No good ideas come from the Internet. A quick spin around 4chan is all you need to know that. I'm still undecided where the coder channel I hang out on falls in the range of "smart people" to "pants on head". They know their stuff. At the same time, though, they are quite prone to silliness and sometimes even get a little stupid. (Yes, they read this. I've told them this directly, so this isn't me being brave, just consistent.)
It started a few days ago. One of the coders has a sister getting married, and he thought it would be a grand idea if he became a minister and performed the ceremony. This brought up questions and uncertainty, and when I checked my email that day, there were dozens of messages from channel denizens asking this outlaw Christian to come online and help sort this stuff out.
(Sidebar: an "outlaw," as the word is supposed to mean, is not a criminal. It comes from medieval England, when people paid their king for his protection and judgment. An outlaw was literally someone outside the law, living without the king's protections. Robin Hood was an outlaw. So basically, a renegade. I'm a devout Christian who supports gay rights, racial equality, and other things that fall outside traditional Catholic pervue and many other subsets, as well. I'm an outlaw Christian, and damn proud of it. And don't bother to threaten me with excommunication, it's too late for that.)
Being me, I started with the legal angles and whether or not the marriage would be legally binding, what he had to do, and so on. But the truth is being a minister is no big deal. There's no test you take or study. You don't even get a secret decoder ring. You just go to an offering church, "I can be minister, pleez?", pay your fee, register with the county you will be officiating in (sometimes paying a fee there, we are talking governments and they love getting their palms greased), and Bob's your auntie's live-in lover. Obviously, some churches take this very seriously. But there's a number that give less of a shit than a constipated racehorse (the Universal Life Church should just change it's questionaire to, "Do you have a pulse? Y/N").
I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but after I described the "proper" duties of a minister, i.e. what they could and could not do, an idea swept through the channel like VD through a frat house. "Peter! Why don't you become a minister?"
Why would I want to do that?
"You wouldn't refuse same sex couples. And Wizard World is offering marriage services and receptions for geeks. Imagine having a writer for Bleeding Cool officiating? Besides, unlike a regular minister, you won't see anything weird about people getting married while dressed like the crew of Star Trek."
I'm too cynical. Some of those couples, I'd be taking book on how long the marriage would last. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness these two people hopelessly fuck up the rest of their lives."
"You could also handle funerals."
There are plenty of people better qualified to help the grieving than me.
And so it went, with me shooting down everything, until they got to the big one -- "You could provide spiritual counseling."
Oh, come on, I'm no good at that stuff.
Almost immediately, the chat window filled with, "Oh, yes, you are!" Apparently, they see something worthwhile in my philosophy, reasoning, and perspective. Enough so that they basically are trying to pressgang me into becoming a minister.
My teacher has been busy for the past few days, so I didn't get a chance to talk to her until just now. I laid out the situation and asked, What should I do?
"What do you think?"
I chuckled and said, If I could answer that, I wouldn't be talking to you about it.
"Think about it, Peter -- your faith and devotion are genuine. Why are you hesitating?"
I was silent for a bit, and finally answered her. I don't need it. I mean, provide spiritual guidance and counseling? I do that already without any badge of officiality. People don't listen to me because I'm a Christian or a minister, they listen because what I say makes sense to them. And I don't have to follow the party line of a church I'm continually butting heads with.
"And why aren't you just dismissing the idea of becoming a minister?"
Silent for a bit again, and I finally answered. It would feel good. I mean, it carries as much weight as being a king in the SCA, but...I would like it.
"Well, nothing says you have to do it right now or never, right?"
"So you're doing fine right now as you are. And if later, you feel the time is right, you can go through with it. Or simply continue on. The choice is completely yours."
...I just....guess it would make my servitude to God more explicit.
"Don't do it to prove yourself to others. Some won't care that you're a minister. Others will think you are a false minister because you do not teach the same faith they follow. And God loves you for your love, not for any titles you possess. The only one you should be concerned about is you. And you don't sound like you fully embrace the idea."
...maybe later on down the line....
"That's it. Close the door for now, but don't lock it."
So, as much as various people think me being a minister is a swell idea, I have to say no. At least, for now. Things may change later, but right now? It's not for me right now. But thank you for your support anyway.