A friend in high school asked me once, casually, if I went to church, and if I was "all holy." I wondered why she didn't come right out and ask me if I was a "sanctimonious twit." What was I going to say, "yes, I'm all holy, and you are profane and sinful. Get thee behind me!"
(I suspect now that this particular friend was a clever narcissist who honestly didn't realize that she came off as shallow and condescending. She was part of a crowd of "friends" of mine who would make loud plans for going to the circus or the movies together on weekends, with me sitting right there, and it didn't occur to them either to invite me or even that I might be upset at not being invited. This sort of thing happened to me a lot in high school, most notably in regards to dances and proms and things, wherein the "popular" girls would move heaven and earth to dredge up dates for my "friends," but seemed to regard me as some sort of asocial eunuch who would not be interested in such sordid things as proms. They were wrong, and I wreaked my revenge by NOT growing up and marrying a banker or lawyer or businessman and having 2.3 children in the upper-middle class suburbs, but becoming some sort of eccentric femme fatale, with ex-lovers in more than one country and no permanent address.)
The last time I saw the "all holy" friend was a few years into college, when she dramatically told me the story of how a group of our friends all went out to dinner at the restaurant where she worked, and didn't invite her, but they WAVED at her, and she threw a tantrum and "divorced them." I was like, "and you're telling ME this story? Me?" The irony was lost on her.
Strangely enough one of those same high school friends just wrote to me that she will be in New York in June, and that she couldn't make it to our 20th high school reunion, but "seeing you would make up for it." Gosh, maybe I'm cool, now. Or maybe some of my friends grew up.
Anyway I think that claiming to be "holy" is about the same as claiming to be "spiritual." Anybody who thinks that some people are holy and some aren't is entirely missing the point of holiness and is automatically disqualified, except that they aren't, because how could some people be holy and some not? So anyway, my mind is part of God's. I am very holy.
I got off on this tack because some friends of mine asked me to officiate at their wedding. I was very nearly speechless. "Uh, uh, duh-ba-duh, I'm honored," I said. "You can make a ton of money doing this, we've researched it on the Internet," said they. "Uh, uh, duh-ba-duh," said I.
Really, I am AMAZINGLY honored, that they thought of me, that they trust me, that both of them came to this idea together, even though I'm really the guy's friend and hardly know his fiancée (though I DO read her blog--in certain circles I think this constitutes friendship.) I have to confess that even though I've had more than one set of close friends get married by friends who sent in their $15 ordination fee to the Universal Life Church the week before the wedding, I have some issues. I have not entirely abandoned the Anglican conservatism of my forebears; we have many close family friends who are seven-years-of-seminary, deacon-to-curate-to-priest-to-rector-to-Bishop kinds of ministers, and a big part of me feels that mailing in my 15 bucks and swanning around in a collar is, at the very least, profoundly disrespectful of these people. I understand and agree with the theory that nobody has a monopoly on access to God. But good intentions are one thing; serious, long-term, focused hard work is another. I also get upset when Jeff Koons puts a blow-up doll in a gallery and calls himself an "artist."
I don't consider the concern to be so much "identity theft" as a devaluation of another person's time, thought and labor. "Identity" issues can be a red herring; I believe that all people ARE fundamentally equal and perfect and holy, no matter what their external attributes. However, all people do not spend seven years in seminary or twenty years in the studio, and it is the discipline rather than the essence which I wish to consider, when assigning worldly roles.
Anyway, the city of New York does not accept ordination by Universal Life Church. My friends still want me to officiate; what this will entail is actually producing documentation of a "church" and a "congregation" which meets regularly, and considers me to be their "spiritual leader." It happens that this would not be entirely a lie. Me and at least one good friend DO meet regularly for Course in Miracles study, and we know several others who are willing to sign on. I'm still shocked and amazed. Wow. I will NOT tell my mother, though. She might be even more upset than when she read my web page and discovered that I wasn't a virgin anymore at 35.