Boom Sticks: Save Your Dollars

Hello on this Labor Day, dumplings!

One of you wrote to me (thank you, Kathleen!) to ask my opinion of the overpriced, underwhelming BoomSticks, whose chief virtue is to make you look like you’ve had a few drinks or spent too much time outside with no SPF on your face:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUnGvXRBPAg

These products make me so mad. They try to convince women that sweeping a tube of basically red product over one’s face is an improvement. It is not. Here’s copy from their website:

“A universal color, designed for every skin tone.
NO NEED TO CHOOSE A COLOR. THIS BOOMSTICK ALREADY MATCHES YOUR SKIN.
Boomstick Color is sheer enough that it allows your natural skin tone to show through. That’s why Boomstick Color easily works with every woman’s skin tone from chocolate to porcelain (and every color in between).”

Nonsense. There is no universal color that works for every skin tone. If there was, it would have to be so sheer that it would basically amount to an application of Vaseline over one’s cheeks.

For your money and your time, you can all get much better products. Using one color for your cheeks, eyes and lips is ill-advised for anyone with uneven skin tone, and that’s pretty much all of us past the age of 25. A product that is emollient enough for a blush is not going to do anything but wear off instantly on your lips. And no, you should not swipe sheer red over your eyesocket. If you want to brighten that area of shadows, try something like Mac Paint Pot in Bare or Painterly, which are applied with your finger and are designed to stay on all day. They also make a very good primer for eyeshadow, but I wear Bare on its own all the time. $23 sounds like a lot for an eyeshadow but this will last you at least a year with constant use.

The Boom Stick blush seems fine for someone who wants a sheer product, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend buying a set or falling for that whole “BoomStick Lifestyle” pitch. I clutched my pearls and gasped, “MADAME, NO” when I watched a review video by a friendly Southern gal who described rubbing the facial moisturizing stick on her hands and fingers. Ma’am, there are lotions and creams and unguents galore for that! Keep your face stick out from under your nails. *shudder*

Now I’m cranky. You all deserve so much better than that, but you have to do a bit of trial and error finding products and shades that work for YOU. Women are not generic. There is no “universal shade,” just a company that wants to make a bucket of money trying to convince you otherwise (BOOM’s founder, Cindy Joseph, died of cancer of 2018).

Talk to you soon! And remember, I’m here for individual make-up and image consults on a sliding scale fee. All my consulting fees go to support a talented, brilliant young woman’s education in Nicaragua. Things are really really bad down there right now. It helps me keep perspective…
MWAH!

Clergy Power Dynamics and Risk Assessment

Hello, struggling colleagues. Hey, I know that not one of us likes having to lead worship from our living rooms (you do? Well, BLESS YOUR HEART!). It’s weird. It’s not church in the real sense of the word. But I have been watching a lot of different worship services and have determined that good worship has much more to do with the ability of the worship leader to connect through the camera than with where they are leading from. And to be honest, a lot of worship services filmed in empty sanctuaries with the clergy robed and alone have bad audio and are sad and awkward. Since I am not a member of those congregations I do not have the memory of being in that space, which I do realize is an important element for many.

But we must continue to prioritize safety, at least in regions of the country that are still seeing consistent or increasing numbers of COVID cases. Producing worship services from people’s homes or outdoor locations is far safer and more ethical in those regions than gathering in the sanctuary with a multi-person worship team.

What I want to emphasize is that this is not a time to be unconscious of clergy power, authority and unintentional coercion: if one of us says, “I’d like to sing a duet with you while we’re well apart on the chancel, but you can say ‘no,'” are we sure that person really feels they can refuse? You’re their pastor. In many traditions, respect for clergy authority is so strong, and trust in their judgment so high, this leaves folks emotionally and spiritually vulnerable. They may suppress their own misgivings in order to support the minister who represents God to them, and to show up in church for the church they love and have faithfully served for years.

There is a power differential between clergy and the laity, and there is an even clearer power differential between clergy and church staff. These are people who may rightfully feel that if they refuse to meet or work in the building, their jobs are at stake. We have a moral obligation to carefully work out protocols and plans in consultation with trustees and their appointed safety task forces that can assess the congregation’s needs in conjunction with state and local Board of Health, CDC and Department of Health recommendations. Your desire to be in the building is not the determining factor in decision-making.

(Of course I also want to recognize that there are ministers who feel in danger of being dismissed because of their leaders’ desire to get back into the building and their own hesitation to do so for health and safety reasons. I know that there are clergy losing their jobs over this issue and I am incredibly sorry. My broken heart goes out to you that you were not respected and that your life was not deemed valuable enough by your leaders to protect. I am also devastated by the stories of pile-on complaints coming to clergy who are busting their asses trying to cope with the transitions to online church. There has been a lot of revelation of spiritual and emotional immaturity, cruelty and entitlement in our religious communities. I have heard about it from you. Some of you are leaving the ministry. This is a conversation I hope to have separately from this one about our own uses of authority. But please keep writing to me, I care very much and I am here.)

There are churches holding rites of passage and relying on God, magical thinking and collective denial to render things such as singing by a few unmasked choir members up front safe. It is not. It is a horrifying abuse of trust to those who have already taken the risk of showing up for a group indoor service to then subject them to the ego of a priest who has unilaterally decided that singers can sing and he can preside unmasked “because the bishop said so” or because he mistakenly believes he is keeping adequate distance between himself and the few worship leaders at all times (he’s not, and he’s spraying when he speaks).

Six feet of distance between people is not a magic number but a best guess. Your ordained breath singing a hymn while standing six feet behind a couple of other singers is not holy breath, and you could be spewing dangerous aerosols over these people (and they on each other). If you’re all sharing a mic, you’re engaging in, and modeling, hazardous behavior. Stop it immediately, educate yourselves on safe practices and adopt them.

By what ridiculous ego trip are clergy making these decisions? Grandiosity, denial, recklessness disguised as “commitment,” and a need to maintain their mystique as the robed Holy Person in the sacred space. An unwillingness to recognize what a destructive example they are setting by doing the bare minimum to keep people safe. Immaturity, impatience, heedlessness, and sometimes, pressure from church members and leaders.

Dearly beloved, we aim to survive this. We are six months into it in the U.S. and now is a perfect time to recommit to vigilance and care, to shore up our resolve not to get laissez-faire or fatalist about things.

Plan slowly, carefully, and taking much counsel from a wide swath of your people and science-based resources.
Examine your own authority and power in your ministry setting. Use it to protect, not to endanger.

Peace. Bang.

Why I Can’t Sleep Tonight

Two family members have COVID.
*Gestures generally around to the world.* That.
People not wearing masks and making their callous stupidity into a political statement.
Disneyworld opening!!??
General panic. worry Worry WORRY worry worry WOrry

How do we Livestream from Zoom to Facebook? Should we broacast on YouTube Live?
How about if I ask the congregation to get on a big Zoom call so we can read our covenant together and I can use that segment for recorded services? What would be the best time to do that, and would folks who don’t Zoom feel left out?

Must schedule Wisdom Circle for elders again.

Why does Filmora crash my computer every time I edit worship services?
When will I have time to clean up my desktop and transfer all the worship file segments I Airdropped from my phone to my laptop to Google Drive and then organize the past four months of Google drive worship segments into liturgical elements?
How about photos and slides? How about those? I have hundreds. Should I organize those by subject matter? Liturgical element?

I need to learn how to confidently do Zoom screen sharing. Can I do screen sharing while leading a conversation or segment? Who can do that? Are there Zoom producers out there yet? How much do they charge? What if, God forbid, I need to plan a Zoom funeral or memorial? Where did I put those helpful files from Facebook explaining how to do it?

What if we wind up doing some live events in the parking lot in August? What? How…? Do I need to buy an amp? Wha would an order of service look like? How would we livestream that? What do I plug a lap mic into? Will it disturb the neighbors if we use a sound system on Sunday mornings? What about all the dog walkers and hikers who are on the property expecting to use the grounds for recreational purposes? Do we have outside ushers? Signs? Do we put chairs out or do people stand around or stay in their cars…?
How would we do music outside?

What do we do when we eventually start to have some small gatherings in the church and some worship at home, how am I going to plan and lead all of these different kinds of programs?

Should we join with [local congregation] for worship once a month to share the stress of doing this online? They do Zoom Church.
But I hate Zoom services. They’re visually exhausting, the audio is bad, there are always glitches, the tech is unreliable, the flow is choppy.
Must schedule a call with [colleague].

How am I going to keep doing this for another year?

Bad Camera Angles

Hello, good people!

Isn’t it incredible how we are all learning how to produce church from our desks? So weird, so disorienting, and I was super sad today when I put my robe and stole in a garment bag knowing that it will be many a month before I will be wearing it with my people again.

This Sunday was to be my celebratory return to church after a sabbatical. It is the 7th anniversary of my call to my congregation. And it’s Mother’s Day and my mom died six weeks ago.

Is it any surprise that I have a huge cold sore on my face?

ANYWAY, it helps me very much to feel useful to you, so I have put together what I hope are edifying and entertaining (in a gentle teasing way) series of Bad On-Camera Ministry Angles:

THE GLORIA SWANSON

CAMERA, CAMERA, WHERE IS THE CAMERA?

THE NOSTRIL CAM

And my final in the series,

THE VON TRAPP

The Von Trapp is when you have pressed your kids or spouse into service as a worship team. The strain is palpable, the awkwardness is distracting, and people like me think that life is stressful and socially traumatic enough right now for children. Unless they’re on the payroll, let them be. We all miss our worship teams, but your family deserves their privacy, and that forced Von Trapp energy is inauthentic and upsetting. Someone like me can spot fake dialogue six miles away, and oof. If you have a child actor, put them in a theatre class. Don’t make them play themselves as a character for your ministry. And since I’m on the subject, PLEASE make sure not to make the people you live with the butt of jokes in sermons, or to use them as sermon illustrations without their non-coerced persmission. We should all have plenty of inner and external resources for preaching or giving messages right now without exploiting the suffering and confusion being experienced by children or housemates of any age (but especially children).

Coronachurch: Tech Helps For Online Worship, How We’re Doing Things, Zoombombing, Children’s Chapel:

Hello darlings,

Wow.
Whoa.
I am doing okay? Okay? I think? Are you okay?

So much has changed since I posted my first Coronachurch entry on March 17th. I have adjusted my opinion on some things and not on others.
We made it through Easter. God did what God always does. We took naps. We grieved and we celebrated. We are still grieving… and celebrating. I hope you are seeing enough resiliency, creativity and connection among your people to warm and encourage you to find a worship service.

In some ways, we were absolutely not trained or prepared for this. On the most important levels, however, this is EXACTLY the time for which we have prepared all of our lives. Spiritual practice. Focus on the eternal and the essential. The ability to be present and faithful in the presence of suffering, loss and death. I know that my readers are progressives and are not engaging in bad, horrible, irresponsible religious leadership of the kind that has literally killed conservative clergy. God has them now. Peace be upon them and their congregations. Lord Jesus. You shall not put your Lord God to the test!!!

I catch myself many times per day sighing deeply. Sadness upon sadness. I am listening for the deep sighing on Zoom meetings so that we can stop and acknowledge. The breath reveals so much.

The Children’s Chapel program details start at about 18:15 (Someday I’ll learn how to easily add captions and edits to these videos but now is probably not that time). At 22:30, I talk about why I do not forecast to “when can we open, what will that look like” when I am alone or with my folks. I do not want to put my energy into where I’d rather be than where we are right now. We are learning so much about how to cope with right now, it seems like denial and distraction to start to plan for … when we . My reserves need to be about coping with, and helping other people cope with, TODAY. I have a Google folder where I park ideas about re-opening. I firmly believe that planning for the Whenever blocks our creativity and blocks the movement of the Holy Spirit. I get that insight through prayer, and I share it with you in the conviction that it is a word from a God who loves us.

This is a long video. Maybe you will watch it over a few viewings, like 10 minutes at a time with a cuppa tea.
Much love, much heart, kiss of peace!

Extendable 50″ Tripod with ring light and remote.

PowerDeWise Professional Grade Lapel Mic

Desktop Tripod with Remote (not the one I have, but I like this make)