Barbie gets ordained, and has the smells-and-bells wardrobe to match
By Leanne Larmondin
(RNS) With her careers as veterinarian, astronaut and U.S. president behind her, Barbie has at last found her true calling: as a second-career Episcopal priest.
The 11.5-inch-tall fictional graduate of Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., has donned a cassock and surplice and is rector at St. Barbara’s-by-the-Sea in (where else?) Malibu, Calif.
She arrived at the church fully accessorized, as is Barbie’s custom. Her impeccably tailored ecclesiastical vestments include various colored chasubles (the sleeveless vestments worn at Mass) for every liturgical season, black clergy shirt with white collar, neat skirt and heels, a laptop with prepared sermon and a miniature, genuine Bible.
Apparently a devotee of the “smells and bells” of High Church tradition, the Rev. Barbie even has a tiny thurible, a metal vessel used for sending clouds of incense wafting toward heaven.
The Rev. Barbie, who in less than a week had drawn nearly 3,000 friends on her Facebook page, spends most of her time in the office of the Rev. Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, rector of Christ (Episcopal) Church, in Manlius, N.Y., near Syracuse.
The doll, her wardrobe and portable sacristy were a gift from Cleaver-Bartholomew’s friend, the Rev. Julie Blake Fisher, a priest in Kent, Ohio.
“I got a phone call from my husband who said a large package had arrived;Julie had told me that she was making something for me. She used to be a dressmaker and she makes gorgeous stoles, so I thought she was making me a stole,” said Cleaver-Bartholomew. “When I came home and there was this enormous box, I knew it wasn’t just a stole!”
Fisher had made Episcopal Priest Barbie and a few vestments two years ago for the children in her parish to dress.
“I thought the children would like to practice playing with the vestments and learning what they are,” said Fisher. The Rev. Barbie was a hit with both the children and a local group of women clergy, including Cleaver-Bartholomew.
When Cleaver-Bartholomew later got called to her parish in New York, Fisher knew the perfect gift for her friend.
“I thought, `I don’t have time to make her one of her own; I’ll just send her Episcopal Priest Barbie for her farewell gift,”’ said Fisher. “But then, when I sat down to start to package everything up, I thought `What if I added this? What if I added that? What if I made this? It would just take one more day.“‘
One more day turned into 100 hours of painstaking labor, and “before I knew it, it was Episcopal Church Barbie—High Church Edition,” Fisher said.
Barbie’s clergy garb is the real deal, made from dress patterns that were crafted or adapted by Fisher. Barbie’s collared blouse was cut down from the fabric of a genuine clergy shirt; the chasubles and alb are made from real silk and linens. Her capa nigra (black funeral cloak) sports pewter buttons. Her nearly-complete Bible was originally sold as a keychain. The thurible was crafted from a teeny tea ball.
Episcopal Church Barbie’s popularity exploded after she got a shout-out on the popular blog, BeautyTipsforMinisters.com. A “Friends of Episcopal Priest Barbie” Facebook group has grown exponentially since its March 31 inception.
Many of the Rev. Barbie’s online admirers asked about her career aspirations.
“How long till she is Bishop Barbie?” asked one.
Fisher has found a calling of her own: She responded that her next project will be Episcopal Priest Barbie: Cathedral Edition. She promises an African-American Bishop Barbie, a Hispanic Ken doll who will be cathedral dean (rector) and his African-American friend, Stephen, will be a deacon. Barbie’s little sister, Kelly, will be an acolyte.
For her part, Cleaver-Bartholomew thinks Barbie could be a tool for evangelism for the Episcopal Church—particularly for conveying that “we have a sense of humor, we can be fun.
“Barbie’s very versatile that way,” said Cleaver-Bartholomew. “She’s open to new possibilities, so evangelism is definitely in her future.”
Saturday night as I was traveling back to PA, I heard an Ad on the radio for "the latest video that could rock the foundations of Christianity." I immediately assumed that it was another Ad for The DaVinci Code and wanted to throw my Starbucks coffee out the window at a passing car (neither Starbucks or the passing car had anything to do with my rage), but continued to listen, finding out that it was an Ad for the Gospel of Judas. "Interesting" I thought.
Sunday evening I prepared to watch The Gospel of Judas with some friends who were also interested in hearing what it had to say. From what I saw, there was nothing that we haven’t already heard before. The codex paints this picture of Judas being somewhat of a biblical hero; that Jesus pulled him aside and begged Judas to turn him over to the Roman authorities. Which okay, fine, I’ll give Judas that…he did have a role to play, he turned Jesus over to be crucified. AND he got 30 pieces of silver for it! (Matthew 26:15)
While much of the original writings have been destroyed (they are almost 2000 years old!), it is interesting to see what some of Judas’ supporters thought or heard of the situation. The codex of Judas appears to take a more Gnostic view suggesting that Jesus needed to escape His body for His work to be complete and Judas provided an opportunity for that to happen. I have to wonder that if Judas was intended to be a great hero, his exit from the scene (Matthew 27:5) didn’t leave much for a second act.
I’ll stick with Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
It’s just like having your own genie in a bottle…except it’s prayers in a lavalamp. I was surfin the web tonight, decomposing after an interesting night and came across "The Prayer Lamp." This thing is hilarious! It’s a lavalamp, and you can type your prayers into the blobs and "watch them float around with your other prayers." I’ve seen and heard about creative things used for prayer and worship, but this at the top of the crazy list.
Click here to check it out for yourself. This should be at the top of my Christmas wish list.