Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Tragedy Of The Two Bags

I was sitting just now eating chicken wings in the kitchen with L'il Flava, (
who is living with me after having escaped the mean streets of NYC. She is my Fresh Air Child this summer. We were discussing the issue of bags, of course, and she told me a story that made me weep.

Once upon a time, L'il Flava (a 4'10" urban goddess of Filipina descent) received a lovely, thoughtful gift from loving family members. The gift was a classic, businesswoman-style bag she describes as "gorgeous, gorgeous." Except, there was a problem. A serious problem. A problem she first tried to overcome with wishful thinking and with positive thoughts.

The purse was navy.

She thought, "Well, perhaps people will think it's black. Like on those dark winter mornings when you accidentally pull out one navy and one black sock -- you won't be able to tell the difference."
There was such hope in her heart.

But darling readers, you know that once navy, always navy. And L'il Flava is a banging fashion academic religious leader and she knows that we just can't overcome the naviness of navy.

The bag sat unused in her closet for six months. In the end, she just had to give it away to a very good cause (Dress for Success).

Let us all cry together. So, sad very sad. Yet such a boon for some woman who needed a beautiful bag.

As if that wasn't enough bag tragedy, L'il Flava was once again gifted with a smashing, fabulous purse for her graduation from Union Theological Seminary (she's DOCTAH L'il Flava now, people). This time, a Coach bag! COACH!


Who doesn't want a Coach bag!!???
EVERY girl wants a COACH bag!!

Except... you're going to have to sit down... the bag was one of those little armpit warmers,* and it was in a light tan hue that is just SO not L'il Flava.

That bag, representing the dashed hopes and dreams of bag-addicts everywhere, is sitting unused in storage at L'il Flava's sister's house.* Since it wasn't given with a gift receipt, it can't even be exchanged at a Coach store. She has listed it on craig's list with no takers yet. As we know, the girls who carry armpit warmers are leggy lasses no more than 100 lbs., and all they need to carry in their purses are a Bonne Bell lipgloss and a cell phone that mommy and daddy gave them for their Sweet 16. They are not hard-working theologians and professors who have Important Religious Works In Progress to cart around with them.

L'il Flava and I are very depressed now, and must go eat more dark chocolate-covered espresso beans. We do want to remind all the readers of this blog that it's a good idea to take a file folder with you when you shop for bags, to assure that they'll fit comfortably without bunching up.

Dream of Coach tonight, my darlings. And lovely Italian leather purses in any color but navy.

* The expression "armpit warmer" must be credited to Rebecca, L'il Flava's l'il sister.
* That would be Rebecca.

The classic Coach armpitwarmer can be seen at:

Archives R Us!

While I'm off on a little vacation, enjoy the archives. I'm partial to May, myself.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Since You Mentioned It

Quotidian Grace said awhile back in the comments,
"Dear boyinthebands,There's no hat for the Moderator of the PCUSA, because the Presbyterian church is all about NO BISHOPS. That includes no Bishop-fripperies such as hats, croziers, slippers, incense, etc. The Moderator gets a pastoral stole and an academic gown. Not exactly ecclesiastical stylin', but it's the Presbyterian way. Think John Knox (or don't, because his style was really scary)."

Hey, what's not hot about this look?

Ladies and Gentlemen, John Knox:

john knoxjohn knox 2

What Not To Carry

A Woman Of the Cloth writes in to ask PeaceBang to comment on the mysteries of the Bag, and the issue of purses and briefcases.

PeaceBang feels quite certain that if "Woman" googles this blog, there are some existing posts on purses and bags she might enjoy (PB is quite technophobic and has no idea how to create a blog with categories, although would love to for BTFM). However, since it's come up again, and it is shopping season for next fall, let's gather 'round the PeaceBang campfire and talk about bags, boys and girls!

What Not To Carry:
1. Freebie bags with the names of Good Causes on them.
2. Dirty canvass totes with the adult equivalent of Rainbow Brite or My Pretty Pony graphics on them (e.g. Celtic Knot Logo, Reading Woman With Cat, Save the Whales, Powdermilk Biscuits).
3. Anything straw: too beachy. Unless you're at the beach.
4. Purses and bags made of cheap, shiny fake leather or pleatherette.
5. Anything floral, unless it's very chic and you're wearing an entirely tailored outfit, and even then, I'd be careful. PeaceBang has a fabulous floral bag she bought at the Gap this spring, but it's brown and turquoise and has a braided leather handle, so it's more rock-and-roll than preppy princess.
6. Overstuffed purses that don't zipper because you've jammed them too full. Nothing makes a pastor look more scattered and disorganized than plopping an over-stuffed, gaping purse on the floor at a meeting.
7. An egregiously boring business briefcase.

A few tips:

Shop, shop, shop! Go to T. J. Maxx or Macy's or somewhere else they sell a huge variety of bags and try them on to assure they're a good size and color for you. NEVER buy a bag on looks alone; it should be the right scale for your body and if it's going to function as a briefcase equivalent, it has to be strong, sturdy AND look good on you.

PeaceBang's bags almost all have enough of a strap that she can use them as a shoulder bag, as she hates not having her hands free to greet people, to open doors, or to grab a cup of coffee on the run. Since she has chunky upper arms that are rendered even chunkier by the presence of a coat or jacket, all her purses and bags need to have generous straps. She tries all of her bags on first and carries them around in the store before purchasing. She is very serious about this and can be seen tramping about Marshall's or T.J's two or three times a year with as many as seven bags flung about her person, grimly heading for the mirrors to do the work of discernment. When she dies she will undoubtedly haunt people in this Jacob Marleyesqe* spector, banging purses about herself instead of chains.

Scale is important! If you're chunky, don't carry a petite purse with a tiny strap. It will make you look larger. If you're tiny, don't dwarf yourself behind one of those mega-hobo bags. Leave that look to Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen or Kate Moss.

Hobo bags, since we're talking about them, are all the rage but not really the best choice for a minister. Ministers want something with a cleaner line than a mushy bag with a drawstring opening, but not something so tailored that it's dullsville. PeaceBang would like to put every navy leather purse into a huge pile and have a bonfire for that very reason. NO MORE NAVY! Get something in rich, poppy orange or -- very big this season -- a classy metallic! Gads, how many brown... leather... purses.... oh, excuse me, just thinking about brown leather purses put me to sleep.

PeaceBang has her suspicions about dull brown, but she truly loathes navy purses. There is never any reason to carry a navy leather purse. Have you ever seen a navy cow? You can forgive your grandmother for her navy purses, as she didn't have as many options as you have. Navy is DOWDY. If you wear a lot of navy, carry a taupe bag, or a black bag. Carry a silver bag, or a red bag. Carry an orange bag, or a screaming acid green faux croc bag, or a Carry a Hello Kitty bag, for the love of Jairus' daughter. Let your bags have some whimsy and life to them. And no darling, your bag does not have to match your shoes.

Of course for ladies there is the issue of carrying the laptop and the papers AND the girlie items. PeaceBang is very partial to Nine West, which tends to offer inexpensive bags like in fashionable styles that can function as purse and briefcase. She has a favorite mock-croc bag in cordovan with nice sturdy straps within which she can carry her computer, her bag of cosmetics, her wallet, a book or two, file folders, her cell phone, her i-Pod and a bottle of water. Yes, it gets a little overstuffed. If that's the case, she pops one of her little rock-and-roll purses over her arm for the wallet and make-up and phone and carries the bigger bag in her hand. At times, if the big bag can fit it, she pops the little purse into THAT so she can leave the big bag in the car for quick runs to the store or into people's homes, or out on a date, if she should ever have occasion to go on a date again in her lifetime, but I digress...

PeaceBang does a lot of bag switching, which she understands is not everyone's choice, and she sympathizes. You do not need to switch bags constantly, but you do need at least one classy, strong, clean, presentable briefcase-equivalent and one lovely, classy, interesting, suitable, fashionable purse. Tiny formal clutches stay in season decade after decade, but purses do not. If your purse dates back to 1987, update it. If it's a classic Coach or some other brand with timeless gorgeousness, check the straps to make sure they're not frayed, and clean and oil the leather and the clasps once in awhile to keep it prime as it ages.

For all the reasons mentioned above, PeaceBang does not recommend shopping for bags online. You've got to see how they work on your body, and bags have a nasty habit of looking rich and delicious on line and showing up in the mail looking like the on-line bag's scrawnier, tackier first cousin.
You DO have time to shop for bags, and you SHOULD. It's fun, it's therapeutic, you can try on thousands of them and never take your clothes off, and it's a great way to clear your mind between draining pastoral visits.

Let me know how you do! And give those navy bags to the church fair already!

* you should know that the original post said, "Bob Marley." Alert reader Zorra corrected me, and gave me one of the only genuine laughs of the day, bless her heart. - P.B.

Have You Seen It Yet?

PeaceBang is just DYING to see "The Devil Wears Prada," and devoured this article with a great deal of anticipatory joy:

If you want to see how fashionistas really dress, you'd do better to stick with the casual expensive boho looks in Lucky magazine than with the over-the-top ensembles put together by the smashing Patricia Fields (she who worked such glorious, unrealistic magic with the three gals from "Sex And the City") or those featured in upscale glossies like Vogue or W.

Zits Happen

If you never get zits, carry on with whatever you were doing with my blessings.

PeaceBang has been a little extra hormonal apparently, from the appearance of three or four big spots on her chin (also due to extra summer time oil production, probably exacerbated by her bad habit of resting her chin in her little paws, which she does wash rather compulsively).

PeaceBang has conducted a little experiment for you and can tell you a thing or two about zit treatments:

1. Salacylic acid renews your skin, and gets rid of pimples by sloughing them off in some strange way.
2. Benzoyl peroxide is a kind of massive disinfectant and kills the bacteria that causes zits.
3. A combination therapy of the two works pretty well, but PeaceBang has learned the hard way that even 2% benzoyl peroxide is some serious stuff, man, and can just burn the skin right off your face. PB at this very writing has two serious dry patches on her chin to prove that point. And they itch.
4. DON'T, for the love of the gods, use undiluted tea tree oil on your face!
5. And don't squeeze. Don't you remember anything from Teen magazine?
6. If you have a clogged sweat gland, your facialist can't even help you. You have to see the dermatologist and have it blasted off with some kind of nuclear device.

Conclusion: Just ignore the stupid spots.* They'll go away in a few days on their own. And keep your hands away from your punim.

* If you have a big public gig coming up, apply ice and Visine (no kidding, it shrinks the swelling), and use a BRUSH to carefully apply some cover-up that matches your skin. Set with a bit of loose powder and you're good to go. Eucerin makes a nice green wand correction stick that counteracts red very nicely. You can try that, too, under the cover-up.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shout-Out To My Gnostic Posse

It has come to my attention that a cadre of Gnostics are readers of this blog, and occasionally contribute fabulous comments.

PeaceBang would like to extend a special hello to the Gnostic babes out there while admitting to them that she is woefully untutored on the basics of their beliefs, and begs their forgiveness in advance if she accidentally reveals her ignorance in future posts.

In the meantime, she will try to visit some of their sites and wrap her mind around their philosophy, but isn't promising to understand very much.

That's all, and good night Gnostics and everyone else.

Beauty Tips For Moderators

The Rev. Ms. Joan Gray has been elected the Moderator of the PCUSA, and we wish her a hearty congratulations on it and godspeed in her important venture.

Joan Gray

She looks lovely and almost beatific in a recent photo in the Christian Century -- well-lit, looking skyward, smiling beautifully, and wearing great lipstick and blush.

PeaceBang's only recommendation to Madame Moderator might be to grow out her bangs a bit, and go with a sideswept style. We believe it would enhance her natural beauty, give a bit of balance to her lovely heart-shaped face, and be a little more sophisticated than her current blunt bangs.

Good luck with all that "Presbyterian compromise" business, Joan! Sounds like you're in for some late nights, too!

Beauty Tips For Bishops

PeaceBang extends her warmest and most sincere blessings to the Rev. Ms. Katharine Jefferts Schori on her election as Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, and would like to publicly offer to buy Bishop-Elect Jefferts Schori a drink if fate should ever place them in the same approximate location.

katharine jefferts schori

PeaceBang just gets sicker every day about the way the Anglican communion keeps fighting about gay people as though they're somehow upsetting to Jesus, who never said a word about them, when he did say plenty of things about DIVORCED people and PeaceBang notices that DIVORCED people, who, Scripturally speaking, definitely possess a "MANNER OF LIFE WHICH PRESENTS A CHALLENGE TO THE WIDER CHURCH" get to serve as bishops and priests with NO PROBLEM. But of course when we think of divorced heterosexuals, we don't immediately think about their private lady and gentlemen bits the way some people do whenever there's a gay person in the room, so it's easier to overlook the fact that Jesus apparently had BIG problems with divorce and didn't seem to think the gay issue was worth mentioning. Although, of course, if you go by Hebrew Scriptures, it's a very serious problem to be gay and all. And of course Jesus did nothing with his career but deconstruct and reform OT laws, so it makes SO MUCH SENSE that JC would have been down with dissing the gay folk. Way to go, Christian people!

PeaceBang has to catch her breath and wipe the froth from her mouth now.

PeaceBang would like to say to Bishop-Elect Jefferts Schori, Honey, good luck with that Anglican communion thing and we're rooting for you, but just remember you're going to be attending lots of very upsetting meetings and flying on airplanes a lot and PeaceBang doesn't want you to get all haggard looking so that those homophobic fools in your communion have occasion to say, "Yes, the Lord is not sustaining this bishop in her work. She is clearly becoming haggard and losing faith."

Katharine, you need to stay healthy for all of us, and you've got to shine.
Take huge bottles of water and packets of Emergen-C with you on flights. Bring moisturizer and use it. Revlon Skinlights makes a great liquid illuminator for your face. Ice on the eyes to de-puff. A spritz of some nice, internationally acceptable fragrance (an orange note base would probably work). Visine, comfortable shoes, dental floss in your bag. Soothing tunes on the i-Pod. Be fabulous. You are truly laboring in the vineyards.

So Katharine, just for you, PeaceBang recommends:

A good colorist, because it will just brighten you up, and I see from your latest photo in the Christian Century that you're going grayer all the time.
A good stylist who won't cut your curls too short and make you look all poodleish, which simply doesn't become such a handsome and accomplished woman.
A bit of creme blush and a nice neutral lip liner to fill in your lips before covering them with a shinier lipstick that will look nicer on camera (but not too gooey or glossy, of course).
Eyebrow pencil, because yours are wonderfully shaped but faded out.
Your skin is beautiful, congratulations and keep it up with the sunblock.

Can we talk about the bright fuschia clerical shirt you've been wearing? I think you might be echoing the fabulous pink blouse-under-black-suit look worn so successfully by Hilary Clinton during her run for the Senate, but it's just not really a good look for you. You're a scientist. You're a bishop. Let's go with black and see what we can do in terms of some more shape to your jackets. And when you get your hair done, that will really make it all pop.

Call me. Love you. Kiss, kiss.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Church Staff

I haven't had to think about this for many years, but I remembered recently that a Church Administrator for one congregation I served dressed kind of inappropriately for the office. I don't remember the details, but it wasn't anything terribly egregious -- just skirts that were a bit too mini and jumpers that weren't very professional. I wasn't her supervisor and although I thought she could use some fashion pointers, I also knew what we were paying her. As I recall, cranky parishioners occasionally admonished her to dress more appropriately for the office, but I don't remember if there was any improvement. The senior pastor, her direct supervisor, didn't get involved.
I thought she was a wonderfully fun, warm and smart gal and was sorry to hear that she was fired soon after I left.

How spiffily dressed are your church staffers? Does your (male) sexton mow the lawn shirtless, and if so, do you care? Have you ever had to speak to someone on your staff about how to dress for church? What did you say? How did they take it?

Bring on the stories! Bring on the advice! Let the sharing begin!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Poor, Afflicted Nail Filing Sister

Lookie here, what Brent wrote today:

"You would be so proud... maybe. Today in church the woman behind me started filing her nails (actually quite loudly... it must have been a piece of sandpaper she was using) during the sermon. The man next to her cleared his throat and gave her a glance. Then I cleared my throat and looked back. Another woman did the same. And she kept doing it, although more loudly the more attention she got. Finally, I turned and politely whispered, "Could you please not do that during the sermon?" She shot daggers out of her eyes. After the service I mentioned it to someone sitting nearby, who said, "Oh, but what if she were a visitor?" "I think she was," I replied."Then she might not come back!" "I hope she does," I said, "and has learned to behave herself by then."Perhaps I shouldn't have said something... but at the same time it's so incredibly disrespectful to the preacher and everyone else who's trying to worship. There are things one does in the privacy of one's bathroom, and there are things we do in worship. That's my story and I'm sticking with it."

Brent, PeaceBang IS proud of you. She knows that it's hard to set some boundaries with people who are so soul-sickened by our narcissistic culture that they actually think it's acceptable to perform personal hygiene while in church.
She knows how hard it is to minister to someone with Tough Love, but she believes that, in fact, if we are to build strong churches, we will not build them upon foundations of Wild Permissiveness, but of gracious hospitality and love.

Yes, love is patient, love is kind. Love does not rejoice in wrong-doing. And love, I'm sure St. Paul would agree, also does not sit and tolerate the scritch-scritch-scritch of an emory board while the preacher is trying to give the Good Word and the people are trying to receive it.

That poor, poor lamb who felt her nails merited as much attention as the preacher. Shall we all pray for her?

Let us pray:

Dear Lord,
We have welcomed into our worshiping community today one who has not been blessed by the spirit of Sabbath reverence, and who is plagued with such anxiety about the state of her earthly dwelling place as to commit acts of personal hygiene during the giving of the sermon.

Lord, send a ministering angel to this afflicted woman, and heal her of the demons Vanity and Pride. Help those in her presence to keep a civil tongue and a calm demeanor as they take on the burden of chastisement and admonishment, which is never easy work, Lord.

"Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."
Nail files, however, do not comfort us.
We rest in this confidence, O Sovereign and Uniting Spirit, as our hearts rest in Thee.

Amen and Amen.