I have a friend who was a college professor before she made the brave decision to leave the security of academia and strike out on her own as a writer. Once or twice a year she sends me two books and a nice note expressing her reluctance to add to the number of books I need to read—and her conviction that I will love these two. She is always right.
A friend heard I was writing about blind Bartimaeus and asked me a
question: “Where do call and healing meet? How do they intersect?” Since
I didn’t really know the answer, I preferred to think of her question
Americans love a good scandal. We’re mesmerized by the salacious details
of celebrities’ lives, by politicians trapped in webs of greed and
infidelity and by clergy gone astray. Maybe we’re drawn to the
titillating lapses and scurrilous misdeeds of the powerful because we
delight in seeing the mighty fall or the hypocrisies of the arrogant
The articles in this issue on funerals set me to thinking about my own experience and the changes I have witnessed in funerals. In my first two congregations I never conducted a funeral in the church itself. Every funeral was held in a funeral home, and every funeral was followed by a graveside interment and committal.
Some congregations are increasingly relying on search firms to fill pastoral vacancies. Minister Search, the first such firm, began in 2001. It didn’t have a single client the first year, but now it does searches for 30 to 50 pastoral positions annually. Another firm began in 2010 and has completed 753 placements. Ministerial search firms are particularly popular with independent congregations, which lack a denominational structure for finding candidates. Firms typically charge a congregation about one-third the annual c