“Why The Silence?” Forgive me the Cynicism … (on Women in the Church)

I don’t know about you, but when I first read this it shocked and appalled me.

During the times of Jesus, the religious leaders prayed at least three times a day and always thanked God for three specific things:

  • Thank God that I am a Jew and not a Gentile.
  • Thank God that I am free and not a slave.
  • Thank God that I am a man and NOT a woman.

In the Babylonian Talmud, a Rabbi still says that one is obliged to recite the following three berakhot daily: “Who has made me a Jew”, “who has not made me a woman”, “who has not made me an ignoramus.”

Ouch!  I’ll bet a lot of men in seminary today secretly thank God they are not a woman or an ignoramus, that is if they think of women at all.

I love pastor Eugene Cho’s reflection thanking God he is a man (tongue in cheek kind of) saying:

“There’s great privilege and power in simply being a man. This is why I contend that the treatment of women is the oldest injustice in human history. We can talk equality and equity all day long and while we can acknowledge how far we’ve come, we still clearly live – even in 2011 – where there’s great advantage in simply being a man.”

This is why the message of Jesus is so powerful.

The apostle Paul in Galatians 3:28 subverted the dominant worldview by saying in the Kingdom of God, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Powerful, meaningful words to me of the way God intended things and what he promises to restore in us all.  And yet, I easily become discouraged about the state of things.

I needed prudence yesterday when within the same hour I read two very different posts.

One was this post by a pastor saying that women should not read scripture in church.  Apparently, according to this writer, women are not to read scripture out loud in public. WOW.   I post it just to give perspective to some of my more progressive and enlightened friends about why I always seem concerned with women in the church.  It’s sexist crap  and I found myself  wishing a Bible scholar like Scot McKnight, or Sharon Hodde Miller, or Mary Elizabeth Fisher would please take him on.  I wrote him asking where he got the idea that only MEN should be the ones to do public reading of scripture.  It was is a sincere question as a Christ follower who loves scripture passionately, because I have never seen anything there that prescribes such an action.  He promised to write on it soon.

And then I saw this ebook by one of those wonderful people by Scot McKnight, titled Junia is Not Alone. You must pick it up.  You must read it.  He encourages more women to study, research and speak out on “women in the ancient world, about women in the early church, and women in church history … many whose stories are untold.” Amen!

Amazon says:

It tells the story of Junia, a female apostle honored by Paul in his Letter to the Romans—and then silenced and forgotten for most of church history. But Junia’s tragedy is not hers alone. She’s joined by fellow women in the Bible whose stories of bold leadership have been overlooked. She’s in the company of visionary women of God throughout the centuries whose names we’ve forgotten, whose stories go untold, and whose witness we neglect to celebrate.  But Junia is also joined by women today—women who are no longer silent and who are experiencing a re-voicing as they respond to God’s call to lead us into all truth.

Scot says:

Moving toward my second decade of teaching college students, more than half of whom grow up in a church, of this I am certain: churches don’t talk about the women of the Bible. Of Mary mother of Jesus they have heard, and even then not all of what they have heard is accurate. But of the other woman saints of the Bible, including Miriam, the prophetic national music director, or Esther, the dancing queen, or Phoebe, the benefactor of Paul’s missions, or Priscilla, the teacher, they’ve heard almost nothing.

Why the silence?

Why do we consider the mother/wife of Proverbs 31 an ideal female image but shush the language of the romantic Shulammite woman of the Song of Songs? Why are we so obsessed with studying the “subordination” of women to men but not a woman like Deborah, who subordinated men and enemies? Why do we believe that we are called to live out Pentecost’s vision of Spirit-shaped life but ignore what Peter predicted would happen? That “(i)n the last days… your sons and daughters will prophesy…” and that “(e)ven on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit.”

You can buy the ebook for $2.99.

Sometimes God answers your prayers in strange ways.

Not a direct response obviously, but rather this was an encouragement to me.  Women are quite literally being silenced in the church by men like Tim Challies and Piper who talks about women’s submission even with in abusive marriages.  And movements like Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church and his crazy notions about men and women.

In my article, The Voice of The Feminine I said:

I’ve been thinking about the lack of presence and example of women in the Church.  That Sunday* at my church in particular, women were simply spectators, the audience, the bystanders, the recipients and beneficiaries.

And the more I thought I could not remember the last time one of the teaching pastors suggested a book they were reading written by a woman.  Women are never quoted in my church.  Female theologians or scholars are never referenced or even mentioned, probably because the pastors don’t read them.  I can’t remember the last time, if ever, a pastor in my church has suggested or referred to or quoted a female theologian, religious author, or historian.  Am I the only one that notices these things?

The entire thing makes me very sad.  And so tired.  I am tired of the male dominated culture on the platform, as authors, as experts, as theologians, as speakers at conferences and in the Church at large. Considering women are half the church (some would say more) I do not buy the argument that there aren’t capable women to select from, though I’ve been told that very thing.  “The women haven’t risen up who have the gift of teaching.”

Risen up?   To be honest, one would think in a service-by-gifts based church there must not be any qualified gifted female teachers.   I attend an EFCA church of 5,000. You do the math.

*this is not always true!

But there are wonderful people who are articulating a different reality.  And I am most grateful to them. Perhaps in the coming weeks I will try to highlight more of them.

I worry at times that I think about this topic too much.  My overwhelming focus when it comes to thinking about injustice is the place of women in the church, their identity before God and whether they are using those talents for the purposes of the Kingdom.  I care about whether women, my daughters, who are made in God’s image too, know that they are indeed made to be that way.  I think about it all the time.  How much is too much?

Theologian Willard Swartley talks about the degree to which our ideologies warp our reading of Scripture.

 “Our willingness to be changed by what we read, to let the Bible function as a “window” through which  we see beyond self-interested ideologies, and not a “mirror” which simply reflects back to us what we want it to show.  Biblical interpretation, if it is worthy to be so called, will challenge the ideology of the interpreter.  It can and will lead to change, because people do not come to the text thinking as God thinks, or even as the people of God thought in serving as agents of divine revelation.  Interpreters [must] listen to the text carefully enough not to like it.  [When they do so] it powerfully demonstrates that the text’s message has been heard and respected.”

This is challenging because I am full of self-interest when it comes to being a Christian woman.  I am a proud woman and this is my tribe which I feel a responsibility to care for, not because I crave authority, but because I long to see every women and girl carrying out every gift from God in their lives, not just in the marketplace, but within the church!  I am hopeful that this will happen in my lifetime.

Much of the church is stifling more than half of the church  and our “interpretations” are silencing many incredible women.  My heart weeps with that thought.

MHH

Other things I have written on the subject:

There is more, just search for WOMEN in the categories.

The F-word is a Dirty Word in the Church

I have had something percolating for a while — thoughts on being a woman in the church.

  • It is good to be human. But is it good to be a woman in the church?  
  • And what about the f-word?  It’s hard to be a feminist in the Evangelical church. 
  • Do you ever wonder why people of faith don’t talk more about how Jesus treated women?   

 I keep picking at the edges of it, writing, and rewriting.  Here is just a few paragraphs…

It is difficult and painful to be on the faith journey as a Christian Feminist woman who grew up in the evangelical church.  At first, for me, as I broadened my perspective.  I was cautious, suspicious even.  Mostly I was fearful because of what I had been taught.  And I’ll admit it, even angry at some of the assumptions that people made about what the Bible teaches.  It seemed to me that these conclusions were drawn without being willing to actually study it.

As I felt an internal pull, a tugging of my heart toward the truth, I was afraid.  Whereas I had been especially affirmed and promoted at work, at church it was crystal clear that this was not to be expected.  Women were “supposed” to do the receiving and watch men do the vital ministry of teaching and leading the church.

But more than anything, I just wanted other people to talk to about what I heard God stirring inside me.  I could not find anyone to talk to about it.  So I began the lonely venture of studying the scriptures for myself.  I also read theologians, including feminist theologians, with heartfelt trepidation, fearing that I may end up leaving the evangelical church based on what I learned.

The f-word is a dirty word in the Church. 

I went back early this morning to a letter I wrote to my elders last year.   I put everything in those pages, there for them to take in.  My heart out there on the page.  I was told by the elders of my church, not now.  Just wait.  Be patient.  And I think I hear the Lord saying, Sh…………  Stop.  Wait.  Just wait…………..  And be quiet a while.  I have a sense that he wants to work on my heart, my lack of forgiveness, and anger, and so though I have pages and pages I’m waiting.   

In the meantime…

I read a beautiful post on Eugene Cho’s blog that I resonated with greatly.  Pastor Cho is also a great advocate for women.  The article by Dr. Michelle Garred, who is a researcher and consultant in international peace building, talks about experiences at a Christian event as a recently married and yet professional woman, and asks compellingly:

Why does this distorted social setting appear to pit me in competition against my husband and best friend? Why can’t someone meet a couple and assume that these two inter-dependent individuals both have something to offer? Why should I be forced to wield my trump cards as instruments of power, making conversation into a contact sport? Most importantly, what about the many women who don’t have trump cards, but who do have boundless gifts to be shared with the Church? Who sees those women? And who hears them?

I found myself telling the author …

“Thank you for writing so simply and eloquently, with a gentleness that isn’t angry. I found myself resonating loudly! And I have to say that once you lose the credentials of “important work” and you are a “wife” then you seem to have even less stature and credibility, which is partly the culture of “work” being valued over all else. But it is also sexism rearing its ugly head.I know I am very angry and I know that I need to get beyond it to forgiveness somehow. I too resonate when people of colour talk about their experiences with racism, because they echo my own as a woman in the church.  All this to say – amen! Preach it! You are saying something really important and hopefully, PhD or not, others will listen!

I would encourage you to read it: Gender, church, and the art of alternate endings.

I also read and resonated loudly with this article by David Park another great advocate for justice, in the EFCA church.  He talks of  Six Postures of Ethnic Minority Culture towards Majority Culture.  And oddly enough, or not, I found that this has been similar to my response as a woman in the church.   But if you want to read it in its entirety it’s here.   These postures are:

Posture 1: Unaware.
Posture 2: Angry and Wounded.
Posture 3: Silent and Resigned.
Posture 4: Duty and Pleasing.
Posture 5: Unity as Assimilation.
Posture 6:  Equal and Empowered Partnership.

I have lived, am living these.  Park says: In the effort “to build bridges between minority and majority cultures, that there is the feeling that this whole race dialogue is “unfair” to the majority, but it’s really not. It’s hard on both sides to work towards having a relationship, especially a relationship that is part of our witness of a common savior. It takes work, and it is fair. So jump in and assume the right posture. We are in it for the long haul.”

Yes we are in it for the long haul as we work together to build up the Church, to see it as Jesus would and become the beautiful reconciled body of Christ with everyone serving our of their gifts and talents.

I hear God’s call to be a voice for certain voiceless populations, especially for women in the evangelical church.  I am constantly clarifying, are you sure Lord?  And at times I have been unproductive, and not very Godly, allowing myself to be anxious or angry, or even trying to please others rather than listen well.

Each of us must ask ourselves, male and female alike, are we living as an old person or a new creation?  In the flesh or in the Spirit?    And what are we being called to as we serve?

I’d love to know what you think on this or anything.  And in the meantime, as I actively wait to know what I am to do with my writing on women in the church, pray for me will you?

Melody

The Female Voice

 

Feminism to me is the crazy belief that women and men are both created in God’s image and that each of us deserves a life of freedom and opportunity inside or outside the Church.

I have thought a lot about the lack of presence and example of women in the Church.  One Sunday at my church in particular, women were simply spectators, the audience, the bystanders, the recipients and beneficiaries … Read more at Provoketive.

Other things I have written on Women in the Church are here:

Or just use the search function.

{I Know What “ezer” Means — Further thoughts on being a Woman in the Church}

Sometimes people listen to me.  And I think,
I have a responsibility to talk about what it is like to be a woman in the Church.

Sometimes people listen,

so hear me,

this is what I don’t understand

Why are women still oppressed?

And why do (some) men not understand?
Why do (some) men treat women the way they do?

It’s not like I want to live my life angry.
It’s not like I want to live my life on the defensive.
It’s not like I want to be oppressed.

(Some) men will always question

the word “oppressed.”
They will ask: How are you exploited? How are you possibly offended

when you can be our helper?

Here’s my problem.  I know what ezer means.

Jesus was a liberator.
Women traveled with him,
supported his ministry,
anointed him for burial,
stayed with him at the crucifixion, and
saw his resurrection because they were waiting, believing.

Jesus loved women and wasn’t afraid of us.
He healed us.
He talked to us.
He listened to us.
In the early Church women were teachers, donors, apostles, ministers, laborers.

Why is the Church today so unlike what I think Jesus meant it to be?
I read the Bible and I see
Jesus gave women freedom.  Why do (some) men read it
and see separation? Partitions.
Why do (some) men only see all of our differences?
I am simply a person in love with Jesus.

I look at the Church today—so many men reading and teaching theBible from a masculine perspective. 
I see the Church today, its teachers and preachers—its magazines—its writers—its leaders —its conference speakers.
Man oh man, it is so full of men.
It is so full of entrenched hierarchy and deep biases
that the Church perhaps thinks is subtle, if they even think about it at all. 

But I see and hear the lack—of a Female Voice.
And even when She speaks, is she heard?

He said:
“There is no longer male or female.”
And I say, except— in the Church.
Sometimes people listen.
Are you listening?

P.S. Donald Miller: Women are so much more than simple sexual beings waiting for you to write our story. And you may have erased the “Love Story for Girls” but women have longer memories. You should take more care with your words.

One Perspective. 

Gender is Everything

My curiosity peaked, I read a blog post titled: Fatherhood, Faith and Gender Stereotypes.  As often is the case when you talk about gender, the comments went off topic a bit.

What I wrote:

I believe as a female and a feminist, I am not served by God being perceived as (solely) male, but that doesn’t invalidate the role of Father God or human fathers.  I need God to be beyond gender which is why it is so unfortunate that he is male in scripture.  Jesus was male and there’s nothing we can do about it.

One person in particular didn’t like my statement Jesus was male and there is nothing we can do about it.  He was surprised that being male or female could be a bad thing saying, “Without touching issues of headship or roles or responsibility and so on, is gender that much of an issue?”

I was startled by the thought that some people don’t think about how gender affects everything!

How can one live in the current set of realities in and outside the Church and not think about gender and how it might impact one’s relationship with God, with other believers and with the Church?

Perhaps I have been steeped for too long in the belief that gender is everything.

My daughter certainly accuses me of it, often calling me paranoid about women in the church.

But she needs to know that gender is everything when it is your gender that keeps you from being able to do things, to express things, to know things, and carry out certain roles, especially in the Church.  Gender is everything when your perception of love, and mercy, and justice, and your perception of God is colored by him being a Father.  Gender is everything when your human father was an angry, oft times cruel person, who crushed your spirit and controlled your life to the point that you, the YOU that is unique and created in God’s image, died. [At least I thought for a very long time that I had died.  I felt dead.]  Yes, for me gender is everything as I learn to love, or at least like being female in the Church.  And as I learn not to hate a male image of God.

Slowly my perceptions of God have changed as I listened to different voices than the ones I grew up with.  As I hear in the voices of many women (and sometimes in men) the tenderness and gentle grace of Jesus Christ, who is the son of God.  This is not anything like what I have known from my earthly father.

Yes, I bring my experiences to any discussion of God.

On one level it is simple. My perception of God is not enhanced or even helped by God being male. Although I know from scripture that God is not female and I am not trying to make scripture say anything that it doesn’t say I wish God was something “other” than male.

I want to know more fully a God who is not male or female, but greater than anything I might perceive or have experienced here on earth. 

I think that our perceptions of male and female are tarnished by the fall; really everything post-Genesis 1 and 2.  Our conceptualization is broken and damaged (at least in my experience) and so thinking of God as male is (almost) hurtful to me.

A child must know that she is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like her.” (Emphasis and gender change mine)

We are each miracles.  Beautiful individuals who have been given each a mind and heart that is different from the next person.  May we each grow up knowing this!

I would love to hear suggestions of further reading and study on the trinity.  In particular, God the “Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” to figure out what was intended by those names.

The bottom line is that with the fall, with oppression, with the mistreatment of women and girls throughout the ages, there is no easy way to redeem the word Father. At least that is true for me.

— MHH

You are Beloved

This post is about being loved and feeling loved.  And what can happen when you don’t believe you are dearly loved — to your relationships and to your hopes and dreams for your life.

GROWING UP, I was not told…

I never believed that I was “dearly loved.” This was partly because I grew up in a frightening and unpredictable home and because of my father’s angry raging behaviors.  I have always been profoundly unsure of myself.  I remember how important it became to simply grow invisible. 

Invisible was safe.  If you aren’t seen or heard, you cannot upset anyone.  No opinions.  Eventually no thoughts at all at home, where you might slip up and express them.  This was okay if he agreed with you.  But if not, there was no telling what might happen.  You might be lectured at for hours, or berated in front of a friend. Humiliation.  Threats.  Intimidation.  Blame.  It just wasn’t predictable.

When I look at my children I’m appalled by my upbringing.  I want nothing more than to see my kids discover and grow into unique people.  I see incredible things in them and I tell them often, out of love and a wish to affirm those truths.

 “Those are beautiful words you have written.”

“God made you full of joy.”

“You memorize things so easily. That will make life so much easier for you.”

“You are careful and precise and that will serve you well in the future.”

“You make people laugh, what a gift!”

“You care about others.”

“You are gentle and kind and the world needs more men like that.”

“You will grow into someone who washes others’ feet.”

“Yes, that is sexist it pleases me that you saw it.”

  “You articulate yourself so well!”

I speak these truths and other, because I believe children need help to discover their talents and abilities and to experience the spirit of God.  I believe we don’t naturally know.  My place in God’s world, made in his image, is something that I never discovered in that shrouded, hidden place that I disappeared in to for so many years as a child and young adult.

THE CHURCH didn’t tell me …

Secondly the Church sent subliminal, and sometimes outright sexist messages to girls  where I was growing up in the south.  I “heard” that I am a second class person; less valued by God because I (somehow) need men to support me, protect me, and teach me, especially about the Bible.  I was to subordinate myself to men.

Though I heard those things, in my gut I knew it was wrong.  I have always believed that if you believe in the world of Gen 1 & 2, and in the hope of lasting and true restoration by Jesus on the Cross, then you cannot accept the cultural Church practices spoken of in the NT.

MARRIAGE

By the grace of God I married beautiful, ennobling, questioning complex thinking person of faith.  He lives with me in the land of questions and he does not attempt to tell me what the answers are.  Together we began the journey and partnership of marriage in June of 1993.  What he spoke into my life was hope, and goodness, and empowerment. He listened for my voice and I began to heal. 

I was a fanatically hard-working ministry leader when he met me.  I worked for my father (ironically) so at the end of the day, I finally had my father telling me what I was good at by giving me promotions.  The more I accomplished the more responsibility I was given.  I discovered I had many talents, I was a hell of a hard worker and I had a need to constantly be proving myself and my worth.  At the end of the day, week, month, there was always more to be done.  More to prove.  More to do to validate myself as a daughter, as a woman, as a leader, as a human being.

I still didn’t believe I was BELOVED.   Skip forward from my mid thirties to today.

TODAY I am …

44.  I have been out of the workplace for ten years.  I “used” my children as an excuse to leave an acrimonious place where (I felt) I had hit the glass ceiling. I was burned out trying to prove myself.  I didn’t know the grace of God in my life.  I didn’t really believe.

Over the last decade I have walked a painful path but I have discovered that I am beloved.  Oh yes, those difficult lessons (my experience with clinical depression, my alcoholism, losing my parents) were so vital to my becoming human again and the reason that I am alive today.  I got sober, which took courage in the Christian community.  Actually I didn’t get any help from Christians but by God’s grace, my life is living through and beyond being an alcoholic or being depressed.

Today my life is so incredibly rich and full.  And now as a woman, a burgeoning feminist, a feeble follower of Jesus, a sometimes photographer, a frequent writer, hungry student of the Bible, I am asking for others to speak truth into my life now about my unique contribution to be made.

If I let myself, I quickly become focused on what I am, who I am, why I am … and the fact that I am so afraid.  (I think) I want to study and learn and be able to articulate Truth by going back to school. When I look around my community there are needs everywhere.  I see them.  I feel them.  My heart breaks for it.  As a white person with affluence I believe I have a unique responsibility and a unique place of financial privilege.  As a woman, and a feminist and a follower of Jesus I believe my voice is unique.

The Jesus that washes our feet wasn’t a macho oriented, “women should be in the home cooking, cleaning, having babies and bringing me my dinner” kind of man who has been written and preached about in the Church.  He preached that we are to live in peace, he offers us a life full of victory (over our sin), and he makes us generous and loving. We are to speak against injustice. That’s the Jesus I know.   That’s my kind of faith.

But I am afraid and I can no longer blame my upbringing.  I can no longer blame the Church.  I can no longer blame my father.  With no one left to blame, I am here with my convictions and beliefs, greatly needing shape and formation.  It is time to act; to step out in faith that God is with me each step of the way and that there is a reason for each experience I have had.  In some ways I “woke up” just a few years ago.  A late bloomer doesn’t do it justice, but you are never too old to do something.

At fifty, my mother began a process of waking up.  She is now in her seventies and to her credit is a person continuously searching for truth.  I greatly admire that about her.

Andy Crouch, on his blog Culture Making, says disciplines are the key to excellence. Ten thousand hours is a good benchmark—that’s one hour a day, five days a week, for forty years (with two weeks of vacation each year!). If every Christian decided to spend 10,000 hours developing their capacity in a single cultural domain (painting, stress fracture analysis, genomic sequencing, you name it) and also 10,000 hours on the spiritual disciplines that embody dependence on God (solitude, silence, fasting, study, prayer), in forty years we’d have a completely different world. How are you spending your 10,000 hours?

I am a white woman of privilege, blessed by living a beautiful life, a feminist and Jesus follower, who finally knows she is BELOVED and is finding her voice and asking:  How should I spend my next 10,000 hours?

Walk On by U2: A Christian Feminist Cry?

This song is actually about Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese activist who was sentenced to house arrest in 1989 for protesting her government. Earlier that year, while walking with some of her supporters, soldiers blocked their path and pointed rifles at them. Suu Kyi kept walking, despite orders to stop. The soldiers threatened to shoot her, but didn’t. Her actions have been closely monitored by the government, but she remains an influential leader and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Her house arrest ended in 2010 and she was released. (Source)

THESE LYRICS HIT ME HARD!

What I hear in them– for me— is my heartache and pain, and a cry for freedom in Christ.  As a Christian and a feminist and a woman my heart often heavy with the state of women in the evangelical church.  Where is the progress? And although I love and believe in my church and accept, with only healthy reservation, the leadership and the integrity of my pastors as exceptional spiritual leaders (and some are sound Biblical scholars) and I even accept the leadership of the elders of my church because they were selected (by a process even if that process included that you had to be male).

But I am convinced that my church leaders are wrong to put off for a season, or leave out or ignore, or to dismiss the idea of women as Elders and teaching pastors.  And our denomination, EFCA, is wrong to not ordain women.

I am deeply committed to my church and want to help it think about its practices and to help bring change from within so that women will be admitted to ordained ministries and Eldership.  I have no idea what that might look like or how to go about it, but meanwhile I resolve to continue in love, in hope that the darkness of oppression continues to be lifted, even if slowly.

No one can steal my conviction that the evangelical church will some day ordain women and embrace us in every role in the Church.  I don’t know when, but I believe it will happen.

You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been,
A place that has to be believed to be seen,
You could have flown away, A singing bird in an open cage,
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom.

I RESOLVE TO STAY

I believe that if enough women stay in the evangelical and denominational traditions and continue to voice our beliefs change will come.  We need to do the Biblical study and scholarship, to courageously speak out, and to write.  We must continue on, even on the bad days when it feels like we are nagging because there will be good days, when we just might be prophetic!  If we continue to have faith, and exhibit hope and love … perhaps (some day) true freedom inside the evangelical church will come for women.
WALK ON, sisters and brothers.
MHH

WALK ON lyrics, by U2

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring…
And love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it’s a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got, they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight…

You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t deny it
Can’t sell it or buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonightAnd I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Home…hard to know what it is if you never had one
Home…I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home
That’s where the heart is

I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Leave it behind
You’ve got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress up
All that you scheme…

Music: U2
Lyrics: Bono
Produced by: Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno
Engineered by: Richard Rainey
Assisted by: Chris Heaney
Additional production by: Steve Lillywhite
Mixed by: Steve Lillywhite
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Can I get a Witness?

I must confess.  I am not a witness. 

I have never understood those people who speak frankly and unreservedly about their relationship with God.  In fact, the only person I have ever met who did that with complete integrity was a friend I made in the last ten years.  She speaks out of her love for Jesus, with a passion and a need, a pure desire that makes me hungry for the same.  Whenever I am in her presence I want to know this Jesus she speaks about, know him more and more.

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘…eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God…’ (John 17)  

When I was a child I recall often being afraid that someone might ask me what I believe

I had not put it all together yet.  As a teen, I recollect, on more than one occasion lying in bed late at night after a youth event at church, rehearsing what I would say about my faith if I was ever asked.  I whispered the words out loud, under the covers, uncomfortable with the sound of my voice.  An extreme introvert, I was overly burdened with ideas and thoughts that I was afraid to express.  They remained jumbled up in my head.  And there, under the covers I became sweaty and slightly breathless, as I whispered my thoughts–my imaginings.  There was nothing that I could say with certainty. It was the beginning of conviction. 

In my twenties, I found that if you keep your mouth shut no one would know what you thought.  Genius, huh?

A quiet person is not going to be the one thought to be a fool.  And I am not a fool.

I rarely said what I thought.  I still had little idea what I believed.  I was going along.  It was in college that I discovered a passion for the words in the Bible.  In a rare moment of clarity and conviction–and vulnerability–I blurted out to my professor that I’d like to study the Bible!  I wanted to learn the original languages, so that I could read (for myself) the true meaning of these texts.  I finally knew what I wanted to do.  I had an intensity for it, which up until that time I hadn’t found for anything in college, or in life. I knew that what I wanted to do was to study the languages of the Bible.

My male professor, with a cruelty I now recognize said, “What would you do with it?”

What would I, as a woman, do with a special knowledge of scripture?  Um, right, the implication was clear.  Nothing.

I had no understanding of the possibilities.  I didn’t believe that I was capable of pushing back.  I didn’t know that I was allowed to disagree with him, because no-one had ever given me the example growing up in a conservative Christian sub-culture.  Women were taught it was good, even Godly, to submit. I did not know that I might have something unique to say.  So I stayed quiet. And for the next two decades more or less, I continued on that path, mute.

I was already tragically insecure.  Melancholy and hopelessness were things that I wrestled with and over time I came to believe that I had nothing to say.  Though I was good at thinking and writing, I got the message from my professor, and my parents, my youth pastor and others, that as a woman I had no message.  That is what I thought.  That is in the end what happened—that professor spoke a negative prophesy for my life.

I didn’t find my voice again until my forties. And coincidently, parallel to that, I began to discover my own belief.  Don’t they run hand in hand?  Parallel growth that only comes out of gaining personal power.  By beginning to believe in myself and knowing that I am, now, a person with something to say. I still love the word of God, the Bible, as much as I did when I first discovered it.  I want to lose myself in the real meaning of the original texts.  I want that for myself. I quickly become frustrated by others telling me what it means, mainly men making judgment calls about what the Bible says, and wanting me to take their word for it.  I cannot accept it.

I study, but I lack discipline.  I think, and then I doubt myself, my audacity, to think I might find some truth there that other scholars have not. And yet, the spark that was ignited many years ago still burns.  The legacy of that question rings as loudly after two decades as it did that day in college.

What would you do with it?

I will leave a different legacy for my daughter.  That is why, much to her embarrassment at times, I constantly point out to her the places in the Church and in our church where women still do not have a voice.  Where women are not able to be totally free in their passions, talents and callings.

I have told her what is possible!  That is it okay to push back.  That she is allowed to disagree–with me, with her Father, with her Youth Pastor, even her Pastor.

The evangelical Church is still sending women the message, submit. Wait.  In time, things will change. 

The Spirit will witness to the unconditional love of God that became available to us through Jesus. — Henri Nouwen

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I highly recommend this article titled Women in Ministry: Between the Pulpit and the Kitchen from the Center for Women of Faith in Culture.

Men have been talking about men for so long, they don’t even realize it.

I recently wrote about my frustration and confusion with the Church and particularly my church.  It seems to me the Church is ignoring the stories of women in the Bible, and historically as artists and theologians, and in the Church worldwide.

Now I don’t have history or theological degrees, but it doesn’t take those to know instinctively that women have been actively participating in the work of the church since its inception.  I was so frustrated I created a survey (you can still vote) asking my contacts who are the female spiritual leaders, thinkers, and theologians that inspire you most?  The results are here.  The results were interesting.

So I was inspired, encouraged and compelled by the recent post of Scot McKnight on his website Jesus Creed asking:

  • What are you doing to make sure women are part of the story of your church? of the Bible? of church history?

  • Do you talk about the women in the Bible?

  • Do your folks know the women of the church?

  • Which women have you mentioned in your teaching or your preaching?

These are fantastic questions and exactly what I was getting at by my rant.  The church could be teaching about men and women.  I have never heard of Katherine Bushnell or Alice Paul or Macrina.  I could not even place them on a historical time line.  Could you?  And then there are the many women in the Bible that are never mentioned in church.  Paul’s coworker’s Timothy and Barnabas we know, and yet his coworker Thecla is never mentioned.

Jenny Dunham, recently in Arise Magazine, compellingly stated something so obvious it is shocking:  “To learn of men without their woman counterparts is an incomplete view of human history.”  She goes on to ask:

“What would happen to the gender divide if we were taught history in a holistic manner—that is in a way that includes both women and men?  Can you imagine how difficult it would be to devalue females if we more frequently celebrated their brave, unstoppable, and tireless leadership throughout history?  Without knowing the history of these remarkable women we would see only men taking action and moving the tides of our world.”  

It is too easy to presume that women have no place in the church, have no history, have no stories when we do not hear them told!!!  We perhaps think that women are incapable of “making history” because they are not celebrated (or rarely even mentioned) in the history of the Church.

I’ve recently been reading How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals.  It is just okay.  To be honest I didn’t finish it, perhaps some day.  There are so many other books on my bedside stand that I want to read more.  But it was fascinating to read some observations, again by Scot McNight from his blog:

“Themes about what precipitated change…:

  1. The influence of a strong, gifted woman in one’s life.
  2. The impression of the stories of those who changed their minds on this very issue.
  3. A more careful reexamining of the whole of Scripture in light of its historical, cultural and broader theological context.
  4. The experience of working side-by-side with gifted, dedicated, and called women leaders, teachers, and preachers.
  5. The realization that there is a view where head, heart, and Scripture can come together and honestly confront the difficulties of applying a restrictive position consistently.”

Women tell their stories and their stories show some common themes too:

  1. They were shadows of males.
  2. They were “submissive” in order to attract a husband.
  3. They functioned as a supplement to make males complete.
  4. They became depressed and struggled over rejection of their callings and gifts of the Spirit.
  5. They received encouragement from respected evangelical males who wanted their gifts and callings to find full expression and for them to be completely themselves.”

The stories about women are important.  The questions are important.  The history is important.  But change won’t come quickly. 

Men have been talking about men for so long, they don’t even realize it.  They read and study fellow men.  They listen to fellow men.  They quote  men.  No, change won’t come quickly.  I was recently asked how can we make baby steps toward change, in response to my writing  We are Half the Church.  Well, obviously I don’t want to only make baby steps because it’s too frustrating!!  But most days I can admit that we will likely not see change in the evangelical church in the next decade.  So, here’s to baby steps  … Cheers.

Small Choices.  Big Impact.

Be thinking constantly about utilizing women and minorities.  I think pastors and staff need to be aware of how their seemingly small choices are making big noise. Their lack of determined action is effectively stating more than their words.

In the case of my church, they don’t say much about women and you won’t find anything on the website under beliefs or core values, but women can’t become elders and there are no women on the teaching team. But I know there are many folk there (I have met them) who do believe in Biblical equality (Of course there is a good portion that don’t.)  But the leadership’s actions tell me they aren’t willing to make institutional change any time soon.  The change they are bringing is more covert.  And some of it highly admirable if very slow.  One thing they do is hire by merit giving women some jobs in leadership.  Yes, this is good.  Fair.  Legal.  Slow.

When I worked at IV we worked hard to find capable, talented, exceptional leaders who were women and minorities.  We worked tirelessly, seeking input from those communities that do not traditionally have a voice in a culture dominated by whites and males, but who clearly knew of talent that didn’t have the mainline white or male exposure.  Our conferences and events fairly representing women and minorities in leadership and teaching.  That’s because the organization decided it was important and Biblical.  I don’t know what they do today in their programming.  With leadership change comes changes in priorities.

I observe culture.  And what I see is discouraging.  Look at Christian conference speaker lineups and Christian book authors and Christian songs played on the radio for example.  Optimistically, nine out of ten are white or males.  This has to change.

Yes, it takes work to find, empower, train up, mentor and listen to people that are different than you, but the kingdom of God is reflected and I believe God is honored and pleased by the effort.  And it is a delicate balance between finding the right person and mentoring people into places of teaching, authority and leadership.  It’s an art not a science.

On one level it is simple.  In the planning and implementation of worship and teaching on a given Sunday in the local church, always ask how you can better utilize women and minorities on the platform in whatever way you can.  That alone would be a huge step forward.

An example: This Sunday,  at my church there were four short monologues or sketches done by the two main teaching pastors, Chris and Tim.  Two of them could have been performed by women.  This would have taken more work and time planning ahead. And you have less control when you “give up” some of that power. Or, in the same service scriptures were read through out. Others can reach scripture it just requires setting it up ahead of time.  Again, the delicate balance of capability vs ongoing mentoring is significant.

Another “simple” idea. 

If you are truly hiring by merit and have the value of actively seeking women and minorities to apply, the next step is to put in the job description for all NEW HIRES of senior staff that they must be able to teacheither have teaching experience or are capable of/willing to learning.  Then give them opportunities and/or train them in teaching. Yes, this rules out capable people.  But it also begins to change the expectation over time that this is a part of leadership.  And it will diversify the teaching team which can only be good.

Even as I write this I am overcome by my sense of apathy and discouragement and lack of faith that the evangelical Church will ever change.  When this happens I know I it is time to stop thinking, and reading, and writing, and to go sit with my heavenly Father.  To be reminded of who he is and what is important to him.  Our God is a lover of justice and mercy.  He said, more than anything, what is important to him is:

  • That we love one another as he loved us.
  • That we build one another up.
  • That we bring order to this crazy messed up world.

This isn’t about feminism or diversity, which are hot and misunderstood words in the Christian sub-culture today.  This is about justice which is God’s priority.  This is about restoring what God intended in the beginning when he created us all to be so different.  God’s order doesn’t look like ours. 

“I cannot begin to imagine how much good a holistic teaching would be in bringing reconciliation and healing to God’s kingdom. This is not only the case for women; people of all ethnicities and social classes should enjoy equal recognition in history with white males.” —  Jenny Dunham

Scripture says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3.28,  NASB (©1995)

Baby step no. 1.  Remember the other half of the church on a given Sunday.  Empower them.  Tell their stories.  Celebrate the whole church, not just the less than half that are male.

Men, stop talking about yourselves.

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I should say that my article We are Half the Church was in some way inspired by the book Half the Church, by Carolyn Custis James.  Although I am reading it, thus far I don’t have a big take away but I was struck hard by the title.  We are more than half the church.  Yes, we are.  And it is about time we were more vocal.

Half the Church
Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women

Women comprise at least half the world and usually more than half the church. But so often Christian teaching for women either fails to move beyond a discussion of roles. This shuts a lot of women out from contributing to God’s kingdom as they were designed to do. Furthermore, the plight of women in the Majority World demands a Christian response, a holistic embrace of all that God calls women and men to be in his world.

In Half the Church, James presents an inspiring vision of God’s plan for women that avoids assuming for them a particular social location or family situation. She unpacks three transformative themes the Bible presents that invest the lives of every woman and girl with cosmic significance that nothing can destroy. These new images of what can be in Christ come with a blazing call for them to join their brothers in advancing God’s gracious kingdom on earth.

Carolyn Custis James

We are Half the Church

Weyden, Rogier van der - Descent from the Cros...
Image via Wikipedia

Cartoons are blaring.  My son is home sick with a high fever and sore throat. (Strep likely.  We’ll know later today.)

I sit perched on the edge of my chair here in front of the computer, because my cat Jaz is comfortably lounging on 2/3rd of the seat and today I don’t have the heart to push her off.  She was here first.

I keep trying to gather my thoughts.  I hear myself sigh deeply and knowing that I haven’t gotten up early all week for my usual alone time with the Word, and God, the lack is weighing heavily.

I know that what I really need in this moment is — time — alone —  to — think.  Time for contemplation.

Not time on Facebook or time while I do last night’s dishes, or throw another load in the dryer and washer, or pick up the endless toys, socks, books and dog toys for the millionth time.  Not time driving my son to the doctor.  Not time like that. 

Quiet — undivided — time.

How often do we really find this kind of time? I cannot underscore how important solitary, thinking time is for me.  It helps me be less impulsive.  It centers me.  It makes the anxiety, and anger, and disappointments of life fade away and my priorities sift and sort themselves.  And when I read on FB about all the things that are “on your mind” I am more circumspect, which is good.

Considering all this — I think I should not write this post. But I don’t always listen to myself.

This is something I have thought about all week.  When it all first occurred I definitely tried to ignore it.  I kept thinking how obsessive I was clearly being.  I kept telling myself I was ridiculous.  Absurd.  Unreasonable.  Perhaps even obsessive, fanatic or narrow-minded.  Plum crazy, as my southern grandpa used to say.  I tried to ignore it.

Finally it hit me that this not going away.  So even if I’m deemed crazy, this is what happened.

My observation: I did not see one woman involved in leading worship or on the platform in any capacity on Sunday. I’ve been thinking about the lack of presence of women in my church.  And in the Church.  On Sunday, we were simply spectators.  On lookers.  Witnesses.  Receivers.  Beneficiaries.

  • Furthermore, I cannot remember the last time one of the teaching pastors suggested a book they were reading written by a woman.
  • They never quote women or talk about female scholars, probably because they never read female scholars.
  • To be honest I can’t remember the last time, if ever, a pastor has suggested or referred to even in passing, or quoted a female theologian, religious author, or historian.

On Sunday, because I my senses were heightened, I even noticed that all the artists highlighted were male, who painted illustration of Jesus on the Cross.  If it were only Michelangelo (he’s a genius) mentioned, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it.  But he (my pastor) put four or five paintings up on the screen all painted by men.  (I know, I know, that’s picky right!?)  Of course I don’t know enough about art history to know whether there were any female artists who have illustrated Christ on the Cross.  I suppose it would take an art historian to find them, because a quick google search by me of Michelangelo’s time was unproductive.  So I’m not suggesting that he (my pastor) should have been able to find them.  And even if women were painting, they would not be well-known or easy to find.    But search for more modern artists perhaps?  I’m just saying, we are half the church.  That one point is less important, but the entire thing just made me very SAD.  And tired.

' The Dead Christ Mourned - the Three Maries'
Artist: Annibale Carracci Date: 1603

I am tired of not seeing or hearing from women. Tired of the male dominated culture on the platforms and in the Church at large.

Considering women are half the church I can’t even buy into the argument that there aren’t any to select from, because I’ve been told that very thing.  “The women haven’t risen up who have “the gift” of teaching.”)  I say, risen up? Not surprising to me in a church with few examples and where there are (still only) male Elders.  And where it is clear that this isn’t changing any — time — soon.   Besides, it is the rare person who is naturally comfortable with upfront or worship leadership.  Many people, male or female but especially female, won’t put themselves forward out of self-doubt, or humility or a combination.   I think it is even more likely that there are gifted, wise articulate women who may not be comfortable yet, but have natural instincts and can to be taught, mentored.  Who knows?. Will we ever know, if they are not given the opportunity?

To rarely see or hear a woman’s voice in authority or otherwise hurts me and my faith and my journey with Christ.  Christ accepts women.  He took risks for women.  He listened to women.  He was the most radical figure of reconciliation and grace in the lives of women!  IF only the church modelled their behavior after Jesus.

My experience this Sunday diminished my ability to receive fully from the worship experience.   That said it was still was an incredible time.  And God continues to speak to me.  Perhaps God was saying to me exactly what I heard.  I have to confess that I do not want my (feminist*) radar to always go off at church.  It is distracting and painful.  And I have considered asking God to take it away, shut it up, or get me out of there …  But I don’t think he would and I do think that I am in the exact right place for now.  As long as I can openly “think” here and have a few people in my life that I can express the pain and rancor to, I’ll survive.

For now,

Mel

Feminism to me is the crazy belief that men and woman are both human

and deserve the same life, freedom and opportunities

inside and outside the Church.

Quote Unquote

Every once in a while someone talks to me about my blog.  They read it! Someone stopped me at church to say so and I want to thank him and you.  This is unimaginably rewarding.  I know that people are reading, because WordPress gives me stats that show how many view my blog each day.  But when a real live person takes the time to tell me that what I write means something to them — well, that is priceless to me.  Thank you Eric!  What flows from my heart is what I write here and it is a part of me.  It is my discoveries, my pain, my growth and better understanding of the world.  Thank you for reading.

I love new discoveries.  So, you may think I am stuck under an intellectual rock but I just discovered Miroslav Volf tonight and I’m loving his brain.  I spent about a 1/2 hour watching him on YouTube.  I’m  hooked.

“The proper distance from a culture does not take Christians out of that culture. Christians are not the insiders who have taken flight to a new “Christian culture” and become outsiders to their own culture; rather when they have responded to the call of the Gospel they have stepped, as it were, with …one foot outside their own culture while the other remaining firmly planted in it. They are distant, and yet they belong . . . distance born out of allegiance to God and God’s future. . . .  Both distance and belonging are essential. Belonging without distance destroys . . . but distance without belonging isolates.”

— Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace

And then there is this.  I have no idea who John Stuart Mill is (again the uneducated rock) but this quote knocked me off my seat.

Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. . . . Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art of pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.

— John Stuart Mill

On the topic of women and equality this is the quote that stuck out to me in my reading this week.

“Life will not be less than, when women are truly equal with men. Life will be richer, and greater, and men will be more than they are now, when women are no longer considered less than they really are.” discombobula

And I’ll leave you with a quote from  the author of one of my favorite books, The Secret Life of Bees.

In that curious and exotic way that an “unteacher” appears only when the student is ready, the Magritte painting appeared and opened several revelations to me.  First, our lives as women are not always as self-created as we might assume.  And second, once we are caught in the pattern of creating ourselves from cultural blueprints, it becomes a primary way of receiving validation.  We become unknowingly bound up in a need to please the cultural father – the man holding the brush – and live up to his image of what a woman should be and do.  We’re rewarded when we do;  life gets difficult when we don’t.

— Sue Monk Kidd, Dance of the Dissident Daughter

I have to run.  I’ve been ignoring my kids since 5:00 pm!
Good Night, dear friends.
MH
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Miroslav Volf (born 1956) is an influential Christian theologian and currently the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, which focuses in part on Workplace spirituality . He has been a member in both the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Evangelical Church in Croatia. He is widely known for his works on systematic theology, ethics, conflict resolution, and peace-making. Recently he contributed the essay, “Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Justice” to a new text on the atonement, Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ.

John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873) was a British philosopher and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control.[2] He was a proponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Bentham’s. Hoping to remedy the problems found in an inductive approach to science, such as confirmation bias, he clearly set forth the premises of falsification as the key component in the scientific method.[3] Mill was also a Member of Parliament and an important figure in liberal political philosophy.

Not To Speak is to Speak: Volume 2

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: GOD will not hold us innocent. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”— Bonhoeffer

NOT TO SPEAK IS TO SPEAK :  VOLUME 2

This is my attempt to consolidate some of the things I find on the web.  Of course this is a drop in the bucket of what I read all week, but you have to focus sometimes.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Several things on the UCLA Student’s recent YouTube Video.

A white student rants about Asians and it goes viral, drawing accusations of racism.

“Sadly, what she expressed isn’t that different from what a lot of Americans think, even if we’re not posting it on YouTube  …  In many ways this blonde-haired, exposed push-up bra wearing college student, embodies the popular and prolific image of entitled, image driven, individualistic “Americanness.””

You can read the rest here and see the video it its entirety there.  You should watch it if you are white.  If you’re not white, you’ve likely seen or heard of it already.  If you are white, I think you have a responsibility to SEE things like this.  Before you go there, thinking I’m “over reacting” I’ll acknowledge that I need to spend some time considering all this and being prayerful before God. But in the meantime, I can call racism what it is — wrong.

My initial thought is this.  Although I feel ashamed of being white, many many times.  Today, more than any day in a long time, while I watched this young lady’s strange, egocentric, racist, stupid and ignorant rant about the “hordes of Asians” at her university I was mortified for all of us.

Ching chong? Hordes of Asians? American manners?” A friend I have made because of the internet responds to the student’s video as a Mom and an American and one of the Asians that the young lady at UCLA refers to in her video.  In A Mother’s Rant About Racism & Reconciliation Kathy Khang shares a personal response.   I love her heart and learn so much from her every time she writes.

And still on the topic, here are some things White People with Power should consider.  That would be me.

“However difficult it is for many White Americans to hear, examples like this video clearly show that many (as in a large number, but certainly not all) Whites implicitly think there’s nothing wrong with invoking cultural stereotypes to portray an entire group of color. I have written about this dynamic many times before, but needless to say, this is certainly not the first time that Whites have tried to “make fun” of Asian Americans or other groups of color on college campuses and elsewhere in society…”

Lastly, an incredible response by the InterVarsity’s Asian Staff director, James Choung.  He is godly, kind and wise.  Once again, I learned a lot.  These are things that privileged white people need to hear.

A glimpse into the heart of an incarcerated father.

Dear Son: A Letter from an Incarcerated Father on how a believer behind bars might pass on his faith.  

Statistical studies tell us that roughly 90 percent of incarcerated parents are fathers. Their offspring, approximately 2 million strong, represent the textbook definition of “at risk” children. According to the Princeton University’s Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, the absence of a father—particularly due to incarceration—correlates with a plethora of family dysfunctions, including elevated rates of juvenile crime and incarceration.

Politics.

Congress Making Themselves and Friends Richer, While Everyone Else Struggles to Make Ends MeetIf you don’t read Jim Hightower you are missing out.

The great majority of Americans make about $30K a year. Incoming lawmakers, however? Extensive personal investments in Wall St. banks, oil giants and drug makers.Change is not the same thing as progress. In fact, change can be the exact opposite. It can be regressive, as we’re now learning from — where else? — Congress.

Feminist Reading.

100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader . Whether you’re already knee-deep in young adult literature or looking to reacquaint yourself with an old favorite we’ve put together a whopping 100 of our favorite young adult novels, featuring kick-ass teens and inspiring feminist themes. These stories will empower teenage and adult readers alike.

[I’m not recommending all of these books because I haven’t read them all.  Simply passing on the list.  Make your own wise choices.]

The Environment.

You have to watch this video by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean biologist, farmer, soldier, exile, environmentalist.

Winner of the Banksia International Award 2003 and winner of the Buckminster Fuller Award 2010.  He is the originator of the Holistic Management concept that turn deserts into thriving grasslands, restores biodiversity, brings streams and rivers back to life, increases food production and security and stores carbon in ever deeper and healthier soils – all of this while reversing global climate change.

He won a TED award and that’s how I found him.  I’m in love. So sweet. So passionate.  So smart!

Next time perhaps.

Rob Bell.  What I’m learning from reading on feminism and women in the church.  And Libya, going to war? … and my current theological thoughts on Justice.

Here’s the last issue of Not to Speak is to Speak in case you missed it.