We all joke about what we didn’t learn in seminary, but in my case, plenty of people joke about what I did learn. While I was in seminary, I learned how to walk in 4 ¼ inch heels, apply false eyelashes, pick a flattering lipstick color, spray adhesive to my rear so my bikini bottom didn’t ride up, sing an aria, and institute world peace.
The summer before my second year at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, I competed for and won the title of Miss Minnesota. I had to ask my professors if I could miss the first month of class for the following semester so that I could compete for the title of Miss America. The night of the pageant, my classmates gathered in a classroom to watch me introduce myself and then promptly get cut from the competition. But don’t worry – Miss California was also a seminary student, and she made the top five.
People seem very confused when I tell them about this other part of my life. No, I didn’t compete in those weird child beauty pageants. No, I never dreamed of being at Miss America. No, I don’t have any fashion sense. But more than that, people seem to have a hard time reconciling parish pastor and pageant princess. Honestly, I have always thought the two go together perfectly, and not just to justify my side gig.
My joke has been that they’re basically the same except for the clothing, but I’m not sure I can use that line any more. Both jobs involve archaic, specialized garments found only in particular shops and maximized for visibility. I mean, no one really wears an evening gown outside of a red carpet or black-tie gala. But then, no one wears an alb or chasuble or cope…well, anywhere, really. The two wardrobes don’t cross over, but they still have a lot in common in their singularity and expense.
After that we can talk about the real similarities. Read more