-Pastor Melissa Fain-
Seven months ago, Behind the Magic (a YouTube channel devoted to Disney, Broadway, and the intersection of the two) did a two-part video on Wicked and why it was a global phenomenon.
Now, if you’ve been reading me enough, you know I’m a huge Wizard of Oz fan. I know Wicked the Musical is nothing like Wicked the book, which is nothing like the MGM’s Wizard of Oz which is nothing like the book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” I’ve written a Bible study that serves as an introduction to the Bible using the Wizard of Oz, and I penned an explanation of being a female minister using Dorothy as my example. I’ve watched and studied the material enough that I’d say only my study of the Bible trumps it.
The Behind the Magic videos eventually delved into what closed Wicked for over a year: The Pandemic. By this point we’d already learned the story of Broadway’s current Glinda: Ginna Claire Mason, who sat in the audience back when the original Broadway cast was still in their roles. She looked to her parents that day and told them, “I’m going to be Glinda someday.” In the video, she was asked what she was most looking forward to when Broadway opened up again. She said, saying her first line, “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?”
I was excited for her! I wanted her to get that line! So, on September 14, 2021, Broadway reopened. The very next day a video surfaced:
Wicked Reopens on Broadway: Watch Glinda’s Iconic First Line.
I clicked the link, and Kristin Chenowith came out behind the curtain. Well, I’m not going to ruin it for you, so I’ll let you watch for yourself.
I love Chenoweth. I’ll watch her in anything. I saw her song during the Tony’sin “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” back before Wicked was even an idea. I’ve watched her in The Music Man, Hairspray: The Musical and just recently Schmigadoon! But, I would have hated her if she stole that moment. And, it just felt like that was the original plan. Step out, say the line, get the love. Deflate Ginna Claire Mason’s moment.
It didn’t happen. “There’s no place like home,” came from Chenoweth’s mouth, and a new Glinda got a new moment, while not being upstaged by the very person who helped her find that call.
You might be wondering what this story has to do with the Bible or theology.
I think there are some Divas in the pulpit. Leaders who were for a different age, with too much power; sucking the life out of those who could be for this age, apprehending their power. These Divas are stealing their lines.
What I didn’t tell you about Ginna Claire Mason, was that line was also her very first line as Broadway’s Glinda. Her first show was supposed to be in April 2020.
This past decade has been incredibly tough on new ministers. I can’t speak to all of them, but I can speak to those who have taken similar paths to myself.
I came from a denomination that requires a Master of Divinity as part of the requirements for ordination. This is a very intense three-year program, as many Masters programs are. Most mainline United States Denominations require upper-level learning before ordination. (Sidenote: That’s something to consider if your church is non-denominational. Education gives you tools and the ability to use them.)
The year I graduated from Candler School of Theology was the first year there were more women than men graduating. Candler took our money and pushed us out with a dream and a prayer. Only there were already two things against us once we graduated and were ordained:
1) The Church had just begun to feel the hemorrhaging loss of congregants that began in the late-80s. This was because in 2010 that’s when the “Great Generation” began to pass away. The “Great Generation” tithed. Tithing is the Biblical notion of giving 10% of all you earn or create to God. The “Great Generation,” believed that was specifically to the Church. “Boomers” didn’t tithe, and when later generations did tithe, they gave to multiple organizations, not just the Church. If you want someone or something to feel loss, hit them in the wallet. This caused the Church to react instead of act. Up until this point, the self-serving nature of the Church unintentional. When Churches began to get scared, they began to pull back and pull in intentionally. We were coming out of these seminaries with a call: We need to go out. It was the exact right message that none of these hemorrhaging churches wanted to hear. For this reason, we remained unemployed.
2) 2008 destroyed retirement for the ministers that had it. There would have been jobs for these new graduates if the financial collapse of 2008 hadn’t happened. There were ministers who were planning on retiring and enjoying the remainder of their life in whatever way they felt was appropriate. Instead, everything lost value. With exceptions, it wasn’t that they didn’t want to retire, it was that they couldn’t retire. This meant all these brand-new graduates had nowhere to go, because the jobs just were not there. It was even worse for us gals. Sure, most mainline denominations hire women ministers, but most individual churches don’t hire women senior pastors or women at all. This means not only was it harder for seminary graduates to find jobs in the Church, but it was even more difficult for women ministers in denominations that promised to include them, but didn't.
It deflated us. Many of us got jobs in fields unrelated to our education. I, for one, have worked as a restaurant server, a substitute teacher, a professional crafter, and a Census worker. About a decade ago I saw a report on a minister who was a mall cop. Meanwhile, the ministers in the Church would lovingly tell us to go be Paul. Make tents and preach! Well, that’s easy to say when you are in the pulpit. It’s not that fun, to know you must “get your tent built” for a paycheck and it’s eating into your opportunities to share God’s Word. It’s frustrating when you have something important to say, but someone else has taken the mic. I know I’m not alone.
Now there are people who it doesn’t matter if they are able or not able to retire. There are people who shouldn’t be preaching anymore. They have a message that has an expired sell-by date. When they choose to speak over the ones that never had the opportunity to preach, they are turned from someone I used to love, into someone I now hate. They are now thieves.
There are also those who never should have been given the mic to begin with, yet somehow, they are still going. This is all bad theology being given a voice, and this too I hate. If one of them is taken out (like Ravi Zacharias) another pops in their place (like Mark Driscoll and his new plant). Meanwhile the world is full of silence. Ministers who are just forced to wait. They have a call that has never been taken. Stolen by those who should just choose not to steal the line.