Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dept. of No Surprise: African Edition

After declaring, quite loudly and publicly, that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania would reject assistance from (soon-to-be-former) partner churches which support same-sex marriage, ELCT Presiding Bishop Alex Malasusa now says, "Well, I can't say that. I really can't commit to anything." he is, one remembers, suddenly, a bishop.

Now, let's speak some of the unspokens here. Malasusa's original remark was taken as a slap at the American church, the ELCA, and his second remark comes after an initial (and one imagines polite but firm) discussion with the ELCA's presiding bishop Mark Hanson. The RNS article linked above also includes a journalistically dubious series of comments from Pr. Jaynan Clark (who before her divorce was Jaynan Clark Egland) leader of the anti-ELCA splinter group WordAlone. Clark indulges in characteristic rhetorical excess, by saying "I can't see how anything but the money could be influencing [the ELCT's]the ELCT would be taking position," and that the ELCT would be taking "blood money."

It all looks as though Malasusa is backpedalling rapidly, to keep his church from losing the million bucks per year that the RNS article says the ELCA provides. (We suspect that the number is low. It probably reflects direct aid from one national church to another, and does not include gifts provided by individual synods and congregations.) That is certainly Egland's -- damn, we meant Clark's -- implication.

What Malasusa will probably say, however, is that in fact, the ELCA does not support same-sex marriage. This is true. The ELCA presently supports the blessing of same-sex unions for the purpose of public accountability. This isn't called "marriage" in the official documents, and doesn't require the church to take a position on the matter of how marriage should be defined under either church or civil law. Whether the distinction is important, or will survive a few years of refinement, nobody knows. But at the moment, Malasusa has feasible, if not entirely plausible, deniability.

So here is what we expect Malasusa, having opened his big mouth, will eventually do. He may (1) go the humble route -- "Actually, this is all a big misunderstanding; I was talking about those wretched Swedes, who don't give me nearly as much money as the Americans"; or more likely he will (2) go the self-aggrandizing route, and say "I have conferred with my brother bishop Mark Hanson, and sternly warned him on behalf of all Africa not to do what he doesn't do or plan to do, so now we can be friends again and I can get my million bucks".

We aren't quite sure what Malasusa thought his first comment would accomplish. Did he really imagine that the ELCA would change course in response to his threat not to accept its money? Was he really prepared to simply forgo the fruits of a long and -- crass remarks about money aside -- spiritually fruitful partnership? And if not, where did he think it was all going to wind up, except with his own inevitable clarification-which-is-not-technically-a retraction?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Judge Martin Feldman May Have Lied

Or he may have been confused, or he may be senile. We genuinely don't know.

But here's what we do know, at least per the Wall Street Journal: that on last Tuesday, Feldman sold his ExxonMobil stock, worth something less than $15,000. And that Feldman has said, in a letter to the Administrative Office of the US Courts, "that he sold his shares at the opening of the stock market on Tuesday, 'prior to the opening of a court hearing on the spill moratorium case.' "

If true, this would mean that Feldman had removed a potential appearance-of-conflict-of-interest, just a few hours before issuing a judgment. If true. The problem is that the court hearing wasn't held on Tuesday. It was held on Monday.

So, um, which part of his letter is false? We aren't sure, but we expect somebody will figure it out soon enough.

Oh, and here's another point of confusion: How much energy-sector stock does Feldman really own? One of our commenters (and about a million others elsewhere on the Net) place it at something like $15k, which isn't a lot of moolah by the standards of an affluent judge. (By the standards of an impecunious preacher man, it's quite a bundle. But we digress.)

The WSJ piece says that Exxon was the only company "affected" in which Feldman appears to own any stock. But this article lists several others companies in his portfolio whose financial interests might be linked to the fate of BP. We expect that it's a matter of definitions, but still -- the guy has some interest (however slight) in Halliburton, which -- in addition to being profoundly evil for other reasons* -- "provided the failed cement casings on the Deepwater Horizon."
* Do we really need to spell it out?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


That's what Hope Lutheran Church calls a recent article about its pastor, Tom Brock. And we agree wholeheartedly.

Under Brock's leadership, Hope left the ELCA not long ago, complaining bitterly about its plans to accept the service of gay pastors in committed and publicly accountable same-sex partnerships. A bad move, in our opinion, but one that's not the point here.

The point is that a magazine called Lavender has since discovered that Brock attends a confidential 12-step program for people struggling with their homosexuality. It did this by sending in an undercover reporter, who then reported what happened. In the confidential meetings.

There's a word for this sort of reporting: Unethical. Also cruel, and deceitful. The MinnPost article linked above does a good job of drawing out some of the ethical problems, up to and including the outright hypocrisy of the Lavender staff. Bottom line: they call them "anonymous" for a reason.

Regular readers know that we enjoy publicizing the hypocrisy of those we dislike. (The picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam hangs over out bed like a sacred talisman). But in Brock's case, there is no hypocrisy. Brock wasn't caught soliciting sex in an airport bathroom, or traveling with a companion from "Rentboy.com." He thinks of his own sexual longing as a disorder, and he is seeking help. We may think that he is mistaken, both about the nature of sexuality and about the nature of the Church, but we see nothing in this story which reveals a lack of integrity.

On Brock's part, that is. Lavender is quite another story.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Does Judge Martin Feldman Own Oil Company Stock?

We have no idea. But given what we do know about the judges in the Gulf Coast states, it would not surprise us in the least.

In any event, Judge Feldman has blocked the Obama Administration's proposed 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. (Bad decision here). This doesn't necessarily mean that he is corrupt, nor even that he is so blinded by the combination of his personal financial interests and a reflexive support for big corporations, no matter how irresponsibly they behave. Not necessarily.

He could just be stupid.

However, given what little we know about him (degree from Tulane, 27 years on the bench, advisor to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, lecturer at Cambridge and Princeton) we don't think he's stupid. Which only leaves a couple of other choices.

We trust that, come morning, the press will have given us more with which to fulminate.

Incompetent Terrorist is Still a Problem

The guy who tried to blow up his own car in Times Square, and couldn't even do that right, doesn't sound like much of a threat, does he? We only wish that more of the world's bomb-makers were as inept.

And after the fizzled fact, Faizal Shahzad is doing the right thing, so far as his distorted worldview permits, by cooperating with investigators, and pleading guilty in court. Saves everybody a lot of time and money.

Don't get us wrong: he's still a creep. His plea, as reported by the AP, is couched in all the usual self-righteous twaddle: This is war and I'm a soldier; deliberately killing innocents en masse is fine because the US sometimes kills a few by accident; and anyway, all Americans are guilty, because they elect their government. (We are especially amused by that last claim, which effectively exempts many of the world's Muslims from guilt, since they live in despotic autocracies).

But what next? Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum asked him if he understood that he might spend the rest of his life in prison, and he said that he did. Well, duh. Of course he does. And that's the problem -- jail is the one place where this loser can actually do any harm. He can spread his self-serving fanaticism among the most disaffected members of American society, our vast population of the incarcerated. And even if Shazad is too stupid to make a bomb work, it is likely that some of his converts will be able to do so.

If Shahzad were a real soldier, fighting on a real battlefield, he would probably have been shot outright, thus mooting the point. If captured, he would eventually be set free -- in his own country. But the man is an American citizen, who committed a crime in his own country. Under our laws, he isn't going to be executed. He's going to be locked away with other criminals, some of whom may drink from the well of his nihilism and emerge from prison eager to kill.

We at the Egg don't support the death penalty or long-term isolation of prisoners. But we genuinely aren't sure what else to do with somebody like this.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Finnish Loudmouth Strikes Blow Against Ecumenism

We're looking at you, Bishop Teemu Sippu.

The Church of Finland elected its first woman bishop recently, Irja Askola. She is the new Bishop of the Helsinki diocese. To celebrate, Sippu -- the Roman Catholic bishop -- called the choice of a woman, any woman, "unfortunate," saying that it "would put more distance between the churches."

Sure, we guess. But so what? Will it create more more meaningful distance than the many female bishops already serving in Europe and America? More than the ordination of women? More than the principled rejection of transubstantiation, mandatory clerical celibacy, and the treasury of merits? The Thirty Years' War? The excommunication of Luther? No, not really.

In fact, it seems to us that the elevation of Bishop Askola is a pretty modest thing, common enough among Lutherans and of no inherent ecumenical importance. Unless somebody, perhaps playing to elements in his own crowd, wants to turn it into an issue by opening his big mouth.

Because if you really want to put distance between your church and your neighbor's, start meddling in their internal affairs and criticizing their choice of leaders. That will do the job nicely.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Store-Front Mercenary Shops!

Why not? They've already got the name recognition.

Of course, let's remember just what Blackwater's name is recognized for. Allegations in clude the murder of 17 Iraqi civilians; using child prostitutes; arranging for a corrupt Iraqi politician to break out of jail; hiring 60 or so of Pinochet's old crew. That kind of stuff.

Still, what is the old PR saying? "It doesn't matter what they write, as long as they spell your name correctly." So if you're in Fayetteville NC or Salem CT, drop into one of the opening-soon Blackwater Pro Shops. Or shop online. As Danger Room points out, they'll sell you anything from a beer glass to a rifle.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Do the Gulf State Judges Own BP ... Or Vice-Versa?

We'll find out soon enough, since we all know where the oil spill is going to spend the next twenty years. In addition to the seashores, bayous and estuaries.

ThinkProgress, linked above, notes that federal judges in the Gulf states are so closely tied to the energy industry that, a couple of months back, eight of the 16 judges on the 5th Circuit bench had to recuse themselves en banc from a related case -- meaning that there was no quorum, and the appeal could not be heard. (WSJ blog here).

If you're wondering, as many do, why Tony Hayward hasn't resigned yet, here's why: (1) he isn't answerable to his stockholders in any meaningful way; and (2) he knows he won't be answerable to the courts, either.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

His "Pre-Existing Condition"

Philip Johnson, formerly an ELCA pastor, was recently ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. A rather sweet article, linked above, talks about it, and includes one funny tidbit:
Although Johnson is the second married priest in its history (the Rev. George McCormick, a former Episcopal priest, served from 1984 until his death in 2000), the Camden [N.J.] Diocese is still learning how to fit the couple in.
"The insurance forms for priests don't have a line for 'wife,' " Janet Johnson said. "I told them I'm his 'preexisting condition.' "
"Philip Johnson" is a fairly common name -- there are two presently listed within the ELCA ministerium. For clarification, this article is about Philip Max Johnson, who served parishes in Jersey City and is well-known in evangelical catholic circles both for his Lutheran Forum articles and for his leadership within the Society of the Holy Trinity. He switched sides in 2006.

Because we do not know Johnson except by reputation (and little enough even of that), we knew none of the biographical information described in the article. For example, we didn't know that he had been graduated in 1979 from a seminary in New Jersey for which we ourselves have a grudging affection. Nor did we know that during his seminary education, and for many years afterward, he was not a Lutheran but a member of the Church of Christ (we presume this means the Campbellites, but will be happy for a correction). Johnson, with his wife Janet, left the church in which he had been raised and ordained to become Lutheran only in 1986.

We did not know this. Yet we are not surprised.

It has been our observation that a great many ELCA pastors who leave for other ecclesiastical pastures have had the prior experience of leaving their church in a huff because it did not measure up to their standards. Typically, this was the LCMS in the 1970s, and we certainly blame nobody for choosing to leave it. But it does mark them as perpetual pilgrims, seeking a purity they are unlikely to find this side of Paradise.

The otherwise respectable article, by the way, contains one ludicrous whopper which must not be allowed to go unchallenged:
At the time of [Philip and Janet Johnson's] conversion, mainstream Lutheranism seemed headed toward rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church. But when the main Lutheran sects grew liberal and allowed female clergy, the faiths drifted apart.

Say what? First off, the timeline: by 1986, the Lutheran church that Johnson entered had already been ordaining women for more than 15 years. In 1986, US Lutherans were busily forging the ELCA, and rapprochement with one another was quite challenging enough, thank you. Second, define "rapprochement." Because the two bodies have lived uneasily with one another for centuries, but by far their greatest shared ecumenical achievement, the Joint Declaration on Justification, was signed in 1999. Yes, the pace of these things is glacial -- but still, JDDJ is probably the closest to a "rapprochement" yet reached between the Roman church and any of her Reformation daughters, and one can only imagine that there will be more to come. So what does this paragraph actually mean?

Well, it might mean that the Johnsons are very dim people, who in 1986 somehow didn't know about the ordination of women, and who actually imagined that a 450-year-old reform movement was a few short years away from declaring victory and going home. But from what little we know about Johnson, he is a sharp cookie indeed. So what, then?

We strongly suspect that a well-intentioned reporter simply repeated the self-serving and sententious tommyrot that his source fed him. Which is why fact-checking is such a good idea.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Environmentalists Caused Gulf Oil Spill

Just ask Sarah Palin. Seriously.

Our Own Mythologies

Collateralized debt obligations, CDOs, were piles of triple-B mortgage bonds that were going to turn to gold. What wont Wall Street believe?
So asks the indispensable Arts & Letters Daily. It is their blurb for a glowing review of the new book by Michael Lewis, a career financial reporter who himself believed the hokum, right up until the world's economy tanked. His new book, The Big Short, is the story of the small number of financiers who did not believe, and who bet heavily against CDOs. In other words, the smart guys.

Good subject, to be sure. But it is the blurb that really engages us. "What won't Wall Street believe?" It is tempting to think of the modern markets as the exclusive preserve of mathematical wizards, pulled from promising academic careers and able to manipulate numbers in ways that normal people can't. Indeed, one frequently hears some variation upon this story as a rationale for the stratospheric bonuses to which investment bankers have become accustomed: they are so damn smart that they are irreplaceable, not only to their firms but to the global economy."

(Strangely, we heard this very idea proposed by an international businessman just recently. He earns his living by recruiting engineers, and complained that for many years "the smartest guys" had been lured away from engineering by finance. We stared at him for a few seconds, as slack-jawed as Cletus, and quietly asked how smart a fisherman can be, when he drops a bomb into the place where the fish breed.)

In fact, as the CDO bust demonstrates, the supposed whiz kids were as dumb as anybody else. They created a myth, and then believed it: that the smartest people on earth had created tools so powerful and complex that normal people, like the government, had neither the ability nor the right to examine them. They still believe the first part of that myth, since they think they deserve those bonuses, even after destroying their own world and much of ours as well.

All of which leaves us at the Egg wondering what other readily-falsifiable stories are floating around, and deserve to be regarded as myths both in the elevated sense of "stories by which we organize our lives," and the vulgar one of "damn lies."

A&L Daily offers a ready instance, providentially just above the CDO story. It links to a piece about Ayn Rand, the novelist and conservative icon who famously claimed that "I do not fake reality and never will." In fact, as two new biographies show, she was an amphetamine-addled fantasist who lied, in small ways and large, almost constantly.

A fiction-writer with some reliability issues is unremarkable by itself. Gore Vidal once said, "You can always identify the future novelist in any grade-school classroom. He's the pathological liar." Rand, however, is more than just a novelist. She has been the inspiration for generations of conservative intellectuals, including Ronald Reagan, Clarence Thomas, and Alan Greenspan.

Now, it does not necessarily follow that modern American conservatism is built upon an elaborate fabric of fantasies passed off as objective -- or "Objectivist" -- truth. To even argue such a case, one would need similar evidence against Milton Friedman and Freidrich Hayek, for starters. But we cannot help thinking of Greenspan's 2008 testimony before Congress, in which he admitted outright that his belief in industry self-regulation, a staple of conservative ideology, was just ... completely ... wrong.

What other pseudo-scientific ideological claims have been exploded in recent memory? Consider the "experts" who advised many Roman Catholic bishops that priests who abused children could be cured by time at a retreat center, and then sent back into the parish. Or the Murray/Herrnstein "Bell Curve". Or, in an entirely different category, the supposed "evidence" for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, as well as the rest of the neocon/theocon case for that war.

To be sure, liberals have their own beloved "facts" which are difficult to actually prove. Anybody remember the "gay gene"? Alger Hiss's "innocence"? And that's not even mentioning outright whoppers, like the Gulf of Tonkin "incident". On the whole, however, it does seem to us that Democrats do a slightly better job than Republicans of relying upon evidence rather than theories as tools for government.

All of which reminds us of two things. First, that skepticism, joined to a zeal for the facts, is almost always rewarded. In that sense, the "hermeneutic of suspicion" beloved of feminist Biblical studies is simply a logical reaction to a world awash in ideology separated from fact. Second, we are reminded of Luther's straightforward definition of a god: "the thing upon which you set your heart and in which you place your trust." But he then adds that some gods are false and others -- well, Another -- are genuine. The truth of what we believe, as Luther says, is the difference between faith and idolatry.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Benne's "Sad Career"

Ow, that hurts.

Pardon the hopping up and down as we hold a bruised shin. We have just stumbled across this essay, from 2006, by Pr. Ed Knudson. It is called Against His Church: the Sad Career of Robert Benne, and it is linked above for your reading pleasure.

The essay has a few problems. It is far too long, and marred by many punctuation errors. Although he engages Benne's writings and public statements since the 1960s, Knudson would have been well-served by the use of frequent quotations and, ideally, footnotes, all to assure us that he is fairly representing his subject. Worse is that underneath it all lies that classic and desperately tedious Boomer agon, the mutual resentment of those who retained their liberal idealism and those who found it transformed into modern neoconservatism.

Despite this, Knudson does a remarkable job of documenting Benne's transformation, and the degree to which Benne has opposed his own church from its very foundation in the late 1980s. Even more usefully, he puts a finger upon the problems with Benne's theological method, which will surely be apparent to anybody familiar with other "theocons" of the same generation. It boils down to a preference for economics to Scripture, and for ideology to compassion. (Incidentally, this is precisely the same critique which conventional theology makes of South American-style liberationism, and with equal justice).

In essence, Knudson cites Benne's own description of a conference in Dublin, years ago, in which he was the lone American theologian, and found his nation maligned by people who found it a convenient scapegoat for all the world's ills. We have been in the same situation many times, and recognize the twin temptations, either to spinelessly cave or to rise up in a righteous dudgeon shouting "My country, love it or leave it." Both responses are categorical errors, and in Knudson's description, Benne made the latter, and then proceeded to make a defense of "America" -- meaning capitalism in its least restrained form -- the center of his ethical system.

The heart of Knudson's matter, as we see it, is the accusation that Benne long ago began to worship in another church -- one distant not only from Lutheranism, but from Christianity:
Benne really does advocate capitalism so strongly that one cannot help but get the impression that it has become more important for him than anything else. Benne says “I began eating from the tree of economic knowledge…” in the most radical form of market-based economic theory, that of the so-called Chicago school which believes the free market explains all human behavior. “I had gotten acquainted with faculty members of the University of Chicago Business School and Economics Department…..” (p. 3) Now, to read Benne’s glowing account of these teachings leads one to have the feeling he has discovered a new and better church. This feeling is increased when he begins to talk about his affinity with neoconservatism.
And again, but more directly, Knudson cites a 2005 essay in which
... Benne was asked by the Journal of Lutheran Ethics to write an article on civil religion in the United States. In the article he calls for the “appropriation” of a civil religion by Lutherans. This has been a major goal of the religious right which indicates Benne has now explicitly joined in the campaign for religious nationalism.
Five other Lutheran scholars were asked to comment on Benne’s article. None of them agreed with it, saying it was not in the tradition of Lutheran social ethics which questions natural theology, any revelation of God other than that revealed in Jesus Christ.
In his article Benne had referred to this Lutheran tradition and expressly rejected it, referring to Lutherans who taught it as an “elite” who were not in touch with the American people.
Hmm. While it is true that the precise of nature in theological reflection is debated within Lutheranism, the more important point is that no serious theologian, least of all a Lutheran, can take "being in touch with the American people" as a criterion for theological competence. Substitute "German" in the sentence and you'll see why. And no, we're not obliquely accusing Benne of Fascism; we are accusing him of precisely the same captivity to culture that he claims to find, everywhere he looks, in Lutherans who disagree with him.

The frequent use of word "elite" to describe peers who disagree with him, a trope for which we have criticized Benne before, is also a window into his distorted world-view. Knudson links it directly to the rhetoric of the religious right, although he might have done better to trace it further back, to the Populist movement. Either way, though, it is the language of class resentment, and specifically of building a sense of outrage among those who feel that their interests are being ignored by the powerful. This is a tool beloved of demagogues, despite the obvious irony when it is used by those who support the interests of the wealthy against the poor.
Neoconservatives believe a “New Class” of elites dominates public consciousness of the country, liberal government workers, liberal media, liberal church leaders. They say these liberals hate the country, they hate capitalism, they hate common people, they are atheists and relativists and secular humanists. This is an absurd notion, but it has been repeated again and again so much now that this language has itself become dominate in public consciousness. Liberals are immoral atheists! ....
There are some other tidbits worth mentioning. The one that hit us hardest was this. In 1979, when he spoke to a workshop for pastors serving in the south side of Chicago,
... Benne actually made the comment that the church has to learn the facts about the way the economic system works. He gave an example. He said that he is paid by congregations to speak to adult forums. Money incentives are important in this economy. So it is just natural that he will speak to congregations when he is paid, but may not do so if he is not paid.

... Benne was saying basically that a person, even though serving the church, is always going to be motivated by money. This meant for me that Benne would lend his talents and abilities to suburban congregations who had the money, but not to the mostly black and poor congregations in inner city Chicago. Benne was taking his conceptual commitments very seriously indeed.
"Conceptual commitments" -- nice little euphemism for "idolatrous worship of Caesar and Mammon," don't you think?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

You Don't Have a Dog, Part Deux

In response to our remarks on the little tiff between Mr. Benne and Fr. McCain, two readers have responded with comments that deserve some above-the-fold attention.

First, PSanafterthought asks, in effect, "Why are those LCMS people so mean?" She has herself tasted their lash in response to a few online comments, and wonders if she has been dealt with severely because of her sex.

To be honest, we think not. Our theory, which we have described once or twice before, is that the Missouri Synod was formed in reaction against the Prussian Union, and has since been doomed to live in a constant state of reaction. Its identity, and in particular its internal cohesiveness, depends upon the ability to identify itself as a faithful remnant, and the Other -- usually meaning the rest of world Lutheranism -- as Augustine's sartago flagitiosorum amorum. The "meanness" is a conditioned reflex, a rhetorical device which seeks to reinforce the loyalty of their members by constantly assaulting the (perceived) wretchedness of outsiders.

This is typical sectarian thinking, needless to say. Although we often complain that the ELCA is not sufficiently brisk about defending itself, the golden lining is that the ELCA (and its membership) rarely go on the attack, either. It may seem a bit high-and-mighty, but at least it isn't ... well, you get the idea.

Second, Fr. James of the Tonsure asks, also in effect, "Has the Pope started ordaining women and nobody told me?" Well, not quite. What he actually asks is why Benne rejects the LCMS as a possible future church home, while talking grandly about a dive from the Ponte Sant'Angelo. In fact, Benne offers two reasons that, should the New ALC fail, he prefers Rome to St. Louis:
One is women's ordination. I know of too many fine ELCA women pastors to deny the validity of their ordination. One of my own pastors is a fine woman pastor.*

Second, the quasi-fundamentalism of some of the Missouri guiding documents would probably guarantee that I would not last long as a theological ethicist in the Missouri Synod.
Hmm. Why do we find this ringing hollow? Obviously, the Roman church does not ordain women, nor will it in the conceivable future. So Benne's first point is pure bluff.

His second point is more interesting. A few commenters take him up on it immediately, giving (weak) testimony that the LCMS does permit some wiggle room on, say, the seven days of creation. Still, it seems readily apparent that the church of Rome grants far more freedom to its teaching theologians than does the church of St. Louis. On the other hand, who doesn't? Seriously, who?

But "wiggle room" isn't quite the same as "academic freedom," in the sense that Benne's own church has always permitted it.

The Popes have come a long way from the days of the Index, and the theologians censured in recent memory are a bunch of wild-eyed liberationists. Not at all Benne's crowd. But the point remains that the Roman church does not care much for its internal critics. At least its hierarchy does not; dissidents can often find teaching positions at church-run universities, much to the chagrin of the church's faithful. You know -- a place where the bishops may growl, but can't actually touch them.

But come to think of it, that's what Benne already has, isn't it?
* Blogger's Note: We know her, and she really is. A fine pastor, that is.