Here I’d like to add my <2 cents with a roughly edited version of what I posted on the SBZA listserve.
Although contemporary Soto has drifted from the importance of verification in the practice-verification standard, imv, from Dogen to Keizan and even Bokusanin the 19th century (disparaged as the old boy was by Yasutani) all were clear about the importance of the “deep settled mind of the Soto school” for which verification is essential and all lived much of their lives in ango.
Zen has always been conservative in that sense – conservatively pointing to the essential for future generations (even if not so popular at any given time), so the conservative grey-hairs (and hairless one’s too) on the board are in long-standing good company.
From my experience of various styles of practice, it seems that deep settled mind is so much more salient in ango that I feel sad to see ango sometimes dismissed in contemporary Zen discourse, often by those who have not had the experience.
I agree with Kyogen in the hope that there will be young people, especially in the post-peak oil collapse, that will find ango living to be profoundly meaningful and inexpensive too!
I suggest that having different recognized “tracks” – minister, monastic-dharma transmitter, cyber-trained priest, etc. (but with nicer names) – would be one way through this conundrum for SBZA that would also open the doors to those who identify as lay teachers and live lives virtually identical to those who identify as priests.