I wrote the following piece for my Myspace (remember that?) blog over a decade ago. It was after what was probably the 10,000th rejection on some dating site where the person, even after several days of communicating with each other and seeming mutually interested in each other, suddenly decided to freak out because I happened to be a minster. Or maybe it was after dodging the question for a few exchanges (I never explicitly said it on my dating profiles, in fact I rarely mention what I did on them, since I do a lot of “things” and don’t believe we should be defined solely by how we earn our paycheck, but that’s a rant for another day.)
But I know it was after one of those rejections that went something like “I really like you a lot, but I can’t get around the fact that you’re a ‘Holy Man,'” or “I really loved that great goodnight kiss we had, and I had lots of fun, but when I got home suddenly my Catholic upbringing kicked in and I freaked out about kissing a man of God.”
Or “I didn’t know you were allowed to date.”
I’m sharing this now, not because I’m having an issue with that sort of thing again (I’m actually not- I dating someone who is only mildly freaked out that I’m a minister) but actually because of a meme posted on one of the Progressive Christian Facebook sites I participate in.
I posted on Facebook that people also forget we’re human. And as a minister I’ve never seen myself as “God’s special ambassador and purveyor or morality on earth.” I just see myself as someone on a spiritual journey, who’s aware that he’s on a spiritual journey…and I share my stories and struggles in the hopes that people find the permission (and maybe a few tools) to go on their own.
If that makes sense.
I think of myself as sort of a cross between a storyteller like Garisson Kelior, and a coach/cheerleader like Knute Rockne, encouraging people to think, and explore… And mostly step beyond their comfort zone, to that place where as the late Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “Life begins.”
So here is this little, somewhat edited, piece written I forgot exactly when, as sort of a combination cathartic rant, and a humorous introduction to what it’s like to deal with a certain aspect of my life. And being single as well.
Enjoy (I hope),
The “M” word…
Okay I’m going to bite the bullet here and blog about something that has been brewing in the back of my brain for a number of years now, but has really come to a head in the last few weeks as I embarked on my little “MySpace adventure”…I have noticed that I get a huge number of profile views (I don’t know what the average is among guys in my age range is but on some days I’m not surprised to see that I got nearly 100 views in a few hours.) But for all of those “lookers” that the little counter on the side of my screen indicates, I seem to get relatively few “takers.”
Not that I’m crying in my Wheaties from loneliness or anything, I’ve got more than enough 19 year old bi-sexual “Spambots,” and “Nigerian Sunday Skool Teachers” sending me plenty of mail. And to be honest, those “normal” women who have actually written to me have, for the most part, been nice seemingly sane people in possession of MOST of their faculties and social skills. Seriously, I’ve met some great people here, and have enjoyed getting to know many of them. (You know who you are ‘cause you’re reading my blog.)
But I’m just curious, do most of us who are not hot blond women get a lot of profile views, and only a few actual contacts? I know I browse profiles all the time, and unless it is a person I recognize, probably only contact about one for every 50 I view (but I just figure I’m unusually picky.) Or is it because I am a guy, and still in the 21st century, the men are supposed to be the ones initiating the contact?
Or is it because I happen to be a *GASP* minister?
Yes, you saw correctly, I am a Minister…and Christian Minister at that. I call myself Christian, but I have studied and used the texts and insights from all religions in my teachings. I believe that God (the word I use, but not necessarily the right word or the only word) is like the center of a great wheel, and all religions are but spokes of that wheel all pointing to the source, the Divine. I believe that all of them, including then one you may have noticed, if you read my blogs that I rail vocally against- Fundamentalist Evangelism for instance, have a valid place in society…even if I don’t agree with their tenants. Each touches people at whatever level they are at….I just wish some of them wouldn’t be so vocal about certain things.
My view of ministry, is that it is a specialty, like medicine or law, or finances- only I help advise people on their spiritual journey, it’s like being a really underpaid therapist who gets to marry and bury people…and has to work on Sundays.
Okay, so I said it, I am a minister…
…but that doesn’t mean I’m an uptight, boorriiiing, tea tottling, no-fun, straight-laced, Jesus Freak, who doesn’t drink, doesn’t have sex and doesn’t swear, wants to try to convert you and you have to “behave yourself” around me! If you read my blogs, or anything linked in my profile, then you will find that I am extremely liberal, open minded, and non-judgmental; I write erotica, I do have sex on occasion, I have been known to imbibe, and sometimes I swear like a sailor… So it’s not like I have a collar permanently glued to my throat, or anything.
This means that you can actually take me out in public and your friends won’t be afraid to have fun or tell dirty jokes around me…I might even laugh at them (especially if they involve a priest and rabbi walking into a bar) I consider myself to be extremely irreverent, primarily because I believe God is too important to be take so seriously…I have a great collection of religious kitsch including Jesus action figures (one with “Miracle Glide Action,” believe it or not) and one of my favorite movies is Dogma with “saints” Jay and Silent Bob…
Oh, and you don’t have to call me “Father,” or “Pastor,” or even “Reverend” for that matter, and if you do I’ll probably start giggling….Most of my friends, if they call me anything other than Michael, or “dork,” call me “revvy” (yes with 2 r’s.)
So yeah, I’m not a stick in the mud, and to look at me in my blue jeans and my collection of vintage tacky Hawaiian shirts, you wouldn’t even know I was a “man of the cloth.” In fact if I walked up to you bookstore or a bar, and started to talk to you, you might even want to get to know me better… After all, I’m smart, charming, funny, (some have said) handsome, and really nice. …But ask me what I “do” and if I’m not quick enough to answer gastroenterologist, or international diamond importer, or garbage collector or something equally sexy like that, and I actually say the dreaded “M” word, then watch the whole “mating ritual” sink faster than the titanic…You can almost see the thought balloon with the words “He’s boring and is probably a virgin to boot,” float above their heads….
My friends love to drop the “m-bomb” in odd places, like when we’re sitting in a bar after a hockey game drinking tequila and there’s a group of their friends around…Especially if there happens to be an attractive young lady in the group that they know I would like to meet. Two of my closest friends, a married couple, are former congregants of mine from my last church; we do a lot of things together, like local attend sporting events and going out for a post game drink at a neighboring sports bar…They delight in introducing me to their friends as “their minister” and watching the reactions they get. On occasion they get asked what they are doing drinking with their minister…My friend Carolyn, always one to speak her mind, has occasionally answered “trying to get him laid…”
Quite loudly I might add….
If you want to know more about the “secret life” of us ministers, check out the couple of videos that the wonderful folks at the slateprojectbmore who’s motto is “Christianity without the crap” have made called “Sh*t Pastors Say.”
While getting ready to post this puppy I decided to search my hard drive for something else I wrote of a similar vein. Something a lot more passionate and/or angry, written after a dating situation like I mentioned above happened. I was talking online and on the phone to a woman who at first seemed not bothered by my calling to ministry, in fact she had a brother who was one. We communicated for I think a week before meeting, shared some deep conversations about life and love and stuff. We finally agreed to meet, spent a lovely and fun afternoon together, and parted with a nice, not overly sexual kiss, and with the promise of seeing each other again later in the week.
The next day I got a message or a call from her saying basically she thought I was great, that we had a lot in common blah blah blah… And even enjoyed the kiss.
But shes said (there’s always a but isn’t there? ) hours later she was surprised to find herself uncomfortable with being involved in any sexual/romantic way with a minister. And this was after a week of getting reassurances for her that she didn’t have any issue, until the rubber met the road that was (or maybe the “lips met the lips.”)
So I wrote THIS…
The “M” Word
No, not “man”
The other one…
(Remove the “a,” replace with “I” and add some more to the end)
Yeah, that word…
You know what I mean…
The word that chases you away…
Turns you off…
Removes me from consideration…
But before you write me off
And skip to the next dating profile.
Look beyond the collar
(It isn’t glued on by the way, and it’s something which I hardly wear)
Look beyond what you think it means…
“Stick in the mud”
“Holy” (whatever the hell that means.)
Or what you feel it represents…
None of which I am…
Those are your preconceptions, not my reality.
Put your thumb over “that” word
And read the rest of the profile…
And look at me…
I have fun
I fuck (and yes I even swear)
I live… (And not on some pedestal either.)
Not any closer to heaven than you are…
But here in the very real world.
I’m the guy walking past you in the market, at the concert,
Or sitting at the bar.
Before you skip past my profile
Because of that word…
Ask me how I see my “vocation.”
Commentator on every person’s walk with faith
Or lack of it…
Just a regular guy…
And minister is just a small part of who I am…
I’m so much more…