Clean Frumpy Ministry
We've done a few cursory searches with our blog title, just to see where we get reposted and tweeted (lots of places - thank you all for believing what we write should be shared) and what pops up. There's Dirty Sexy Money, the television show that flopped; Dirty Sexy Administration, about, well, the zaniness of administration; and even a Dirty Sexy Vegetarian. No pornography sites. No lascivious images. No weird cookies that infiltrate your browser, just waiting for the FBI or the secret church morality police to discover.
Yet time and time again, in our respective former parishes, in former and possible dioceses, and search processes (of which one of us is going through now), we get asked why we named the blog Dirty Sexy Ministry.
First, it gets your attention. And it seemed like a great idea at a New Year's Eve party when a local New Orleans celebrity suggested it.
Second, we like it. Yes, it's a bit jarring and edgy, but not nearly as edgy as the whole killing God on the cross and God telling us we are still loved anyway.
Third, we believe it. We believe ministry is dirty and messy. We also believe it's sexy, often done more for appearance's sake than an outpouring of the heart. But if you're following us, you've read that post.
So why is the combination of the words dirty sexy and ministry so troubling for so many? Because, we suspect, the church really, really doesn't want to talk about sex. We avoid that conversation at all levels. Throughout history, the church has demonized sex, banned it on certain days (read what one is supposed to abstain from on certain days on the Medieval Church calendar and you'll wonder how the human race ever propagated), demonized those who dared talk openly about sex, and ignored the issue all together. The Church's official stance on sex seems to be, "Don't ask, don't tell." While the current discussion of the place of gays, lesbians, transgendered, and bisexuals in the institutional church is moving us in a good direction, many church types (including your friendly neighborhood bloggers here) think it's still a distraction to the real issue, which is how does the church finally enter in a positive way, a discussion about nurturing, healthy sexuality in all people (because we feel certain that it's not just the gays and lesbians having sex) and how harmful unhealthy sexuality can be (including abuse, harassment, and all their nastier cousins). For people who say this better than we, we recommend investing about 25 minutes of your time to watch this video discussion between Brian Ammons and Richard Rohr.
What we named the blog isn't nearly as important as what we say in the blog. When I was in the search process, I was hurt when some parishes couldn't get past the blog title or were concerned that it was a bit "racy"for their parish or diocese. But what I was really hurt by was the truth that there were parishes and dioceses that would want me only if I edited myself as a person to be nice and proper. I've tried that editing myself to fit in; it didn't work well for me (again, we've posted that journey here, too). I was also hurt that the vulnerability we both strive to share in the posts was completely overlooked seemingly because two women had the audacity to put sexy and ministry together in a title. Mary has had similar experiences, although many more parishes have been positive about the blog during her interviews.
Just when I actually contemplated disbanding this blog and selling out to get a position, I got to the deep interview stage at a parish in another diocese. There were questions about the blog (all valid), but they were honest questions, not ones posed to see if I gave the "right" answer. They had actually read the posts. Guess which parish and diocese I now serve?
We hope that we as a faith community can ask honest questions about sex and ministry and all the subjects that frighten us. Honest questions are the ones for which we don't know the answers, but are willing to ask because we are willing to surrender to the holy search. This is the root of faith - being willing to surrender to the truth that God is in charge of all this, and we are not. And honest faith comes at a cost, mostly a cost of our own egos.
Yes, this blog has cost both of us (you'll have to wait for the book to read the juicy details). But it has also been a way for us to discern what is valuable in our lives. We are both proud of what we offer in our writings: dirty, clean, sexy, frumpy, silly, and serious; we are also humbled we can share it. We are glad our followers and readers are with us (tentative conference time is fall of 2012, by the way). And we are planning to write until the Holy Spirit herself says, "Enough."
So, here's to the fearlessness of those who read our blog without wondering what cookies may be in your browser. Here's to the churches and dioceses that like the blog, and to those of you part of this Dirty Sexy Community (maybe we'll make up membership cards), and we ask your prayers that Mary (in the search process) will find a parish that will let her write her posts and love their community as only she can.