Friday, July 21, 2006

RGBP Memories

1) What is your first memory of the RevGalBlogPals?

I was noodling around on The Text This Week doing a little sermon work when by chance I clicked on Sarah Dylan's Lectionary Blog. From there it was a short hop to checking out some folks who were on her blogroll. Within a week I had started my own blog and Linda(FM) commented on one of my early posts inviting me to "be part of a group of female clergy who read and comment on each other's blogs." This was about three months before the famous St. Casserole 100 comment post that made the whole thing official.

2) Have you met any of the other ring members in real life?
Kathy at Any Day A Beautiful Change. She lives not too far from me and has friends in my town. I'm hoping to add to the list later this week!

3) Of those you haven't met, name a few you would love to know in

As many as possible! Which reminds me: I've been meaning to post that I'll be here from the 7-13th of next month. Anyone else?? Leave a note in the comments and we'll figure out a way to meet up.

4) What has Ring Membership added to your life?
RGBP came into being at a really stressful time in my professional life. It was so important to have a safe, supportive place to explore my thoughts and feelings about that.

5) Describe a hope for the future of the WebRing.
More books! Some kind of conference/event--maybe even annually.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cautionary tale #2

3 tickets to Gulf Coastal parental home---around $1200.

1 bottle industrial strength mosquito repellant---about $6.98

Another opportunity to remind the sister eight years younger than you, in front of witnesses, that when she visited your new home two months ago several people asked, "Now which of you is older?"----Priceless.

And therein lies another cautionary tale for any of you youngsters reading this: In your teens, if you have a choice between being an indoorsy, bookish nerd or a hot, bikini clad, coconut oil slathered beach bunny, you may want to look beyond obvious short term benefits to how your choice might play out skin-wise twenty years down the line. You may discover in your thirties that even if you work out like a maniac and have a bod to die for, you can't change the fact that from the neck up you don't look much different from your forty-something big sister.

Sunscreen! Or better yet, stay inside and read a book.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Yikes! A Sartorial Cautionary Tale

Last night our Adult Education Committee sponsored an event at our church: a mini-forum on Christian responses to Immigration Issues. This committee has planned a four-part Sunday school class on this topic for fall and last evening's event was supposed to be a "teaser" for that.
I had not planned to go: we leave in a few hours for vacation/mission trip and I was in the midst of getting ready for that, but something came up and our Associate was not able to go. I felt that at least one pastor should make an appearance to support the Adult Ed committee in taking on this topic which is so controversial in our part of the world.

I made a deal with myself. I would break from trip preperations briefly and attend PART of the event. They were showing a video and then opening it up for discussion and comment. I'd go to the first part, meet and greet a little, watch the video, then slip out during the break between the video and the discussion. This I did.

Well, when I dropped by the church office this morning to pick up some stuff related to the mission trip portion of our upcoming journey,the office was abuzz with the news that shortly after I left last night a news crew from the local Spanish language cable station had arrived to film the discussion and (they hoped) interview the Pastor. (They did not call in advance to let anyone know this.)

My first reaction was to feel horribly guilty for slipping out early and not being on hand when the press arrived. My second response was one of profound relief that I'd dodged that bullet because I'd dashed away from my packing project wearing modest but not at all dressy shorts, a sleeveless shirt and thong sandals. Also I had not "refreshed" my face in any way.

As it turns out, a Puerto Rican seminary professor who is a member of the Hispanic congregation that shares our building was on the scene and gave an eloquent interview highlighting the Presbyterian church's concern for immigrants, and the existence of many Spanish speaking Presbyterians in California. Much better than the garbled nonsense I would probably have spouted.

The Lesson: Always Dress As If The Cameras Will Be Rolling!!!!

Friday, July 14, 2006


At our weekly meeting this week my colleague and I discovered that in the last ten days we had both been invited to lunch by the same member of the congregation. Said member spent the hour unloading about (to our minds) relatively minor personal problems and airing legitimate but nitpick-y complaints about our church. As we tried to figure out if there were a deeper motive behind this pastoral care double-dipping, my colleague shrugged and said, "Maybe she's just jonesin' for pastors right now."

I thought this was a brilliant diagnosis of the situation and also a valuable addition to our "Guide to North American Pew Folk"

Do you have JFPs amongst your flock? How do you care for them lovingly without allowing them to eat up enormous amounts of available time and energy?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I've never thought of that!

Okay. Somebody is going to have to explain this to me. It's probably total cultural ignorance on my part--and I'm ready to be educated.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Birthday reflections

I turn 42 today. Birthdays always put me in the frame of mind to remember other birthdays. Today for some reason I'm reeling back 20 years to my 22nd birthday. I was in the middle of a romance with a PhD student at the same seminary where I was working on my MDiv. The romance was hot, the summer was hot--is it warming up in this room or is it just me??? Anyway. The romance ended about six months later and I was very sad about that. So sad, in fact, that I made a solemn vow not to get involved with any more tortured geniuses. I'd made the same mistake in college but apparently hadn't learned my lesson well enough. So far, this is a vow I've kept. I may have yearned after a few more TGs, but I miraculously managed to marry a guy who is just regular smart and relatively sane on most days.

The other thing I remember from my twenty-second birthday is that my good friend, her TG, My TG and I all went out to celebrate at a dance club downtown. As we were all leaving the seminary to head out at around 10:00 p.m. we ran into a "mature seminarian" who exclaimed, "You're just going out NOW????" And I thought to myself, how sad to be middle aged.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bad News RevGals: We are the whole problem

On the other hand, maybe I should just forget the whole thing. Charlotte Allen has cleverly worked out that women clergy are at the heart of the decline of mainline Protestantism . . .

A quote from her op ed piece in today's L.A. times:

It doesn't help matters that the mainline churches were pioneers in ordaining women to the clergy, to the point that 25% of all Episcopal priests these days are female, as are 29% of all Presbyterian pastors, according to the two churches. A causal connection between a critical mass of female clergy and a mass exodus from the churches, especially among men, would be difficult to establish, but is it entirely a coincidence? Sociologist Rodney Stark ("The Rise of Christianity") and historian Philip Jenkins ("The Next Christendom") contend that the more demands, ethical and doctrinal, that a faith places upon its adherents, the deeper the adherents' commitment to that faith. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, which preach biblical morality, have no trouble saying that Jesus is Lord, and they generally eschew women's ordination. The churches are growing robustly, both in the United States and around the world.

Fashionista Advice Solicited

Girls--Where do you get your pulpit robes? I really need to replace both of mine. My black robe was a gift from my now-departed grandmother upon my ordination seventeen years ago. It's in okay shape--except for a little melted part on the bottom of one sleeve: the result of an unfortunate Advent Wreath Incident a few years back. My white robe was purchased for me by a well-meaning but clueless group at a previous church. They bought it at the Christian Bookstore in their town and it is basically a white baptismal robe that looks kind of dorky and has no pockets.

For the first time in years, I'm actually in a place where I have an expense allowance that enables me to even think about buying new robes. But in surfing the web and leafing through catalogues, I'm not finding any robes designed for clergywomen that do not absolutely REEK of primness. I'm not looking for sleek and sexy, necessarily--just something with a little more flair and pizzaz. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Field Guide to North American Pew Folk

A few weeks back we all sympathized with Wills Smama in her interactions with Random Thought Woman and many of us admitted having her twin sister or clone in our own faith community.

I'm wondering if any of you have had experience with another congregation member prototype: Sweeping Proclaimation Man, (SPM hereafter). At my church, SPM is not on the Session and serves only a minor role on one Committee--however he considers himself so supremely knowledgable about church affairs locally, regionally, and nationally that he feels the need regularly to inform me and other chosen church leaders when we are being clueless and wrong-headed.

For example, two weeks ago we had a very sucessful VBS week. We changed curriculum after several years and everyone was happy with the switch, we had more kids than we'd had the last couple of summers, and we were gratified to see many "unfamiliar faces"--kids from families not involved at our church. However--SPM, who was not present on campus at any point during VBS, felt it necessary to e-mail me and every member of the Christian Ed Committee to inform us that we had neglected to notice that several of the neighboring school districts were still in session at the time of our VBS and this was why our VBS was such a dismal failure as an outreach project. But if we wanted out VBS to continue as "merely entertainment for our own youngsters" by all means, carry on.

If he had asked, we'd have told him that we agonized about this issue, but finally came to the conclusion that if we waited until a later week, we'd be up against our own school district's high quality, very popular summer school offerings with the result that fewer kids from our church and community would participate. (And thus, fewer parents would volunteer, fewer teens would be availabe to assist, etc., etc. etc.)

Have any of you seen this man or his female counterpart? Strategies for dealing???

Monday, July 03, 2006

Too many Ravenclaws

Just one more thing on this and then I'll shut up, I promise.

I believe the folks who appointed the PUP Task Force did not keep my Harry Pottor Hogwarts House Temperment Sorter sufficiently in mind. The Task Force was not balanced in that regard.

I submit that the membership of that Task Force was overwhelmingly Ravenclaw: cerebral, irenic types who love to ponder and discuss complex ideas and institutions; people who by inclination and training like to look at all sides of an issue and try to understand opposing points of view. I would further submit that it was, in large part, their common Ravenclawiness that enabled this group to experience the astonishing depth of community to which they all attest.

However, this group's experience will be evaluated and its proposals carried out in arenas dominated by Gryffindor Crusaders and Slytherin Politicos. Therefore, I don't hold out much hope that their vision will be realized.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Too many Gryffindors

Another lament filling the Presbyblogwaves is, "Commissioners to GA don't reflect the average person in the pew." There is some truth to this, I think and here is my Theory of Why This Is based, once again on Harry Potter Hogwarts House typology.

The folks that are most enthusiastic about church politics and therefore are more likely to stand for election as Commissioners or to attend as a representative of an affinity or advocacy group are Gryffindors and Slytherins.

Gryfinndors see being a GA comissioner as an opportunity to further their Great Quest--whatever their Great Quest is: saving the church from Godless Liberals, saving the church from fundamentalist bigotry, saving the church from hidebound irrelevence, transforming the church into a force for peace and justice--Gryfinndors see GA as their chance to be in the thick of the fray, battling for The Truth and Against Evil.

Slytherins love GA because they are political animals. They love the power plays, the finessing of the Process, making the BOO work to their advantage, massaging the press, harnassing all that wild Gryfinndor energy into a finely tuned political force. There are Slytherins across the theological spectrum, but frankly at some point in every Slytherin's life her theological convictions are overtaken by her desire for power--sometimes without the person even realizing that this has happened.

On the other hand:
Ravenclaws may enjoy following GA from a distance--perhaps even attending as an observer--but feel no real compulsion to be a voting commissioner or lobbyist. Ravenclaws will analyse, discuss, and blog about the issues before GA and make predictions and prognostications about what will happen next, but they'd really rather read and write about GA than be down there on the Assembly floor.

Hufflepuffs would be content never to hear about GA at all. They love their local church, they enjoy hearing about what the Presbyterian church across town is up to--but GA? Not on their radar. If Hufflepuffs get involved beyond the congregational level it will probably in Presbytery Camps, or Presbyterian Women, or in some kind of co-operative mission project. When an action of GA is brought to their attention, (usually by agitated Gryffindors), they tend to be mystified, confused, or oblivious.

And, IMHO, there are more Hufflepuffs in the pew than anything else,and this is why GA commissioners aren't great reflectors of the average person in the pew.

Thus endeth the analysis of Yours Truly, a True Ravenclaw