The Quixotic Pastor

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Corporate America, End of Week Three

So far, so good. DH and are are enjoying a certain measure of relief at my having a regular paycheck again, especially one in which I net about $50 a week more than what my gross pay was at Former Church ... although I am working more hours to produce it. But the hours I am working are less stressful --and frankly, what I am doing is, for some strange reason that I have yet to totally fathom, oddly energizing to me. OTOH, maybe that's the coming Spring, who knows?

It has been a pleasant change of pace to live in the analytical part of my head, to solve problems having to do more directly with data than with people. It is restful to quite a degree actually. I described this sojourn as a temporary employee, this "ministerial" pause, to a friend on facebook as being a "money-making" sabbatical as opposed to a "study-rest" sabbatical. She understood exactly what I meant, commenting that one way in which activists tend to be different from others is that activists often take sabbaticals from their usual routine to make money and do other forms of necessary self-care.

I notice, looking back at my previous Corporate America post, that I mentioned the issue of coming out as a pastor, and whether I had decided to do that or not. There are several reasons why that is an issue.

Mainly, I don't want "reverent power" to become a difficulty in my work relationships. I don't want people to assume that, because I am a pastor, I'm like the pastors they know now or the pastors they grew up with ... because, in the neck of the woods where I am working, I guarantee you that I don't resemble the usual pastor at all. It is for me similar to what Prince Harry expressed about his military service in Afganistan, and how much he enjoyed --for once in his life-- being like and being treated like everyone else. I don't want people feeling like they have to apologize to me when certain words escape their lips, nor do I want them horrified when those very same words escape mine. I don't want to risk having these people dehumanize/pedestalize me in some of the ways they possibly dehumanize/pedestalize their own pastors --and if you're a clergy person or a lay person in the know reading this, you understand exactly what I am talking about.

Of course, coming out as a pastor for me is inextricably tied into coming out as a lesbian too [which I did with the other temp the other day. No problem.]
The next question after I tell people I'm clergy is always "what denomination?"
"What's that? I've never heard of it."
"It's a Christian denomination founded to enable LGBT people to participate fully in the life of the Church Universal."
"It's a GAY church???" [Eyebrows at this point usually journey to the top of the forehead, rising at the same rate as the tone of voice.]
"No it's a Christian church that ministers primarily to LGBT folks."
"Are you GAY?"
"Yes, but I prefer to refer to myself as lesbian or queer ... or even delightfully bent." [smile]
"But you're a Christian ..."
"How can you be Christian and gay ...?"
And there goes my lunch hour --which is actually only 45 minutes, so we can leave early on Friday. Or my 15 minute break. With lots of unanswered questions for everyone involved. And very often, no opportunity to answer them again.

It is amazing how, when strangers hear those two things about me, that I'm a pastor and a lesbian, they suddenly begin making really weird assumptions about who I am that fall usually very wide from the mark. [Maybe it is some bizarre variation on the "madonna/whore" syndrome? But I digress ...]

Of course --and I do realize this-- because of the locale in which I am working as well as past experiences with other people in other places, I am making some possibly baseless assumptions about who my co-workers are that may also fall very wide from the mark.

However, because my status is unprotected by both the temp agency and the company's employment discrimination policy, I may not be able to AFFORD finding out whether my assumptions about them are baseless or not. DH and I really need this paycheck right now. If someone refuses to work with me because I'm lesbian, I don't really have a legal leg to stand on --and that sucks!

But if someone asks me, yes, I will tell them --because I will not lie. And maybe some assumptions will be disproven. I just hope telling the truth doesn't cost me my job. Like it has for so many others in my community ... especially in this state.


  • At 4:00 AM , Blogger LutheranChik said...

    I think there are some definite advantages to "working priesthood" -- especially in terms of being connected in an immediate, "full immersion" way to working people who are not a part of the clerical in-crowd. Sadly, I've met clergy who are so isolated in their own ecclesiastical ivory towers that, despite ministering to their people, they just don't "get" what it's like to live and work outside the denominational sphere. And parishoners pick up on that disassociation.


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