Monday, February 25, 2008

From Internet Monk

Three Days Among the Mainlines

My crowd is made up of creationists, hardcore Republican culture warriors, pro-lifers, complementarians, Biblical literalists, polemicists, internet theologians, evangelists, Charismatics and people who enjoy TBN and K-Love. What you should have noticed down through the years on this web site is that even though I’m not “one of them,” they are the crowd I live with, work with and understand. Whenever mainliners come up. it’s usually when someone has heard something in the news about gay marriage/ordination or someone wants to denigrate a church as dead or apostate.

Mainline Christians? I’ve always known they were out there, but I was warned to avoid those “liberals.” [snip] But these past three days were some of my closest times actually meeting and talking with my mainline brothers and sisters. Maybe it’s where I am on my own pilgrimage right now or maybe it’s the fact that I’m the recipient of real generosity from mainline friends, but I was more open to the mainline ethos than I’ve ever been before and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. It was a wonderful time in the fellowship of those whose lives are seeking to know and serve God through Jesus.

Just to scare the fundamentalists keeping an eye on me, let me give a bit of a report.

A third–at least–of the ministers and pastors present were women. That’s ordained women, pastoring churches. From what I could see, they were doing great jobs in tough places. They were intense, devoted, strongly called and gifted, and deeply committed to their ministries.

They were also comfortable and confident. I’ve always been told that women in ministry had attitude and “issues.” I missed that. These were….normal people. Young mothers. Experienced older pastors. Campus ministers. They were eloquent, intelligent and busy doing the work of pastors. They were comfortable with what God had called them to do. They were prepared, experienced and positive. One young ECUSA pastor was a mother of four and had just been given pastoral oversight of 15 other pastors in her large diocese. Another woman was the minister of pastoral care at a large church in Kentucky. Many of these women were pastoring the kinds of little churches men leave quickly. They seem to have stayed. Hmmmm.

Not even once did we pause to discuss “women in ministry.” That issue was a done deal, and even when it became known that a Southern Baptist was in the room, no one stopped to start “the discussion.” We were pastors and ministers. We were there to listen to Eugene Peterson, to get to know one another and to be better shepherds.

No one seemed to know or care what Mark Driscoll or the SBC thought. We just talked about our churches, our dreams and our journeys so far. I treated them with dignity and respect and they did the same to me.

I liked that experience of fellowship a lot. Can I get away with saying that turning the “ministry” into a boys’ club–no matter what you believe about ordination–produces an atmosphere that I don’t really like? I don’t think I’m alone in that, and I assure you I’m not a mama’s boy. I’m just suspecting a lot of the grunting and chest hair in recent discussions of the “ministry” isn’t really necessary. God calls and gifts women. Even if you don’t ordain them, you believe that.

I also noticed that there was far more mature reflection on the experience and identity of the pastor in this group than in the other gatherings of ministers I’ve been a part of. Instead of being a driven kind of atmosphere, there was generosity, encouragement and thoughtful insight. I was really surprised that out of the whole group, over three days of discussion, I never spotted an ass……..well….a jerk. Or whatever term works. Not even one. In a room full of ministers listening to one another for three days, that seemed almost eerie to me. I’m used to gatherings of ministers being overt competitions of alpha males bragging, jousting for attention, bullying one another, playing games. My experience this week was absent all of that, and it had something to do with the fact that the role and person of the minister was taken more seriously than in my other experiences.

There was also an obvious gentleness in the leadership. No one seemed to have the need to vent their spleen and call it “leadership” or preaching. In the times of preaching, egos were set aside. Lots of scripture read, simple liturgies followed by 25-minute homilies. Where was the 1 hour 15 minute exposition telling us all what to do? Where was the parading of “names” to imitate? Not there…and I liked it.

There was a generosity toward other traditions that amazes me. All of these denominations together and I never heard ONE denominational or doctrinal discussion of any kind. Not one. Not even close. This was not the world I know, a world where anxieties about doctrine and theology seem to be, frankly, driving more than a few people to the point of distraction, illusion and obsession.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Women & Men and How They Behave

At the park last Friday I began talking with some fellow homeschooling moms that I don't know very well. One had mentioned to me at the beginning of the (school) year that she was going to join the Created to be His Helpmeet group by Debi Pearl. The other mom had mentioned her husband was becoming more "authoritative" and was asking them to dress more femininely (longer hair and mostly dresses). Both of these situations worried me.

It's hard to know when to open your mouth and speak or to just keep quiet, but anyone who *knows* me knows that just keeping quiet isn't usually the route I take ( be it good or bad!). I began to talk with these two young moms about the journey out of legalistic thinking God had walked me through this past year. I wanted them to see that not many people choose to live legalistically, but that it has a way of creeping up on you. I asked the woman who's husband was in the picture is he was reading a lot lately, and she confirmed this (naming some authors [who scare me ;]). What I'm wondering is when we begin to read multiple books on the same subject, by people who posit that what they are saying is *the right way*, can we say for certain that it is *God* calling us to live in this new way, or is it man? In my limited experience it has been man acting as God.

The woman who had been studying "Biblical truth" with Debi Pearl worried me, too. I suggested, after she named off a few "foundational truths" which included women acting a certain way, that we come to the scriptures *full* of preconceived ideas that we have been taught along the way (ie, how we digest what scripture says about "church" ). I knew I was getting somewhere with that idea, but hadn't fully thought it out. Serendipitously, Molly from Adventures in Mercy thought it out for me. Here's what she says:

CBMW says that heart of Biblical womanhood is the acceptance, nurturance and submission to the leadership of men. I’m a true woman, in other words, if I believe and perform the above expectations.

(then into the comments)

The actual booklet is, “What’s the Difference? Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible.”

It begins with Piper harkening back to the days of his youth and the way his mom and dad behaved with each other… and the “Biblical” (huh?) definition he then gives for femininity is thus:

“At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.”

In other words, if you do not agree with Piper, then you are not mature, nor feminine, nor Biblical.

It is not Biblical to say that *women* receive leadership from men, whereas men give leadership to women. If this were the “Biblical” pattern, why did God call Wisdom a woman? Can anyone read the passages about Wisdom in Proverbs and say that God is not encouraging all of us to affirm and nurture and receive strength and leadership from her?

I feel that there is nothing at all wrong with wanting a traditional marriage, or desiring traditional roles. Where I cringe is when it’s said to be GOD’S way.

These books and teachers are telling men and women that they *must* adopt these gender roles, that it *is* God’s way, and that they are the only way to the kind of intimacy God wants for a marriage (and that if the married couple’s don’t experience that level of intimacy, then it’s NOT the books fault, but the man or the womans).

[see Spunky's post on Created to be His Help Meet; she comes to the same conclusion.]

Again, I think everyone should have the right to choose traditional gender roles if that’s what they want. But the point is, they should get to choose that, not *must* do it because it’s *God’s* way. It’s like the thrust of women choosing to come and be home to raise their children. That is AWESOME. Instead of being forced to, like before, they are now given the freedom to CHOOSE to do so. That is beautiful.

This silly divvying up of qualities just drives me nuts. As if strength is masculine but not feminine…as if leadership is masculine but not feminine…as if nurturing is feminine but not masculine…? All three of those “gendered” attributes can be refuted Biblically, because all three of those attributes can be seen in positive lights through MALE *AND* FEMALE representatives in the Bible.

Which is the whole point of this post. We’ve made up the idea that “Strength” is “Masculine. Our culture made that up. It’s a cultural belief, not a true belief. Strength is both a male and female attribute. Yahweh tells the female Zion to gird herself in strength. Abigail exhibited strength. Esther exhibited strength. Women giving birth exhibit strength.

Gentleness is not a Feminine attribute. Our culture made that up. Was David being feminine when he was gentle with Saul’s crippled son?

We’ve made so many of these “gendered” attributes up. They’re just attributes, things found in humans, not some in men and others in women, but all in humans, because all the attributes are found in GOD, who is NOT gendered.

Was Stephen being feminine when he served the widows? Was Paul being feminine when he said he was travailing in birth again? Was John being feminine when he leaned on Jesus’s chest? Were husbands instructed to act femininely when the Apostle told them to nurture and cherish their wives?

Was Wisdom being masculine when she said, “Come in and sit down, that I may instruct you?” Was Deborah being masculine when she solved difficult problems and disputes with authority? Was Huldah being masculine when she heard words from God and then told them to men, even to kings? Was Priscilla being masculine when she helped instruct Apollos in the finer details of the Gospel (instead of serving tea and cookies while the menfolk talked)?
That's what I'd like to say to the women at the park, but I don't think I'm brave enough. I don't think they want to hear it anyway.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

CNN on McCain

Posted: 10:51 PM ET

(CNN) – John McCain’s win in his home state wasn’t an easy one. For much of the night, the Arizona senator was neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney among Republican voters — and among self-identified conservatives, at one point, he was losing to Romney by 11 points. McCain's clearly having a good night, but it appears it was a hard-fought victory among Republicans who know him best.

–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider

Ron Paul...Revisited

Sora from Upsaid Journal says,

As I write, there have been votes cast in only 7 states primaries or caucuses -- that means there are 43 states still to go. Isn't it a little early to decide that a candidate "can't win"? Do the voters of Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, Wyoming, South Carolina, and Louisiana get to decide for the whole nation? If there was a clear "front-runner" coming out of these early states it might be suggestive of a national trend... but there isn't. RON PAUL has come in ahead of EVERY OTHER CANDIDATE in AT LEAST ONE STATE.

Someone who was canvassing for Ron Paul in South Carolina the week before the primary reported that almost 1/3 of the people he talked to said they liked Ron Paul's positions and what he had to say... but they weren't going to vote for him because "he couldn't win". If this percentage held true throughout the State, and if all those people had voted their conscience, Ron Paul would have won South Carolina.

When "blind" telephone polls have been taken, where the biography, history and positions of a candidate are given but not their name, Ron Paul wins them by an overwhelming majority. If everyone says Ron Paul can't win, and then doesn't vote for him because he can't win, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the media keeps saying Ron Paul can't win, and people keep believing them and voting for the candidates who are approved by the talking heads on the television set, then the media has taken over our representative republic. But IF people vote their conscience, then, YES, RON PAUL CAN STILL WIN THE NOMINATION.

Read it all here.

thanks, Headmistress.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Reader Beware: I've had this video in my inbox since the summer. I wasn't sure who sent it to me, and I haven't known what to do with it. It's a little...disturbing. It's worth watching for it's quality and entertainment value, although I still don't know what to do with it mentally. Shake my head and move on.

P.S. I put it on tonight for my husband and come to find out *he's* the one who sent it to me. Great.