A heapin’ helpin’ of mammon

O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches and verily I hope to get my meaty mitts on some of them. (Psalm 104:24, Revised Smartass Version)

Today’s blog is about financing a seminary education.

Two days into the official “inquiry” phase of my sojourn toward ordination and suddenly, everyone is keenly interested in my finances.  Understandably, neither the church nor the seminary wants you defaulting on any student loans and they certainly don’t want you applying your scholarship money toward a vacation in the Cayman Islands, not even if you put a missionary spin on it.

“I feel the Lord calling me to evangelize to the miserable sinners diving the coral reef…”

So, I’m pulling together detailed financial information for the Presbytery.  They want to know how much money we pay for things like telecommunications, health insurance, housing, clothes, food, vehicle maintenance, and some mysterious catch-all category called “incidentals.”  Since there are no other obvious lines for this sort of information, the extravagant costs of keeping our cats in the style to which they’ve become accustomed appear in “incidentals,” which exposes my husband and me as the childless cat freaks we are.

The Presbytery also wants to know the value of all of our assets and details about our indebtedness.  Upon earnest inquiry into these matters, I’m pleased to say that although we won’t be moving back in with my parents any time soon, I should also qualify nicely for a little “pity pot” of gold. 

Seminary hasn’t asked for anything so specific.  They cut to brass tacks with a line on the application form that basically says, “How the hell do you intend to pay for this?”  Being a gal who likes to cover her bases, I offered two options:

Plan A

  • Use savings to pay for first semester of school and my share of living expenses through next June
  • Secure student employment at school – or – find a part-time job in the Presbytery
  • Request financial help from session, the Presbytery, and PCUSA
  • Apply for FAFSA student loans
  • Apply for scholarships/financial aid from seminary

Plan B

  • Cash out my IRA to finance bartending college which will allow me to work nights, attend class during the day, and apply my tips to tuition and fees
  • Collect love offerings for mowing lawns and shovelling sidewalks of session elders and deacons
  • Pray for the winning Lotto numbers

Which gets me to thinking that seminaries should offer paid internships at local pubs.  It would be terrific training for parish ministry.  I mean, first off, bartenders get style points for serving drinks that ministers just don’t get for preparing the elements.  This is an evangelism issue.  I bet we’d get a lot more people in the pews if Communion looked more like Cocktail.  And then there’s the pastoral aspect of bartending.  People in their cups pour out their hearts to bartenders, so tending bar would provide lots of opportunities to liberally dispense godly counsel. 

And since I’m a Presbyterian, I could also honor the faith’s ancient Scottish roots by liberally dispensing Glenlivet.

© Marian the Seminarian, 2011

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One response to “A heapin’ helpin’ of mammon

  • Tracy Sear

    Hmm… If we follow the thread of the iconic Beverly Hillbillies song we reach the words “of our hospitaliteeeee”.
    A cursory search yields definition: “The relationship between guest and host”, and etymology, literally: “Lord of strangers”.
    Now, in my humble opinion that could bring the work of the tender of bars, and the tender of flocks, as pretty closely related, and no reference to hillbillies intended. I think.
    At any rate, they’re lucky to have you. And as far as paying to enter the clergy, it’s not aa though you and piles of mammon are going to become closely acquainted as a result of your having answered the “call”.
    Make sure any information you share will be kept confidential. Be suspicious if you see an increase in junk mail!
    Keep ’em comin’, Marian!

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