There’s a little Facebook game going around right now where you add “with a Chainsaw” to the title of whatever book you are reading. I joined in the fun and posted: There’s a Woman in the Pulpit with a Chainsaw. (Not to brag, but that comment got the most likes in a very long thread.)
So far, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments & the Healing Power of Humor has not presented me with any chainsaw-wielding pastors. (But I haven’t read the last section yet, so I can still hope.) This book has presented me with a pastor wielding knitting needles and one looking for the plunger and one boiling water in a tea kettle to pour into the stock tank she is using for baptisms. (OK. That one is me).
The book has shown me a pastor clutching a pitcher of frozen juice to her body as she speaks to her congregation, hoping desperately that the liquid will thaw before she has to pour it into the communion chalice; also, a pastor late for her first day on the job because she had to help her partner compost a dead cow.
You can’t make this stuff up. Actually, you can—we could, we women pastors, because we are fabulous and creative—but we don’t have to make it up. Because life as a pastor offers opportunity after opportunity for all kinds of experiences—from the silly to the sublime; from baking bread with children to holding the hands of the dying.
I was honored to be part of the consulting group that visioned this book in its early stages and contributed material for the proposal. Even before I got my copy of the book a few days ago, I had read several of the contributions. I had high hopes for this collection, and I was not disappointed. My colleagues are women of deep faith, sharp wit, and holy words.
One fear I have is that this will be viewed as just a book for clergywomen. And certainly you should buy a copy for every woman pastor you know. (Except me. I already have a copy.) But it’s not just for women pastors. It’s not even just for pastors. I think any person who loves the church and its people will find humor and insight and grace in these pages.
(Perhaps I should qualify that statement: Any person who loves the church and is not offended by phrases like “rat’s ass” and “packs her penis in her purse” will find humor and insight and grace. Those who are offended by these phrases will probably only find themselves upset and should just subscribe to “Guideposts.”)
I want to thank Rev. Martha Spong for her expert job at editing. And I want to thank all of the writers (my mom is in here too!) for their willingness to share these glimmering pieces of their lives with honesty and beauty.
**Now go buy the book already!