Many of the recent articles about clergy burnout suggested that it's a symptom of cognitive dissonance: pastors think their job ought to be a particular kind of work and are frustrated when it ends up involving something else. None of the media coverage, however, offered a compelling description of the call to ministry itself.
A woman came to my house recently whose
husband I had helped put in jail the day before. One day she felt afraid of his
violence. The next she felt ambivalent about her choice, and she wanted my help
to get him out of jail. While I had helped her call the police, I wasn't
willing to pay his bond.
So most Jews know where Jesus was born, even though few Christians know
much about Buddhism. Jesus makes the cover of one general-interest
magazine or another ever month or so, and it only takes a couple
shopping trips between Thanksgiving and New Year's to accidentally
memorize the words to "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
The conventional wisdom has been that going to college leads people away from organized religion, and that was true for those born in the first part of the 20th century. But it’s not true for recent generations, says sociologist Philip Schwadel at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In fact, it’s the least-educated members of Generation X—people born roughly between 1965 and 1980—who are most likely to leave religion. “Americans born in the late 1920s and ’30s who graduated from college were twice as likely to drop out of religion than people who didn’t graduate from college,” said Schwadel. However, for the generation born in the 1960s, there’s no difference between those who did and those who did not go to college in their likelihood of religious affiliation. Among those born in the 1970s, “those without a college education are the most likely to drop out.” Schwadel did not include millennials—Americans roughly between the ages 18 and 30—in the study because, he said, it’s too soon to tell if they will settle on a religious identity (RNS).