Back To School Time!!

Helloooo, my pigeons!

I know we don’t observe the academic year in a liturgical way, but that back to school feeling is in the air as the season changes for many of us and kids get the heck out of the house and into the classroom where they BELONG! *thwaps ruler on desk*

I am not going to moan and groan about human depravity and climate change right now because as it is for all of us, the tick-tock-tick-tock of the clock of creation is in all our bodies, minds and souls as children of the living God. We know that we are in a time of lament but that does not mean that we should go about with crusty elbows and horrid, lumpy shoes.

We have to keep showing up for beauty, hope, blessing, possibility!! Unless your name is Jeremiah and you were legit appointed by the LORD to wear sackcloth and yell at people, get your shit together and be part of what is lovely in the world.

I am just going to stand here like a drill sargeant and bark words at you. When you hear each word, do a quick self-survey: Is this thing as clean, shiny and gorgeous as possible? Is this part of my self-care in okay condition? If not, what one reasonable commitment can I make here and now to pull it into a healthier place?
Do I have this item and is it clean, mended, pressed, conditioned, and professionally appropriate? Could I pivot from my ministerial context to an unexpected meeting with a state representative with this in this condition?

Ready? It’s fine to take notes!












Take this list to a group of colleagues you trust and have fun with and review it together. Swap tips, swap clothes, do a closet purge together, get a pedicure. Do a nose hair check.

We are primates, after all and not the Episcopal kind (although you might be one of those, too).

Report back!

Power Lady Jackets

Oh wow, I just re-discovered this article sent to me by most astute pigeon, Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, from June of 2016. Fashion writer Robin Givhan analyzes the new classic by designer Nina McLemore which is being seen all over Washington, DC.

What interests me is not only the design details of the jacket (classic but tailored in a way to intentionally communicate power: standing collar, long, bold line) but how clergy can look to women in the political realm to consider our own ideas of public image. As spiritual and creative leaders we have a lot more leeway than someone in elected office does to individualize our attire, but we should ask ourselves before we leave the house, “would I dress this way to make a statement to America about an important moral issue?”

If not, then you’re not ready to make a statement to your congregation about an important moral issue.

If someone running for office or in public office wouldn’t wear what you’re wearing in order to address her constituents, why are we any different? Are you a friend stopping by for lunch? Are you family – perhaps comfy grandma? Are you a camp counselor? Do you not seek to represent a divine grace, beauty and power that is beyond yet within us all, and within us collectively? Do you not seek to influence? If not, why not?

We need to know who we are trying to be, called to me, and needed to be. Sometimes, yes, we’re a warm sister or grandmother comforter. Sometimes we are a gardener. Sometimes we are a kindergarten teacher. But often we are an important leader but show up dressed to be a camp counselor. There is such terrible and unnecessary dissonance when that happens. It will not be spoken but it will be there and it will have consequences.

Know who you are. Dress to lead.

Janet Yellen in a McLemore jacket

Toning It Down For CPE

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, mah friends.* I got this interesting letter the other day. Let’s take a look and have a talk.


Hi Peacebang,
I am currently getting ready for my first CPE [Clinical Pastoral Education] interview. I am trying to decide what to wear and what pieces to add to my wardrobe down the road when I get closer to actually doing CPE.
I loooove a suit and I have a fair collection of professional appropriate clothes. Except: they are a bit on the loud and bright side. I love bold patterns and super saturated bright colors and jewel tones.
I’m in the south applying for CPE in the south. I’m southern enough to know that my professional wardrobe is too eye catching for CPE generally and it is for sure too eye catching for CPE here.

I’m pretty sure that CPE is not the place for my bright red blazer or my blue monochrome suit outfit. Or my white blazer with black faux leather collar. Or my hounds-tooth blazer. Or ….many things.
I can do a few all black outfits but every time I put one of my SUPER COLOR shells underneath my black jackets I think I look like I’m headed to a political convention.
Do you have any suggestions for toning down a pop-y wardrobe without resorting to all the earth tones I hate? (they look fine on other people and forests)
Thank you for your awesome ministry!
May your day be bright and your sleep deep,

Dear Thoughtful Chaplain-To-Be,

Preparing to do CPE is a great time to consider your developing clergy image. You’re asking all the right questions: how well does my personal preference in attire work in my ministry context?
You have wisely assessed your geographical context (the South) and your professional context (chaplaincy work) and considered the typical choices for that context (earth tones) and are putting it all together, showing a willingness to edit and adapt your own style to suit your ministry. Brava! That non-defensive wisdom will serve you well in your work, so you’re already ahead of the game!

So, I’m thinking about what you said and about what you’ll be doing.
My first thought is that much of CPE happens as we minister to those in beds and wheelchairs and it’s considerate not to want to strain their eyes. On the other hand, maybe a dose of hot pink is just what the doctor ordered!

Busy patterns are not restful to the eye, I agree. Houndstooth is a classic neutral pattern but I’d save it for days you’re not visiting patients. Bright red is a wonderful power color but very hard on the eyes in close proximity, so yes, retire that blazer for patient days.

“Shall we pray?”
“Can I keep my eyes closed? I’m already getting eye strain.”

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.37.23 PM

“Hello, I’m the Chaplain, can I visit with you for a moment?”
“Sure, but can you take off that blinding tie though?”
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.37.45 PM
The houndstooth pattern of his jacket is nice and small but the lines in the tie are eye-straining.

“Hi, how are you this morning?”
“I’m doing well, chaplain. I like your jacket. Very fashionable but it’s making me squint.”
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.37.58 PM

“Good morning, it’s so good to see you again. Are you up for a short visit?”
“I’d like that very much.”
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.38.30 PM
Save the houndstooth pattern for the lower half of your bod.

You mentioned black as the kind of default option for toning down your cherished eye-poppin’ looks. But how about eggplant purple? How about navy? How about charcoal grey? Those can be non-blah-earth-tones that could be paired with brighter tops. They’re rich and restful enough on the eye and won’t upstage your face and eyes, which will be the focus of most interactions.

* I wrote this weeks ago!
I learned this year that it’s not Indigenous People’s Day but Indigenous Peoples Day — no apostrophe needed because the day honors the entire diversity of indigenous peoples.

#FuckThisShit Advent Devotional

I want to send a soul shout-out to the pastors who are writing the #FuckThisShit Advent devotional, a resource I became aware of a couple of weeks ago on Twitter.

The editors of this project are
Jason Chestnut @crazypastor
Tuhina Verma Rasche @TVRasche
The writers are,
Alisha L.Gordon
Matthew David Morris @MattMorris
and A’Driane Nieves
and lots of guest artists contributing posts.
And there is a related hashtag of

As you can imagine, the creators of this resource are taking a lot of heat for the NAUGHTY LANGUAGE being used. Because, as you know, religious leaders should never be shocking or offensive in communicating the Gospel. Obscenity should never be used to express the obscenities committed by the powerful agains the vulnerable. Well-behaved clergy should pray with our eyes to the skies in ways that don’t really, actually disrupt the social order of empire. When our prophets are murdered, clergy should stand by with hands respectfully folded while history and empire sanitizes and censors our prophets and weaponizes them against their original communities of empowerment.
Fuck that shit.

Readers of this blog know that it in addition to being a place to find footwear recommendations, has been a ten year study in clergy image and changing clergy archetypes. I have been very interested in the use of cussing by mainstream religious leaders on social media for some time, and have begun to swear more freely in my own writings. I am grateful to the #FuckThisShit team for leading the way in using profanity to stir up attention to the demands of the God with whom we profess to be in covenant.

I use profanity as a sound effect, a percussion section in a musical piece that I am singing about the reality in which I find myself with all of you.
I use profanity as a pinch of strong pepper thrown into the sizzling skillet of whatever dish I am cooking up that I dare not serve bland out of respect for the people I am trying to feed.
People who don’t like pepper can get fed at another table.

I applaud and support my colleagues Jason, Tuhina, Matthew, A’Driane, and all their guest artists for modeling the new clergy voice I feel is desperately needed in this time of complacency and empty gestures of fleeting outrage.
I am fed from their sizzling skillets. The writing is beautiful.

Lord, for these loving voices raised in wholly appropriate terms for these times and your far-too lazy and comfortable Church, we give thanks.
For the leaders who patiently respond to angry emails protesting profane language from people who remain silent and inactive about profane public policy, we give thanks.
For those who object to “thoughts and prayers” as a sufficient response to horrors unleashed on God’s people, we lifg up our thanks and praise.