Micki Annette Pulleyking
Interviewed by: Ashleigh Hughes
AH: I’d like to start with the very beginning of your life and how, um your parents’ religious lives impacted your
MP: Ok. My parents were both reared in the Church of Christ in Arkansas. My mother’s father, John Weaver, had
been a, um, Church of Christ preacher and a music teacher. And so, they were both very steeped in the Church of
Christ, which is a very conservative, non-instrumental, indigenous American movement. There were more
participants in the southern part of United States than there were in the northern part. And um, so I grew up going to
church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, and every Wednesday night. In my world, the church was
family. It was an extended family. It was very sectarian, um, our lives revolved around the church. My mother was a
Sunday school teacher. She also taught on Wednesday night. Um, so during the week she was often working on
things for the church. She had been a church secretary before I was born when my family lived in Kansas. Um, so it
was undoubtedly very, very influential. There is a story that my parents used to like to tell, it humored my dad. That
I had my dad teach me how to teach a tie when I was five years old, and you know, bless his heart, you know, I
wanted to know, he was going to teach me. So, he taught me how, but he didn’t know what I was going to do it for
was we had an ottoman in our living room, and I would stand up on the ottoman with my tie on and pretend like I
was a preacher and read to my parents from this little church tract called Power for Today that I would get at church.
So we would play church when we would get home and I would set them down, put my tie on, stand on the ottoman,
and pretend like I was a preacher [laughs].
AH: [laughs] That is so cute.
MP: It was foreshadowing of things to come.
AH: That is very interesting. Um, at any point, um, I know that teenagers can be rebellious. At anytime were you
sort of rebellious against this conservative, um Christian sect?
MP: Yes. I would say my parents probably encouraged that. Although they were very loyal and devoted, um, neither
one of them were naïve, or um, they would never have tried to skwelch thought, or um, disagreement. In fact they
probably encouraged you to think for yourself. And by the time I was in seventh grade, I was, I got into two major
arguments in seventh grade. One was with my Sunday school teacher, and one was with my youth director, and I
remember them like they were yesterday, because they were big. The one with my Sunday school teacher was about
whether or not the world was created in seven, twenty-four hour days.
AH: Oh wow.
MP: And I was really distressed at his insistence that it had to be twenty-four hour days.
MP: That it, you know, there couldn’t be some different understand of time. Um, and not that I ventured so far as to
be an advocate of evolution, at that point, but I just didn’t think that we needed to nail down those seven days.
MP: And so really, really, irritated my Sunday school teacher terribly. And, then, um, irritated my youth director,
because he was explaining the order of the universe to us one night in class, and drew this hierarchy on the board
that God is at the top, and then man, and then women, and then children. And I was really not happy about that. And
um, he, he just thought I was slow, that I just had a little mental deficiency, and that is he just took out to a donut
shop after church and wrote the same thing on a napkin at the donut shop, that I would get it. He thought that he just
told me over and over, “this is how it is”, and I didn’t, I never got it. To this day I don’t get it. [laughs] You know,
my parents, were, they were pleased. And you know while I’m telling stories. Is that what you want me to do tell
AH: Oh, yeah.
MP: Um, the last trip that my parents ever made. Both of my parents are deceased now. And the last trip that we
made to my mother’s home church in Hart, Arkansas, where she grew up, where her father was a preacher. Um, and,
and they were both, in, in really poor health, and we knew it was our last trip, but there wasn’t a minister that day, so
in the worship service, in the congregation, they had just a conversation, a discussion. Somebody read scripture, and
explained it. Then they let people talk about it. Well, it was almost all men who were talking about it, because that’s
the nature of the environment. But they were, it was back in, oh when would this have been? It was in the 90’s, um,
and they were saying really horrible things about the current United States Attorney General, somebody named Janet
Reno. And, it was totally unrelated to the text, and they were also making some comments about Judaism that I felt
were inaccurate. And so, I sat there for as long as I could, I knew that by the very sound of my voice, my aunt, my
mother’s sister, was going to just be mortified, because she’s so unhappy that I’m a minister, and she’s so unha-. So
I know as soon as I opened my mouth my aunts going to freak out, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to, to raise my
hand and say something in defense of both Janet Reno and of the Jews. And, after it was over, my dad came over to
me and hit me on the back and was just smiling from ear to ear. And um, told me how proud he was, and somebody
had to say something. And um, so was I rebellious against what I had been taught in the church? [pause] Not, just
for sake of being rebellious, it never made me happy to disagree. I didn’t want to argue with my youth director, um,
but yes. I think my youth director and my Sunday school teacher would say I rebellious. I think my parents were fine
with that. And later on, they were fine with me leaving the Church of Christ. Fine may be too strong of a word. They
were accepting. And, um, they were very accepting of me becoming a minister, and um, I think they raised us to
question. So they got what they asked for. [laughs]
AH: No, it sounds like you definitely had a nurturing environment to be able be to do what, what you’re at today.
MP: I think I did, yes. Not in terms of the church, but in terms of my parents.
AH: Ok, um, so during college, or um, just after your school, like high school life in general, um, how was your
spiritual path then? Was it different from your childhood?
MP: [pause] The interest, the question, the intellectual journey, deepened, I think, in college. Um, exposure to
religion courses, but also exposure to philosophy courses. I was deeply influenced by my philosophy courses, and
my history courses. Um, and at that time we didn’t have gender studies courses, but certainly was aware of the
gender issues. Um, so, my interest in the questions continued in college. And um, that is really what led me to major
in Religious Studies and then want to go on to graduate school in religious studies.
AH: Ok, um, you say questions, what kind of questions did you have about, um, religion in general or life?
MP: You know, I think, the ones that there are no answers to.
AH: [laughs] Of course.
MP: [laughs] And um, you know there may have been a time when I was eighteen when I thought there were
answers, and I thought I was going to find them. Um, but, you know the big questions of “Why am I here?”, “What
sustains the universe?”, um, “Where am I going?”, um [pause] “How do you create, or at that point, I would have
probably been looking at find meaning?” I, I had a lot of theological at the time, but they were all within a certain
context and frame, and very much from a Christian worldview, at that time.
AH: Ok, so then, you still aligned yourself with the Christian church, even with all these questions, and?
MP: Oh yes. Very much. In fact, I remained a member of the Church of Christ throughout college. Um, that,
continued to be very, very influential. I um, in high school. at the end of my high school career, I began dating a guy
from my church. And um, we were together through college and married, and are still together. So he was my, you
know a link to the Church of Christ. And it’s interesting, I called a good friend from, in Colorado this week, who I
met in London. Because even in London I was connected to the Church of Christ. Um, and it just occurred to me,
you know, when I sit down, and think about my five best friends in the world. The people who know me better than
anybody, and the people who I love anybody outside my family. Four out of five of them are Church of Christ.
Those roots were very, very deep for me.
AH: Ok, um, while you were like in college, on your spiritual journey, did you, let’s see how am I trying to word
this? Is there anyone who influenced you? I know that you said you remained in the Church of Christ through
college. Was there anyone who influenced you to help you seek answers to these questions, or um?
MP: There were many people, many people. Um [pause], you know, I think, there were people here who introduced
me to ideas, and to books. One of my most influential instructors here was a man named Tom Poe, whose never
even full time, he was a part-time instructor here. But um, he taught the only course here that was kind of not about
just the text, not biblical studies, and not comparative religious. But it was philosophy of religious. It was Modern,
Modern Religious Thought 332, still offered here. Um, and that course was a really powerful one for me, Um, Jack
Knight in philosophy, was uh, a powerful, um thinker, in my college years. Interestingly enough, also Jack was grew
up Church of Christ, and also left the Church of Christ. Um, but, there were just a lot of people, a lot of people who
introduced me to thinkers. The, the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher had a profound impact.
So I, if I had time to think about it, I could give you probably the top-ten most influential thinkers, writers, teachers,
but they just don’t come to mind in that order at this moment0.
AH: Right, that’s understandable. Um, when, uh, at what point, did you decide um, that you wanted to continue your
education in Religious studies after receiving your B.A?
MP: Before, I received my B.A. I knew I was going to go straight to graduate school. Um, probably I would say, I
began as a pre-law major and wanted to be an attorney and public defender and help the poor. Um, and so that very
much related to my religion. You know that wasn’t just, you don’t want to be a public defender because you want to
make a lot of money, or have an easy job, because that’s neither of those. It was very much my understanding of
social justice and um what I can do in the world to be helpful. And um, you know then I began, I was working for a
church. I was working for a Presbyterian church one summer in college, right over here [points], First and Calvary
and they gave me opportunities to preach at little rural churches on Sunday mornings. And I would have never
imagined that I would stand behind a pulpit, because I dreamed and hoped that I would one day marry a minister. I
wanted to be a minister’s wife. [laughs] And you know, that was what I had. That was the example I had in my
congregation in terms of possibilities. Once I, once I stood behind the pulpit and I had been a debater in high school
and I had been a debater in college, and I loved public speaking. Um and so once I did that, I thought, oh my, I
really like this. And my sister told me once, I was telling her, we were driving down the road, I told her, “I want to
marry a minister.” and she said, “Why don’t you just be one?” And I was like what? I can’t do that. But then I
began, I still didn’t think I could do it, even when I though I was in college, I still didn’t think could do it. But I
wanted to study. I wanted to know what I was missing. And so I decided to go to Divinity school, to go do graduate
work, not thinking I would ever do anything with it. That it was going to be from some folks perspective, a waste of
time and money. But, I was going to follow my heart and mind, some combination thereof, and see what happened.
And that’s why I chose Harvard, was thinking, you know since I won’t even get to use this for the ministry, at least
it will be a good solid academic foundation. Um, that maybe I can use for something else down than the road.
MP: So it wasn’t a master plan, but I knew by the time I was a junior in college that that’s probably what I was
doing. And my senior year, I think I mentioned to you that I studied in England, and I studied theater there, of all
things. And, um, I remember our theater professor there said that, “Actors act, because they have to, because they
can’t help themselves. Even if they don’t get paid for it. Even if they have to be a waiter or waitress, they act
because they have to have to.” And I though, you know, what is my passion? What do I want to do? And to stand up
and talk about religion, you know for somebody to pay me to do that, and um, I still have to pinch myself. Because,
they do that here? People pay me to stand up and talk about religion. And they do that at my church in Billings. And,
you know, so um, I feel very fortunate that I have those opportunities.
AH: Good, um, and at what points led you specifically to the Disciples of Christ?
MP: Um [pause], in some ways, that was probably the least radical, I thought. Ironically, it probably enabled me to
make the more radical moves that I have subsequently made. But at the time, I thought that the Christian Church
was similar to the Church of Christ. At the time I thought that the only difference was instrumental music and
women. And so, um, I, I thought that would allow me to stay within the movement, the restoration movement.
Because the restoration movement initially included not only the Churches of Christ and the Disciples of Christ but
the independent Christian churches they were all connected and through the years have split. But at the time I
thought it would be the, a way of staying connected to the Church of Christ. I did not realize the opportunities for
diversity within the Disciples. And that was one of the things I really appreciate about the Disciples, is that they
have a great deal of diversity from, from very conservative to very liberal. So there is a lot of freedom in that
denomination, and I need that.
AH: Um, did you find any obstacles or any, aggression is not really the word, or anything that almost inhibited you
from becoming an ordained minister because you’re a woman?
MP: That’s a good question. Um, I, like I said, I grew up with the Church of Christ, the South National Church of
Christ, very near here. And um, as I told you, my mother had been a Sunday school teacher for years. We were very
active, good friends with the minister. He was a well-known person in the community, Prentice Matter was his
name. And when I asked him, to go to any seminary, any divinity school in the country, you need a minister’s letter
of recommendation. And when I asked him for one, he said, “No.” And, this, ah, even now, you know, it makes me
teary-eyed because I loved him. And I loved that church. And it was like I could not understand how he could not
write me a letter of recommendation. And he, you know he tried to explain, he said, “Now, academic merit I have no
doubt of your ability to succeed, but I don’t think women ought to study for the ministry. And so I’m not going to
recommend you.” And that was really heart-breaking. And you know what, and I use those words because my
husband would tell you, because you know we dated for many of those years. For almost eight years, there was
hardly a day went by when there were not tears about leaving the Church of Christ, because it meant leaving my
family. It meant leaving my grandfather’s church, it was a part of, we were almost part of the Church of Christ my
MP: You know it was not a choice then, this was my blood. And so it was extremely, it was excruciating. And, and
it kind of, I never really thought I could do it, I never really thought I could do it. And even the day of my
ordination, I came back here to be ordained. And, um I was ordained at the National Avenue Christian Church,
down on National. And the irony was, that the South National Church of Christ was also on National, just about five
blocks North, the church I had grown up in. And there were news reporters who came for my ordination that day.
And they were asking, and I walked in and I saw them asking my parents questions about me leaving the Church of
Christ, and I had my robe on and I was just getting ready to be ordained, and I walked over to the newspaper
reporters and I was crying. I said you can’t do this to my parents, because I knew it would be embarrassing for them.
And so um, I asked them not print a story about me leaving the Church of Christ for this, because we knew so many
people in the community and it felt um, like it just stirred up all those feelings of um [pause], you know, controversy
and my own emotional being torn about whether or not I was doing the right thing. So, it was, you know until I
walked down the aisle and said, “I do.” literally for the ordination I wasn’t sure I could go through with it. But it was
very, very difficult. I’m surprised that I still feel it so much, I haven’t talked about it years.
AH: Um and even after your ordination did you still have conflict with your ties to Church of Christ because you
MP: You know, I think, initially, I would say no. The Disciples were incredibly welcoming. They were, they were
happy to have me. They were immediately they put me on the National General Board. Um, I, I felt very welcomed
and very grateful to them, and surprised. You know, I didn’t know there was world out there women could be full
participants in the worship service, because I had never seen that. So on the one hand I would say no, I didn’t. But
on the other hand, I would say but what does that mean that twenty something years later I am still, as we speak
working on a paper that I am going to give at Church of Christ college, this June, in Nashville, Tennessee at David
Lipscomb, and I’ve organized a whole group of people who are going to talk about leaving the Church of Christ
over the women’s issue? And um, I’m going to try to put together a book about that, and I think I must not have
worked that out completely, if I’m still, if I’m still, writing and organizing and feeling so much. Then no, I think I
will die conflicted about it. That is was, and you know, I it’s not just for me, I do feel sorry for the other people who
are going to be in this group, the other people who are going to contribute to this book. I’m not the only one. There
are, there are a lot of women out there in a lot of Christian denominations who were unable to stay in their
denominations because of their sex. And um I find that sad.
AH: It is very sad. Um, Do you think that this project that you are working on now, um, do you think it will
influence the Church of Christ to where they um, maybe accept women to participate in worship services?
MP: Who knows? You know, there are churches that have struggled with this periodically since the 70’s. It pops up
occasionally at different churches. When it’s all said and done there’s not much change, and um [pause] , you know,
you cannot separate religion and culture. Um, I would like to hope that our culture will move in ways that are more
excepting for women. I know in the medical field there has been tremendous change in the last half century. Um,
and you know, maybe we’re on the cusp of that. I think if our culture changes, the Church of Christ will change. I
think it’s inevitable. You can’t separate church and culture. But, um, will I like to see it? I don’t know. [chuckles]
But at least, you know, there’ll be some documented stories of women and men. It’s interesting we have a guy with
a Ph.D. who taught at a Church of Christ school who is going to be lecturing at this conference presenting a paper.
He left the Church of Christ over the women’s issue. So, hopefully somebody will read it, and be affected in a
AH: Ok, um, the other side of your religious path that I would like to speak to you with is about becoming a
Religious Studies professor here at MSU. Um, when did you decide that you wanted to do, teach Religion?
MP: Well, that’s an interesting story. You know I’ve told you how I was welcomed in the Disciples, down the street
at National Avenue. And that’s a true story, but you know truths are complex. And the other piece of that story is a
sat there in my office at National Avenue having worked so hard to be there and to be ordained. And I realized as I
looked across she secretary’s office to the Senior minister’s office, that I could sit there in that office and do
Christian education for forty years and preach once a month. And I thought, you know isn’t this is great that women
are included, that I can be ordain and preach once o a month. And then I thought, preach once a month, isn’t this
MP: Cause the fact is, even in this liberal Disciples organization, seven percent have female ministers.
MP: All of the others are male led, and this is liberalism, this is openness. How am I going to move in, across the
secretary’s office? Senior ministers are still male, primarily, even in liberal, mainline traditions. And my gifts are
much more related to speaking and thinking, and writing, and talking. I did not think the best use of my interest was
to be making telephone calls about Sunday school teachers. You know, that’s a really important thing, but I don’t
like to make telephone calls, and that’s what I did in my little office. I made telephone calls all day, and I thought I
could have gone into telemarketing.
MP: [laughs] So, I realized I needed a plan B. And I realized it really quickly, that this was, I missed the classroom.
I loved the classroom, on either side. Give me a desk, I love taking notes, give me a podium and I love giving notes.
I love the classroom. And so, it was clear to me clear to me after a year as an associate minister. That as I looked at
the field, as I looked across the country, and saw what my options were going to be, it was clear to me that I needed
to go back to the university, that I missed it, that I wanted a Ph.D. Again, even if it was just for the sake of having it.
Even if I never had the opportunity to do anything with it. And I wanted to have that kind of intellectual dialogue
that I just wasn’t able to have when I was calling about vacation bible school material. And again, that’s a really
important thing, it’s just not suited for my abilities. [laughs]
AH: Um, was there anything over the course of going back to school and getting your Ph.D. that happened to you
significantly? Any influences or any major life changing events?
MP: Ok, I think I heard the door, and I got distracted. So, do you mind repeating?
AH: No, that’s fine. Over the course of getting your Ph.D., I mean of course this again was another big life changing
event in itself, because you were going to you know pursue another career to fulfill what you feel like you were
meant to do. Um, was there else um, during this time that really influenced you? A major, significant event you’d
like to speak about?
MP: If I hear your question right, my response is going to be, during this time, the most significant event of my life
happened. I define everything in my life as before 1992 and after 1992. I came back here, having finished my
coursework for my PhD, thinking I was just going to sail right through. All I had to do was come back and write my
dissertation, and I was moving on. And I was very, um, goal oriented. Very, career oriented I think you would say,
and took this church in Billings. It’s an interesting story, so I’m going to go ahead and tell you. Um, I came back
here, and Dr. Moyer allowed me to begin teaching here while I finished my PhD, which was a good thing. Actually,
I was a full time lecturer, I guess that’s what you were called at the time, a lecturer, we’re instructors now. Um, but I
just loved the church, just loved the church. And I just loved preaching. And so I told the denomination, the
Disciples of Christ that I wanted to visit churches on Sunday mornings when I wasn’t in the classroom during the
week and preach occasionally part-time for when a minister was on vacation or something like that. So I did that,
and I get to Billings Christian Church one Sunday morning and, um, they invite me to come back the next week, and
I said fine And then my area minister, the Disciples area minister said, you know “Don’t, this church is looking for
a young man with a family, so they won’t be calling you there”. To which I replied, “Well I don’t want a church. I
have a full-time job. I teach at the university, so that’s good because I don’t want a church.” So, then I went back
second Sunday and they asked me to come back a third Sunday. And an elderly man followed me to the car and I
remember he said, “Now dear, we don’t want you to take a church until we have time to talk about you.” He thought
I was going to take another church. And I said, “Oh Mr. Johanson, thank you so much, that’s very kind of you, but I
couldn’t take this church even if you offered it to me, because I have a full-time job. [laughs] But that’s very nice of
you”. But he said, “Well you’ll come back one more Sunday won’t you?” And I said, “Yeah I’ll come back one
more Sunday”. So I came back the next Sunday, it’s my fourth Sunday. And they offered me the job, and they said,
“We’d like you to be out pastor.” [pause]
And I don’t know what I was thinkin’ but I said, “Ok.” And I was thinking for six months, and thought, you know,
this will be interesting to have a church for six months. And they were in a bad situation, they had several people for
a short period of time. And so I was very conscious of thinking, I’ll do that for six months. [pause] During that six
months, it comes to, this was the Easter of ‘92. Billings community had a history of, a one hundred twenty-five year
tradition of having different preachers preach on Easter Sunday from all the denominations, and having the Easter
Sunday service in different churches. So I found out that in 1992, it was the Baptist church’s turn to host the
community service, and it was the Disciple church’s turn to provide the minister. The Baptist minister said, “Ain’t
gonna happen. A woman will not preach from my pulpit.” And so I was the new kid in town, I wasn’t going to stay
anyway. I didn’t want to cause controversy. I had a day job, you know. But apparently, the community slugged it out
at Wilson’s, the coffee shop in Billings. [laughs] Even the Baptist congregation said, “We agree with our minister
that this is not a good thing, but we’ve been doing this for one hundred twenty-five years and we don’t want to break
the tradition, so she’s comin”! [laughs] So I preached the Easter service at the Baptist church, and that was an
experience, cause that really, I began to get close to the people in the church. They kind of rallied around me, we
kind of had a relationship going. And at that time, they didn’t know it, and I’m not even sure if I knew it, but I was
pregnant with our first child, and so excited, just absolutely ecstatic. It was just what we had hoped for forever. Um,
and then things began to go wrong in the pregnancy. And, um, I was hospitalized for almost three months. And um,
completely bed-ridden, without getting up for any purpose, during that time. Learned how to brush my teeth in bed
by turning over to the side. Um, but, during that time, people from the church were always coming to see me. Just
always coming to see me, to bring me food, to bring me roses from their garden. And I so appreciated that, and they
saw me so real. When you’re in bed, sometimes the nurses would do that head thing in bed to make my hair clean,
but it was never fixed, there was never any makeup, it was always a hospital gown. And that’s how they saw me.
And I remember I scared to death a five year old in our church. She walked in and screamed and cried and left.
[laughs] because that’s not how I’m supposed to look. So it was a very, very real time. And then our baby was born,
Micah Thomas, and it was seen as miraculous that he was born alive and in pretty good health because I had had
something called Ogliohydramnios, I had pre ruptured membranes. So, he was growing in an environment without
enough fluid. And so they began calling him “Miracle Micah” and the church was holding twenty-four hour a day
prayer services. And they said if he makes it for the first twenty-four hours that’s really good, he did. Then the first
fourty-eight hours, and he did. And then when he got to be about a month old, they said that his lungs just weren’t
developing without that fluid, like they would like. So they gave him a steroid, to try to help his lungs. And a side-
effect of the steroid was a perforation of his intestine. And at that point, when they realized he had a hole in his
intestine, he wasn’t going to make it. The doctors said he can either die in your arms or on an operating table, but he
will not survive this. We chose not to the surgery, for him to die in our arms. That changed everything, and that’s a
whole other conversation. But, that event changed everything in my life. And then I felt indebted to the church
because they had been so good to me. And they all lost, I didn’t just lose Micah, they lost Micah. They had been
praying incessantly for months, and we all lost. And so I felt like I needed to stay to help them through it, and like I
needed them to help me through it. So, we stayed. That was, Micah died on October, 19 1992, and I’m still there.
I’m still at the Billings Christian Church. So that was an event en route to the PhD. The other thing that happened as
a result of Micah was for some time I had no interest in anything. Who cared if you got a PhD? I wanted Micah, I
didn’t want the PhD. So, I just put it away, I was finished. And, finished with many things as I had known before. I
really had to recreate my goals and my hopes, and all of those things. And it was really clear to me that human
relationships are the most significant thing in the world. That it’s not degrees or professions or any of those things.
It’s all about, at the end of the day, it’s all about relationships. And so a couple of years later, we had our second
child, Spencer. And I became a very [pause] devoted, overprotective mother. And that very much defined me. And I
say that, you know, I mean, I see myself as a stark-raving feminist, but I will tell you that there is no title, no role, no
word that better defines me than “mom”. That is the most important job, identity I will ever have. [laughs] So, I was
very committed to those kids. We had another child named Quinlyn in ninety-eight. After Quinlyn, I was able to
start thinking about the PhD again, start getting it out and dusting off. But now, I was going to write something
about Tillich and Augustin back in ’92, now I decided to write about issues related to death. And how death
changes one’s religious world view. And so, my whole dissertation topic was changed by my experience with
Micah. And so [pause], I began writing that, began working on it pretty steadfastly, around ’99. And then in 2003,
my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And so then it began, it became a race against time to finish it. I was
going to finish it while he was alive. He was going to see it. [laughs] Because it had been so important to him too.
So he and I, we battled it out in different ways that last year. And I finished it that last year before he died. In fact, I
went to Boston to get my PhD on May 14, 2004 and he died on July 4, 2004. But he lived much longer than the
doctors said he that would. And I really believed that he was going to stay with me through it. [laughs] He was
going to see it done. So, there were a lot of things that happened in real life along the way to the PhD. I’ve talked
much to long. I apologize.
AH: Oh no, that’s exactly what we want. And now I’d like to sort of go beyond getting your PhD and talk just a
little bit about your family before we close. Um, I remember you saying that your husband was a Church of Christ
member, and you are obviously a Disciples of Christ member. How does that affect raising your children? Is it
similar to the way your parents raised you with, um, you know wanting to ask questions, and things like that?
MP: Well, I didn’t tell you. I didn’t give you enough information. Yes, Joey grew up in the Church of Christ, but
Joey and I grew up together. And we took the journey together. And so, in college he was here, and he did that same
332, my religious thought class, and he did that same philosophy class, and he went to London, and he went to
France. So, we made the journey together, and we read the same books and talked about the same ideas and
Kierkegaard. And he went to Harvard and did a Masters in Religion also. He did it just for the fun of it too [laughs].
But ironically, he came back here, I got the job at National Avenue, and he got a job at a Methodist church. So in
those early years, he was in a Methodist church on Sunday morning and I was at the Disciples church. And Micah
changed everything for him too. But then after Micah, he was ordained in the Disciples church, because that’s where
he was actually when Micah lived. But shortly after Micah, he decided he wanted to leave the ministry. And so, he
went back and did a Doctorate in Psychology, and he works as a therapist for St. John’s. And goes to the Disciples
church, our whole family goes there. He too left the Church of Christ. It was not the struggle for him because he
didn’t see it as an ethnic affiliation [laughs] the same way I did. He had been kind of a go to church occasionally
Church of Christ person. He wasn’t immersed in the same way I was.
AH: Ok. And then there was something I forgot to ask, um mainly about being a professor, because I actually took
your course, Intro to Religion. And I remember that the way that you explain things and the way that you encourage
us to ask questions really influenced me.
MP: Oh good.
AH: And didn’t really know it at the time but later I realized, you know, you don’t have to be certain about
everything to be involved with a religion. Is there a particular, um a particular student that you know that you
helped? Or um any advice you would give to students who are on their religious path?
MP: Oh, that’s a big question. Um, I love my students. I really do, and the students who will take the initiative to
come see me. I have lunch with students every week. Um, I love talking to students after class about ideas. I
especially love my upper division courses, because I feel like we can really get deeper. It has been very gratifying to
me through the years to, for students who allow me to observe or to participate in the ways in which my class and
other classes help them to open their minds, change them. Because that’s what happened to me, you know, I
wouldn’t be where I am, or who I am today, were it not for teachers along the way. So, to think that I am now think
that I am now potentially one of those, for people like you, or other people, that is incredibly gratifying. And that is
really a way in which I do construct meaning. And I look forward to getting up in the morning and having an
opportunity to help people put the world together or to take the world apart that they have [laughs]. So, I can’t think
of one student, there have been so many. It’s the students who are clickin’, it’s the students who are alive, it’s the
students who are passionate. Even if I passionately disagree with you, cause I’m passionate about my opinions too, I
love passionate students, you know. They don’t have to agree with me, I just love the opportunity to bounce ideas
off each other. And I learn from my students, every semester I learn from my students. But um, and a piece of
advice, I liked what you said. [pause] I think to try to create some comfort with uncertainty. That it’s just ok not
know everything, because it’s really not possible. I think certainty, especially religious certainty, has caused
humanity a lot of grief and suffering. And so if I can be an instrument to help people see possibilities and to see
ways to appreciate different ways of thinking and tolerance for different ways of thinking, and somehow tear down
some the alters we build to hate and bigotry in the name of religion, then I will be very happy with the choices I
have made in my life.
AH: Good. That pretty much concludes everything. I mean you covered everything I wanted to ask. Is there
anything you want to add, do you feel like there are any holes I have left or um?
MP: I can’t think of anything, you’ve done a great job. You know every question you ask, opens a door and takes
me down a road that I didn’t even know was still there, necessarily . And so that’s been interesting. And perhaps
other questions would open other doors, so if you have something else that comes up later, you know let me know.
AH: Ok well thank you very much for your time.
MP: Thank you.
END OF INTERVIEW