Yearning, Practices of Faith, in PRACTICING OUR FAITH: A WAY OF LIFE FOR A SEARCHING PEOPLE 22 (Dorothy Bass ed ., 1998 ).


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Charles R. Foster. Identity and Integrity in Clergy Formation, University of St. Thomas Law Journal, 2008,