Huge gain for religious feminism!

Thanks to Sancte Pater I learned … and you are learning… about the great leap in modern ecclesiastical feminism.

From RNS.

Just in time for the upcoming "consecration" of a lesbian bishopette in Los Angeles. 

April 5, 2010


Barbie gets ordained, and has the smells-and-bells wardrobe to match
By Leanne Larmondin

(RNS) With her careers as veterinarian, astronaut and U.S. president behind her, Barbie has at last found her true calling: as a second-career Episcopal priest.

The 11.5-inch-tall fictional graduate of Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., has donned a cassock and surplice and is rector at St. Barbara’s-by-the-Sea in (where else?) Malibu, Calif.

She arrived at the church fully accessorized, as is Barbie’s custom. Her impeccably tailored ecclesiastical vestments include various colored chasubles (the sleeveless vestments worn at Mass) for every liturgical season, black clergy shirt with white collar, neat skirt and heels, a laptop with prepared sermon and a miniature, genuine Bible.

Apparently a devotee of the “smells and bells” of High Church tradition, the Rev. Barbie even has a tiny thurible, a metal vessel used for sending clouds of incense wafting toward heaven.

The Rev. Barbie, who in less than a week had drawn nearly 3,000 friends on her Facebook page, spends most of her time in the office of the Rev. Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, rector of Christ (Episcopal) Church, in Manlius, N.Y., near Syracuse.

The doll, her wardrobe and portable sacristy were a gift from Cleaver-Bartholomew’s friend, the Rev. Julie Blake Fisher, a priest in Kent, Ohio.

“I got a phone call from my husband who said a large package had arrived;Julie had told me that she was making something for me. She used to be a dressmaker and she makes gorgeous stoles, so I thought she was making me a stole,” said Cleaver-Bartholomew. “When I came home and there was this enormous box, I knew it wasn’t just a stole!”

Fisher had made Episcopal Priest Barbie and a few vestments two years ago for the children in her parish to dress.

“I thought the children would like to practice playing with the vestments and learning what they are,” said Fisher. The Rev. Barbie was a hit with both the children and a local group of women clergy, including Cleaver-Bartholomew.

When Cleaver-Bartholomew later got called to her parish in New York, Fisher knew the perfect gift for her friend.

“I thought, `I don’t have time to make her one of her own; I’ll just send her Episcopal Priest Barbie for her farewell gift,”’ said Fisher. “But then, when I sat down to start to package everything up, I thought `What if I added this? What if I added that? What if I made this? It would just take one more day.“‘

One more day turned into 100 hours of painstaking labor, and “before I knew it, it was Episcopal Church Barbie—High Church Edition,” Fisher said.

Barbie’s clergy garb is the real deal, made from dress patterns that were crafted or adapted by Fisher. Barbie’s collared blouse was cut down from the fabric of a genuine clergy shirt; the chasubles and alb are made from real silk and linens. Her capa nigra (black funeral cloak) sports pewter buttons. Her nearly-complete Bible was originally sold as a keychain. The thurible was crafted from a teeny tea ball.

Episcopal Church Barbie’s popularity exploded after she got a shout-out on the popular blog, A “Friends of Episcopal Priest Barbie” Facebook group has grown exponentially since its March 31 inception.

Many of the Rev. Barbie’s online admirers asked about her career aspirations.

“How long till she is Bishop Barbie?” asked one.

Fisher has found a calling of her own: She responded that her next project will be Episcopal Priest Barbie: Cathedral Edition. She promises an African-American Bishop Barbie, a Hispanic Ken doll who will be cathedral dean (rector) and his African-American friend, Stephen, will be a deacon. Barbie’s little sister, Kelly, will be an acolyte.

For her part, Cleaver-Bartholomew thinks Barbie could be a tool for evangelism for the Episcopal Church—particularly for conveying that “we have a sense of humor, we can be fun.

“Barbie’s very versatile that way,” said Cleaver-Bartholomew. “She’s open to new possibilities, so evangelism is definitely in her future.”

Sr. Joan Chittister, last seen rummaging through some of her old doll boxes, was unavailable for comment.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. robtbrown says:

    Afterwards, she will give her episcopelle blessing.

  2. irishgirl says:

    Oh my word….is this for real?

    Makes me ashamed of my first name….

    Fr. Z, your comment at the end about ‘sister’ Chittister was PRICELESS!

  3. Padre Steve says:

    That is pretty funny.

  4. TNCath says:

    Perhaps the ever-resourceful Sister Joan could remove the habit of one of those nun dolls and replace it with a bishop’s vesture?

  5. southern orders says:

    Whatever happened to poor old Ken? Maybe he joined a traditionalist order of Catholic priests! Will Ken and Barbee ever con-celebrate in ecumenical bliss? Stay tuned!

  6. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I wonder what the trademark gods will think of this?

  7. Athelstan says:

    I can’t wait until Christopher Johnson gets hold of this.

  8. Re: trademark gods

    It’s generally okey-dokey to make any new outfits for Barbies that you feel like. It’s even okay to sell them; but you’re supposed to call them “fashion doll clothing” or use similar non-trademarked terms. You can get sued, for just causing people to think that something is associated with Barbie that isn’t official. So the newspeople really didn’t do this lady a favor, if the trademark people do take notice. Actually calling the doll “Episcopal Priest Barbie” in public is… unwise.

    Otherwise, there isn’t anything illegal about what she’s doing.

  9. wanda says:

    Heaven help us! Seriously.

  10. FrCharles says:

    I’ll say this, she’s got more clerical style than most of the secular priests I know.

  11. frdgss says:

    Good try, Rev Barbie, but I bet Sr Joan Chittester has already upstaged you with the “Pope Joan” outfit…

  12. DanielKane says:

    Over 2000 were received this Easter Vigil in Atlanta. Typically over 1000 annually is the norm for at least a decade.

  13. Good Bishop John Sheets, S.J., God rest his soul, a teacher of mine, said that female priestesses were only in “pagan religions”…that is what set apart the religions of Israel and the Catholic Church from them.
    This just reinforces what that great Jesuit taught me.

  14. Geoffrey says:

    Thank goodness she’s Episcopalian!

    Of course we all know GI Joe is Catholic! ;-)

  15. medievalist says:

    Waiting for “Convert Ken” accessorized with a copy of Anglicanorum coetibus, ferraiulo, and, wait for it, a MAN-iple.

  16. jarthurcrank says:

    If it were Dr. Marilyn McCord Adams modelling, it would be leather S&M womanpriest Barbie. Even worse: Presiding Bishop Barbie with Dr. Schori as model with her awful rainbow mitres and chasuables.

  17. becket1 says:

    Quote: “Thank goodness she’s Episcopalian!

    Of course we all know GI Joe is Catholic! ;-)”

    But unfortunately Joan Chittister is still technically Catholic as well. GI Joan:)

  18. kat says:

    I’m going to throw up!

  19. becket1 says:

    I wonder if she is Episcopalian, they will have a Rev Barbie domestic partner doll?. And I’m not talking Ken either.

  20. kjh says:

    Re: domestic partner doll?

    that wouldn’t be Cricket?

  21. They had to go with Episcopalian Barbie because…1) Presbyterian Barbie–only one outfit (black robe); 2) Baptist Barbie–are you kidding me? 3) Unitarian-Universalist Barbie–difficulties with replicating Birkenstocks and flannel/rainbow t-shirt; 4) Pentecostal Barbie–how to attach snakes and/or tambourines?

  22. doanli says:

    Good grief!!!

  23. dtb says:

    @upstate crunchy : You are TOO funny!!

    Do you think Father Julie (lol) is taking orders? I would like an Episcopal priestess Barbie (with biretta) to place in my office — right between my Incredible Hulk action figure and my talking Napoleon Dynamite.

  24. Tim Ferguson says:

    GI Joe, a tradionalist-leaning military man, has been consulting with his chaplain, Col. Father “Rapid-fire” Gatling, and is making plans to launch a full-scale Crusade – Operation Stop the Insanity.

  25. Daniel Latinus says:

    When I was a kid, my brother and I had a squad of G.I. Joes. I was interested in the priesthood, so one of the Joes became their chaplain. The closest thing to clericals was a brown uniform, so we said he was an Eastern Rite Franciscan. GI Joe already had “canonical digits”, and we borrowed some of my sister’s dollhouse stuff for his “Mass Kit”. Too bad I didn’t know anybody who could sew; it would have been neat to make up a complete set of vestments.

    (It wouldn’t surprise me if some action figure collector didn’t have a set of vestments and Mass kit made up.)

    As for Ken, well, let’s just not go there…

  26. AnAmericanMother says:


    This Barbie is SO much better dressed than your average Episcopalian priestess, it’s hilarious!

    They actually run to stuff like felt applique chasubles actual example and rainbow-striped free trade hemp. And sensible shoes.

  27. ShawnS says:

    Those experienced with Catachesis of the Good Shepherd or other Montessori based programs will likely have seen similar manipulatives – that when used in the right context and with the right intention (read, without the Barbie doll) are extraordinary ways to relate and teach an understanding of basic church vocabulary, articles, postures, prayers, church seasons, and parts of the mass. Were it Ken and not Barbie, we would all be lauding the inclusion of well-styled (for a doll) chasubles… and even a biretta, too!

  28. AnAmericanMother says:

    There’s a wonderful line of dolls for little girls with nuns in their various traditional habits, authentically styled and beautifully made. Always thought them adorable.

  29. JonM says:

    What a confused circumstance.

    I think Barbie’s cassock demonstrates why the article is intended for men. For that matter, her chasuble looks, well, interestingly matched with her high heel stilettos.

    This nicely sums up the Episcopal community I think.

  30. Nope, sorry, doesn’t quite cut the mustard… I agree with AnAmericanMother – not a tie-dye stole or felt chasuble in the collection.

    And not enough lace, nor a decent cassock for her to count as a Traddy womynpriest model…

  31. lofstrr says:

    I can already see Sr Joan saying “Wait Barbie is demeaning to women but this is so empowering, I mean… I… so confused.”

  32. Gail F says:

    She is missing her tie-dyed stole (worn OVER the chasuble, of course).

  33. Perhaps Ken will join one of the Anglican communities joining Rome?

  34. tim mccarthy says:

    The biretta on her is so pronounced, she could pass for one of the ladies in an AME Baptist storefront church. That’s ecumenical baby.

  35. Sandy says:

    I almost lost my lunch, but you guys are sooo funny!

  36. rakesvines says:

    It’s not the Dominican habit but it’s better than S&M gear – leather and chains. So, wouldn’t you say it
    positively endorses a spiritual culture rather than disrapage it – generally speaking? I like to keep
    the humanistic optimism of St. Francis de Sales and find what is good in everything.

  37. Seattle Slough says:

    Never in their wildest, dissenting dreams would the ecclesiastical lesbians and gray haired feministas look as good as Reverend Barbie.

  38. BobP says:

    Makes for nice chess pieces.

  39. rakesvines: LOL! You crack me up! I’m dyin’ here!! “it’s better than S&M gear–leather and chains. So, would you say it positively endorses a spiritual culture rather than disparage it–generally speaking?”
    It’s S&M alright…we don’t even know the half of it, as they say!
    Right outta San Francisco…never been there, probably never will be…don’t know why I know this:<)!

  40. Breck says:

    I’m sure that Rev.Barbie would be welcomed at the Deanery meetings, but I’m not so sure that the wives of the young clergy would be happy about it.

  41. patrick_f says:

    This is a GOOD thing

    Here is why – Any Feminist could in no way live up to Barbie’s standards. Thus, they will give up on this whole womyn priest thing.. and as such, the problem solves itself

    I mean..come on..look at the average womyn priest…or the episcopal priest(ess). Do they honestly look the barbie part?

    I say…. lets start mass producing them, you will solve the problem in weeks

  42. Makemeaspar says:

    WEEEEELLLLLLLLLL i must say i never would have thought that i would see an entire Blog of FR. Z’s Devoted to BARBIE! What is this world coming too?


  43. Agnes says:


  44. LarryD says:

    Father – this would be more fun to play with.

  45. Andrew says:

    I hope she’s also fully biodegradable.

  46. MargaretC says:

    Her costumes are in much better taste than those of a lot of Episcopal clergy, including their Presiding Bishop. If you don’t believe me, please check out Christopher Johnson’s other blog, “Bad Vestments”, at:

    Swallow anything you’re drinking first…

  47. Rob Cartusciello says:

    “a Hispanic Ken doll who will be cathedral dean (rector)”

    So there’s an apostate Fr. Cutie doll….

    Quelle drolle.

  48. rakesvines says:

    nazareth priest: I resemble that remark.

  49. blackshama says:

    I would like to know if Ken was ever ordained a priest? If Barbie was ordained, why wasn’t Ken? This is discrimination! And I thought the Episcopal Church was inclusive!

    Also I’d like to see Barbie attired in Kate Jefferts-Schori’s trademark primatial vestments!

  50. ikseret says:

    Is Fisher anti-Semitic?

    When will they have rabbi Barbie?
    or even better, Imam Barbie?
    I won’t hold my breath….

  51. ssoldie says:

    This is a hoot. Now when does Burka Barbie come out? How about ‘gay’Barbie? Budda Barbie?

  52. Jane says:

    Rev. Barbie is a nutty creation.

  53. RuariJM says:

    I WAS going to ask when this first appeared – I expected it to be last Thursday.

    Having followed the link, I see it wasn’t – but it must have been intended as an April Fool, surely? Surely?

    Please, say it was…

    Oh, no!!!!

  54. Tina in Ashburn says:

    What a bad rap for Barbie. I bet poor ole’ Barbie had no say in the matter. She may be screaming inside “please send me back to the factory! please send me back! get me outta here!!”

  55. Her Holiness Pope Joan II, I presume.

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