Under The Collar Experiment

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Maundy Monday

Monday is my day off.  The only day I am not wearing my collar is Sunday.  So, on Mondays I also wear my collar.  This past Monday I went for a pedicure.  If the Bible had been written today and the holy land was instead Oklahoma, open-toed shoes on a woman without a pedicure would have made the list in Deuteronomy (right next to mixing fabrics and eating shellfish).  Most seasons in Oklahoma allow for open toed shoes. January is not one of them.  One could argue whether I have any excuse at all other than pampering.  Religion often concerns itself with the do's and don'ts of culture. I have a love/hate relationship with religion.  I find it to be the source of community that is so desperately needed in our current culture and a necessary binding to a community of accountability.  I am not for lone ranger spirituality.  And at the same time, religion's frozen cultural mores have caused much suffering in the world especially for the marginalized-- the very people religions should be looking out for.  

I have a change theory that guides me.  If we are to change religion we will be most successful working from within.  We must be religiously relevant.  Similarly, if we are to change a culture, we must be culturally relevant.  Relevant but not consumed.  Relevant but not enmeshed.  I am not out to change the culture of Oklahoma's pedicures.  I am clear that in this culture it is part of the expected grooming for me to have the position I now hold.  That position affords me an awful lot of opportunity to be in relationship with decision makers that I would not have had otherwise.

In The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist tells a beautiful story about her struggle with being a high dollar fundraiser for hunger worldwide.  She explains in detail the irony of having  a $5000 a plate dinner to raise money, when the money for a single plate could have fed a village for a year. In the midst of this struggle she visits Mother Teresa at her famous convent in India.  Twist is handed an orphaned infant to bathe when she walks in the door. She has a moment of feeling like this is the real work.  Mother Teresa teaches her over her stay there that should use the gifts and the privilege we have been given to change the world.  She also teaches her that the privileged are in need spiritually too, just like everyone else.  Our impact on this world comes from our spheres of influence. Twist would be letting go of those spheres of influence if all she did was bathe orphans.  (Not that she shouldn't also bathe orphans.) Somewhere in between the $5000 a plate dinner and those who do not have enough to eat is the person who has the capacity to walk in both worlds.  That person will do more good in bridging the gap than those who only dwell at either end.  Feeding the hungry happens because of the people who are actually doing the feeding and the fundraising required.  When we romanticize one over the other, we do ourselves and the hungry no favors.  Our power to affect change comes from our capacity to walk in as many worlds as we can and try to bring them together.

Getting a pedicure is one of life's little pleasures.  I have had my feet washed in ceremony and in a salon. I try to bring myself to both experiences fully. When I showed up in my collar to get my toes done on Monday.  I was not treated any differently than I ever am.  Time slowed down as Tony painted each toe with deliberateness that felt meditative.  He asked me about my daughter and about work.  I spoke to him about his upcoming marriage and the new room in the salon.  He has seen my tree of life tattoo and knows I am a runner.  He already knew I was a minister, the clothes didn't matter.


  1. Okie Rev, I had this feeling once at the Vatican…… Looking at all the ways money had been spent to harbor all of the FLASH AND GLARE of religion… while scattered throughout the cathedral were the poorest people whispering THEIR prayers… All I could think about was WHERE IS MOTHER TERESA when I need her…The priest knew as I was taking communion, I was not his BRAND of RELIGION. The look in his eye told me…. I know, I know…. I returned to the pew and prayed for all the uncertainty of religion.

    1. Cynthia-
      I understand the need for religious institutions. I understand the need for religious art. I do not understand the need for religious opulence.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on relevancy and having the ability to comfortably participate in many worlds. This idea reminded me of Intersectionality theory and I think it is relevant to this topic. We are all oppressed and oppressors all at the same time. I argue that to understand this is fundamental to having the ability to accept our humanity and others. It's easier to walk in many worlds when we see that we are equal to all people. That could be said for either feeling like others are below us or above us.

    Thank you for this blog. I'm enjoying following it.

    1. Sarah Jo.. You hit the nail SQUARE on the head. Exactly what I was trying to communicate and grateful to know message was received.