Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm a minister!

Most ads that pop up online don't merit much attention other than to make you shake your head and say "why?" (for some reason, Facebook keeps trying to get me to take advantage of fantastic coupon savings at restaurants in Los Angeles). However, the other day I saw this:

"Become a legally ordained minister. It's free! Perform weddings, baptisms, funerals and more"

Well, now that is something! I felt like I had to click it, if for no other reason than to find out what "and more" was. I wondered if it might be ritual sacrifice. I mean, I don't know that ministers do that kind of thing any more, or if they ever did for that matter, but if anybody does, who else would it be?

So I clicked on the ad and was re-directed to the web site of an organization called the Universal Life Church, where I got the details.

"You are about to legally become an ordained minister...Before providing information for ordination, please make sure you have complied with the following instructions:

  • Please only put your true and legal name (*nicknames will invalidate your ordination).
  • Please use only factual information in this serious religious rite.
  • Please double check your name and email address.
  • Please capitalize where appropriate, as this is how our records will show your ordination.
  • Submitting a fictitious name ordination under your animal's name, or submission without a person's permission is a fraud.

That was it. I kept waiting for the catch (as in, how much money I was expected to cough up) but there was none. They seemed to be a very easy-going organization that has ordained millions of people as ministers, like a McDonald's of spirituality, and their only concern appeared to be fake names. Sure, it was probably hilarious the first couple of hundred times that nullandvoids eating Doritos and drinking bong water submitted Mr. Bigglesworth or the Ninja Turtles for ordination but now they were kinda over it. That and correct spelling and punctuation. Well shoot, I can certainly get behind that. Anywho, long story short (and by 'long story', I mean waiting about a day and a half for an email from Modesto, California), with less effort (or scrutiny) than it takes to fill out a credit card application for the sake of getting a free beach towel at a hockey game, bing, bang, boom, I am a legally ordained minister! See for yourself:

This is to confirm that

Clark Brooks has been ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church, Modesto, California. Date of Ordination: 04/07/10 by Kevin Andrews, Pastor

Your request for ordination has been processed and submitted to the Universal Life Church Headquarters in Modesto, California for recording. Please retain the above date of ordination for your records, as you may need this information in the future to fill out the various forms of the clergy...Ordination is for life, without price, and without question of your specific beliefs. You do not need to pay any tithe, donation, or offering of any kind, now or in the future.

Hell yeah! Oh, I did have to pick a title for myself from the list they provided, which is as follows with absolutely no embellishment from me, I swear:

Abbe, Abbess, Abbot, Ananda, Angel, Apostle of Humility, Apostolic Scribe, Arch Deacon, Arch Priest, Archbishop, Arch cardinal, Ascetic Gnostic, Bible Historian, Bishop, Brahman, Brother, Canon, Cantor, Cardinal, Channel, Chaplain, Colonel, Cure, Deacon, Dervish, Directress, Disciple, Druid, Elder, Faith Healer, Evangelist, Emissary, Father, Field Missionary, Flying Missionary, Free Thinker, Friar, Goddess, Guru, Hadji, Healing Minister, High Priest, High Priestess, Imam, Lama, Lay Sister, Magus, Martyr, Messenger, Metropolitan, Minister of Music, Minister of Peace, Missionary, Missionary Doctor, Missionary Healer, Missionary of Music, Missionary Priest, Monk, Monsignor, Most Reverend, Mystical Philosopher, Orthodox Monk, Parochial Educator, Pastor General, Patriarch, Peace Counselor, Preacher, Preceptor, Priest, Priestess, Prophet, Rector, Rabbi, Religious Preacher, Revelator, Reverend, Reverend Father, Reverend Mother, Right Reverend, Saintly Healer, Scribe, Seer, Shaman, Soul Therapist, Sister, Spiritual Counselor, Spiritual Warrior, Starets, Swami, Teller, Thanatologist, The Very Esteemed, Universal Rabbi, Universal Religious Philosopher, Vicar, Universal Philosopher of Absolute Reality, Wizard, Gothi, Gythia, Psychic Healer, Child of the Universe, Prince, Princess, Spiritual Healer, Saint, Pope

I agonized over this decision for nearly 15 minutes, making a short list of my preferences. Here are the runners-up:

  • Colonel - Didn't know this was a religious title and wasn't sure if they meant military or Kentucky Fried
  • Flying Missionary - Felt this would set people's expectations unrealistically high
  • Spiritual Healer - Ditto
  • Soul Therapist - Came very close to picking this one, as it fits nicely with my devotion to the grooves, both funky and smoove
  • Spiritual Warrior - Too confrontational
  • Wizard - Well, now that's just silly

Eventually, I just settled on Reverend. Classic and if it's good enough for Run of Run-DMC, it's good enough for me.

Anyway, now I'm ready to get to ministering. I'm looking forward to starting (and subsequently ending) conversations with the phrase "well, as an ordained minister, I believe...". But I really want to start committing weddings. Oh man! I'm not kidding. And I will work dirt cheap if you hire me (as in, let me attend the reception and get something to eat, take a trip or two to the open bar, maybe chat up some unattached know, minister stuff) to do your noop-it-alls (a friend pointed out that I could have just become a notary public and actually made some money at this...thanks for telling me now). Let me stress that THIS IS NOT A JOKE! Now that I am legally qualified to do so, I really want to officiate over people's binding matrimonial ceremonies. I'm not doing this to make fun of religion or people's beliefs. I am doing it to have fun with religion and people's beliefs, but not make fun. For what it's worth, where I stand religiously, when it comes to deities and dogmas, is that I'm enough of a cynic to believe that everything that happens can eventually be explained by nature or science but I'm also open-minded enough to believe that we don't have every answer to every question (yet). And until we do, all bets are off. In the meantime, I believe with all my heart that if everyone on earth did nothing else but follow the so-called Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", or "Don't be a dick", that every single one of our earthbound problems would end automatically and instantly. To that end, I do make a sincere, concerted effort to follow that principle in my own life. So like I said, I'm honestly not out to commit any kind of harm to that which people hold sacred...well, except in the case of performing gay weddings, which I will gladly do, because...well, the receptions will be fabulous...and it would make the Rush Limb-ites and Glenn Beck-erheads lose their marbles, which I would enjoy a great deal. Hey, I never said I was perfect, just that I'm a minister.


Debbie Aitchison Brooks said...

Congratulations Reverend Clark! I am impressed. I want to attend the first marriage ceremony you perform! Maybe Stinky McGee could marry the Bassett down the street Ruby Mae....she may sit on him and squash him as she is a chunkstress...but Stinky lovvvves her...Can you marry pups?? Or perhaps his other love will marry him her name is 'noops as in Snoopy....and she is a tiny bit of 10 lbs of 19 year old daschund..I don't really know if Stinky wants to tie the knot....but I am sure you could marry pups....the lack of an open bar would not effect you I hope....there would be lots of water bowls...hehe But seriously, I am glad you are an ordained minister---I am impressed!~

alterity said...

Regrettably I am several years too late realizing that you have acceded to this magnificent post, yet with this acquired knowledge I must pass along hearty applause and best wishes and mazel tov, etc. Are you able, I wonder, to transform bread into the actual body of Christ. I am not asking hypothetically. If you can, I would like to eat some so please consider stretching your ministerial muscles and give it a go. Let me know what you come up with. Perhaps gold, since you are no doubt a skilled alchemist as well. Say hello to God or, you know, what passes for God and send him, her, it, them my best.