Church, Election & Rooftop Party

Posted by on Wednesday, Nov 16, 2016 in Blog, Gender | 0 comments

This year’s presidential election has vividly demonstrated a divide, but it is not the political one I am talking about. I’m referring to the divide within the conservative faith community. It was evident on social media and proven by the Pew Research Center. “The 2016 presidential exit polling reveals little change in the political alignments of U.S. religious groups. Those who supported Republican candidates in recent elections, such as white born-again or evangelical Christians and white Catholics, strongly supported Donald Trump as well. Groups that traditionally backed Democratic candidates, including religious “nones,” Hispanic Catholics and Jews, were firmly in Hillary Clinton’s corner.” I recently blogged about how many, women of faith, are deeply disappointed and even disturbed by the radio silence of our male leadership pertaining to the misogynistic and sexual objectification of women during the election season. For me, the disappointment wasn’t about whether or not the winner was red or blue; it was about how we winked at the Imago Dei woman – she was once again marginalized by the Church. I want my brothers to care as much about my whole body as they do about my womb. After the election, my husband and I hosted a party for both red and blue –democrats, republicans, and independents welcomed. It was a “Thank God It’s Over, Politics Free” party. About a 100 of us gathered at a rooftop bar. We listened to great music and heard a spoken word piece premiered which was then followed up by singing “God Bless America”. We devoured good food, drank wine, and chit chatted. The only thing not at the party was politics. It was a politics-free party. In fact, if someone overheard you talking politics, you had to buy them a drink. “God Bless America” at Thank God It’s Over from The Marcella Project on Vimeo. It’s been encouraging to reflect upon that evening. I knew almost everyone there. I also had a general idea who each person voted for – almost. There were Trump supporters, Hillary supporters, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. There were even visitors from other countries who had no “dog in the fight” at all. Regardless of how each voted, it was inspiring that every one of them has devoted their lives to helping the marginalized. By the bar was a businessman who helps plants churches in predominately Islamic countries. Over on the side of the room was a retired CFO that gives her time to helping non-profits focus on ennobling women. With her was a businesswoman who started companies in Afghanistan to help rebuild that country. There were mentors of underprivileged kids, authors who write about hope, counselors who heal, policy wonks who better others’ lives,...

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On Her Behalf

Posted by on Wednesday, Nov 9, 2016 in Blog | 10 comments

This morning I woke to a flood of texts and emails from women around the country. These women should be heard. So I will speak, not as an authority but as one of them. First, let me say, this isn’t about Donald Trump – it’s about my brothers and the message you have sent to your sisters. It’s not about whom you voted for; it’s about the fact that you let it slide. It hurts. We women are disturbed that we elected a man who called his daughter “a nice piece of _____“ to be our next president. We are deeply disturbed because we just winked at sexism. We’re not shocked, we’ve lived it our whole lives, but we are deeply disturbed. To be honest, it hurts. We are deeply disturbed by our brothers. The white evangelical vote heavily contributed to our electing a sexist president into office. Our male leaders, the shepherds of our flocks – James Dobson, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell Jr. backed Trump and in doing so stated that we women aren’t that important. Our brothers spoke against abortion but not misogyny. It hurts. We women who have tirelessly served in your churches, tithed, and helped with your building campaigns, have been told sexism isn’t that big of a deal. We aren’t shocked, we’ve heard it our whole lives, but we expected more from you, our deacons, our elders, and our pastors. We are deeply disturbed that too many of our brothers simply went “radio silent.” You didn’t stand with sexism, but you didn’t fight against it either. Radio silence to 60% of your congregation. We’re not shocked, we’ve lived it our whole life, but we are disappointed – deeply disappointed. It makes us want to ask you, “At what point will you stand up for us, your other half, the Imago Dei?” You missed the chance this time around, but you will get that chance again. For those men of faith who did step up, stand up, and speak up – Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It mattered to us. I’m writing this for those of us who are grieving today, not about politics whether we’re red or blue – but about the message we’ve just sent to women and girls around the globe. We’re not shocked, we’ve lived it our whole lives. We know locker room talk exists – we just never expected our brothers to go along. On behalf of my sisters, I say to our Christian leaders, shame on you. “As surely as I live, says the Lord, you have abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal.” (Ezekiel 34:8) To my sisters – I...

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He Withheld A Handshake

Posted by on Wednesday, Sep 21, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

I confess when I read this article, Faith- Based Refusal to Shake Hands with a Woman, and a specific religion came to mind. I won’t share which but it wasn’t mine – after all we American Christians are more “advanced.” We don’t believe shaking a female’s hand pollutes or makes a man unclean. “At a business meeting, a man refused to shake hands with me and all the other women in the room, citing ‘religious restrictions.’ He proceeded to shake hands with the men. He was, I might add, otherwise respectful.” I’ll be honest, even though I want to respect other faiths’ view of women, more often than not, I find myself breathing a sigh of “You’ve got to be kidding me? Surely we’ve progressed beyond this.” Or have we? A woman on staff of a conservative evangelical church sent me an email. She was hurting over the rejection she experienced at the hands of one of her brothers in the church. The man was offended that Sally (not her real name) held a pastoral position. Even though Sally was appointed by her male elders, this man, Sam (not his real name) didn’t feel it was biblical. Sally heard Sam was frustrated by her presence on staff so she decided to reach out to him and see if they could meet. Sam then emailed another male pastor on staff and informed him that he was offended that a female pastor would email him and that a male staff member should have emailed him. Not a handshake withheld but still. I found myself breathing that sigh of “You’ve got to be kidding me? Surely we’ve moved beyond that.” Or have we? These kinds of encounters are painful. I wish they weren’t. But they are. It’s painful to realize that your gender is a liability – that being female offends. When I read the article my mind immediately went to “another religion far away” but it’s not something “they” do – it’s something we do and it’s happening right here in our local...

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I Have a Hunch

Posted by on Monday, Sep 12, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments

I have a hunch – a hypothesis waiting to be proven by some taker. We know that the majority of church-going conservative women are what’s called “received knowers.” Received knowers do not construct their own knowledge—they receive it. They rely on an authoritative source (male leadership) to tell them what is right or wrong. To a received knower, there is only one right interpretation—one right answer—to a problem. Ambiguity or paradox cannot be tolerated. Concepts must be predictable, easily consumed, and clearly laid out. (In other words women tend to leave their critical thinking skills at the door of their church. Don’t get me wrong, there are women out there that recognize inconsistencies but have no forum to raise questions without being seen as divisive, angry, or not supportive of leadership. Either way, women’s voices are silenced.) We also know women in the conservative evangelical world are the least likely to be trained in the areas of leading and preaching.  That’s not to say women aren’t leading or teaching bible studies; it just means those who are teaching bible studies are less likely to be trained in those areas of service. (Women are afraid if they pursue the necessary training they will be sinning by stepping over some invisible gender role line, or that people will see them as a feminazi.) I wrote She Can Teach to help women gain the confidence and skill to handle the Scriptures effectively.  We also know that if women are to be trained to lead or teach skillfully, they first must be convinced that they are not only able but also called to do so. By “called,” I’m talking about God’s call on a woman’s life to commit to the work of ministry. Here’s what I’ve seen: Women in the conservative faith community wait for the male nod. When the male leadership nods we see a whole half of the church rise up and risk. Women start to see possibilities and they go for them. They write that book. Start that ministry. Go back for more training. More schooling. They become experts in their fields. What I’m saying is where I see women kicking butt on behalf of Jesus – it’s usually done in the presence of the male nod. Men inviting women to not only engage but go for it. And they do everything in their power to make way for her to do so. She rises up – to the opportunity. And we, the Bride of Christ, benefit and the world receives a warrior Ezer working on behalf of her Savior Jesus. She changes things. Her family, community, faith community, work place, social systems, politics …. I’ve seen it. Not as...

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Living In Between

Posted by on Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

If someone you trusted failed you, if you’ve stepped out of your organized faith community but haven’t landed in another, if you have let go of the old answers and are asking new questions, or if you are not who you were but not yet who you will become … well, then you’re probably living in liminality. Liminal space is the place in between – it’s an uncomfortable place but it’s the place where all transformation happens. The following is an excellent article on liminality. It’s long but it’s worth it! Breath in deep, digest well. Forty Years in a Narrow Space by Lenard Hjalmarson.    Sometimes the best map will not guide you You can’t see what’s round the bend, Sometimes the road leads through dark places Sometimes the darkness is your friend. One April Sunday my family and I visited a young church community in our town. On the way to the meeting we noticed two very different restaurant signs. The first invited, “Come in from the cold; warm food and hot drinks.” The second proclaimed, “Swing into spring. Escape the heat with our smoothies and frappacinos.” Contradiction is one of the elements of liminality. Is it winter, or spring? When the seasons are in transition, and the old season hasn’t quite given way to the new, we don’t know quite what kind of weather to expect or even how to dress on a given morning. When we walk out the door it might be hot, or it might be cold. Worse, it may start out warm then shift to cold while we are on the road. We are plunged into uncertainty. When the church is in transition, the same kind of confusion surfaces. Even casual conversations can become complex, with people using language in very different ways. “Church” and “evangelism” and even “Christian” carry baggage they didn’t once possess. We struggle for definition, even reacting against it. Moving from a Baptist gathering to an E Free gathering becomes an experience in cultural shift, even within the same town. Liminality is a place in between. It is emptiness and nowhere. Adolescence is the liminal space between childhood and adulthood. But liminality is more than a point along the way to somewhere else. It represents anti-structure to structure, chaos to order. The place between two world views is a liminal place. It is a place of dying and rebirth, even of metamorphosis, the place where the caterpillar spins its cocoon and disappears from view. Liminality is Israel in the desert, Jesus in the tomb. Reality is that place between the sea and the foam. Irish Proverb The Latin word limina means threshold. Liminality is where all transformation happens....

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