I receive a fair amount of correspondence from convicts at my job at On Being. This one from Texas. They’re moved by the work we do, and it’s important to be respectful but establish firm boundaries. Here’s a thank you note for sending CDs to them, and we some business advice too!
Women in Ministry: The Fashion Problem
Kate Moos, managing producer
No one has ever accused me of being fashion-forward. Neither will I ever willingly join a conversation on the relative merits of mascara brands. Nonetheless, I was completely entertained by Courtney Wilder's essay on Sightings about a blog that enjoins women clergy to navigate the occasionally fine line between professional dress and excessive *hot-ness* as church leaders.
A couple years back I got a letter from an apparently very attractive aspirant to the ministry who raved on and on about how she was just TOO PRETTY to be accepted as a clergyperson and that was why she had failed in her various attempts to achieve ordained status.
At the time I thought to myself, “Chickie here has a lot of serious issues, and being ‘too pretty’ may indeed be one of them, but let’s file this thought away for further reflection until I hear from a more grounded person about the reality of being too beautiful for ministry.”
And lo, that time has come, pigeons. While I know of several movie-star handsome men in the clergy whose Hotness does not seem to prevent them from being taken seriously, I have now collected several stories of female clergy being taken aside by male superiors and told that their beauty or sexiness is “distracting” and a serious problem.
What shall we call this?
Plain and simple.
If a man is distracted by his completely appropriately-dressed female minister’s beauty and sexiness, that’s his gadnapped problem. The Biblical name for that problem is lust, I do believe. The cultural name for it is objectification. I say “Work on it with your spiritual director, Senior Pastor Horndog.”
"A Change Came Over Me"
by Kate Moos, managing producer
I spent a couple of hours Saturday morning rapt, listening to a woman named Mary Johnson talk about her spiritual path toward forgiveness after her son was murdered in 1993. We were gathered at St. Jane’s House in north Minneapolis, a neighborhood where street violence leads to the death of many young men each year. In Mary’s case, her spiritual path toward reconciliation brought her to found a small organization called “From Death To Life” that brings the mothers of people killed in street violence together with the mothers of those who have killed.
Mary told us there was a time she did not see her son’s killer as human. Then a change, she says, came over her heart. Now she knows him well and has visited him in prison several times. He’s preparing to transition back to the community, and she says when he does they will work together to end the cycle of violence.
Our program “Getting Forgiveness and Revenge” will be available here at onbeing.org later this week. We’re interested in your stories about forgiveness and revenge. Mary Johnson can be reached through her ministry called “Two Mothers” at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(photo: Kate Moos)
What Is the Master’s Commission?
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
This video of Gov. Palin speaking at her former Pentecostal church in Wasilla, Alaska has sparked a healthy number of news stories from major media outlets such as The New York Times and National Public Radio, not to mention in the blogosphere.
Despite all the quotes being pulled and examined, I was unfamiliar with the phrase “Master’s Commission” she uses to address a group of students at the service. The Website for the Master’s Commission in Wasilla states:
From watching their promotional videos and reading some other literature, Master’s Commission programs across the U.S. have some variation when it comes to curriculum and schedule, but these full-immersion ministry programs train young men and women (generally 18-25 years old) by emphasizing the memorization of Scripture, prophesying, community service, and spreading God’s word and converting people to be followers of Jesus Christ.
"Master’s Commission Wasilla Alaska will give you a creative opportunity to set yourself aside for 9 months by becoming a 24/7 ministry student, where you will be launched on a journey To Know God And To Make Him Known. This Foundation will carry you for the rest of your life regardless of where you go in God.During your time at MC:WA you will be trained and matured in the prophetic gifts, prayer and intercession. You will experience worship possibly like you never have before. You will be involved in evangelism in many different forms from illustrated sermons to one on one street ministry.”
The ministry program in Wasilla sees the state of Alaska as a land of “divine destiny” and a center for a new great awakening and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in which the state motto (“North to the Future”) is a prophetic indicator:
"Alaska is a mission field within itself, it has over 200 distinct people groups and most can only be reached by air. Flying only a few hours out of Wasilla is like flying to another country just because of the great cultural differences within the different parts of our state.”I’m curious to know more about these types of ministry programs and their impact. I’d love to hear better detail and some personal experiences. Help?