A crunch-point in the process of selecting candidates for ordination is a residential selection conference.  After it, the panel of interviewers writes a report to the Bishop.  If Homer Simpson were to attend such a conference, the report might look like this:



Homer initially seemed eager to give a good impression, and talked readily about his reasons for seeking ordination.  However, his attention seemed fitful, and on several occasions he needed to ask me to repeat my question.  Indeed, towards the end of the interview he seemed to disengage almost entirely for large periods of time.  His own account of this, when challenged, was that the smell of lunch (which was coming through the open window) was interfering with his concentration.  However, this fails to explain why for a period of two or three minutes his eyes were closed and his only contribution to our discussion was what seemed to be a snoring sound.  Homer’s devotional life seems, at best, patchy:  although he was evidently quite regularly involved in his parish church, this involvement seemed to rely to an unhelpful degree on his wife’s urgings.  He was unable to discuss the function of the church at any but the most perfunctory level, and indeed his whole approach to the question of spiritual commitment was coloured by what seems to be his difficult relationship with his neighbour, a fellow churchgoer, Edward Flanders.  We do not recommend him for training.



Homer presented as a relaxed, confident individual.  However, as the interview progressed concerns arose about whether this relaxedness perhaps bordered on the inert – not to say supine – and whether the confidence derived not so much from a comfortableness with his surroundings, and a well-developed personal ego, as from an almost total unawareness of them and of himself.  Homer spoke freely of his domestic environment, but we were concerned by the level of irritability clearly evident as he discussed his relationship with his eldest child, Bartholomew.  Indeed it was surprising that there was no mention of this, and the resultant Social Services’ intervention, in his sponsoring papers.  While clearly affable in his social dealings (and Homer spoke with some animation about the positive relationships that he formed in somewhere apparently known as “Mo’s Bar”, evidently a group for the unchurched) there remained a streak of self-centredness which suggested his unreadiness as yet for the demands of pastoral ministry.  His group-exercise bore this out, as Homer seemed to oscillate between a strange air of detachment and an over-involvement, including an element of physical coerciveness.  These unresolved tensions mean that we are unable at this stage to recommend him for training.



While Homer’s formal educational qualifications are meagre – nothing to show from his time in school, and only a donut-eating award certificate from his time at the nuclear plant – we had been led to expect a native intelligence, and an experience of life, which would compensate for this lack.  Sadly, this was not the case.   Homer was unable to sustain a discussion on any but the most superficial level, and on several occasions missed entirely the point of my questions.  When asked about what books he had read recently, he was unable to think of any, and his offer to discuss television instead foundered on the fact that his only recent fare had been wrestling and football.  Eventually, after much prompting, we managed a brief discussion of the “Itchy & Scratchy Show” – where his almost complete lack of any awareness about the programme’s implicit moral dimension was disappointing.   Homer was also unable to articulate his faith in any but the most cliché-laden manner, where his opinions, when discernible, seemed to derive quite unquestioningly from other members of his family, in particular his wife Marjorie.  We are unable to recommend him for training.



The result of the Verbal Organisation test indicates that Homer may have some difficulty interpreting and manipulating high-level written text rapidly, and organising verbal information logically.  There may be some concern with his level of competence in the critical appraisal and presentation of verbal information.  The result of the Deductive Reasoning test likewise indicates that Homer Simpson is of poor ability in the evaluation and identification of logical connections and demonstrates a poor degree of versatility of thought and non-verbal deductive reasoning powers.  This pattern of scores suggests a relatively low level of reasoning ability in relation to candidates for selection.



Homer’s letter missed the point of the brief almost entirely, and contained factual errors and a heavy-handed approach to the situation.  It was unlikely to have been of help to the recipient, and indeed might lead to legal action.



In chairing the group, Homer introduced the topic partially and tendentiously, omitting (or perhaps suppressing?) several key pieces of information.  He was active in the chair, almost breathtakingly so, but became sullen and unco-operative when challenged.   He failed entirely to sum up, choosing instead to continue the debate with an individual member of the group while the rest looked on, or sought first-aid.  As a member, his contribution was patchy at best.



Not recommended for training for Ordained Ministry (Stipendiary & Non-Stipendiary Priesthood)


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