From Fangirl to Friend: Being in Proximity to Your Theological Hero



Crystal HardinReading time: 2 minutes

By Crystal Hardin
Staff Writer

It goes something like this. You’re walking with purpose through the halls of the Convention Center, minding your own business and meditating on the life of Jesus, when, there she is, [insert your theological hero]!

If you’re anything like me, your response might be to dramatically whisper her name while also looking in the other direction as if she means nothing to you. This, my friends, you can recover from. Or, perhaps you attempt a smile in her direction, a smile that you suspect might look slightly deranged (you’d be right). Good news, this too you can recover from. Another possible reaction, you eagerly wave. Or, at least that’s what you intend to do until you realize that this person doesn’t know you.

True, you might read everything this person writes. True, you might quote this person on the regular. True, you might even be Facebook friends. This person obviously knows you! False. This person does not know you. You realize this mid-wave, jerking your hand out of midair while grimacing at your mistake. Whether you can recover from this depends on how saintly your theological hero is. (She’s a saint! I’m safe.)

I admire people who approach their hero boldly. They introduce themselves, say hello, make a substantive comment of some sort, and move on. How they manage this, I’ll never know. Consider me impressed. While I know this is the right way to move from fangirl to friend (or, at the very least, a step in the right direction), my body fails me. Every. Single. Time. So, to those of you who interact in socially acceptable ways with your heroes, I salute you.

To the rest of you … I had something else to say, but, I’ve lost my thought. The Rev. Winnie Varghese just looked my way…

Crystal Hardin is a seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary, a recovering attorney, and an accomplished writer and photographer. (Her theological hero, the Rev. Winnie Varghese, is the director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity, Wall Street in New York City.)

Banner at top, from left to right: the Most Rev. Michael Curry, the Rev. Nancy Frausto, the Rev. Winnie Varghese, and the Rt. Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori.

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