Apply and compare!

Have you ever wanted to enter the seminary? (I know, this audience? Probably not). I was sent a copy of the application form to enter the Mount Angel Abbey and I thought I’d compare it to the application form to enter the University of Minnesota Morris (both of those are pdfs, by the way). It was enlightening.

Here at Morris we’ve got a bunch of questions about your academic status. There’s one section that asks about your ethnic background and sex, but it’s surrounded by red border and prominently states “Request for confidential information (Optional)”. It’s appropriate and focused.

The Abbey? It’s 16 pages long and asks for all kinds of details about your private life. Do you play video games? How much money do you have? Have you ever committed heresy? Have you ever had mental health issues? Have you ever impersonated a deacon, priest or bishop? (Wait, does that get you in trouble with the Catholics? Halloween is coming up…) It goes on and on.

The message is clear. You need to apply to the University of Minnesota Morris instead of the seminary. We don’t give a damn about what video games you like to play.


  1. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Do you play video games? When I get free time, which is never.
    How much money do you have? /looks in wallet, cries
    Have you ever committed heresy? Jesus Christ, there are some goddamn things we don’t talk about in public!

  2. Sastra says

    Since the seminary isn’t really going to teach them any objective facts about God all that’s left is training them in theology and making sure that they are the kind of people who would increase the faith of other Catholics — and maintain faith themselves. They’re putting out salesmen, not scholars. So image doesn’t just matter: it’s the main issue.

  3. says

    Have you ever impersonated a deacon, priest or bishop? (Wait, does that get you in trouble with the Catholics? Halloween is coming up…)

    Actually the answer to that question is “yes.” Just ask Don Novello. For those who don’t remember SNL from 70s: he created a character he called “Guido Sarducci,” a priest who worked as a columnist for a fictitious Vatican newspaper. One day he went to the Vatican dressed in his SNL costume for a photo shoot. The Swiss Guard arrested him and charged him with impersonating a priest. The charges were later dropped.

  4. equisetum says

    I actually was excommunicated, but from a protestant demonination. Does that count for me or against me, from their point of view?

  5. says

    I suppose for a seminar it make some sense to ask about your religious and denominational affiliation, stuff about your religious beliefs, stuff about your motivations and goals. However, many of the other questions go under the category of “none of your business”. They want to know how old you were when you went on your first date (#73). The question about if you have children (#74) kind of comes across as the Church worrying about its own finances, but maybe I’m just being cynical …

  6. says

    Have you ever wanted to enter the seminary?

    I thought about that as a teenager. And I decided that I would be bored silly if I did. So I stuck with science and mathematics.

  7. Anthony K says

    Okay, everyone’s weirded out by the stupid questions. I get that. But how did y’all miss the biggest red flag of all: the school crest as a raster image in a pdf?!

  8. retinella says

    I find this interesting:

    “Have you had sexual contact with anyone within the past three years, outside of marriage?”
    “If you answered “YES” to any of the above, please explain…”

    What kind of perverts do they have working at that seminary?

  9. carlie says

    I can understand them prying into private moral life, but there was also a question about your personal physical exercise routine?

  10. trucreep says

    “Looks in wallet, cries.”

    buh-huh-huh-huh right there with ya buddy! Made me laugh :P

  11. chigau (違う) says

    The UMM form gives only two choices for “Gender” and some rather odd definitions for “Ethnicity and Race”.
    The Angel form doesn’t mention either.

    I started this comment a while ago then went to do something else.
    I don’t remember if I had a Point.
    Probably something sarcastic.

  12. robnyny says

    My favorite story about a seminarian:\\

    Devoutly Catholic, he was a virgin until he arrived at a Catholic seminary in Washington, DC.

    He says of his time there that he was having sex two or three times a day, but he could have had it “as often as I wanted.”

  13. cag says

    What is obviously missing on the abbey application is

    Are you attracted to young boys? If not, don’t waste your time.

  14. ludicrous says

    Well not just any seminary. As a catholic altar boy it did occur to me it would be fun to mount an Angel.

    (not those little cherubs, silly, the big fallen ones with experience.)

  15. Stella says

    Uh, some of us considered entering a convent.

    There was also an extensive personal questionnaire for that. Since they were assessing people on their fitness to live in very close quarters in a community in which everything was shared and nearly every moment was scheduled, it made sense to ask for details about one’s personal habits.

    Still, we laughed at the question about the frequency with which one might burp after eating.

    It wasn’t anything like applying to a college. The goals and daily life experiences differed greatly between the two.


  16. unclefrogy says

    from the news of the problems the church has had with (I started to try and say sex but stopped because that just did not cover it) a lot of things I would say that there questionnaire needs to be revised with regards to predicting outcome.

    That would involve psychology which might conflict with “the power of faith” in influencing behavior.

    uncle frogy

  17. onkelfritze says

    ‘We don’t give a damn about what video games you like to play.’
    Diablo, obviously.

  18. says

    “Have you ever wanted to enter the seminary? (I know, this audience? Probably not).”

    Actually, yes. Twice: once when I was with the Metropolitan Community Church (where I served almost two years as a deacon, which in MCC is basically a lay minister) and some years later with the Episcopal Church, where I had started diocesan classes that, eventually, would have led to seminary and holy orders.

    That education is a large part of why I’m an atheist today.

  19. madknitter says

    I took a degree from a divinity school (which is different from a seminary). It’s part of what turned me into an atheist (and I was a Unitarian Universalist, and being an atheist is not a problem with them). I learned a lot of interesting stuff, studied some cool dead languages, and read the bible (not a requirement for a UU). And it only confirmed that I didn’t believe in any of it.

  20. davem says

    I think I could easily write down ‘mind your own business’ on both those forms. I certainly never told my UK university anything about my parents. Indeed, I don’t remember filling in any forms at all. If Morris wants non-US students, they need to change some of the questions, too, to avoid ‘Eh?’ responses.

  21. thepalescot says

    Well if the lights go out Mount Angel Abbey makes a good redoubt to stave off the cannibals and all the others you can’t afford to feed ’em.

    Emberverse: The Mount Angel Abbey

    Never read any other series that started off so good and nosedived so deep.

    It was like the last series of Torchwood.

  22. says

    I did study for the ministry but I wish the application form had been this invasive. By the time I had filled it out halfway, my conversion to atheism would have been moved up by 20 years, It would have saved me a lot of trouble.

  23. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    I dressed up as a Mormon missionary for Halloween last year, does that count under impersonation? (I entered the ‘scariest’ category in the contest as the “Missionary who knocks at 8am on a Saturday morning”. WooOOOooo)

  24. says

    Say what you will about the seminary, Mt. Angel has the absolute BEST Octoberfest celebration in the state of Oregon. And the best sausage factory (insert joke here) in the country.

  25. thunk (sigh) says

    eh… the gender thing on college forms always PISSES ME OFF. though there are some trying their damndest to be inclusive (I applaud them).

    and I would totally apply to UM Morris (especially considering tuition would be free), but I don’t think they have an atmospheric sciences program.

  26. hillaryrettig says

    This story is actually of more than anecdotal interest. One of my foster kids (now adult and independent) nearly got sucked into one of those heinous for-profit school. They told all kinds of lies and used all kinds of pressure tactics to get him to enroll, but fortunately MA has a 72 hour cool-off period where you can unenroll for full refund.

    We found out when he asked for help with the paperwork and convinced him to unenroll – at which point he was subjected to more high pressure tactics, including being in a small room with two “counselors” working him over. (Among other things, they accused him of having a fear of education.)

    We pointed out to him that this is NOT how real universities behave.

    Although this isn’t quite the same thing as people intentionally applying to a seminary, it’s related. If more people understood how these institutions differed from those truly devoted to student growth and learning maybe fewer people would apply.

  27. says

    Have you ever wanted to enter the seminary? (I know, this audience? Probably not).

    Did briefly, as a fundamentalist teenager. Fortunately, I thought better of it and opted for an engineering degree instead. “Better” not so much for the religion angle (though that too, in hindsight), but because I am in no way a people person, which would seem to be a requirement for pastoring a church.

  28. bahrfeldt says

    Why are they worried about how your parents died but not your spouse? And why does taking a human life only involve abortion and suicide (although including any aiding and abetting of same) and not murder, manslaughter, accidents and serving during conflict (and anything else, like etc.)? Just annoying.

  29. Rebecca Anderson says

    Oh, I could have fun with this:

    Do you play video games?

    Yes, but I know the difference between fantasy and reality

    How much money do you have?

    Less than the Vatican

    Have you ever committed heresy?

    Only while awake

    Have you ever had mental health issues?

    No, I gave up on religion years ago

    Have you ever impersonated a deacon, priest or bishop?

    No, I have never molested children.