The Marie Claire Article about Reverend Miller

Thanks to a FoTCP, I’ve seen the now-infamous Marie Claire article. I do think that Miller got done mildly wrong–that the article, even if it is an “as told to…,” puts words in her mouth in ways that makes her seem kind of gossipy and silly in ways that could undermine her authority as a minister. But, having read the article, I’m even more shocked by the responses to it that are anything other than “Wow, Miller seems to have been purposefully portrayed as silly and frivolous by Marie Claire and Deborah Jian Lee. What an asshole move on Lee’s part.”

Once you get beyond Lee’s ladymag tone, Miller says she’s celibate and wants to meet a nice guy who loves her for who she is and supports her in a job she loves. That this is scandalous or cause for shaming Miller or for being embarrassed to share a profession with her is bizarre.

In fact, once you accept the conceit that this is a story written by Lee but in a 1st person that is supposed to be Miller, any reasonable person has to see that there are only two sentences you actually know for sure come from Miller and aren’t made up by Lee.

WARNING: These are the words of a Methodist minister in a story about… sex… You might want to read through your fingers. “Oh, I work in communications for a nonprofit. But tell me about you,” and “I’m a pastor at a church.”

That’s right. Twenty words out of the whole article appear to be actually attributable to Miller. Everything else? It’s the product of a bizarre attempt on the part of Marie Claire and Lee to pass of this fictionalized account of Miller’s sexuality as an actual first-person tell-all.

People railing against Miller’s tone or word choice or saying she sounds drunk need to understand–this isn’t a transcript of a conversation Lee and Miller had. This is a piece of creative writing on the part of Lee designed to make you feel like you’re hearing from Miller when you aren’t.

If there should be outrage over this piece, it should be on behalf of Miller, not focused on her.

Maybe I’m too cynical, but I have little doubt this is going to cost her her job anyway. She’ll get blamed because she wasn’t smart enough to not participate, instead of sympathized with for being the main character in someone’s weird fiction.

And that sucks.

I hope I’m wrong.

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3 thoughts on “The Marie Claire Article about Reverend Miller

  1. I still haven’t read the whole article for myself, but I had a bad feeling about it from the beginning. As a 26 year-old female about to be ordained in the Episcopal Church, it’s frightening in that it could’ve been me in the article, save for that my sexuality is safely contained in my marriage. If Ms. Miller is anything like my single, female friends in seminary, which I suspect she is, I have no problem at all being on her side in this mess.

  2. Thanks for staying on top of this. I actually found the article refreshing (while recognizing the role the magazine editor played in spicing it up a bit). I have to imagine that many young clergy, church leaders, and seminarians struggle with many of the same issues as Rev. Miller; my hope is that this article will lead to more open and frank discussion.

  3. Kira, like I said, from the second you see the byline and realize this isn’t a transcript, but some exercise in very creative non-fiction, it’s hard to understand how anyone could be mad at Miller and not mad at Marie Claire.

    It’d be like if i reworked your comment and wrote a first person story pretending to be you in which I made it seem like you said that, if you weren’t married, your sexuality would be frightening.

    Yes, you said the words “sexuality” and “frightening” but what I’d be up to is still deeply intellectually dishonest.

    They should have just done a straight-up interview with her, but I suspect that, actually, she was being very cautious and so they had to find a way to embellish in order to fill space and the fake first-person account was the best way.

    But I, too, like Josh, thought she came across as very refreshing. If I were still Christian, I’d feel much more comfortable going and talking to her than I would talking to the people who condemn her, that’s for sure.

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