Celebrity Blogger Week: David Sibley

February 25, 2014
Tim Schenck

Everyone needs a Brooklyn hipster in his or her life. We're not entirely sure former chemists qualify as hipsters but David Sibley is most definitely living in Brooklyn amongst the artisinal-everything loving hipsters. Sure, he's actually from South Carolina but what's a little geographical fudgery among friends? This is David's second year as our youngest Celebrity Blogger but, since he's in parish ministry, he's aging rapidly.

The Rev. David Sibley

The Rev. David Sibley

David Sibley, while living in Brooklyn, does not craft artisanal cheeses. Instead, he serves as Priest-in-Charge of Saint John’s Church, Fort Hamilton, where six of the saints featured in this year’s bracket stare back at him every time he celebrates the Eucharist. Raised right in the middle of South Carolina, David studied and did research as a chemist before being whisked away to seminary in New York City. When he’s not in church, David enjoys travel, hiking and camping, all things food and music related, and praying for the yearly resurrection of the Chicago Cubs’ World Series hopes. When the ideas are forthcoming, he’s been known to blog at Feeding on Manna, and holds forth much more often with his partners in crime on Twitter at @davidsibley.

How has Lent Madness transformed your life?
Well, let’s just say that when you’re searching for Saintly Kitsch on Etsy and eBay during the Elate Eight, you see things, man. I just can’t unsee some of the terrible, terrible, kitsch that I’ve seen. There is nothing – nothing – that someone out there has not thought worthy of bedazzling.

For me, perhaps the most rewarding and transformative aspect of Lent Madness has been to hear the stories people share in comments and on social media about how the various saints have had an impact on their lives of prayer and discipleship. People come to regard the saints as their friends in faith, and as companions along a journey. So Lent Madness has become a regular part of Lent for me, and one that I look forward to each year, because it means not only learning some new things, but also, hearing how other people’s lives have been transformed by walking with the saints.

Obviously being a Celebrity Blogger is your greatest lifetime achievement. What perks have you enjoyed as a result of your status?
This one time, Tim handed me a free cup of coffee. It was a touching moment that I’ll cherish forever. Actually the biggest perk of being a Celebrity Blogger has been that I’ve been able to meet and converse with a whole bunch of really cool people over on social media, and made a few really good friends through the process.

What do you hope the Lent Madness public will learn from the lives of the saints?dsibley
I would hope people will learn see that when people follow after Jesus, God inspires ordinary people to lead lives of extraordinary faithfulness and boundless courage. My preaching professor in seminary often pointed to a saying attributed to Martin Luther, “God rides the lame horse; God carves the rotten wood.” For me, that’s true when I look at the lives of the saints: for as often as a saint wanted to quit, or failed in a venture, or was on the edge of burnout – God would transform brokenness and failure into something bigger and grander than they could have ever imagined. The lives of the saints are so often images of magnificent transformation in the service of Jesus Christ – and the saints inspire me to want to be transformed, too.

To paraphrase the old Tommy Lasorda Slim-Fast Commercials: If they can do it, I can do it, too!

Someday, when you become the answer on Jeopardy, what will the question be?
Now hold on a second: shouldn’t this go the other way? I thought the answer is a question on Jeopardy, and the question is the answer. I’m very confused as to what is actually being asked here, so I’m going to present the episode as I picture it playing out:

Contestant: “I’ll take Being Pedantic on Profiles for $500, Alex”
Alex Trebek: “During Lent Madness Celebrity Blogger Week 2014, he started arguing with a very easy profile question because he didn’t have an insightful way to write about his deep love of the Chicago Cubs and South Carolina Gamecocks, his tendency to binge television series on Netflix, or the fact that he spends way too much time on Twitter.”
Contestant: “Who is David Sibley?”
Alex Trebek: “Correct.”

That question, neeedless to say, should not be a Daily Double.


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55 comments on “Celebrity Blogger Week: David Sibley”

  1. Well, Rev. Sibley, you're my guy....I grew up on Sibley Court, in Cambridge, Mass. So, I'll even half-heartedly, root for the Cubs for you. Besides, you made me snort at your greatest achievement of getting coffee from Tim. That just DOES NOT HAPPEN here at ST. John the Evangelist.

  2. Love your humor & am so glad that now I'll be able to shout out "David Sibley!" from the couch when your ?/answer comes--thank you!!! & thanks for helping us learn about the Saints, too!

  3. Loved this entry, but...can he get an editor? So many misspelled words!

    I particularly loved the section about clergy and Holy Week. And now I'll be watching our Rector, Lay Pastoral Leader and Deacon humming "Sixteen Tons"

    1. He left a "t" off of "that" and used "there's" instead of "there are". The first is a spelling mistake and the second a grammar mistake. Both are quite understandable given the excitement of being interviewed by the SEC.

      1. Apparently Jane C. is serving as the editor. I would caution however, that a single misspelled word (omitted letter) is not the "many" misspelled words she references. After all..."a single Robin doth not a Spring make."

        1. No, no! I'm with David. I just wanted to count the many errors to which Lyn referred. If you read the entire post you will know I find them totally excusable. It was Lyn who noted there were "so many misspelled words." I would normally gloss over them but felt the need to defend David Sibley. We should not toy with our celebrity bloggers' psyches, especially before the competition has even begun.

          1. Mea culpa Jane C. You're quite right. I should have referenced Lyn in my response.
            I confused the fact that your comments were in response to her message. And "yes"
            you were a mighty cheerleader in your own right. My apologies. Candace

  4. Sixteen tons, an whaduh y'all geyut? Anuthuh day olduh an' deepuh in deyut! (I don't know if he has a Southern accent, but I'm hoping!)

      1. Close enough. Hey, we southerners have plenty of Episcopalian zeal. We just like to put our own verbal stamp on it.

        "nothier daye oldah and deepah in dept"

    1. Well, it was sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford, born in Bristol, Tennessee.
      Being a Canadian, I'm not an expert on regional US accents.

  5. Reverend Sibley,
    Like you, my husband and I are transplants, only we went from NYC to SC. Christ Church is lucky to have you. Your blog is so well written and evocative. Themes like rededication and discipleship resonated with me. I'm humbled to think of the many times I read about Lent week nominations focusing on the odd and "quirky" factoids rather than the passion and process of living a life through Christ. Hearty congratulations as a much-appreciated Celebrity Blogger!
    Candace (Coggins) All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island, SC

  6. "the spectator sport of watching the annual clergy social media game of one upsmanship around who worked hardest during Holy Week." Love it! I've thought this but never expected to see a member of the clergy actually put it in writing.

  7. Anna Scott: You know what they say about men with big feet.
    William: No, I don't, actually. What's that?
    Anna Scott: Big feet... large shoes.

    Noting Hill, 1999

  8. Looks like a great group of bloggers. I do wish I recognized that at least one was more than 45 y/o and one lives in the southeastern U.S. (No, KY does not count. I grew up there. It's a border state as my southern friends always remind me at Derby Parties.). Maybe we aren't considered capable of blogging since we can't drive between stalled cars on hills in 2 inches of uncleared snow and ice. Seriously, though, give the suggestion some consideration next year. Oh, and regarding the southern accent, it's hard to find even among natives. But many Episcopalians I know are from the north or the west. And a rapidly increasing number are from other countries. Working In a church with Spanish speakers and English speakers from Africa, the Caribbean, South Africa, etc. is fun but challenging. Peace -

  9. Concerning how Downton Abbey "jumped the shark"....I've always had a love/hate thing with that show. The story lines are frequently illogical and the characters often act like complete morons, but there's always a plot hook somewhere in that mess that makes me want to keep watching, to see what happens next. And, of course, the Ol' Dowager makes it worth sitting through the rest of it. As for Holy Week, my wife (as a deacon) and myself (as a verger) would more than qualify for the oneupmanship games. But this year, in the Fourth Week of Lent, we are moving to Chicago. Come Holy Week (for this year, anyway), we are going to be sitting in the pews, responsible for nothing....AAHHH! Sweet!

    1. Re Downton Abbey.....don't many of us find our story lines illogical ...and as for me I probably act the complete moron a good portion of the time.....zombies a'int cool

      1. It's true that we all have our episodes of moronic behavior. And yes, our own story lines can be illogical, but they are still believable. One of the marks of good fiction is that, whether it is period drama or horror or whatever, it's believable. And too often DA is hard to believe.

  10. I love Thecla too. When some doctors were jealous because her cures worked so much better than theirs, and sought to destroy her powers by hiring some youths to destroy her virginity, she thwarted them by sealing herself inside a mountain. Of course, she died, but died a virgin.

  11. Living in New York but rooting for the Cubs? (It's so wrong.)
    Seriously, I appreciated your reflections on the forgiving and replenishing threads of the Lenten tapestry.

    1. Really, how can it be so wrong? I was born in Chicago (lived there a brief 10 years), then NYC, Toronto ON, Ithaca NY and now live in Providence RI, but have always been a Cubbie fan. We take naturally to Lent as a time for forgiving and replenishing.

      1. Just good-natured ribald rousing. I think the dedication of Chicago fans is heartwarming (she said solicitously:-)

  12. So you're a procrastinator, then rooting for the Cubs makes perfect sense, they have been procrastinating about making the World Series, but hope springs eternal.

  13. I myself am a third-generation Cubs fan. I'm delighted to share that faith with this Distinguished Celebrity Blogger.

  14. Welcome back Distinguished Blogger Dibley, as noted by Kathy in Nicaragua. I forgive you for your 2014 Golden Halo "winner take all" coup, obviously not my first choice, But there is this year and I'm willing not to hold a grudge since you are a bona fide Southerner from the Palmetto State, site of my very first real job after college graduation. After two years in an un-named city, I hurriedly returned to my preferred Tar Heel state and now I'm an adopted VOL! Welcome back and offer premium kitsch..OK?

  15. I'm glad to see that you are back since you are my favorite Celebrity Blogger. That way I can say that I know a Celebrity! As Harry L. would say, "I raised you from a pup!" And I'm proud of what you have become. Go Gamecocks! Yea, Cubbies!

    1. Thecla was on last year's bracket. She was so memorable that we named the stray cat who appears on our porch after her. So far the stray cat has not fallen victim to any ravenous seals.

  16. I recognize your photo in Istanbul, which we visited for the first time this summer. It is such a magical place, and the mosques, especially the Haghia Sophia, are truly astonishing. I hope you enjoyed your visit as well. The connection with Turkey wasn't something that I had anticipated, but I find that we really did connect with Turkey and the Turks. Perhaps being on a Rick Steves tour had something to do with it: he picks his guides with a view to world peace.

  17. Does he know that the even more famous David Allen Sibley is the world's premier author and illustrator of a series of guides for birders? I was wondering how he had time to blog on saints!

  18. Well, since I grew up on Sibley Court, I am your faithful follower. Are you related to that esteemed general??

  19. Yes! I strongly dislike "Earth and All Stars" too; I will not allow my congregations to sing that one while I'm there. David Sibley, you are my new favorite celebrity blogger just for disliking that hymn--I don't find many others out there who dislike it, so it's a pleasure to run across someone who does.

  20. I second the motion. Please, no loud boiling test tubes. It doesn't work for a bio major either.

    1. It's a dreadful hymn! So is the Easter hymn often sung to the same tune, "Alleluia! Jesus is risen." It's not quite a word salad, but a phrase salad (e.g., "Splendor, the Lamb, heaven forever!" or the last verse: "City of God, Easter forever, / golden Jerusalem, Jesus the Lamb, / river of life, saints and archangels, / sing with creation to God the I AM!"). Just 'cause it rhymes doesn't make it poetry. I wonder if a good text can be set to the tune, "Earth and All Stars," or if something's inherently wrong with that tune.

  21. I especially relate to your last two sentences. It really is important to respond to God “just as I am right now”. After all
    God knows who I am all the time.

  22. “Love Divine...” is an amazing hymn to me, also, and I’m always warmed in my heart when it’s on our parish’s pew bulletin. I want it at my funeral and most other places until then. Thank you, David, for reminding me of the joy of the words!

  23. Thank you, David. Your thoughts on Lent were just want I needed this morning. Looking forward to anchoring my faith and, of course, Lent Madness.

  24. I’m with you in spirit David. Born in Chicago, a Cubbies fan all my life—my father used to take my brother and me to Cubbies games while my mother and sister inexplicably went to White Sox games. I’ve been living in the Northeast for more years than I care to admit but can still almost immediately recognize a Midwesterner. We are so friendly!

  25. Had never heard of it or come across it in any church........not a tune that immediately draws you in, and so so words that must have been written by a scientist?

    1. Maybe it's more often heard in college towns. It has several well-intended verses that amuse or delight or irritate, depending on your point of view. I promise not to sing it in earshot of Rev. Sibley.