The Fat Pastor

Author's details

Name: The Fat Pastor
Date registered: March 3, 2012
URL: http://fatpastor.wordpress.com

Latest posts

  1. The Fat Pastor: Guest Blogger: Beautiful Child of God #ShapedByGod — April 7, 2014
  2. The Fat Pastor: The difference between seeing and sight. — April 1, 2014
  3. The Fat Pastor: Raiders of the Lost Cabinet — March 26, 2014
  4. The Fat Pastor: In which I raise some awareness of epilepsy — March 26, 2014
  5. The Fat Pastor: Nothing to be “Mad” about here. Go Green. Go White. — March 25, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. The Fat Pastor: Raiders of the Lost Cabinet — 1 comment
  2. THE FAT PASTOR: Rape prevention check list — 1 comment
  3. The Fat Pastor: 2014 Mascot Bracket — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Apr 07 2014

The Fat Pastor: Guest Blogger: Beautiful Child of God #ShapedByGod

Original post at http://fatpastor.me/2014/04/07/guest-blogger-beautiful-child-of-god-shapedbygod/


Rev. Sarah Renfro, former fashion model. Now preaching the good news of your body.

Rev. Sarah Renfro, former fashion model. Now preaching the good news of your body.

I discovered Rev. Sarah Renfro’s blog after she quoted a part of The Pulpit Fiction Podcast in a post.  I read her post because she quoted me, but was quickly drawn into her story.  Her blog is called Embodying the Divine: Body Image, Media, and Faith.  Sarah is a former fashion model, who is now a pastor preaching the good news of your body.  In her blog, she not only goes to phenomenal resources, but she expresses her struggles and joys as a pastor, woman of faith, Mom, wife, and Beautiful Child of God.  Her website also describes “body image workshops that dispel the myths of media and ‘ideal beauty’ in fashion magazines, and empower participants to claim their diverse and wonderful inner beauty given by God.”  

I love her holistic approach to faith.  As a father of two young girls, I am deeply invested in Sarah’s message.  I want to share it with others, and encourage everyone to check out her blog, schedule her for a workshop, and like her facebook page.  That’s enough of my words about her.  Here’s her story: 

I was born and raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  I was active in youth group and worship.  After high school, I left Kentucky to pursue modeling full-time, living in Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, and Europe for a bit.  I had the opportunity to see the world, but at the same time, the fashion industry is competitive and harsh.  I struggled with disordered eating and depression after constantly being told that I wasn’t good enough just as I was.  I wasn’t thin enough or blond enough or big-busted enough or . . . I was the one of one percent of the population who is in the magazines and catalogs and on billboards and in commercials; yet, I had low self-esteem and a negative body image.

During my travels, I did not maintain a faith community.  Oh sure, I attended on Easter and came home for Christmas, but that was about it.  I was not grounded in a church that reminded me that I was a child of God.  But deep down I knew.  So when I retired at age 21, I moved home, attended the University of Kentucky, and went to church.

I became a youth group sponsor and loved it!  I was invited to share my story from the fashion world for the first time, and I realized that I just might have something to say to young people about body image.

Fast-forward a few years, a failed marriage, and another stint in LA, and I came back home, finished college, and continued to work with the church.  I received my call to ministry soon thereafter.  At no time had I envisioned God calling a former Hollywood-type to the share the Word.  But alas.  Here I am.

So now I am a former model, ordained minister, married-again (to a minister), and mom to Miriam (almost three-years-old).  My passions about body image have only increased as I continue to lead workshops and retreats with youth and women.

Media reinforces over and over and over again that we are not okay just as we are.  That we are to subscribe to some “ideal beauty,” which is impossible to achieve and devalues the diversity of God’s creation.  There are many passages from the Bible on which I base the title of my website and workshops “Beautiful Child of God: Embodying the Divine.”  Perhaps, my favorite is how God created humankind in God’s own image (imago Dei), and called us not just good, but very good.

Most of us, women and men, young and old, of all colors and ethnicities, struggle with the reflection in the mirror.  Media has much to do with our dissatisfaction.  In my talks, I seek to expose the myths that reinforce negativity for capitalist gain, and I attempt to enforce the Truth that we are created beings, body and spirit, incarnated, imprinted with the Divine.

Robb asked how I came to use #ShapedByGod.  That was an idea by a friend and colleague, Rev. Sarah Taylor Peck, who mentioned it as Lenten discipline.  I immediately asked to join in her journey, because I believe we were molded out of the soil of the earth to be exactly who God shaped us to be.  Some tall and thin, most not so.  Some light skinned, most not.

When we look in the mirror, it is God whom we reflect.  It is the Divine spark that shines from our eyes and in our bodily actions and spirit-filled prayers.  We are shaped by God to be God’s hands and feet and ears and voice in the world.  We are not supposed to all have the same shape (tall and thin for women, “manly” and muscly for men), but we are to love the bodies that we were given, take care of them, and use them to bring about the Kin-dom of God.

There’s your sermon for the day, but I realize that this is easier said (or typed) than done.  I still struggle.  Fifteen years removed from modeling full-time, I can still pick my body apart if I let myself, even though I eat well and exercise.  But I try not to.  I try to love my whole self because I lead workshops about this type of thing (duh), I am mom to a daughter whom I desperately wish maintains the love of her belly, the good foods she eats, the exercise she gets, the joy she has in her body and spirit, and I am a child of God.  A beautiful child of God.  And so are you!

Thanks for letting me share a bit of my story.

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Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/guest-blogger-beautiful-child-of-god-shapedbygod/

Apr 01 2014

The Fat Pastor: The difference between seeing and sight.

Original post at http://fatpastor.me/2014/04/01/the-difference-between-seeing-and-sight/


visionNeurologist Oliver Sacks tells a fascinating story about Virgil, a man who received sight at age 50 after spending 45 years totally blind.  His book An Anthropologist on Mars tells a tragic tale about a man who struggled to adapt to his new-found sense.  On the surface, it seems like such a story would be a wonderful, heartwarming story of triumph and celebration.  In reality, Virgil’s story is fraught with confusion, loss of identity, and even health.

At first marveling at the light that he was able to perceive, Virgil was quickly overwhelmed by the confusion of so much light, color, shapes, and movement.  What people born with vision take for granted became difficult, even terrifying.  A bird flying by, even at a distance (for distance was meaningless to him), was more than a little startling.  Making connections between flat shapes and 3D objects was almost impossible (a circle and a sphere were totally unrelated).  The story of Virgil is heartbreaking. His tactile world, that was ordered and in which he was thriving, was shattered.  His identity was lost as he realized he was neither blind nor sighted.  After making some improvements, he suffered a setback when an unrelated illness caused him to nearly lose the ability to breathe.  He almost died, and in the process he lost his job, his home, and eventually his sight again.

It is one thing to have physical ability to perceive light hitting your retina.  It is another process to interpret that light in the midst of the world.  Virgil was never able to fully incorporate the light which was in front of him.  He was never able to distinguish the shapes, colors, movements, and flashes into a coherent vision of the world.  He spent fifty years in world of touch.  He was able to spend a few months in a world of vision, and when the two worlds collided, the result was not pretty.  It almost indirectly cost him his life.  Would he have been able to adapt if given more time? Perhaps.  Was the stress of the two worlds colliding too much for him to take? Did it hasten the progress of his sickness? That certainly seems reasonable.

Virgil’s story illustrates that being able to see is different from having sight.  There is a story in the Bible about sight and blindness.  It is told in the ninth chapter of John.

In this story the man born blind has  no such difficulty adapting.  Instead, it is the Pharisees who cannot cope.  They had a very ordered world.  It was their role in society to keep the order.  They used the Biblical Law to understand what was clean and unclean, what was righteous and sinful, what was in order and what was out of order.  A man born blind was clearly out of order.  Sin is punished with curse.  Righteousness is rewarded with prosperity.

This is how the story begins.  Even the disciples understand the world in this way.  Sin is the only explanation for blindness.  The only question is, who’s sin? So they ask Jesus to clear things up.  “Who sinned that he was born blind, this man or his parents?”  Jesus turns the order upside down immediately.  He gives an answer that is completely out of their expected order, “This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him.”

After the healing, there is much confusion.  The people do not know what to make of this healing, so they take him to the ones whose job it is to answer questions about order.  The Pharisees are baffled.  They are split.  They investigate.  In the end, they cannot understand this new order that Jesus is proposing.  Jesus does not fit into their order.  He healed, which must be of God. He worked on the Sabbath, which is a sin.  These two facts are so starkly in contrast, they cannot make sense of them.  The world of Jesus collides with their world, and the result is not pretty.

When you read Virgil’s story, it is easy to feel compassion for him.  In receiving sight, he was changed so drastically that it was difficult to cope.  It wasn’t just laziness, or stubbornness.  There were physical, emotional, and neurological hurdles that were enormous.  That he didn’t “make it” as a sighted person does not make him weak.

Perhaps we can take a similar amount of compassion to the Pharisees.  Their world was being turned upside down.  They knew what they were seeing, but they couldn’t interpret it in the midst of their world.  They were not able to incorporate the light which was in front of them.  They were able to see, but they never possessed the sight needed to understand what they were seeing.  It is easy to condemn the Pharisees, put black hats on them, and call them the bad guys.

Demonizing is tricky business.  Were they at fault? Sure.  It would be wise to remember though, that Jesus cast out the demons, he didn’t cast “demonhood” on others.  Neither should we.

I think we’d do well to remember that there’s a difference between seeing Jesus, and having vision.  When Jesus comes off of the page, out of the two-dimensional world we so often like to keep him, disruptive things can happen.  When we incorporate Jesus into the world, there can be collision that is discomforting.  Catching a vision of the Kingdom of God knocks us out of our daily existence.  It challenges our preconceived notions.  It breaks our routine.  It shatters prejudices.  Suddenly we’re supposed to be loving our neighbor.  Suddenly we’re supposed to forgive as we are forgiven.  Suddenly all of our instincts of survival and self-hood are replaced by Kingdom instincts of abundant life through selflessness.

It’s a struggle, and it’s a process. We may experience a flash of euphoria when the weight of sin and shame is lifted.  Usually there is more to it though.  It is rare for the scales to be removed, and all understanding to come at once.  Even the man in the Biblical story, though he could see, took time to process what had happened to him.  Even he didn’t open his eyes and praise Jesus, the Son of God.

It’s no wonder that for so many, the vision doesn’t stick.  It becomes easier to be blind, to shuffle through life slowly, methodically, unchallenged by the light.  Turn a blind eye on the suffering.  Turn a blind eye on our own sin.  Turn a blind eye on the injustice, on the first remaining first, and the last being pushed farther and farther down the line.  It’s no wonder so many cannot see

Jesus healed the blind man so that God’s mighty acts may be displayed in him. There’s a difference between seeing and having sight. We are called to do more than see.  We are called to have God vision, to catch the vision of Christ, and see the Kingdom of God.  For if we can see it, we can live into it.  There is a difference between seeing Jesus in a Bible, or in stained glass, or in a movie, and catching onto this vision for the world. When see Jesus, I mean really see Jesus, it changes the way we look at the world. It changes how we look at our neighbor. It changes how we look at a stranger. It changes how we look at suffering. It should also change the way we see ourselves. See the world with Christ’s vision so that God’s mighty acts may be displayed in you.

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Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/the-difference-between-seeing-and-sight/

Mar 26 2014

The Fat Pastor: Raiders of the Lost Cabinet

Original post at http://fatpastor.me/2014/03/26/raiders-of-the-lost-cabinet/


Cabinet, the board game.

Cabinet, the board game.

So it appears I have set off a fury.  From Nashville to Savannah, the people called Methodists are searching for Cabinet.  I discovered it when a friend shared this picture on his Facebook timeline.  I thought it was outrageous, and decided I would write about it.

Clearly my entrepreneurial skills are lacking.  I should have done the work of finding this precious artifact first, then written the blog post.  There seems to be a growing demand across the connection, and I probably could have cashed in.  Oh well, lesson learned.

raiders_of_the_lost_ark_end

The stacks at MTSO’s library (I think).

Upon not being able to find the game through normal outlets, i.e. Amazon, Cokesbury, Ebay, I was afraid it was lost somewhere in a warehouse in Nashville.  In my research though, I found a copy of the game at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio’s library.  Through the magic of Facebook, this picture was shared with me yesterday.  I’m pretty sure that the game was guarded by the ghost of Francis Asbury.  She had to prove that her heart was pure, or at least moving onward toward purity (or some-such thing).

cabinet game found

April Casperson, Director of Enrollment Management and Scholarship Development at Methodist School of Theology in Ohio.

As you can see, her face is a perfect mix of bemusement and mild disgust.  I can only assume the she is afraid of opening the box, lest her face get melted.  That would be a shame.  She seems to be a perfectly pleasant person, and I would hate for her to end up like this.

In the meantime, there seems to be a groundswell of Methonerd support to find copies of this game.  My friend Melissa Meyers  has promised to bring the game to the attention of someone at United Methodist Publishing.  If it gets re-published, I only have one request: Please let me be a part of the group having a grand ol’ time playing it on the box cover art.

I’m having fun with this. I have chosen to laugh when I see this game, but there is another reaction that I could have.  I have dedicated myself to a system that all-too-often feels like a game.  The only way I can remain sane in the itinerant system is to believe that the members of my conference’s cabinet understand that they are not playing with Pokemon cards, but with peoples’ actual lives.  I believe this is the case. I do.  Every year in appointment season I reaffirm in my own heart and mind the covenant I made with the United Methodist Church, and I submit to the will of my Bishop. I submit my family to the whim of a few people in an a room a few hundred miles away, and trust that they are guided by the Holy Spirit.  That is a huge amount of trust, and the fact that someone that was once given that kind of trust decided to turn that process into a game makes me boil over with rage.  Then I take a deep breath, realize I’m probably taking it all too seriously, and realize it probably is a good teaching tool.  Appointments are a wildly complicated thing to figure out, and this could help people realize how difficult it is.  So I make a joke.

So keep searching, Methodists.  If anyone finds and plays this game, please share your experiences here.

Check out the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, two local pastors talk about the lectionary readings for the week.

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Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/03/raiders-of-the-lost-cabinet/

Mar 26 2014

The Fat Pastor: In which I raise some awareness of epilepsy

Original post at http://fatpastor.me/2014/03/26/in-which-i-raise-some-awareness-of-epilepsy/


The Fat Pastor:

Today is National Epilepsy Awareness Day, and a little bit of knowledge could save someone’s life. I’m wearing purple, and found this blog when I followed the #PurpleDay. Vulgarity warning – but a very good read.

Originally posted on Another angry woman:

Today is Purple Day, a day for awareness and fundraising for epilepsy. In the UK alone, there are about 600, 000 people living with epilepsy, myself included, and it’s still a disability which a lot of people don’t understand. This leads to general stigma, but also a fair few fuck-ups from people trying to help.

When someone is having a tonic-clonic seizure, it looks terrifying. I’d always wondered, upon waking up from one of my own seizures, why everyone was running around like headless chickens and practically snogging me in relief. One time, when I was stuck on an overnight stay in hospital, I saw someone else fitting, and I suddenly knew why. It really does look awful.

Fortunately, a lot of the time, it’s not as bad as it looks. Here’s some really useful advice for what to do, which I’m going to repost here because it’s so important…

View original 853 more words


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/03/in-which-i-raise-some-awareness-of-epilepsy/

Mar 25 2014

The Fat Pastor: Nothing to be “Mad” about here. Go Green. Go White.

Original post at http://fatpastor.me/2014/03/25/nothing-to-be-mad-about-here-go-green-go-white/


I have a lot of fun with March Madness.  One of my most-read blogs of every year is when I pick the entire NCAA tournament based on which Mascot would win in a fight.  Its silly, a little juvenile, sometimes humorous, and hopefully informative. This story about March Madness though, is none of those things.  This is a story of an unlikely friendship.  It is about how we can be inspired by each other, and draw strength from others.  There’s a cynical part of me that gets tired of worn out cliches about sports.

The way we idolize sports figures is troubling.  Sometimes it is absolutely dangerous.  There are times I want to quit sports all together, just wash my hands of the whole dirty, bloody, idolatrous affair.  I know, however, that I can never give up sports all together.  Sports are a part of my history, my family, my very being.  Yet I get weary of the packaging of sports.  I get tired of the human interest story.  I get tired of the coach-worship.  I get tired of lazy metaphors and the emotional manipulation.  Just when I’m about to give up on believing that sports are anything more than a distraction from what really matters, I come across something like this.

So the cynic in me wonders: Is this just another fluff piece thrown together by a media outlet with an interest in showing the “good side” of sports? Is this just another attempt at making an athlete more than we ought?  Is this just another case of emotional manipulation?  It’s hard to judge how much of this video is real, and how much is good story telling.  There are two things that are undeniably true in this video.  Lacey’s struggle, and Lacey’s smile.  That’s all that matters.

All of the sudden sports have won me over again, and the Spartans have another fan.  Go Green. Go White. Go Lacey!

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Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/03/nothing-to-be-mad-about-here-go-green-go-white/

Mar 21 2014

The Fat Pastor: I just added this to my bucket list (and I don’t even have a bucket list)

Original post at http://fatpastor.me/2014/03/21/i-just-added-this-to-my-bucket-list-and-i-dont-even-have-a-bucket-list/


Cabinet, the board game.

Cabinet, the board game.

My friend and United Methodist colleague Gavin Lance Presley introduced me to this game, and my life will be incomplete until I play it.  It was created by Bishop Dan Solomon, I can only imagine his train of thought before creating this game.

“I’m so sick of people calling me to complain about the appointments I’ve made,” he thought. “If only I could show them how hard it is.” And in a flash of light, the greatest board game since Monopoly was created.  Though some might think that this game must be the parting gift of the worst TV game show ever, I feel like I have to play it.  Cabinet can actually be found at the library of Methodist Theology School in Ohio.  All I could think of is, “ROAD TRIP!”  I’m packing 7-15 of my favorite Methodists in a van and going.  Tomorrow.

According to the online catalog description, this game includes “1 director’s manual, 16 participant’s manuals, 2 lay advocate’s guides, 2 clergy advocate’s guides, 50 declension and data sheets, 16 name tags with 16 plastic holders, 10 envelopes for superintendents (2 sets of 5), 4 sets of color-coded file cards ; in box 24 x 31 x 4 cm.”

This is a game that is so beautifully Methodist, I’m almost in tears.  This is a game with not one but two different manuals, two kinds of guides, (my heart is aflutter) 50 declension sheets, and FOUR SETS OF COLOR CODED FILE CARDS.  I don’t even know what a declension sheet is, but I know I want one.  I’m guessing it is sort of like a Pastor’s pokemon card, with all of their stats and hit points on it.  I think mine would be ATTACK 68, DEFENSE 78, PREACHING 87, TEACHING 92, ADMINISTERING SACRAMENTS 87, ORDERING LIFE OF THE CHURCH 33.

I have to find this game for sale somewhere.  I think I would probably pay dozens of dollars for it.

The saga to find Cabinet has been updated

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Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/03/i-just-added-this-to-my-bucket-list-and-i-dont-even-have-a-bucket-list/

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