Dress for Success--in the Pulpit, too?

I found this blog today by a shem pastor in North Carolina--the location is important for understanding blog content. I just don't know what to think about it, especially as a repsonse to my last blog post.

Peacebang, the pastor, is writing to help fellow pastors, especially the feminine ones, dress well. Here is her theological mantra behind the blog, which she liberally publishes:

"God has made a good gift in you.
And you don’t bring an unwrapped gift to God’s party.

Wrap up that gift with as much beauty and care as you can muster.
‘Taint nothing wrong or vain about that.

And that, my friends, is the Gospel of PeaceBang. Amen"

I just don't agree. Perhaps five years ago, pre-CT, pre-CA, pre-PMC I would have been a little more open to the idea. ~And I'm a girl that loves her eye make-up as much as my next AL sorority sister. But really? Are you serious? I kept looking for the joke behind it all. It's not there. She is totally real. This is when I really do want to point out how people in this world are literally starving to death! --and in the South we are worried about whether or not our pastors are wearing appropriate suits and whether or not the pastor's lipstick matches her blush? This is still going on and being promoted?

When I first saw the site I thought I was going to like it. Finally, some freedom to be feminine without guilt and liberty to do it in the pulpit. Instead, I feel frustrated and confused. What the heck is going on with me and all this beauty vs. simplicity stuff right now? I am pursing authentic, God-given beauty amidst suffering. I certainly don't want manufactured crap and projecting a certain image (well-dressed-important-legitimate-clergy-girls) to be the point. Again: can anyone help spell this out for me?

**Her real blog is better, and she lives in New England. But still...


PeaceBang said...

I think you need to get over yourself big time. Spend some time reading the blog. Do you think that clergy image is "a joke?" Do you really think that our message and our ministries can be taken seriously when we show up unkempt and sloppy? Yes, people are starving in the world, but you're not. Your job is to prepare faithful people to be a force for the kingdom of God, and you can't be naive about the power and authority inherent in that work. Nor can any of us be naive that our appearance matters in ministry as it does for any public leader.

When you advocate for peace, do you think it matters that you look at least as trustworthy and confident of your message as those who advocate for war? That's what the Beauty Tips blog is about, and if you don't get the cheeky, comic tone with which I'm trying to communicate serious things, I invite you to go back and try again.

PeaceBang is an altar ego. Figure it out. Without the humor and entertainment factor of my blog, i would not have nearly as wide a readership. My aim is to offer advice and support in a comedic way to men and women who are called to some of the most serious and important work there is, but who have never had an opportunity to talk about the simple question of how to dress and groom themselves for this work.

Perhaps you live in a world where appearance doesn't matter, but I live in a world that is very visually-oriented and where we are, in fact, not listened to or respected if we show up looking like total frumps.

Did you bother to reseach me before calling me a "shem" (I'm sure you mean "sham" -- you might want to use your spellcheck). Be careful how you speak of your colleagues in this public forum. I am, actually, a respected pastor of a vibrant congregation. I have all the requisite degrees and a lot of other credentials that a quick Google search would reveal. You may not get the humor or the point of the Beauty Tips blog, but that's no excuse to insult me.

PeaceBang said...

Good god -- just having read some of your posts, I have to advise you to remember that your blog is PUBLIC. Your language on here -- and photos of shirtless pals sucking down beers -- may come back to haunt you. Do you intend to work in the parish?

Girl, seriously, be careful. You can't delete this stuff once it's up. Take my advice. You're coming across as a filthy-mouthed dingbat on here, and I'm sure that's not who you are.

Lauren Mayfield said...

Dear Peacebang,
Wow. I am so sorry you found my posting so insulting and offensive. That certainly was not my intent. To begin, yes, "shem" was the wrong word. I am not sure what I meant. Certainly not sham! Maybe fem, as in female or feminine. Not sham. I don't think you're a sham. I think you're cool and I think you blogs are witty, fun, honest, and totally authentic to who you are trying to be as a Christian pastor in this, yes, very visually-oriented world. That's awesome and meant as a compliment!

I also very much understand and appreciate the humor with which you write. While my husband and I were reading your blog we were very often laughing out loud and thoroughly enjoying your upfront honesty and call-it-like-it-is approach. It's refreshing!!! (I loved the posting about whether or not to tuck in the clerical shirt.)

What I disagree with behind the PeaceBang image is the core idea that we need to dress a certain way or present ourselves in a certain way in order to be heard. I am not attacking you with that comment. I am merely disagreeing with some of your thoughts, not you as a pastor or person made in the image of God!! I think it is totally okay that we disagree here. My point is that I am personally asking lots of questions about the celebration of beauty.

You're right I'm not starving. But how do I minister to people who are and respond in ways to alleviate hunger? For me (I understand it could be different for you), that doesn't mean wearing nice clothes on a church retreat. But that's not to bash the idea. And your blog raised lots of new questions for me about this. Thanks for that! I'm serious I like asking questions, especially theological ones that challenge me.

I am growing to love more and more, in our overly visual world, that there are pastors and others who choose to be "other worldly" in regards to our socialized understanding of beauty. I want to respect them as well.

But these are hard conversations to initiate and continue via internet, especially on comment pages. Please email me at ljmayfield@cp.fuller.edu if you want to continue talking.

Lastly, I love that blogs are public. I am glad you responded and saw what I wrote--not because it hurt you (I am sincerely regretful of that), but because it invites many people I otherwise would never know into the conversation.

On more thought, I agree that part of my job as a pastor is to prepare people for work in advancing the Kingdom of God. I think, though, there are lots of ways to do that that can and should be particular to the different people doing it. The way God is pulling me right now is different than God's direction for you. That's okay and worth celebrating in my opinion; I don't think it qualifies me as a dingbat, but as a co-conspirator for Jesus who is also trying to be authentic to where I am in life right now.

That's why my blog is entitled "unraveling mysteries." How do I negotiate Jesus, culture, and faith in ways that are real and holy?--not perfect.

Lauren Mayfield said...

Sorry for all the typos in my last comment. Livia was jealous of my attention, so I was typing quickly and didn't stop to proofread.

Cate said...

For the record, not all of us who are reading this blog think you're coming across as a filthy mouthed dingbat. Rather I think you're coming across as an honest, real person dealing with honest real issues. It's a voice I appreciate hearing.

PeaceBang said...

Just talking about clergy blogging for a sec' -- I'm a cusser myself, but I do think you have to be aware that cussing in public writing is a boundary that we would probably be wise not to cross. Remember the generational differences between us (well, you're some younger than me) and the average church-goer... so I'm just sayin', consider being real vs. getting a job in the parish.

Sorry I called you a dingbat. I meant something more like -- well, maybe it's the shem thing. I meant something a shade different but couldn't think of the right word.

All my theological rationales for the blog are in the archives under "greatest hits" so I probably don't need to go into that again. It's fine if we disagree.

Peace out, babe.