Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Women should remain silent in the churches..."

Today, my good friend, John Dunne, published a blog post on 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 which has given me a chance to do some reflection (NOTE: If you decide to stop reading here, at the least click on the "John Dunne" link and watch that video... that was a funny night).

1 Corinthians 14: 33b-35 says:

"... as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.
Women should remain silent in the churches.
They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home;
for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church."

John's main point in writing the blog post was to take a poll on whether or not people thought this passage was original. There is some evidence that convinces people to believe it is unoriginal and for this argument I would ask you to head over to the post and check it out. It's short and concise and worth your time if you are interested. He is also very interested in having a variety of comments whether you are religious or not, so please feel free to comment here or on his post, and he will be able to read comments in both places.

I would like to respond here in a more personal way. To be honest, I am usually terrified to bring my emotions into this argument because that is one reason why many complementarian men say that women shouldn't be in roles of leadership - because we are "emotional". Even over thanksgiving my sister's boyfriend (who is not religious) said that a woman shouldn't be president because what if she had to make a decision "about war and was on her period?!" Let me remind all you men out there to hold yourselves back from saying things like these at a table with your girlfriend, her three sisters and mother. My father has learned well to say the words, "Whatever you want, honey." (Note: I truly adore my sister's boyfriend).

Back to an "emotional argument" - I have also learned over the years that though an emotional argument is not respected, it is the only argument that can be received because complementarian Christian men do not think that women can hold authority to teach on doctrinal issues to men. If you are reading this right now and thinking that I cannot possible be speaking truth, I encourage you to read through the comments John's post has received so far. You will be even more shocked.

Put yourself in our shoes
Speaking of comments, this brings me to my first point. I am always interested to know how men would feel if they were spoken of in a way that women are spoken of within this conversation. For example I am going to take one of the comments received from John's post and insert the word MAN or MEN anywhere that the writer is referring to WOMEN or WOMAN:

"...it only makes sense given all of Paul’s other concerns that he clearly elucidate a hierarchy and behavioral expectation. Of course we recognize that MEN have a valid job to perform in the Church. It is simply not to be in the open, and not in any sort of leadership position. Can a MAN serve in children’s ministry (at least from a Complementarian perspective)? Certainly, so long as HE is not in authority over women and so long as HE is ONLY working with leadership over minor children in teaching. From a purely textual perspective, it comes back to the same question: where are the lines in the sand being drawn? As long as they abide by the restrictions placed by Paul clearly in 1st Timothy, and as long as they fit within the paradigm set up in submission to a wife figure, it seems less relevant. A comment on the earlier statement though: it is a fight for the soul of the American Protestant Christian community over the parameters of doctrine when we seem to have so many churches “ordaining” MEN in clear violation of 1st Timothy and its negative command. In that sense, then, John, I think 1st Corinthians 14:34 becomes even MORE important form the sense that if we do not have a clear and unambiguous understanding of where MEN stand, we can get muddled, confused, and wishy-washy in our theology."


This makes me smile. Or laugh... one of the two. This commenter is fierce, isn't he? Whew!

I have to be honest, reading these kinds of things after living in Berkeley for a few months really feels unnatural and twilight zone-ish. I am extremely wrapped up into social justice, and one component of social justice is equality, so these complementarian concepts have become farely foreign to me. It's truly strange that I used to live in this world where I was expected to submit to authority within the church purely because of my sex. My point in saying all of this is that I wish men would understand better how it makes women feel when they speak about us this way. It must be really easy to keep someone else down when you think that scripture is giving you so much power and authority. Scary.

Don't speak
My second point that I brought up briefly was the fact that as women in the church, we have no voice. Oftentimes when I find myself in conversations over this issue, I can feel this underlining attitude from complementarian men that whenever I am standing up for equality, they have an instant "out" because as a woman I should not be speaking this way to a man. This reminds me of a scene from Mad Men. Unfortunately I couldn't access the embedded code, so CLICK HERE FOR MAD MEN CLIP. You can watch all three minutes or fast forward to 2:30. In the scene Don is surprised to be meeting with a woman seeking out business matters, and by the end of the meeting becomes upset with her and exclaims, "I will not let a woman speak to me like this." This is pretty much how I feel every time I have a conversation with a complementarian on a women's rights issue. If women are not allowed to speak for themselves and actually be heard, how will we ever find ourselves in a different situation?

Slaves
This may seem too extreme for some but I have to make the comparison to slaves (NOTE: I will focus on African American slavery to make this point). Africans were brought to America to be slaves and had absolutely no voice. For hundreds of years, Christians made justifications through their theology, and continued to tell their slaves that this is what God has called them to do. I am reading a Michael O. Emerson book and in it there was an example of what used to be posted back in the 1800's in regards to slaves. I found it fascinating because one of the "social reasons" for slavery that had been listed was, " Just as women are called to play a subordinate role, so slaves are stationed by God in their place." Even in the early 1900's Africans could not officially be American citizens because they were not White. They had absolutely no power, and White men had all the power. How could their voices ever be heard? Well we all know how that story ends, and now magically everyone thinks slavery is wrong (it always was!). Is it really going to take something like the civil rights movement for women to be seen as not subordinate?
Could men be the answer?
I am not sure if I could ever see a movement like the ones that have gone before us for the sake of equality for women in the church. This is mostly because there are many churches that already adhere to equality, and for the most part, there aren't many women who would like to be ministers. PLUS, like I have already said, men don't take a woman's stance on this issue as authoritative. So what is the answer? The answer is simple - it's John Dunne! Okay, I won't give him that responsibility. But in a way, women's future roles in the church DO lie in the hands of men like John Dunne and his male colleagues who are up and coming in this "church world" of Protestant Evangelicals. We need more men to be sensitive with these issues and not come to conclusions so quickly, and spew out their information so harshly, but actually realize that this is a bigger issue than it may seem. This issue is about your wife, daughters, mothers, and sisters, whom you love. This issue should be thoroughly thought out piece by piece in not only a theological way, but also taking into consideration culture and life experiences. And most importantly, it's time to listen to women!

God has given me a love for ministry. He has also given me a love for leadership. As a woman, these things don't mix well and I had to change directions in my life to receive the love and support I really needed. Imagine someone telling you that you could not be authoritative on something you have a degree in because you of your sex. It is extremely hurtful and has changed my life in many ways.

There is much more to say about this issue and I don't mind answering more specific questions within my comment section. And for my not so religious friends or friends who have left the church because of these reasons, please know that I have faith in the church because I have faith in God. God is good and people will never be perfect.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mad Men Season 5



One week from today Mad Men season 5 will begin will a special two-hour premiere episode on AMC. This news is exciting to many as Mad Men has taken a well overdue hiatus, and left its viewers in a plethora of anticipation. I am not really pro-spoiler alerts so I will keep it simple.

In these past few days I was hit with a flu bug called bronchitis. Tissues, diet 7-up, and inhalers beside me, I set out on a MM re-watching marathon. Yes, you heard me currently - "RE-WATCH". It's true, I have already watched all four seasons of MM. But it's been a while (remember?.. the hiatus), and I felt the need to refresh my memory. Now I have done this before with other shows (ahem, Downton Abbey), but I find myself reading magazines or books, playing words with friends or draw something, or cleaning my room as I do so. But this time around with MM, the computer screen had my full attention. I have been able to pick up so many important things while watching MM a second time around... and I also have had a chance to appreciate the little things more.

You know when you're 18 and you pick up CS Lewis' book "The Screwtape Letters", and you finish reading it and you think, WOW, that was a great book... but you really have no idea what happened in the book. And then at the age of 26 you pick it up again and read it and think, holy s*@t, that's what he was talking about?! Well, it wasn't exactly like that with MM since it had only been a mere 12 months or so since watching last, but still, I could tell that growth had happened in me... and it made me look at MM differently. Some examples (only MM watchers will really know what I am talking about here...):

Betty and Don's relationship. This time around, by the end of season 2, I really think Betty should have tried harder to make things work. But I guess any relationship will pull back together when a nuclear crisis is happening.

Peggy. Feminism at its finest. Is it weird to say that she reminds of my biological mother (or at least, what I imagine her to be)? Eek. Well, my bio mom was around Peggy's age when she gave me up for adoption and I always found that strange because it's not like she was a teen mom or something. Here's to hoping my bio mom is like Peggy - a fierce businesswoman.

Civil Rights Movement. So much good stuff in the show about this. It is so hidden in the background... so perfectly expressed... Season two when Betty visits her fathers home only to be embraced by her African American nanny... so much history.

Lucky for you all four season of MM are on Netflix INSTANT PLAY(!) right now. So leave my blog and start watching!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March Madness!

March Madness is almost here! This is a little reminder for you to fill out your brackets. This year is exciting because Cal has a real shot of making it (last minute) into the tournament if they win tomorrow night!

I am taking some risks this year and giving some wins to big time underdogs, in hopes to increase my scoring. One of my big picks was Long Beach State. Not only are they a local team for me (from Orange County), but it would be a huge upset if they advanced even one round.

Kentucky has been slated to take the whole tournament in the end, but I went with North Carolina. Fingers cross NC can make it to the end!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Do you have your pastor's cell phone number?

Today on the SOJO website there is a great post by Christian Piatt about why young adults quit church. He lists the following seven reasons:
  1. We've been hurt
  2. Adult life/college and church don't seem to mix
  3. There's no natural bridge to church
  4. We're distracted
  5. We're skeptical
  6. We're exhausted
  7. I don't get it
It's a great article and I highly recommend reading it fully. One of my favorite thoughts on this was the one about holding early morning services and expecting college students to come... it's just not going to happen. Even if we love the Lord, we want our sleep because (point 6) we're exhausted!

But what I wanted to focus on today was WHY I GO TO CHURCH EVERY SUNDAY MORNING. Because trust me, I have been hurt, my life doesn't really mix with church, at times I am skeptical, and I am definitely exhausted. But I still go.

When I first started grad school at Cal I was excited to find a new church in the Bay Area. I checked out all the ones by my house and had very high hopes about fitting in somewhere. I visited a bunch of church's multiple times, even declaring one as my home church. But sometimes, Sunday would come and I would be really tired and overloaded with homework and so I would skip. No one would really seem to care. I would go back to the church and try my hardest to make connections but I just wasn't feeling the love. I would send emails to people who told me, "send me an email" and I would call people who would say, "give me a call"... many times, no replies.

I found myself becoming disinterested in those church's and traveling a little ways to the outskirts of town to go to my friends church that he pastors. This was a little too easy... of course I could call him and email him. I generally liked that church and went there through my fall semester up until Christmas break. Well breaks can be interesting for the life of a church-going college student because a whole month away makes it seem like a million years. When I returned in January, I felt pretty disconnected.

In January while at internship, I was talking to my supervisor about how I would like to visit a predominantly African American church in Oakland while I am in the Bay Area. I will be honest, I feel guilty admitting that I wanted to be almost a "tourist" visiting for the experience (see this article for interesting words on that). My supervisor hooked me up with the charge nurse who has been going to a well known church in West Oakland for 20+ years and I gave her my phone number in which she replied, "I will have my pastor call you". I said okay but secretly laughed to myself - when would a pastor EVER call someone who doesn't even GO to their church?! I assumed she had meant the assistant or youth pastor and went on with my day thinking I would never been held accountable to going.

As I left the hospital that night I had a message on my phone... it was THE pastor! This is what he said:

"Hello, Carrie, Sister Georgia gave me your number and
told me you were interested in visiting the church.
I would love to speak with you before and give you a tour.
Give me a call and you could come in on a Saturday..
Call me on my cell phone before six... and call me at my house
after six... God Bless you.

I WAS SHOCKED.

I had to listen to the message another time to really take in what this man had just said to me. Call me at your house? Seriously? As I did more research online that night I realized this wasn't just any man, this was pastor Gillette O. James, who had been pastoring the Beth Eden Baptist Church for 41 years. FORTY ONE.

I returned his call and we set up an appointment for the following Saturday. We met and I told him about myself. He proceeded to tell me about the history of the church and other life stories. He also told me that since I have such an extensive background in theology, that if I became a member I wouldn't go to the New Member Sunday School class, but that he and I would sit together and just discuss theology. Are you getting this?? 60 or 70-ish African American man, willing to take time to TEACH ME, 20-year-old white girl. This just seemed too good to be true.

As I left that day I was still convinced I wasn't going to become a member. I wanted a church that felt like home and I was pretty convinced that I wasn't going to find it there. Not because I didn't physically fit in... but because I just thought that it would be hard to be ministered too. It might sound selfish, but I am just being real here... being a college student is hard.. and we need support from our church families. Mostly, I want to feel that people care for me and care that I am there. I also want to feel like if I am in need of prayer during a life crisis, the pastors/deacons/deaconess' will know who I am and be willing to pray for me. And finally, like the SOJO article mentioned, free food is always welcomed!

As I went to church that first Sunday I was very nervous. But throughout the 3 hour long service I felt very welcomed. Not only was I introduced in front of the whole congregation, but I also was called up to the stage to "tell a little about myself". WHAT?! I had not planned for this! Remember, I am one of three white people here. As Pastor James introduced me, I was suspicious that he had tape recorded our meeting because he described me better than I can describe myself. How did he remember all of those things? For starters, he might have been one of the first pastors I have met without ADHD.

The next week I didn't go back because I wasn't feeling well. Of course the pastor called me to check in... and the employees I work with who attend Beth Eden were checking in on me as well. I felt cared for. Ever since that missed Sunday, I have been faithfully waking up on Sunday morning (service starts at 10:45, thank God!) and heading to West Oakland for church. And every Sunday I feel more and more welcomed.

I also keep hearing more and more stories from people about how Pastor James has been there for them. Everyone has his cell phone number, and it seems that he will come be with you at a moments notice. This is very foreign to me, and I am still having trouble grasping it. I am thinking back to my ministry while serving in youth ministries throughout the years, wondering if I was accessible enough. Did I value my time as MY time, or was my time to minister to people?

I have always had this feeling that being a full time minister would be WAY TOO DIFFICULT. You would be on call all the time. In the church's I grew up in (and I think this is a pattern in most White Evangelical churches), the focus was more on boundaries than it was on accessibility. Pastors needed their boundaries to be with their families and have their days off. While I don't directly disagree with this, I am starting to realize that maybe having strict boundaries isn't what God is calling ministers to do.

I am enjoying stretching my boundaries only to be blessed by a pastor that is so accessible, genuine, and welcoming. I am happy to call Beth Eden my church home, and I am happy to roll out of bed every Sunday morning.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

LINKage

Apparently I made up this word - "linkage" - years ago to title my blogs that "link" you to other cool stories and happenings around the world. I am happy that I remembered this because the linking of other blogs and news stories is a big trend on blogs today and I am jumping on this bandwagon (though I have been on it forever, apparently). Most bloggers publish their links on Sundays, so obviously I want to rebel against that. I am thinking Saturday mornings will be good to try, so here we go.

THEOLOGY
John Dunne's post about rethinking his views on Amillennialism. This is a must read!


SOCIAL JUSTICE
Invisible Children's new campaign to bring attention to Joseph Kony. Check this out!

KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

UC BERKELEY
Protestors march for 4 days from Berkeley to Sacramento to take a stand for affordable education in America.

Health Care
Washington Post article from Ezra Klein comparing health care costs of Americans Vs. the French.

BIOLA
Dr. Erik Thoennes from my Alma Mater, BIOLA University, goes on TV to talk about Tim Tebow.

Erik Thoennes on Tim Tebow from Grace EV Free on Vimeo.

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is coming out in a few weekend and I am not sure if I am more excited about the movie or the soundtrack. Here is a short interview with Win Butler from Arcade Fire talking about his songs - favorite part(!): telling us his work is inspired by Radiohead's contribution to the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack with the track "Exit Music (for a film)". I am obsessed with "Exit Music (for a film)". And another article listing the full lineup for the soundtrack, this includes tracks from: The Decemberists, Taylor Swift, The Civil Wars and (of course) Arcade Fire.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

KONY 2012

So THIS is why I stopped blogging. I get too worked about things sometimes...

Controversial issues happen all around the world every single day, but the current movement of KONY 2012 through Invisible Children has climbed to the top of the spotlight and is now THE most trending topic on twitter and Facebook.

I just watched the KONY 2012 video on Tuesday night and over the past few days it has already has over 40 million views. Click here for the video.

I have been a longtime supporter of Invisible Children and have volunteered and fundraised for the organization. Most people I have talked to over the years about IC have supported the movement, and I rarely hear negative comments. So I was literally shocked and devastated that as soon as the KONY 2012 video launched, people came out of nowhere and just started bashing IC without even having legitimate facts about the movement. But what REALLY pissed me off was that Christians on Facebook (yes, my Facebook friends), are not only bashing the movement, but they are getting on their high horses and saying - "preach the gospel, not social justice!"

Really?

The whole thing is a hot mess.

All I have been doing over these past few days is trying my best to educate people on this movement. My conversations have been all over the place and it's really exhausting. So I only want to say a few things about IC.

1) IC found its beginnings through 3 college kids roaming around Africa trying to find a good story for a documentary. Was this a form of a "White savior complex?" Most likely. They were young and not highly educated (I think they were finishing up their bachelors degrees). They discover this story of what is happening to these children... interviewing CRYING CHILDREN who had been kidnapped, raped, and forced to kill. What the heck were these guys supposed to do?!

2) So they started a company to MAKE A MOVIE. This was the whole goal - make a short film to take around the world and show everyone a glimpse of what was happening, to raise money for the costs of making a feature length film. From the beginning, every DIME I donated to IC, I knew this is where it was going - TO A MOVIE.

3) Remember those crying children? Well they couldn't just be left alone to fend for themselves in Uganda. The 3 IC guys didn't really know how to run a non-profit for humanitarian reasons... so they stayed mostly in San Diego and then in Uganda to film, while hiring Ugandan nationals to run a company out of Uganda making all the bracelets, purses and fun stuff to create jobs. Along these lines, they also created schools in which over ONE THOUSAND kids are currently receiving an education from. Because there are so many different areas of business now, you can choose to donate directly to whatever cause you wish to donate to.

4) As far as the KONY 2012 campaign goes, I am open to criticisms about that. Not everyone would agree with their tactics and I believe that is fair.

What is not fair is all of these false accusations about money issues and pictures with guns and white savior complex... it's all so unfair in my eyes. I have spent SEVEN years working alongside this company... I KNOW this company... and people who have never even watched the original film are making horrible accusations.

I am really frustrated with this. And I am really frustrated with a lot of Christian reactions to this.

It seems that nothing is ever enough for people.




Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bloggin'

My life has changed so much over these past few months. I have recently started blogging again at my friend's blog called The Two Cities. It's been fun, and I am easily swayed to offer a woman's voice as often as possible, but I am wanting to get back into the fun of writing and posting thoughts on a more regular basis. I have recently been inspired a lot by Rachel Held Evans and her amazing blog that is fun to read as she posts almost every day. While I know that I am not the most amazing writer in the universe I desire to keep blogging for a few reasons.

First, it helps me tremendously with my writing skills.

Second, it helps me put all the things I am learning somewhere safe and sound. Well, maybe not safe, but permanent.

Third, I want to share what I am learning. Going to school is such a privilege and don't take it lightly. One of the ways I can give back to the community (secular and religious) is to share this knowledge that I have so graciously been given.

Over the next few months I will be thinking about how I want to revamp my blog, hopefully launching it this summer sometime.

If you are reading this, thank you! I still get my blog visit stats every week and I have on average about 50 visits per week (excluding mine) and I am so shocked by this. Thank you for reading and checking up on me, and I look forward to what the future holds.


Sunday, March 4, 2012