13 March 2008

Is "Frau Pastor" a pastoral theology credential?

I heard this amusing report on All Things Considered yesterday which attempted to figure out whether her time as First Lady counts as policy experience for Hillary Clinton. It included her incisive analysis that the use of trains to relocate refugees might tellingly remind people of Schindler's List (or North By Northwest? Murder On the Orient Express?). Am I the only one who finds this idea utterly ridiculous? Does anyone consider who the first lady will be in casting a vote for president? Was there anyone who thought the First Lady had any business writing policy on health care or anything else? Would you be thrilled if your surgeon's wife scrubbed in for your operation? Do the wives of cops ride shotgun? See where I'm going with this?

Now, someone answers the phone at the pastor's house, and sometimes that person gets an earful whether or not it's the pastor. It also happens that the pastor's family, wife included, is usually among the better catechized families in the congregation and therefore a useful source of Sunday School teachers and lesser included offenses. But this mentality really stumps me. A proponent of the entity purveying said mentality was shocked and offended by my scornful wondering what wives had to do with it (I conceded that I didn't get what any of it had to do with whatever "it" might be). Have these people noticed that there's a fairly major Christian tradition that has been actively disproving this notion of the indispensable pastor's wife for centuries with its celibate priesthood?

All's I know is, a lot of icky stuff goes down in a parish and I don't understand how my getting tangled up in it would help anyone. I see how these things burden my husband, and I'm pretty sure I serve him better by making sure he has some treats to cheer him up and by keeping my own spirits up, which is a lot easier if I'm not also depressed about the dirt on everyone. I think it is a great offense against parishioners to let anyone other than the qualified person from whom they sought help in on their sad secrets. Furthermore, I honestly doubt I'd be any more or less involved at church if my husband weren't the pastor. I like church and would probably be more involved than most people--but it just doesn't have anything to do with him. And when it comes to theological questions--I even have some formal education in this department, but I know very well that sticky matters should be passed on to the local professional. I can't tell when these questions aren't just academic, thus again rendering them none of my business even if I think I do know the right textbook answer (not to mention the fact that he's just a lot smarter than I am).

Well, anyway . . . I don't think "First Lady" is a foreign policy credential.


Kelly said...

The bull-twinkie radar beeps frenetically whenever that many management buzzwords are bandied about in one place. I agree - ick. And if they're going to rip off Rick & Kay Warren's schtick, at least be honest about it.

Gauntlets said...

You preach it, sister! Put your hand on the screen! Feel the power! :)

I'm working to convince people that pastors' wives are better left tending to their own business by glazing over or walking away as soon as the gossiping starts. I think it really makes them love me that much more.

Kelly: bull-twinkie = HA HA HA HA!

Reb. Mary said...

I'm all for having Frau Pastor be at least reasonably well educated in the theological sphere; makes for more interesting conversations 'round the parsonage and all. Besides the fact that I'm all for having more people in general being more theologically educated.

But yeah. No reason to have everyone in the house know all the dirt. I hate when they call and spill all or most of the beans to me--I'm never sure if I'm just supposed to be taking a message and pretending I'm not hearing it, or supposed to offer some sort of advice, or what. I especially hate when they show up at the door sobbing (thankfully, this has not happened often).

Since we (sometimes, depending on baby seasons and whatnot) co-teach marriage-type classes, we also offer to counsel couples together if they prefer. Some people have really appreciated this option. We enjoy it too, for the most part, but I also know that it can tie me up in knots and be heartbreaking. Herr Pastor is better equipped, by personality and by training, to be able to, for instance, sleep peacefully and be a good husband and father even if he knows that all is not well in the little world of this parish. Not that he's callous--but he knows when he needs to be at peace and fulfill his other responsibilities once he's done all he can. I...obsess.

Blissful ignorance ensures that I treat everybody the same and don't experience more emotional issues than I can already produce, without outside help.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

I occasionally get into it with pastors' wives from other denominations and they take offense when I say that my husband is called to the ministry, I am not. (and we won't even talk about the Episcopalian priest who thought that I NEEDED and M.Div to be a partner in my husband's ministry).

One thing I point to is that while the Bible is very clear on what kind of man should be a pastor (I Timothy and all), it never describes what a pastor's wife should be, other than part of that home that is in order, being that one wife, etc.

Hillary may have some insight into the job of President because of the years she spent as first lady, but that in and of itself does not count as full experience. No one goes into that job with enough experience. No one has held anything like it whether they have been senators, governors, or first ladies. That is why the President has a cabinet of capable people to advise him and help him run the executive branch.

Glenda said...

Pastor's Wives Unite! Our new (well, it isn't really "new" since it has been so since creation) mantra is:

"Keeping our hubbies happy in the kitchen and in the bedroom."

Now whose going to make the first sign or wear the first t-shirt?

Rebekah said...

Oh, my inhibited Lutheran ears! :O

RPW, I hope that "home in order" business just means that everybody has clothes on and not too much chili in their hair.

Reb. Mary said...

Matching t-shirts for the CSPP convention? Slogan contest?

Rebekah said...

RM, good point above (I remembered it in the middle of the night while I was spending quality time with you know who). I am always impressed by the way my husband handles questions and situations that would leave me lost for words, angry, visibly upset, etc. He is sympathetic, caring, patient, forgiving, and also able to get on with his life. They really are professionals.