Thursday, April 26, 2012

Liturgy and beeswax... Pam and tanning lotion...

I needed the bikini for the physique competition at the Wisconsin State Fair. I started training the year before. I loved how strong it made me feel. Now I was about to compete in front of hundreds of people. The competition would be on a Sunday morning, a day I had requested off for “a personal enrichment experience.” I would not know many people in the crowd. No one from church would be there. Men and women would perform poses of “front double biceps,” “side triceps” and “back lat spread,” while at the other end of the exhibit hall, judges would award ribbons for apple pie and pickled beets. This was a wholesome environment; still, I knew I couldn’t share widely what I was doing

Those words were from a female Episcopalian "priest" who is also a body builder and was contemplating her competition in a bright red sequined bikini and its contrast with the white alb of her normal "priestly" attire...

Next she is "giddy" with excitement as she contemplates what she is about to do, and then reflects on the "posing" routine as somehow liturgical and churchly.

What about when a priest wears a bikini? What if she complicates the picture by having sizable biceps or well-defined lats? Can “buff” and “holy” go together? “Ripped” and “reverend”? If the “reverend” is a woman? On the day of the competition, when I put on the bikini, I felt almost giddy. The stealthy nature of my mission — to win the title of Ms. State Fair, with few people knowing I even entered — added to my excitement. Competitors hurried to do final preparations. We checked our makeup and did calisthenics to make our muscles stand out. We passed around spray cooking oil to give ourselves a thin coat.The competition started with the judges calling out poses. We performed them in unison. The similarities to liturgy stuck with me: in church, the smells of beeswax candles and furniture polish. Here: Pam and tanning lotion. In church: gestures called out by the celebrant (usually me). Here: poses called out by a judge.

One more reason I am relieved for my church body and its faithful decision not to ordain women.  Oh, to be sure, it is not because I think women are screwier than men.  It is just that we have enough screwball things being done by men in the office and I think it is a blessing of diminishing goofiness to stick with men only...

Ahhh, well, like a little wierdness is the worst thing we have to deal with in the church... Read it all here in the NY Times...  FWIW... I do not find male bodybuilders pleasing to the eye nor would I find a male Pastor Bodybuilder any less, well, goofy...

7 comments:

Janis Williams said...

No emoticons to show my facial expression....

I don't much care for oiled olympian(ish) bodies.

Of course, the issue here is not that a priest should also be a bodybuilder (was it Paul who said bodily exercise profits a little?). The issue is that a woman is a priest.

Robert Lee Bennight said...

I thought you would be going more for the appropriateness and example that a priest projects even when not in the pulpit or behind the altar. Of course, having a healthy body is a good example for everybody; however, I think public displays and competitions based purely on perceived "beauty" are not helpful at all and just promotes a culture obsessed with the physical.

I do not believe a pastor should be engaged in such things even if they are technically free to do so.

Before I entered seminary, I was in law enforcement for six years and was a firearms instructor for our department. I don't own any guns now; not because I think owning guns is wrong in itself, because I just don't think shooting as a sport fits well with the pastoral office. I no others may disagree, but the point is that we need to be mindful of what we project.

As far as women pastors being nuttier than male pastors, I will have to ask my wife, who also happens to have the Rev. before her name.

Robert Lee Bennight said...

And, yes, I do "know" the difference between "know" and "no".

Anonymous said...

Epicopalians. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

This is no different than someone training for a marathon, triathlon, horse show etc. Would you call them screwy too? Three cheers to her (regardless of her gender or profession). She's worked hard to compete and I admire anyone who has discipline to train hard & compete in ANY athletic event.

Anonymous said...

Tacky

Anonymous said...

When women volunteer to assume traditional "men only" roles within the Church, the men tend to sit back and let the women do all the work.

Doh!