Saturday, March 9, 2013

Alcoholism and the Clergy

And I thought the Abraham, Example of Faith, fourth chapter in Romans
was proof of UOJ.
Yale Divinity School offered a chance to study in their famous program aimed at alcohol and drug addiction.
It was a quarter of clinical pastoral education and included a week at Yale Medical School where I also worked as a lowly librarian's assistant.

We learned a lot about the medical aspects of alcohol addiction, because physicians were part of the training program. We had a library at the training center and I had access to the federal program where all journal articles on a topic could be accessed and listed. Daily I went into the bowels of the Yale Medical Library, sometimes with LI in the baby carrier. Mrs. I worked at the Yale Child Study Center, so our work and research overlapped. I could look up my topics and hers at the same time.

Alcoholism is a slowly developed addiction, and that is the biggest problem. Someone can be a steady drinker and not become physically addicted for 20 years. We were taught to ask some diagnostic questions to see what was really going on. Needing a morning drink is one sure sign of addiction, more alcohol to cure the morning shakes, a withdrawal symptom.

DTs, hallucinations, and black-outs are other signs of addiction.

WELS had a short-term effort aimed at its alcoholic clergy some years back, an article or two in the magazine, plus a little speech by the never-married synod staff member/social worker.

The best illustration of the alcoholic personality decline was a chart I saw in one of our books. It was a U-shaped graphic, showing the downhill steps. Left unchecked, the alcoholic often destroys his career and his family. But that can take decades. The improvement does not begin until someone finally says, "Choose me or the booze." Sometimes a child provides that alarm, as one Episcopalian priest told us about his own conversion to sobriety. In other cases, the spouse forces the decision.

I do not know much about the LCMS clergy as a whole, but the WELS pastors are known for their alcoholism and the trouble caused by that addiction. It used to start at Northwestern College, with out of control drinking by minors. The State of Wisconsin is the best place to get away with drunken driving, and drinking by minors.

There is also a permanent "boys will be boys" attitude in WELS. The leaders like weak, addicted clergy who mirror their own spiritual muddle. If a pastor tries to mate his car with a power pole, he is sent off to world missions in Russia, where people are even drunker. As long as he does not criticize Holy Mother Synod, he is A-OK.


Daryl Meyer has left a new comment on your post "Alcoholism and the Clergy":

There was a secluded gravel parking lot off in the corner of the Northwestern campus where the tennis courts used to be. As a kid, every Saturday morning after finishing my Milwaukee Sentinel paper routes, I'd pedal my bike over there and clean up the mountain of empty beer cans from the night before, being careful to step around the used condoms. I must've paid for a year of college that way. The Lord provides.


---

bruce-church (https://bruce-church.myopenid.com/) has left a new comment on your post "Alcoholism and the Clergy":

While only 50% of alcholics experience symptoms of withdrawal, maybe 75% are meaner and pugnacious than they otherwise would be:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delirium_tremens

In the U.S., fewer than about 50% to 60% of alcoholics will develop any significant withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of alcohol intake, and of these, only 5% of cases of acute ethanol withdrawal progress to DT.
Post a Comment