Stacey Carr, a recent college graduate, came on staff as children’s minister in the 90s at a church I served. She did an amazing job of engaging in a work environment dominated by old white males. As an old white male, I learned so much from her, and wondered if she felt like Dian Fossey, the expert on Gorilla behavior. I wondered if Stacey might write something like this:
MINISTERS IN THE MIST
First day: Despite protests from my academic friends, I have decided to study the religious primates of the upper Balcones region hill country near the Colorado River estuary and lakes near Austin Texas. I have just begun this, and find myself in a very active thriving community of religious primates about which little is currently known by my own kind.
Second day. I am close to having a place for my supplies and study materials. At this point, the tribe continues with its activities, and seems barely heedful or aware of my presence. This is thankfully to my advantage, and allows me to set up my laboratory, and also to reassure my husband that these creatures seem fearsome, yet are harmless.
Second week. The big bellied silver haired one, through a series of grunts and gestures, has asked me to follow them. We went to place where they quickly acquired food and began eating it with little regard to my presence, or for my human eating habits. The big bellied one eats and drinks everything within his range, which is quite substantial. He realizes I am amused by some of his behavior, so he will actually act out behaviors which are designed to evoke my laughter, in a strange, almost human fashion. Yesterday, he quietly walked behind me and stepped on the back of my shoe in such a fashion as to cause my foot to come out of it. He feigned an apelike stupor when confronted. The repeated behavior makes me question its accidental nature. The others are often demonstrative, and the pecking order of the tribe is still obscure. Even thoughsome are obviously older, the younger primates do not remotely defer to them in any way, except where food is concerned.
Third week: A breakthrough! I am allowed to go to a regional tribal gathering where others in addition to the ministers meet. These gatherings are a little more difficult as I don’t know what to expect, as few of my kind have ever seen this behavior to this depth. Will I become a part of the tribe? I am trying, and they seem receptive. So far, the minister apes have mastered bipedalism (two legged walking, though as little as possible) making crude tools, and appear to have almost human size brain capacity. I am fitting in by “aping” their behavior. I have learned to sit in gatherings and stare at the floor for long periods of time with minimal speech and movement.