BTFM Will Be Back!

Hello dumplings!

I have been too busy and this site has had glitchy tech issues, but I have been receiving so many questions and missives from you that MUST BE DISCUSSED.

Times are very hard in ministry right now and we all need a dose of PeaceBang’s confidence in US. For now, listen to Miss Julie Andrews skip and warble as she leaves the convent for a wonderful unpaid ministry position taking care of Captain Von Trapp’s annoying children!

Send In The Clowns

Hello darlings,
I know it has been a long time but I am still here for you, always! Until the moon is no more.
What a time we are having, have had, will have, have haven, half caff, half-mast, paff maff.
I’m okay, I really am.

Like you, I am doing the Reopening Cha-Cha. What a dans macabre. Flinging ourselves all about while a pandemic rages on, even though so many are vaccinated and I hope you all are at this point.
At my own church we are navigating between the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Health guidelines, our own congregation’s needs, watching all the websites every day, and doing some hybrid things. Everyone is exhausted. My brain is on two speeds: slow and stop.

I am taking off the entire month of July and trying to prepare for that, while realizing that my own sense of expectations may be unrealistic. So much to consider. How are you faring?

ANYHOO, what better to do when ministry mind needs a break than to take a look-see around the internet fash scene! What hideous new styles are the retailers unleashing from the depths of Clothing Hell that they hope we will purchase and wear upon our bodies?

It is going to be very interesting to see how everyone dresses in the post-COVID environment. We may be seeing all kinds of interesting choices: from party dresses at the coffee shop to Extreme Shlub from folks who won’t be ready to give up stay-at-home wear.

Pigeons, we need to hoist ourselves out of our leggings and shearling-lined mocassins to prepare for being seen head-to-foot again. I am having my hair colored tomorrow, and have been doing an inventory of my closet. What fits? What no longer feels like “me?” Do I have funeral and christening and wedding clothing that is clean, pressed and ready to go for the summer months? Am I taking care of my nails (including toenails)? I have been in isolation for a year – what do I need to do for myself to feel confident and comfortable in incarnate community again?

One thing I know I won’t do is allow my attraction to bright, happy colors lead me to Clown Stripe fabrics. I keep seeing primary color material that instantly evokes this
[Click to enlarge images!]

Lots and lots of color is your thing, by all means! Enjoy, dazzle us, celebrate the rainbow! There are so many more sophisticated ways to be a walking burst of color.

I am a fan of Gudrun Sjoden, a Swedish designer who uses sustainable and ethical methods in sourcing and producing her textiles:

I do hope that you’ll have a sense of creativity in this season. We are in mourning, but we cannot look like death warmed over. We are a resurrection people, and whether or not we feel up to it, our people are looking to us to bring hope and new life. Right now, we must all seek the support we need in order to be up to that charge.

Perhaps soon we can talk about how many clergy do not feel up to that charge, and are subsequently leaving the ministry. But that is a tale for another time. For now, let’s just not send in the clowns.

Kiss of peace!

Editing Worship Segments: Transitions

Don’t do too much with the transitions between slides or segments, okay? It’s not an action movie or video game, it’s a meditation. Dissolve or fade should be fine for your needs. I save anything fancier for the very end of the segment.

Clergy Vaccinations

Greetings, Earthlings,

There has been a lot of conversation among the people of the cloth (my cloth is organic cotton and occasionally fleece) about vaccinations. Are they available, are clergy in Group One or Group 1B or Group 2, and what should I do if I’m under 75 but have two co-morbidities and live with someone who works in a nursing home?

God help us, we don’t know what we’re doing because we have never done this before.

If all of the states had fairly well-oiled scheduling machines up and running to administer the vaccine, we would have a clearer understanding of when AND HOW we will be getting that much-desired shot in the arm.

If your state has a clear system, that’s wonderful and congratulations.
My state (commonwealth) has not rolled out information or availability in an organized fashion. There is a lot of confusion, rumors and hearsay.

My feeling is that because there is not a clear plan, clergy should get the vaccine if it is offered to us. It is not “taking someone else’s place in line” when there is no line but a crowd milling around waiting to hear when and where to go.

If someone contacts you to say, “You are clergy, your job is to be among people, please go get the vaccine here on this date,” I hope you will go without guilt or hesitation. The sooner you are immunized, the sooner you can start to become emotionally and spiritually ready to be in proximity to humans outside your “bubble” again.

We know (although there really needs to be an information campaign about this) that we will not be 100% protected against COVID-19 even weeks after our second booster shot, but we will be much, much, much safer and if we do contract the novel coronavirus or its variants, we will become much less dangerously ill than we would have without the vaccine.

We cannot throw off our masks after the first vaccine and start visiting people. First of all, our own immunity will not be very high until a couple of weeks after the second shot. Second, there is a slight chance we can still be carriers of the virus. HOWEVER, we will certainly feel far less anxious presiding at graveside, connecting with members of our communities in the parking lot or at the food drive, and bunding up on porches to chat with folks through the window.

Some of us who live alone will be able to spend unfearful time with other vaccinated friends, and given that we have suffered almost a year of total isolation, this will be a mental health boost of inestimable value.

We can also minister in informal ways to health care workers who have been de facto chaplains in this time. The ministry of healing, support and grief work with this population is, and will continue to be, crucial and should be prioritized, but by whom? I don’t know, but I do feel that those of us who feel called to reach out to those workers won’t be able to start doing so in person until we are also vaccinated.

If you want to refrain from scheduling a vaccine so that someone else can get there first, I support that completely. I just wish we could be sure that someone else will take that spot and no doses go to waste.

If someone invites you to get a vaccine, I hope you will go and get it. We have taken on a tremendous pastoral and spiritual burden in the past almost-year. The vaccine allows us to follow the good advice to put the oxygen mask over our own faces before we try to administer life-giving air to anyone else.

Vice President Kamala Harris Vogue Cover

Good morning, darlings, and yes, I am STILL HERE.

Blogging much less during the pandemic (doing pastoral check-ins weekly on Facebook Live), continuing to function in the Speilbergian mode of ministry (how are you all doing preparing worship and producing it? I am spending probably 6-10 additional hours per week doing the tech aspects, how about you all?), taking care of my terminally ill beagle love, fighting the winter doldrums and total social isolation, and last week hitting a brick wall of rage and emotional exhaustion as I watched white American terrorists attempt a coup.

I am off this week, heading to an Airbnb in Maine with my woofer and taking an online course with the New York Center for Jungian Studies. The speakers promise to help us make sense of the madness in America from the perspective of Jungian archetypal psychology, which I am looking forward to. I have been studying the matter from the perspective of crticial race theory, totalitarianism, toxic Christianity, economics, propaganda, the power of social media and sociology. It will be interesting to look at the collective psyche and archetypes.

For right now, however, I want to look at the disgraceful and inexcusable job VOGUE magazine did with its cover of Vice President Kamala Harris. This is making headlines, and yes, it is important. If you have been reading this blog over the years, you know that images are powerful and that they make a visceral impression. Images can make and break reputations.

Let’s look first at images of the Veep that capture her as the dynamic, strong, powerful, beautiful woman she is. Pay attention to lighting, framing, the architecture of her suits and the simplicity of her accessories that add a bit of curve and traditional femininity to her outfits.

Now look at this disastrous VOGUE cover:

This is Anna Wintour’s fault, and I hope she feels the heat all the way up under her helmet hair.

There is a rumor that Vice President Harris’ team approved a different image than this one, and that this is the one that went to press. Accident? NO WAY. Anna Wintour has been running Vogue for six hundred years. She knows exactly how important this image is. Decisions were made.

Whether that rumor is true or not, this cover is insulting. Those colors are the Alpha Kappa Alpha colors, which is appropriate and a nice shout-out, but everything here is a rumpled mess. The set is INCREDIBLY SHODDY!!!! Who slapped those swaths of fabric up there like that and thought that was okay!?

Why does the Vice President look squinty and uncertain?? There are literally HUNDREDS of images of this remarkable, history-making woman looking at the camera with fierce confidence, charisma, blazing intelligence, COME ON!!! WHAT THE HELL! NOW I’M JUST YELLING!

There wasn’t a more empowering pose and angle? They had to slap her on that wrinkly satin and shoot her so that the eye falls first on her legs and not her face? AND WHO THE HELL DID THIS LIGHTING? DID ANYONE? I REFUSE TO BELIEVE IT. NO ONE COULD HAVE POSSIBLY LIT THIS SHOT.

This looks like a photo taken on someone’s phone the moment the VP walked in with her team. It was the moment the shoot director asked Madame Vice President “could you just stand on the set for a moment, we want to take some height measurements” and then sent her in for a cup of coffee and consultation with the photographer. This set was NOT FINISHED.

I am angry, and you should be too.
This should have been a glorious cover befitting its subject. Instead, it is slipshod, amateurish, not even remotely comparable to other Vogue covers of important women. As such, it makes a statement.

I have no doubt that Anna Wintour’s crack damage control team will concoct some sort of excuse for this debacle and that the Vice President will be far too busy to further engage with the story. She has much more important things to do. But you and I will keep paying attention to how media powers use their billion-dollar machine to influence the public image of leaders. Will they mythologize, will they flatter, will they diminish?

Pay attention. None of it is unintentional.