From time to time, especially when I'm not posting on a technical subject or something very serious, I'll sign an email or USENET posting
Rev. Bob "Bob" Crispen
The form of the signature (the two "Bob"s) ought to be enough of a clue that something is amiss. But evidently it doesn't serve as a warning, but as a magnet to the terminally clueless who then write me accusing me of fraud and worse: "If you're a reverend, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for..." and then going on to say something that makes it a good bet that the only clergy they ever met were spineless, pietistic dopes.
What's really entertaining is that I'm obviously a very poor match for their prejudiced, stereotypical image of what clergy should be like. So does it occur to them that they might want to revise their mental picture? Don't be silly. It's my fault I don't live up to their stereotype, and the sooner I straighten up and act like I'm supposed to, the better!
So for the benefit of the folks like that who just don't get it, let me try to spell it out. The rest of y'all can read along if you like a good story.
Some time ago I watched the rise and fall of Rev. Jim Bakker with some interest. I even took a book out of the library about Rev. Jim, and there I discovered something fascinating. Jim Bakker didn't have a graduate degree from a theological seminary like all the ministers I'd ever met (in a large, Northeastern mainline Protestant church). He didn't even attend a University. He attended a Bible college. Well, OK, but look at this: he flunked out of Bible college, but he still got to call himself "Rev!"
"Wow," says I, "I graduated from the college I went to. If he can call himself 'Rev.', I definitely can." So I looked around for a religion that could grant me some credentials without all that annoying "divinity school" business, and I discovered the Church of the SubGenius, which is either a parody of religion or a religion itself. It's hard to tell, but loud music and the consumption of large amounts of alcohol at one of their "devivals" are said to help clarify matters.
So I sent off my $20 (actually a bit more, and they sent me some other goodies, including a recruiting video that I'll play for you if you don't behave yourself), and I'm now an official Rev., with credentials that entitle me to perform a number of duties. My favorites are "smitings" and "deflowerings".
To the extent that this can be serious (and I think it's way too late for that), it's a comment about the wisdom of entrusting your immortal soul to the tutelage and guidance of somebody who flunked out of Bible college. Now some folks say it doesn't matter if you're taught correct religion just so long as you mean well. After all, the road to heaven is paved with good intentions.
Errr, OK, maybe there's a little problem there. So if you don't mind, I'd prefer to trust the salvation of my soul to somebody who knows more about religion than I do. Think of it as just another quirk from somebody who ain't wrapped too tight to begin with.
But you know, I'm a sensitive guy, and maybe some folks are offended by my claiming a title I haven't earned. I can understand that. Heck, maybe they think I'm no better than that guy who's been telling everybody to call him "Mr. President". So I'll tell you what I'll do: anybody who doesn't think I ought to call myself "Rev.", just find a minister who graduated from a Bible college and the two of us will have a debate on hermeneutics. We can decide who'll judge the debate together. Anybody whose degree says "Theological Seminary" on it is fine with me. And then the loser of the debate gives up the title "Rev." forever.