Frumpy Rainbow Lady Preacher

PeaceBang attended a worship service on the beach this past Sunday.
The weather was perfect, the congregation lovely, the setting perfect.
But then this lady minister was totally upstaged by bright-colored, Wacky Grandma accessories.

Click to enlarge the images

The “bones” of this outfit are fine. Ankle-length pants (no one needs their hem dragging in the sand). Swingy summer jacket. I don’t even mind the bare feet, because she had a nice pedicure and the sand was damp.

But the huge sunhat, the rainbow stole, the big turquoise earrings AND the turquoise readers? — let’s remember Coco Chanel’s dictum: load on all the accessories you want, but take two of them off before you walk out the door.
The hat and the big turquoise earrings would have been fine, and even nice. If a stole seems necessary, and I don’t think it is, keep it very simple. I get the desire to “advertise” that the congregation is LGBTQ welcoming — but I would suggest planting a rainbow flag in the sand and not on the minister’s person.

I’ve seen it done:

I liked the sermon very much. You can listen to it here (audio only). It’s nice to hear the ocean in the background. The sermon talked about the viral “daderina” video, the anguish in our nation right now, the disgrace and cruelty of separating families at the border, and the Father God many people grew up with and rejected. It was a good “visitors” sermon, which is what you want to give when you’re in a public space and have advertised to the entire town. But when those folks show up, the minister needs to communicate more dignity than this.

Sometimes when there are a lot of moving parts to a service and you’re leading it in an unaccustomed place, it’s easy to put together an outfit too fast and not really consider the image you’re projecting. I think this preacher looks friendly, warm and colorful … but so colorful as to verge on the silly and eccentric.

If I were she, AND I AM, BECAUSE THAT’S ME, I would wear a simple dress under the jacket, choose neutral color readers, keep the big hat and earrings, and rock on.

Slides, For A Shuffling-Around Life

Darlings, the latest in footwear fads is the slide.

I hate them.

Slides are for the pool. Fancying them up with silk and bows does not make them appropriate footwear for anyone who wants to project an aura of competency and basic intelligence. Does this sound judgmental? That’s because PeaceBang is JUDGING.

Slides are a way of communicating to the world, “I don’t really need to get anywhere, I am just shuffling around in upscale bedroom slippers. I am so officially over it, I can’t even be bothered to wear an actual shoe.”

Slides are fine for poolside, for the gym, or for events in your own home for which you have “help.” Nothing says Bored Heiress like slides.

Not PeaceBang approved for clergy.

The Opposite Of Wearable: PeaceBang Bangs On ASOS Curve

Honestly, now I’m just really mad. Here is more evidence that whoever is “designing” for plus sized women actually hates us. This isn’t a joke. These garments are absolutely humiliating. They are designed to make women look idiotic or drunk.

Click on images to better see these insults masquerading as clothing:

Look at the hemline on this blinding monstrosity. “Ooops, is that a ruffle falling out of my lady parts?”
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Madwoman In The Attic, or perhaps just Happy Color Godzilla:
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The “Are You Drunk Or Am I?” line to communicate that either you or your clothes can’t think straight, or to suggest that you gave yourself a front wedgie in the bathroom:
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One sloppy mess of a shirt wasn’t enough so we stitched two of them together!

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Suggests prison uniform, but for casual summer prisons for fat women?
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Asos Curve, we hold you responsible for these outrages. Stop hating plus size women. We have money to spend and dignity to uphold. This garbage is inexcusable.

Clergy Image Audit: Missouri DACA Action

Two Missouri clergy, one UCC and the other my Unitarian Universalist colleague (and frequent commenter here), the Rev. Barbara Gadon. I see one leader and one nice lady. To whom would you hand the bullhorn? Who looks ready to claim moral authority to speak on behalf of the DACA students threatened by the Trump Administration?
The suit conveys formality, respect, readiness to take professional action at the table with people in power. The other outfit conveys comfort and droopiness. We cannot show up looking like we happened to stop by on our way to yoga class. To do so is an expression of privilege and communicates casual engagement no matter how deeply we feel about an issue.

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Cosplay In The Pulpit

I stumbled onto another collegial conversation about wearing costumes in the pulpit.

I have listened in on many such conversations among Unitarian Universalists, Jews and Christians.

It starts with a holiday, usually. Purim, or Halloween, or Founders Day. “Gee, wouldn’t it be neat if I dressed as a Puritan, or a jester for April Fool’s Day, or as Hamen, or as a Hogwarts professor?”

No, it would not be neat.

At this moment in our national history, it would be an inexcusable indulgence, in fact.

Dressing up for the entertainment of our congregants is fun, winky insider stuff. What it communicates is that we’re all family, and I’m the fun uncle who’s going to tell some stories and sing some songs for the kiddies.
To that I must ask, “Really? Have you not seen Nazis marching in the streets lately? Have you not seen the desecration of Jewish graves in cemeteries? Have you not heard the bomb threats against mosques? Have you not heard of the pardoning of Joe Arpaio, a hateful, dangerous man who is responsible for terrorizing people of color in Arizona and for the deaths of many?

If I walked into a church on a Sunday morning and I saw the minister greeting people in a jester outfit, I’d walk the hell right out the door. RIGHT OUT. I’d rather read a book by a religious leader whose authority, scholarship and love I can trust rather than squirm through a service led by someone who willingly undercuts their own authority by the wearing of a hugely distracting costume. Are you really so brilliant and respected, and more importantly, is your religious perspective so respected among your people and in society that you feel confident your message can transcend the silliness of your Esther crown or powdered wig?


By all means, don a quick-change costume for the Story For All Ages. Use a prop in the pulpit, wear a hat for a portion of the sermon.

But really, does the grieving widow or the earnest seeker or the person heartbroken by the latest spectacle of violence not deserve better of our ministry than to endure a worship service led by someone in a clown costume?

I am a minister who uses humor, song and character to convey my message, so don’t come at me with whining about how I’m no fun. I am LOTS of fun. I am all kinds of fun, and let me tell you something: costumes don’t make for a fun message. What they do is communicate that the worship service is for our cozy little family, for insiders, for those who regard the minister with such fond affection that that person can be respected even when they chose to wear a dopey get-up now and then.

Our nation is in moral crisis. None of us should be aiming for anything but absolute excellence in worship, and these times require all of us to reconsider just exactly how it is we define excellence.

The pulpit and the title of preacher are sacred trusts. We are artists, prophets, pastors and chief teaching elders of our traditions. Anyone who wants to duck that responsibility should quit the ministry. Every time we do some wackadoodle, cheesy thing in the pulpit we duck that responsibility. If you’re going to do something creative in worship, let the visual magic happen in some other way than donning the robes and wig of Gandalf yourself. This is no time for cutesy nonsense.

You know who I’ve NEVER heard talk about wearing costumes in the pulpit?
Anyone who isn’t white.