Can Ministers and Parishioners Be Friends?

I meant to talk about this yesterday, but I was so aggravated by that stupid pattern, which continues to be not much better. Like everyone else in the world, I read Hans Fiene’s article over at The Federalist about how men and women can’t be friends.

Apparently he claims he was only about 40% serious, but which 40%, you know? The part where men and women can’t be friends, I assume.

I looked him up. He’s a Missouri Synod Lutheran Minister whose church is about thirty minutes from one of the towns I grew up in. That’s pretty far north for a Missouri Synod Lutheran. If you aren’t up on the intricacies of differences between denominations, just picture in your head the cool female Lutheran minister you know. Missouri Synod is not that kind of Lutheran.

But there are some other things on his church website that I’m not sure enough about the Missouri Synod to know if it’s in line with their theological thinking or if this is just his own brand–when I read his church’s website, it seems to me that they believe in transubstantiation–that the communion bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. But Lutherans, at least none I’m familiar with (and I’m like 65% certain this was Luther’s position himself), don’t believe this. They believe a slightly different kind of mystery where the bread and wine are both still bread and wine AND the body and blood of Christ.

As someone who’s ethnically Methodist, both things seem odd to me since we go more for the metaphor–this bread and grape juice symbolize the body and blood of Christ.

And, on the one hand, this is a minor detail. On the other hand, Lutherans and Catholics have been arguing about this since, well, since Lutheranism began, pretty much. It’s one of the key disagreements.

Another thing I’m also less certain of is his church’s policy on who can take communion. Most Methodist churches and my dad explicitly have an open table, meaning it doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe. If you’re there, you can take communion. You don’t have to, of course, but you can.

Now, I have taken communion at a Missouri Synod Lutheran church before and I certainly don’t believe many, many things about their doctrine, but no one stopped me or told me I couldn’t.

On the other hand, I accidentally took communion at a Catholic mass once when I was young, from a priest who absolutely knew who I was, because I didn’t know non-Catholics weren’t supposed to take communion at a Catholic church. And I’ve always been grateful that he didn’t embarrass me by stopping me.

So, you can’t take communion at Fiene’s church unless he okays it by assuring that you’re doctrinally aligned with the congregation. And again, I’m not sure if this is the Missouri Synod stance and I just fucked up in the past by not knowing it, or if this is his own thing.

But then I read his biography. He’s not just a pastor. He’s a pastor’s son.

And then everything clicked into place. I just wanted to shout, “I see you, Rev. Fiene!”

I’m not trying to excuse him. That’s not it. But I went from being “Oh, fuck you, you weirdo dink” to “Oh no! You poor dumbass.”

There’s a way in which you can see the patriarchy working like a trap for women, like these people run around just trying to lure women into it–just be pretty, be nice, don’t challenge, etc. and you can get a man and, when you get a man, you win–and at this point, thanks to feminism, you all know how that screws women over.

But this seems to me to be a clear cut case of a man with a bear trap on his own leg trying to convince others that the natural state for men is to walk around hobbled by bear traps. There’s nothing wrong with him! No! Being emotionally crippled is what makes him manly. Look how funny and charming he is while he spouts his weird, sad ideas!

Because, damn, when I read that he was a minister’s kid and is now a minister–and that kind of minister, where he has to judge his congregation’s worthiness to be in communion with its God–I wondered if he ever had a friend, a real friend, in his whole life.

I kind of doubt it. And I think I see him trying to believe that’s just the natural state of things and not something that was done to him, even as he tries to do it to others while insisting it’s just the TRUTH of things. That’s what I see.