Politicians, Ministers, and Movie Stars

A minister, a politician, and a movie star walk into a bar together…

It should be the beginning line of a good joke, but I am afraid it is just too far-fetched.

They would never go into the same bar.  But in the bars they do go into, someone is very likely to say to any of them – and not as a pick up line – “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”

Ministers, politicians, and movie stars all tend to be recognized by people we don’t know.  It happens to me all the time.  Someone will come up to me in the grocery store, at the pizza joint, or at the do-it-yourself car wash, and say, “Oh, I know you, aren’t you the minister of the UU church?” They have maybe been to the church a time or two, attended a wedding or memorial service I officiated, saw me at an event or demonstration where I spoke, or even saw my picture in the newspaper.

OK, it is a smallish city.  But in smallish cities, ministers are public figures, especially if they tend toward the out-spoken.

I don’t know for sure what Brad Pitt does or Mitt Romney .  Odds are extremely good I will never run unto any of them at a bar or anywhere else.  I would recognize them, but they wouldn’t know me at all.

A number of years ago, before I entered the ministry, I was a national level officer in a professional association, the Federal Manager’s Association.  We held our annual conventions in DC every year and we also had a PAC fund.  I had the opportunity to meet with quite a few Members of Congress in their offices.  I met Ann Richards and Hilary Clinton at fundraisers for other candidates.  Most were delightful in their own way, but even though I shook their hands, I did not really “meet” them.  They were wearing their politician persona.

Politicians can be charismatic, but they see so many people, most of whom want something from them, that most of the time they aren’t really connecting to the people they are meeting.  That is true no matter what party affiliation they might have.  They have their standard lines which  they use to respond to just about anything anyone might say.

I suspect movie stars are much the same way.  “Yes, I will give you an autograph.”  “I am happy you enjoyed my last picture.”  “Get out of my face.” They don’t have to think about what to say to a particular individual; they don’t have to really connect with the other person.  They can just be a “public figure.”

Ministers have a public persona too, even if we don’t happen to be wearing a collar or a stole.  People, even strangers, expect something different from us.  They sometimes think we can see into their very souls.  It is daunting sometimes.  It is always humbling.  We listen to their stories of pain and heartache.  Our words don’t have to be many, they don’t need to be particularly eloquent, but they have to be real, a memorized script just won’t do.

I think we have more in common with the bartenders.


singing bowl

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