Sunday, November 11, 2012

FAQs: Where do you get a DD? And how long does it take to get?

Well here's an interesting question, I don't get asked ones like this very often. More like it would be good. (and by that I mean, LESS Wiccan related questions PLEASE! I am not Wiccan, know nothing of Wicca, and fail to understand the endless amount of Wiccans related question you folks keep sending to me. I mean, why the heck are you asking a Christian minister advice of how to be a better Wiccan? Anyways...) This is a question I know something about and can answer:

You said you are working towards a DD. Is Doctor of Divinity an honorary degree I'm having a hard time finding a place that offers it? Where do you get a DD? And how long does it take to get? I'm looking into seminaries in my area, including CTS where I got my Masters, but they are all pretty much mainstream, and I'm interested in a broader (read: comparative religion) education. And, of course, my dissertation would be in wedding traditions.  I always tough that the first study would be Philosophy and you specialize in theology with courses in psychology and sociology. What is your focus?  I took a lot of comparitive religion at Emory for my BA, and some "book-based" (Judaism/Christianity/Islam) at seminary. I'd like more, though. Do you think it's helpful to take the time, money, and effort to get the DD? I learned lots at seminary, and even more everyday in my wedding ministry. Sometimes I wonder if I'd learn more just "doing what I do" than to sit in a classroom?  I could happily spend the rest of my life studying religion, and not have time to put it into practice. And what good would that do? BTW,  Where's your religious training from? Just curious. My undergrad is basically Methodist & Jewish, my Masters is Presbyterian.  

I'll try to answer all your questions at once. Let's see:

D.D. stands for Doctorate in Divinity aka a Ph.D in Religious Studies with a focus on becoming a Minister.

NO D.D. is NOT an honorary degree! You can get it as a so-called "honorary degree" from degree farms if you pay enough money for the certificate, yes, but that means NOTHING in the academic world. And it'll actually HARM your chances of getting a position in church leadership, when they do a background check and discover that you are touting a FAKE degree. In fact, having a FAKE degree can harm your chances of getting into college and getting a regular non-religious job, AND if the church leaders decide to report you, you could end up with a criminal record for falsifying legal documents. Extreme cases could even result in jail time, so think very carefully before you cough up $200 or $300 for that fake D.D. document.

One thing to consider, if you start flashing a fake D.D. around, you better make damned sure you are fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew because people with real D.D.s are and often a church who is seeking a D.D. holding minister, will give you an application form that requires translation of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew texts.

Now once in a great while, after 30 or 40 or 50 years of preaching and making an impact in society, a college or university may decide to award you a REAL honorary degree, and they'll invite you to a big fancy gala award ceremony and you'll be there with all their graduates getting their degrees as well.

An actual REAL D.D. is very hard to get, and usually goes like this (keeping in mind that each school has different requirements and these are just the requirements I saw at the schools I had checked out):

First get a Bachelors in English, Journalism, Philosophy, History, or Psychology (4 years).

Next get a Masters in Creative Writing, World Religions, Ancient History (Egyptian and/or Biblical studies are a plus), Philosophy, Psychology, or Pastoral Counseling (2 more years).

Many students who get a D.D. get a Ph.D first, usually in History (a narrow focus in a Biblical land, often Egypt or Israel), Archaeology, World Religions, Philosophy, Ancient Literature, or Classical Languages (Latin/Greek/Hebrew).

Finally get a Ph.D in Religious Studies focusing on becoming a minister aka the Doctorate of Divinity (2 years more minimum) which I will point out has a prerequisite of 2 years of Latin, 2 years of Greek, and 1 year of Hebrew so make sure you take those classes in your Bachelor/Masters years. Some Ph.D programs will require you do hands on translation of Biblical texts on location in Israel. Some may also require you work on archaeological digs in Egypt, Israel, and other locations Jesus might have been.

It takes a total of 8 years to get a REAL D.D. and can take as long as 14 years for those who go the double or triple Ph.D road.

Where can you get one? Google it. I can only tell you about local colleges to me here in Maine. There are not many divinity degrees offered in Maine (I know because I am getting close to graduating and want to transfer into a divinity program, so am currently searching all over the state for one to match my needs). Here's what I've found out:

Hussan University in Maine offers a Masters in Pastoral Counselling (MDiv), not a D.D. but a step in the right direction at least. I'm planning to take that after I get my Bachelors. I think any Masters will work before a DD, I'm planning on the Pastoral Counseling Masters because I wanted to focus on grief counseling As a minister I do funerals mostly and specialize in pet funerals, so I see a lot of grieving kids, but don't have the training to offer counseling - state laws require the MDiv if I want to do that. But academic wise I think most any Masters acts as a prerequisite for a D.D. (I've only looked at local schools I could commute to).

University of Southern Maine has a few classes but no degree. Likewise at University of New England, and University of Maine. None of them offer any divinity things on a graduate level though, just a few undergraduate class in religion studies mostly.

 St Joesph's College offers something, I forget now what it was, but they are really strict in the whole "you must be this sort of Christian" to apply, so might not be for every one.

The only place in Maine I can think of off the top of my head that offers a D.D. is the Bangor Theological Seminary, but the tuition is $30,000 a year, they do not accept financial aid applicants, and they will only accept students who can show proof of income at no less $72k a year...they are a really snobby high end private school, but the degrees they offer are not accredited everywhere so watch out if you plan to transfer!  Also it's a pretty tiny place, I went to the campus and it's in an old church building and they only have about 25 or 30 students. I didn't like it because they had this really snobby attitude, like they didn't think any one was good enough for their school.  I was stunned by the financial aid bit, I had asked about it, and they acted like there was something wrong with me for even thinking they'd offer a fin-aid-package! It was really strange.

As it stands right now the closest school I can find with a D.D. is Harvard University in Mass. It's 2 hours to commute there by bus ($31 one way) and tuition is $33k PER SEMESTER (looking at about $400k for total tuition). However if you can pass the IQ testing, the GRE testing, and had a GPA of 3.8 or higher in undergrad than you might want to look into Harvard, because they pay full scholarships to students who can pass their tests (I do, so once I'm done with undergrad I'm planning to apply for the scholarship and go to Harvard)

Also quick note about Harvard's D.D. application: it IS written in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and the application itself is a text to see if you can correctly translate it. If you can't translate the application, you can't fill out the form, this you can't apply. Harvard has some really strange application requirements, I couldn't believe it when they sent me the forms and they were written in Latin! I'm like ... really? Seriously? This is the application? OMG! They told me you can still get into the program not knowing Latin and Greek, because you can take the classes there, but that it's better to know it before applying. Wow!

Well, I'm only 42 credits towards my goal (120 creds equals a B.A.), so I've still got about 6 years before I'm close to having a D.D. Plenty of time to keep on researching.

Do take my career path/goals into consideration when reading this, because you state you are on a wedding ministry path. I am not a wedding minister. I can do weddings if asked, but it's not something I advertise as "services offered". There are different paths: pulpit ministers, church planters, wedding officiants, evangelists, tent revivalists, sermon ghost writers, funeral officiants, the list is very long.

As a minister I do funerals mostly and specialize in pet funerals, so I see a lot of grieving kids, but don't have the training to offer counseling - state laws require the MDiv if I want to do that. Never done a wedding, but to date I have done more than 500 funerals. Funerals are my area of expertise. So, again keep this in mind. For a wedding officiant, if you were to take Pastoral Counseling, your focus would be on family marriage counselling, whereas me in the funeral realms, my focus would be on child and grief counseling.

My second biggest area of focus is again in the realms of grief counseling: Hoodoo and Rootwork, or magic arts used to help those in need, card readings, candle/altar work, saint/lwa petitions, etc. For this type of ministry classes in folklore and Celtic studies are helpful.

The third area of my ministry is ghost writing sermons for other preachers. I am not a pulpit preacher, but I am a very good writer. Many preachers are good at speaking but not good at coming up with ideas or writing those ideas down. That is where I come in. A preacher needs a sermon before next Sunday, and I come up with one for him/her. Therefor a ministry like mine requires a heavy background in writing and journalism, thus why my B.A. is in English. Yet the pulpit preacher would do better to get a degree in Political Speaking and Communications.

The fourth area of my ministry is activism. Animal rights. Children's Rights. LGBT Rights. etc.

Also the D.D. will have a focus. as you stated, you wish to focus on wedding traditions. Myself, my focus would be on death, afterlife, and ancestral traditions. I do not know what your religion is, but that will affect your choices as well. Myself coming from a Mormon & Voodoo background the focus is heavy on connections with dead ancestors.

Do you think it's helpful to take the time, money, and effort to get the DD?

Yes. Yes I do. Sure you can be a minister without it. No one says you have to get it to preach or marry couples or whatever, but yes, I think you will get valuable training that you can't get elsewhere.

Where's your religious training from? 

I have a lot of very strict, very rigorous, very formal, very fundamentalist, and very "old school" religious training. (None of which leading to degrees however.)

I was enrolled in a Calvinist seminary at 8 years old, after my mom had a screaming fit in the local public school, accused them of being Satan's advocates because Satan controlled to government and the government controlled the school, therefor the government was Satan, the school was run by Satan and she wasn't going to let a government school turn me into one of Satan's soldiers, That same day she threw the TV out the window while screaming that Smurfs had been created by Satan. C.L.A.S.S. of the 1970s was a far cry from the "Home School Program" that it is today. The head of the seminary spent most of his time teaching students via letters written from jail. Dr Linstrom had a hard time staying out of jail, was famous for his radical protests against "Satan", his often violent anti-government demonstrations, his bomb threats against government workers, and was eventually gunned down in a protest in the mid1990s. C.L.A.S.S. was taken over by new leadership and turned This meant Bible Studies 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, no vacations, no holidays, no recess, Bible being read cover to cover like a novel with use reaching the last page every 3 months than starting over again, for the next 8 years until I was 16 and my parents got made at the school and pulled me out about 3 months before graduation, shortly after Lindstrom's death and the massive change of C.L.A.S.S. from a conspiracy drive freak feast to an actual Bible school. My mom wrote a letter to the school which said: "Wendy is done with your school, she quits!" My mother than told me the school had kicked me out. I was pissed. :( But I was even more pissed when I enrolled in college 2 years ago and requested my records from the Bible school, and received along with my records a photocopy of the letter my mom had sent the school! Before that day I had no knowledge of my mom's letter to the school.

As a teenager my grandmother signed me up for a 3 year "Daniel Studies"  program with her church (The Seventh Day Adventists). It was an in depth study of just one book of the Bible: Daniel. I completed 2 years of it before my mom had a crazy spell and started sending threatening letters to the church. No idea what happened there, only know they refused to let me finish the program after my mom had written to them.

Than there was the 27 years of weekly (5 hours each Sunday for 27 years) studies at my church (The Cape Elizabeth Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints aka the Mormon Church), which included (the very rarely offered and difficult to get accepted into) Temple Worker Program, and the (no longer offered) 12 week Sunday School Teacher Program, and included also my working hands on with micro-film records at the Genealogy Center, where I helped with the sorting of genealogical records.

The most controversial training I had came from my grandparents: a Scottish Traveller Gypsy Hoodoo "witch", a Native American "weather woman", and a Nova Scotian Scottish Traveller Gypsy "Patriarch (King) of the Royal Highland Atwater Clan of Scotland" Psychic/Hypnotists/Reader/Seer/Revelator/Prophet/Wizard. And this is where everyone always gets confused and thinking I am a Wiccan Witch, but see the way I understand fluffy bunny Wiccan Witches are scared shitless of actual magic arts and wallow around in the niceties of "white magic" that don't do shit. Me? I can trace my ancestry through New England  into Salem  across to the Picts of Scotland, onto Viking ships from Sweden, all the way to Shaman of Siberia. We are Gypsies, in Gypsy families there are trades passed down generation to generation: some are metal workers and tin smiths, some are horse shoers, some raise sheep, my family? We were the mystics and clergy  the preachers, the healers, the rootworkers, the exorcists  the spell casters, the hexers, the removers of curses, the tellers of fortunes, the walkers of the hedge, the ones who speak for the wee folk and the gods. It is in our blood. I come from generations of witches, physics, fortune tellers, preachers, Bible thumpers, and spell casters. And I was taught the arts of magic and spirit communication by not one, but three grandparents each of whom excelled in what they did.

And there you have it, my religious training.




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Ever wonder what it was like to live with Autism?  
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I have Autism. For more of my life I rarely spoke and was considered "too crazy" to ever live a normal life. I communicated via writing instead of vocally. I did not attend school. Psychologists said I would never drive a car, never get a job, never go to college, never function as a meaningful member of society, never be able to take care of myself or live on my own. They said there was no hope for me, I would need full-time care my whole life. 
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My progression was long and slow and very hard. Things other people found easy to do (getting dressed, brushing teeth/hair, walking across the street, etc,) I found extremely confusing and hard to learn. I was prone to wandering off and getting lost (I still am). Driver's ed takes most people a few weeks to learn - it took me 5 years. 
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I determined to prove the doctors wrong, but it was far harder to do, than most people would imagine. I got my first job working at Macy's at age 30 (a very difficult job as I had to deal one on one with customers and I still at that point was not talking in a manner that could be understood by others). I got my GED at age 34. I got my driver's license at age 35. I started college at age 36. By age 37 I had become a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Student and I was finally able to speak to others in full spoken verbal conversation for the first time in my life. 
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Now you can find out what it's like Being an Adult with Autism
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Good morning Starshine! Liked this post? Looking to connect with me online? I love social networks and am on most of them. You can find me on: BloggerEtsyFaceBookGoogle+KeenMySpaceNaNoWriMoProBoardsScript FrenzySpoonflowerSquidooTwitterULC Ministers NetworkWordpress, and Zazzle Feel free to give me a shout any  time. Many blessings to you, may all your silver clouds be lined with rhinestones and sparkle of golden sunshine. Have yourself a great and wonderful glorious day!
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~Rev. Wendy C. Allen aka EelKat of Laughing Gnome Hollow

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FYI: I welcome all email! That includes arrogant, bigoted, rude, ignorant, snide hate mail many uber religious folks enjoy sending my way.  However, be forewarned that by choosing to send me a letter, email, blog comment, FaceBook comments, or any other message from any other means, which falls into any category, you thereby relinquish all ownership rights and responsibilities concerning your letter(s) and comments(s). I will post any and all letters, both positive and negative, that I feel require or deserve a response. If you don't want the world knowing your troubles, knowing you are a hater, or knowing you are a bigoted jackass, please refrain from sending me mail, because if you get really bitchy, I'll go right ahead and use your real name too. Thank you and have a nice day.
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Oh, btw, while you are sending me your question, can I offer a bit of guidance here? LESS Wiccan related questions PLEASE! I am not Wiccan, know nothing of Wicca, and just because a bunch of local Mormons run around saying I am a Witch, and building those nasty slanderous websites full of false accusations about me, don't make me one! *sheesh* I am so sick of "but they said..." yeah, I KNOW what they said, that doesn't make it true. Sending me Wiccan/Witchcraft related questions is only going to piss me off.
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You can be Wiccan all you want, I don't care. But coming to me and asking me for advice on Wicca and Witchcraft is the equivalent of going to a cake chef and asking him for advice on brick laying! You wouldn't go to chef to get masonry advice so what the heck are you going to a Christian to get Wiccan advice? Come on people, be reasonable!
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You got Bible questions, thems I can answer. You got Hoodoo questions, yep, I can answer those too. But Wicca? Paganism? Witchcraft? Remember Voodoo is NOT Vodou. Voodoo and Vodou are two separate and different religions. Voodoo is a Christian religion not a Pagan one, we use a Bible, and God, and Jesus, and Saints, and Spirit Guides (lwa). just because I'm Voodoo don't mean I know shit about Wicca or Paganism  Now I understand you have questions and finding folks like myself who are willing to attempt to answer everything that comes my way are few and far between, but please attempt to use your brain and consider whether or not I am even able to offer advice or answer your questions before you send them to me? Okay? Good. Thank you.
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This post was written by Wendy C Allen aka EelKat, is copyrighted by The Twighlight Manor Press and was posted on Houseless Living @ http://houselessliving.blogspot.com and reposted at EK's Star Log http://eelkat.wordpress.com and parts of it may also be seen on http://www.squidoo.com/EelKat and http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com  If you are reading this from a different location than those listed above, please contact me Wendy C. Allen aka EelKat http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=viewprofile and let me know where it is you found this post. Plagiarism is illegal and I DO actively pursue offenders. Unless copying a Blog Meme, you do not have permission to copy anything appearing on this blog, including words, art, or photos. This will be your only warning. Thank you and have a glorious day!                             
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                                                                   ~ EelKat
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