25 January, 2007

What If I Don't Revere You?

Via NiT I see that a person called Reverend Jerry Maynard is running for something. Metro Council, I believe.

In Maynard's official annoucement, he calls himself simply "Jerry Maynard". Others, it seems, are referring to him as Reverand Maynard, because he's a pastor at a church. Now, I'm not meaning to pick on this man; unfortunately he happens to just be an example of something that has bugged me for, oh, twenty years now.

I don't think ministers should expect to be called "Reverend" outside of their church body. Unlike "Doctor", the term "Reverend" is a church-based honoriffic in certain denominations. It is not an earned degree. Many Reverends do have doctorates, but there is also a whole spate of men who style themselves "Reverend" who do nothing more than read their Bibles and speak well.

Of course, I come from a church tradition that eschews the use of the word "Reverend" for any human being. That's probably part of my bristling. But in my Anabaptist background we don't believe in the lifting up of one person over another. The term Reverend actually means deserving of reverence. Folks like me--picky folks from Germany and Switzerland who would die for God but not for the earthly institutional church--think that the only being truly deserving of Reverence is Jesus Christ. So we don't call our pastors 'reverend'. And I certainly don't think we should be expected to refer to someone else's pastor as a Reverend.

9 Comments:

At 11:00 AM, January 25, 2007, Blogger Chance said...

I agree. There is a priest that comes by my wifes work, and he expects everyone to call him 'Father', which really bugs her. It bugs her even more because she is not Catholic, how much more for those who aren't even Christian?

 
At 11:46 AM, January 25, 2007, Anonymous sista smiff said...

I think if somebody has earned a seminary, divinity degree or otherwise some sort of higher education to earn them that title, I think they have earned the title, just like somebody who has studied to be a doctor, be it medical or PHD or whatever.

The last two pastors I had, both have earned doctorates and officially, have the "Dr." title in front of their names, but, both preferred either "Brother Glenn" or just plain "Leonard."

I'd bet Jerry doesn't expect to be called "Reverend Maynard."

 
At 12:21 PM, January 25, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I think if somebody has earned a seminary, divinity degree or otherwise some sort of higher education to earn them that title, I think they have earned the title,

Except that "Reverend" is NOT a degree-centered title, unlike Doctor. I have no problems with a doctoral pastor referring to himself as Doctor.

"Reverend" is actually a short form of "The Reverend", which is a hold-over from High Church titulars. It is not an earned title, but one used merely to convey a position of status within the church.

 
At 2:25 PM, January 25, 2007, Anonymous nm said...

"Sir" comes from "sieur", which means "lord." Ma'am comes from "ma dame", which means "my lady". I use those words all the time when speaking to people who I don't consider in any way my lords, or even my superiors. So I figure that if I do that, it's no big stretch to call someone "Reverend" or whatever. I see using "Reverend" (or "ma'am") as participating in the polite fiction that we're all worthy of respect. I'm not saying you have to do it, and if it makes you uncomfortable you definitely should not. But I don't think that you're agreeing with what the title claims if you do use it.

 
At 2:38 PM, January 25, 2007, Blogger Slartibartfast said...

I love being in all those little churches where everybody is "Brother George" or "Sister Lisa".

Anything that smacks of top-down religion just makes a mockery of Jesus' New Covenant.

 
At 3:29 PM, January 25, 2007, Blogger Sean Braisted said...

In all the times I've met him or been in meetings with him, I've never heard him refered to as "Rev. Maynard" or "Rev. Jerry". Only when he is being announced or addressed in a formal manner (letters or press releases), is he sometimes called "Reverend". Of course, often at Democratic events, he gives the invocation, at which point he is called "Reverend".

 
At 4:33 PM, January 25, 2007, Blogger Slartibartfast said...

Dang. That didn't come out the way I intended. I apologise for my last comment. Looking at it now, it seems almost anti-Catholic, and anyone who knows me knows that's just not me.

Sorry.

 
At 5:12 PM, January 25, 2007, Anonymous sista smiff said...

You hair splitter, you..in my denomination, they tend to refer to people as Rev. when they finish seminary. I don't have the official word on that, but, in my work experience in the denomination and lifelong SBC'ing, that's how I've seen it done. And it is just peachy by me.

 
At 5:16 PM, January 25, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I guess that's another part of me that won't ever entirely fit in with the SBC culture, then.

 

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