And most of you have no idea who she is and don't remember the song. If you do, you're old.
Anglican got me thinking about something I hear quite a bit about pastors, especially pastors of large churches: they're so real. I hear it frequently when someone is recommending their church: You'd love my pastor; he's so real. There are other variations of this recommendation: laid back, chill, down to earth, honest, etc. Most people mean it when they say it; they just don't realize how wrong they are.
First, what does it mean that he's real? You mean he talks to you in ways and about things that you believe impact your life directly. Risque jokes, tongue-in-cheek digs at religiosity, closely controlled items of information of a personal nature (i.e., he'll say he struggles but it's never with anything too serious, say spouse abuse or alcoholism or oxycontin addiction), identifying with congregants in their distrust of theology or tradition or liturgy, talking about finances or parenting or marriage in ways that shows he's sometimes where you are, etc. In other words, he's like you, only with some religious training and a big-ass church.
Second, why is it important that he is "real?" (Bearing in mind we really have no solid definition in mind when we say the word? It's like calling him cool. It could mean almost anything, except "he's an asshole." It could even mean "he's boring but his sermons are only eleven and a half minutes long so I never miss kick-off, the buffet line, or a nap.") What does it mean for a pastor to be unreal? Does it perhaps mean that his life is not accessible to his congregation? That she hides information we'd like to know? That he doesn't seem to struggle with the things we do? That she isn't necessarily hip or culturally savvy?
Here's the problem: the guy you think of as real is someone you know almost nothing about, especially if you're in a megachurch. When you recommend him to someone as real, you're simply saying, "When I hear him preach for the fifteen minutes each week that I actually see him face to face (sort of), he strikes me as sincere, honest, and accessible." The reality, of course, is that every pastor that I've ever met, including myself, has a carefully constructed public persona. Different people are afforded different levels of access depending upon how much the pastor trusts that person. Even wives or husbands don't always get in as far as they ought. In short, there is almost no such thing as a pastor who is a real person. Congregations don't allow it. Congregations say they love their "real" pastor, but if they heard what he really thought about that last complaint they'd brought to his office (does not apply to megachurch pastors; you'd never get that far with a complaint), then they'd experience real. If they heard him fight with his wife, or heard her go at it with her 13-year old daughter, or if God forbid, they heard what he/she thought about the job, then they'd experience real.
Congregations don't want real men and women as pastors. They want carefully constructed simulacra of real people. They want real to be nicer than them but not too nice, and holier than them but not too holy, and smarter than them but not too smart, and more honest than them but not too honest. Pastors learn too quickly that real people are messy. Congregations don't want messy pastors.