Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Headed to study at Oxford University

Well, I'm a busy gal, with little time to write blogs these days. I am not sure if anyone even check this blog anymore. But on the chance there are still some of you who peruse this site from time to time, here is the latest update on my life and chance to be involved:

For those of you who know me or have caught glimpses of my life through Facebook or blogging, you may already know that I have been selected to participate in Oxford University’s journalism program this summer. This opportunity is not only a colossal honor, but an exceptional milestone in the story of my life. But as with most spectacular opportunities, it comes at price and requires quite a bit of sacrifice. The cost to go is well beyond what I can afford, even with scholarships and financial aid. I’ve contemplated getting a second job, but since I currently have no days off, that doesn’t seem to be a possibility unless I want to give up sleeping altogether. I go to school Monday through Friday and work Mondays, Wednesdays, and all weekend-long, not to mention raising my son in the midst of my jam-packed schedule this semester. As a single-mom, student, and worker, I am stretched to the max both with time and money. I’m working and saving all that I can, but it will not be enough. So, friends and family, if you’d like to help me attend Oxford University this summer, I would be forever grateful.

I will keep this relatively brief to avoid an all out self-promotional sob-story in order to solicit money. But I’ll share part of my story to explain why this opportunity means so much to me. 

When I was a child. The world was small. At least, that’s how it seemed. From a young age I developed a very poor self-image that plagued me throughout my life. My opportunities and options for life seemed limited for numerous reasons that do not need to be rehashed here. This perceived smallness of my world lead to defeatism. I did not apply myself during high school and dropped out my senior year. I spent the next few years waiting tables, believing this was the best I could do for myself. Deep inside, I always possessed a passion for learning, thinking, writing and experiencing the diversity our world has to offer. But the unforgiving boot of self-doubt pressed heavily upon the neck of those passions, leaving me resigned to a mediocre life because I erroneously believed I was not intelligent enough or good enough to pursue these repressed goals. 

Thankfully, as the years went on, I begin to catch glimpses of a larger world filled with possibilities. Each small accomplishment lead to new goals and new confidence. I earned my high school diploma and the world grew just a little bigger. I enrolled in community college and the world grew even bigger. I excelled academically and was recommended for the Honor’s program. And the world grew bigger. A short story I wrote won first place and was published in a Georgia Magazine. I won awards for my newspaper articles and was offered a job as a reporter for a local newspaper. And the world grew bigger. I was accepted to the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism. And the world grew bigger. Each of these developments seemed an impossibility to the defeated high school dropout I was ten years ago. So here I am, standing on the borders of the only world I’ve ever known, hoping to go further. The opportunity to study journalism at Oxford University holds tremendous meaning for me. It’s not just the amazing experience that lies ahead at a prestigious school in a beautiful foreign country. It’s the affirmation that all the hard work over the past 8 years has not been in vain. It’s a brazen middle finger wagging in the face of the lies I believed about myself for far too long. For me, it’s the world, once again, growing bigger. 

So, if you would like to see this former high school dropout become a student at Oxford University and help make this dream of mine a reality, you can make a donation here: 

 If not, just join with me in celebrating this momentous opportunity. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

To Whom It May Concern: Failure, Freedom, and The Future

"We are all failures at least, all the best of us are."-J.M. Barrie

So, I turned 29 a couple of weeks ago. It's not 30, but for me, it's a rather important milestone, coinciding with a new beginning in my life. Some of you have noticed my relative silence in the past year and a half from the Internet world---haven't been blogging or relishing in the plethora of theological or political discussions happening as I once did. My activity in this forum has pretty much been limited to posting random pictures from my everyday life, the occasional vague status update, or recycling quotes/lyrics/videos that resonate with me. I despise "over-sharing" via facebook, and I have no intention of airing the most intimate and guarded details of my personal life in such a public forum, but a general update and basic explanation for my disappearance seems warranted.

Failure. If I had to sum up the "theme" of the year 2011 in one word, that would be it: failure (Or a trendier way to put it: 2011 was an "Epic Fail"). Sure, I graduated from college with a near perfect GPA, but all my straight A's couldn't erase the F's I earned outside of school. I got divorced and might as well have worn a huge scarlet D on my chest. Though divorce is such a common occurrence in this day and age, it is an utterly agonizing, horrifying, and often incapacitating experience that ruptures and transforms every single aspect of your life. Like the wobbly tower of a near-finished game of Jenga, the last wooden slat of my hollowed-out 10-year marriage was yanked out and finally crumbled, crashing to the ground. However my own personal definition of "success" was formed (from a mixture of the bible, my church tradition, my own ideals, hopes, and expectations), ending up divorced at 28, after ten years of marriage, seemed like the worst way in which I could fail. I feared hurting my ex-husband, hurting my son, hurting my family, and my friends. I feared being scrutinized, rejected, judged, condemned, abandoned, betrayed, and hated. I feared losing all that had come familiar to me. Even though, the familiar was broken, damaging, and painful, the familiar is always less scary than the unknown. Sadly, many of my fears were warranted. It hurt. I let people down. People let me down. I lost friends. I was consumed and disappeared.

Failure (A.K.A. Divorce), for so long, was not an option. I hate to fail, and everything that comes along with it: feelings of disappointment, inadequacy, humiliation, and the gnawing awareness of letting down everyone you love. There's a certain involuntary vulnerability that failure demands. So, I denied failure haunted me, ignored it, fought against it, prayed against it, rejected it, but most of all, I feared it. I spent years in emotional paralysis because of the fear to fail in this way. Failure was the mental Boogey-Man lurking the dark halls of my mind, hiding in locked closets in my heart, threatening to destroy everything. I knew well the consequences of this failure.Dissolving a ten year marriage doesn't just end the husband-wife relationship (as if that un-tangling process isn't complicated and painful enough), but a divorce ripples out beyond a splitting couple into the lives of their immediate and extended families, friends, churches, and communities.

Divorce changes everything. It changes the very orientation of your life: where you live, how
you function on a daily basis, how you interact with the larger circle of people in your life, how you speak and see relationships. Divorce shines a harsh, unforgiving spotlight on the corpse of a
marriage, and then rips open the blinds for the whole world to peer inside and speculate whose fault the death is: Was it a murder? Was it a suicide? An accidental overdose? Whose fault was it anyway? People have questions, assumptions, advice, opinions, and oh, do they want answers. Rumors circulate. Bits and pieces of "the story" are traded like baseball cards. Battle lines are drawn. Sides are taken. Family and friends are put in the middle. Children hear and see things they never should.

So, failure was the enemy to be kept at bay at all cost. And it did cost me.The only problem was I was living a lie, a lie with noble intentions, but a lie, nonetheless. Success (as it was defined for me or defined by me) was a relentless taskmaster whose burden grew so heavy, that I was crushed beneath it. I watched myself and my ex-husband slowly, though alarmingly, deteriorate, caught in a dysfunctional cycle with no easy answers. In the end, maintaining an appearance of success was so unbearable, that I begin to long for failure, to pine for it, dare I say, hope for it. Suddenly all the devastating consequences of failure seemed a small price to pay to be freed from a prison of "success." Suddenly, failure was not so menacing. When I finally found the courage to turn on the light in the dark halls and closets of my mind and heart, failure no longer looked like the terrifying Boogey-Man I had always imagined. Failure took the form a patient, gracious mother quietly beckoning me to humbly rest in her arms, teaching me to mourn before I could rejoice, to bleed before I could heal, to die before I could be reborn. Failure taught me that no matter how painful and devastating the truth may be, it is the only thing that will set you free in the end.

Failure left no stone un-turned--emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially, socially---nothing is the same and nothing will ever be the same again. It meant losing friends, facing my own brokenness, finding the courage to tell a complicated truth when living a much simpler lie seemed kinder and more convenient for everyone. But failure also brought bitter-sweet relief. It
revealed who my true friends are, and gave me the chance to love in a way I never thought possible. Sometimes facing your own failure, whether a true failure or perceived failure, may indeed be a tragic end to one chapter in our lives, but it *can*also give us an opportunity to start again, with a renewed hope for the future. And sometimes, through failure, we can learn to live again better than we could before. And I hope that's the direction I am headed towards.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Like Mercy...But I Love Revenge

"There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness."--Josh Billings

Something profound happens to me whenever I reflect upon the parable of the Prodigal Son. This ungrateful, selfish brat conveniently desires to return home only after he runs out of money and can barely survive. Yet, he experiences his father’s extraordinarily lavish mercy. This is not the kind of mercy that merely forgoes punishment or retribution, but a mercy that welcomes, restores, and celebrates this returning son. This radical and offensive display of mercy moves me. It unleashes an unquenchable thirst for mercy in our world. I’m sort of infatuated with Mercy. I daydream of a world that operates out of that kind of mercy. But then…

When my son disregards my repeated warnings to get off the table and then falls and hurts himself, I sigh with satisfaction.

When the driver who cuts me off gets pulled over by the police, I smugly smile.

When the friend who betrays me apologizes, I stubbornly hold a grudge.

When I deliver an insult that outwits the person who insulted me first, I stand a little taller.

When an ideological opponent is proven wrong, I dance in victory.

When my political opponent is humiliated, I laugh.

When my religious opponent falls, I rub it in.

And when the vile terrorist gets shot in the face, I gleefully rejoice.

See, I’ll flirt with Mercy and praise her many virtues. Mercy is great for a spiritual fling, for a good theological roll in the hay. But the moment Mercy wants to jump off those red-lettered pages into the real world, Mercy gets kicked out of bed faster than an STD-infested hooker. See, I like Mercy, I really do, but I love Revenge. Mercy lives in parables I revere, in the dreams that give me spiritual butterflies, in my ideal fantasies of how the world should be. And that’s where I want her to stay. Revenge is a lover much more suitable for the real world. Revenge lives with me in my daily attitudes and actions, in my heart. I may have an occasional rendezvous affair with Mercy, but I’m married to Revenge. Because when push comes to shove, Mercy is shown the door and Revenge gets the ring.

For me, the death of Osama Bin Laden is not primarily about whether the government had the right to kill him (although I know that discussion is happening), but what our ideal attitude and heart should be in the midst of this reality. Many are discussing the implications of bible verses like Romans 13, Ezekiel 18:32, and Proverbs 24:17 in this matter. For me, I acknowledge the government has a serious duty to protect the innocent by stopping dangerous mass-murderers like Bin Laden. Bin Laden lived by the sword and consequently died by it. He perpetuated hatred, fear, violence, and murder. Ideally, I’d rather see dangerous people like him captured and imprisoned instead of killed, but I realize that is not always possible. Yet, somehow cheering and gloating over his death in a patriotic frenzy does not align with the highest ideals of my faith. There’s a difference between acknowledging the government’s authority to kill a terrorist like Bin Laden, and reveling in it. I can both affirm that what the government did was permissible, without taking pleasure in the death of another human being. So, I don’t sit here condemning the government for taking out Bin Laden or even the people who are cheering his death like it’s a Super-bowl victory. I sit here thinking about what’s in my own heart. When I heard that Bin Laden was killed, I wasn’t thinking about the government’s “divine mandate” to execute justice, or the fact that Bin Laden wouldn’t be able to harm anyone ever again, or anything so noble. I thought “that bastard finally got what was coming to him.” I felt superior and savored the thought of Bin Laden getting shot in the face. No matter how many valid reasons exist to justify killing Bin Laden, I still must face the heart beneath it all that harbors revenge.

I’ve read a lot of ugly things this week. Celebratory cheers over Bin Laden in hell, cries that his body should have been desecrated, and regrets that Bin Laden didn’t suffer more before dying. Many of these comments were from Christians. And while I never voiced such thoughts, perhaps some of these comments reflected what was lurking inside my own heart.

As Jesus hung on the cross, in agonizing pain, He was moved toward compassion for his enemies, the very people who mocked him, plotted his arrest, oppressed His people, spat on him, humiliated him, tortured him, and nailed him to the cross. In the very MIDST of His suffering, He cried out on their behalf, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His heart was FOR his enemies, hoping for their reconciliation and restoration before God.

I don’t pray like that much. My prayers usually devolve into something like, “Father, forsake them, for they know exactly what they’re doing!” I don’t want my enemies to receive mercy and I certainly don’t want to ask for it on their behalf.

Deep down, I love revenge. I live it, justify it, often approve of it, and even root for it. Revenge feels good, sometimes it even feels right. Revenge is a seductive lover. But Mercy stands on the sidelines, down on one knee, proposing to a world caught in the violent cycles of Revenge. But marrying Mercy means divorcing Revenge and the addicting attitudes that go along with it: the sense of superiority, the self-righteous comparisons, and the surges of glee and revelry that arise when an “enemy” gets their comeuppance. Living a life with Mercy means relinquishing that gavel we are constantly wrestling out of God’s hands to wield in judgment ourselves. It means crying out on our enemies’ behalf, even in the midst of unfathomable suffering caused by their hands. For that is the way of Christ.

No matter what our opinions are about Bin Laden and all the politics surrounding what happened, as followers of Christ, I hope our attitudes reflect that:

All life is sacred.
Death is always tragic.
Violence (no matter how well-intentioned) has ugly ramifications.
And Mercy has the power to liberate both the oppressor and the oppressed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Loving Our Enemies: Where to Begin?

This post is part of the Bless Those Who Curse You Campaign's Synchroblog. The links to other contributors can be found at the bottom of this post.

Jesus makes me laugh. Sometimes I laugh at His snarky comebacks to the Pharisees. Sometimes, I laugh when I think of Him walking on water, perhaps with a hint of playful mischief in His eyes, as he beckons Peter to follow. Sometimes, I laugh at His blatant disregard for social customs, religious traditions, and the accepted "orthodox" theology of His day. But then, other times, there's a different sort of laughter that Jesus elicits from me. It happens when I encounter some of His most radical teachings:

"But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also...If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Or "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you...If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic...and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."

This laughter isn't an intellectually-amused reaction to Jesus' razor-sharp wit. It is not the laughter that comes from the awe of, what must have been, a bizarrely beyond-all-reason experience. Nor is it the semi-maniacal laughter over Jesus flipping His culture's most precious ideologies upside-down. No. This kind of laughter comes from utter, almost appalled, disbelief. Love my enemies? Bless those who curse me? Pray for those who mistreat me? Don't fight back, but turn the other cheek? Don't resist an evil person? If someone steals my coat, give them the shirt off my back, too? Give to EVERYONE who asks of me?? Without expecting to ever be repaid?

No, this isn't the laughter of the amused. It is the laughter of the offended. The dumbfounded. The convicted.

And yet, after the initial shock wears off about just how insane the way of Christ is and how miserably I fall short of it all, there is something so brilliant and beautiful happening behind Jesus' words. It's not just that Jesus commands us to love our enemies, but He's undermining the entire belief that we even have any enemies to begin with. Paul picked up on this when he wrote, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers." People are not our enemies. People get caught up in the systems of principalities and powers, become enslaved to those principalities and powers, even acting as agents of them, but people, themselves, are not our enemies. "They" are our fellow image-bearers. "They" are our fellow human beings who God loves just as much as He loves "us." It applies to the thief, the terrorist, the hypocrite, the liar, the angry, the greedy, the self-righteous, the bitter, the wounder, the wounded, the violent, the religious-other, the sexual-other, the political-other.

Loving our "enemies" is the way to affirm the innate dignity and worth of every person, even when they deserve it the least. It's the way to stop the cyclical nature of violence, revenge, bitterness, unforgiveness, and hatred. It's the tiny window into the glorious bigger picture beyond our individual wounds and pet ideologies. Loving our enemies, sometimes, shows us that we, ourselves, have often been an enemy to "the other."

Who have we declared to be our enemies? Who have you declared to be your enemy?

Loving our Enemies. Where to begin? Perhaps, we must first realize that we don't actually have any.

Others blogging on this topic:

David Henson at Unorthodoxology: Can Anybody Find Me Somebody to Love?

George Elerick at The Love Revolution: Toxicity

Brian Ammons at Nekkid Ressurrection: Loving Those Who Curse Us

Brambonius' Blog: Love Your Enemies, Bless Those Who Curse You...

Mark Sandlin at The God Article: A Call to Political Authenticity for Christians

Danielle Shroyer: "A Prayer for our enemies....And for Us."

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Scariest Verses in The Qu'ran!!!

Every Christian should be aware of these. The following endorses genocide, violence, rape, forced marriages, infanticide, and even cannibalism.

1. "..devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. "

2. "Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us, he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks."

3. “But of the cities of these peoples which {Allah} gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them."

4. "And when [Allah] shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them."

5. "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword."

6. "Their children shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes! There houses spoiled, and their wives raped...Dash the young men to pieces...have no pity on the fruit of the womb, the children shall not be spared..."

7. "So [he] smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as [Allah] commanded."

8. "We took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain."

9. "And [he] smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel. And [he] saved neither man nor woman alive."

10. "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the female children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

11. "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."

12. "And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon."

13. “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her.."

14. "If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself."

15. "And if you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. She shall put off the clothes of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall set her free."

16. "Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants."

17. "If there be found among you... man or woman....who hath gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded...then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman who has committed that wicked thing unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones till they die."

18. "Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars.."

19. "You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you."

20. "Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before {Allah} against the sun.”

21. "They shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up!"

22. “And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.”

These Verses are brutal and terrifying. The only problem is, they are NOT from the Qu'ran, they are ALL from the Bible. It's not hard to rip troubling verses out from their original surroundings, like so many of us have done to our Muslim neighbors, taking no consideration for context, interpretation and application. And by the way, some of these verses IN context are no less troubling. But those of us who believe and follow the Bible (at least most of us) are not plotting and carrying out genocide, violence, etc. etc.

When verses from our holy book are ripped out of context, misrepresented and used against us, well, it's deeply offensive and frustrating. May I suggest, we do unto others as we would have others do to us? In this case, let's read the Qu'ran in context and find out from Muslims themselves how they understand and live out the heart of their religion and what the various interpretations and applications are for such difficult texts. At the very least, let's be aware of the troubling verses in our own holy book before we start throwing stones at everyone else's holy books...

Reference Verses for all scripture cited:

1 Samuel 15:3, Psalm 137, Deut 20:16, Deut 7:1-2, Joshua 6:12, Isaiah: 13: 16-18, Joshua 10:40, Deut.2:26-35, 1 Samuel 27:8-9, Numbers 31: 17-18, Luke 19:27 2 Samuel 12:31 Deuteronomy: 22: 28-29, Exodus 21:4, Deuteronomy 21:11-14, Isaiah 14:21, Deuteronomy 17:2-5, Exodus 34: 11-12, Leviticus 26:7-8, Numbers 25:4 Hosea 13:16

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Second Chance Theology: Real Heresy?

Second Chance Theology: Real Heresy?: "Powerful words from Gregory Boyd on real heresy: “While those who wielded the Constantinian sword throughout history undoubtedly convinced..."

Monday, April 19, 2010

What is Emerging? A Wood Between Worlds

"No, I don't believe this wood is a world at all. It's just a sort of in between place..Think of our tunnel under the slates at home. It isn't a room in any of the houses. In a way, it really isn't a part of any of the houses. But once you are in the tunnel, you can go along it and come out into any of the houses in the row. Mightn't this wood be the same?--a place that isn't in any of the worlds, but once you've found that place you can get into them all."--Digory, The Magician's Nephew.

I could say so much about what the Emerging Movement is and probably even more about what it is not (since misconceptions bug me). But instead, I'd like to focus on why the Emerging Movement has been invaluable to my own faith journey. The Emerging Movement has been the catalyst to going deeper with the scriptures, asking harder questions of myself, my community, and my God, and rethinking many of my own perspectives, assumptions, and understandings of the bible, faith, and what it means to be a follower of Christ.

In one of C.S. Lewis's classic Chronicles of Narnia books, The Magician's Nephew, Digory and Polly stumble upon "The Wood Between Worlds," a heavily forested place with an abundance of pools. The trees go so far up that they create a huge canopy that blocks their view of the sky and sun, yet a strange and warm light seeps through the cracks between branches and leaves to illuminate this strange place. They soon discover that each of the seemingly shallow pools of water are actually portals into other worlds.

For me, The Emerging Movement is a sort of Wood Between Worlds. It's not just another church or another denomination, but a place that connects us to something bigger, and by experiencing the other worlds through this place, our own world will never be the same. It's a humble place where we admit our limited view and yet walk boldly within the light that does shine through. A safe place to explore and seek honestly, fearlessly, and even brokenly. A welcoming place that attempts bringing together the vast "worlds" within the church.

My experience within churches, whether it was the Pentecostal churches in my young childhood, the catholic church in my middle school years, the Calvary Chapel movement in my teens and early twenties, or the nondenominational-moderately-charismatic church I'm a part of now, has been rather insular. In each of these faith traditions, I met lovely people (some of whom have become lifelong friends) committed to following God in how they knew to best. However, many in these settings were not only surprisingly unaware of the actual practices, beliefs, and history of other christian traditions, but were WARY of any other christian traditions beside their own. As I travelled between traditions, I found much to be celebrated and faithful people in all of them. But never shaking that "square peg" feeling, I always knew something was missing. Something was off. Something was stifled. Someone was calling me out, to go further up and further in.

When I went through my crisis of faith during my early twenties, I felt utterly alone in my thoughts, questions, beliefs, and understanding of God, the Bible, and what it meant to be a follower of Christ. Because of the insular nature of the traditions I had been involved in, I was completely unaware of any other expressions of the christian faith outside of the circles I travelled in, none of which I fit into very well.

But The Emerging Movement became an inclusive haven for the myriad of christian traditions and faith expressions to be fairly represented and engaged with. It's a place to learn from each other, to walk in each other's shoes, and progress further together in bringing about God's Kingdom. It's a place to wrestle, to challenge, to doubt, to affirm, to reject, to believe, to inspire, to listen, and to emerge as a fuller, more authentic person and community of faith. It's a place to conspire together about how to live out the love of God in our world.

Best of all, it's a place that draws God's diverse people out of their own secluded pools, continually welcoming them to be seated at the same table to encounter each other as a family and as a community.

This post is part of a synchroblog effort organized by Julie Clawson to gather diverse voices about the Emerging Movement. To read more posts on this subject, Julie has linked to all of the posts over at her blog here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The R's of Discipline

"Moreover your little ones and your children...who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it."--Deuteronomy 1:39

Now that I've shared why my husband and I will not be spanking our child, I thought I'd share some of the disciplinary tools we are planning to use to help and guide our little man through the confusing journey of growing up. I compiled a list, "The R's of Discipline" to sum up the basic principles and practical application.


The strategic use of distraction to transition very young children away from an undesired activity to a desirable one.


Teaching values, morals and good behavior to a child through verbal communication, games, reading books, drawing pictures, utilizing real-life experiences, being an example, training, and making opportunities to convey lessons as often and as creatively as possible.


Modeling the behavior and values ourselves that are expected from our children. Here's a powerful video that shows representation needs to be one of our highest priorities as parents..


Firmly and clearly addressing and correcting bad behavior. With young children firm language should also be accompanied by restraint or removal in a potentially harmful situation (like touching a hot stove or running towards the road).

Respect :

Showing the child the same respect we expect them to show us; respect for their feelings, perspective, situation, body, and voice.


Explaining the purpose behind a rule, restriction, correction or standard. Children are much more likely to behave if they know WHY they should behave in a certain way. The phrase "Because I said so" only plants the seeds of resentment.


Clearly and SIMPLY stating the behavior expected from a child and WHY it is expected on a regular basis, especially for younger children who have short attention spans.


Creating a clear set of fair standards for the home and life in general along with the principles behind those standards. So children KNOW what is expected from them.


Followup with consequences for bad behavior. If you have established that certain behaviors have certain consequences, follow through and don't make idle threats.


Repeatedly praising a child for good behavior and reaffirming your love for them no matter what their behavior is.


the consistent practice of discipline.


Strengthening the bond and trust between a parent and child. Many behavioral problems stem from broken relationships and lack of trust in this vital relationship. Seek honest communication, respect, and quality time with the child.


Acknowledging good behavior and going out of the way to associate behaving well with good experiences.


The use of time-outs, taking away privileges, rewards, objects of interests, etc., etc.,


Physically restricting a child from touching "no-no" items or from hurting themselves like during a temper tantrum or running out in the road.

Having children replace belongings they have broken or damaged.

This a basic principle that teaches a child responsibility for their actions and can be applied in different ways depending on the age and understanding of a child. If my toddler is playing with another child and purposefully breaks that child's toy out of frustration, then my toddler would be instructed to give the child one of their own toys of "equal value." If an older child damages or is careless with other people's belongings, that child would have to replace the damaged items with money from their allowance or work it off in some other way.

Realistic Consequences:

In a controlled environment AND within reason, allowing children to experience the natural consequences of their actions. If they refuse to eat a lunch, they cannot eat again until the next meal, if they refuse to do their own laundry, they have to wear dirty clothes until they do, if they are told to hold on tightly to their balloon and still let go, the balloon floats away and they lose it. There are countless ways to allow children to experience the logical conclusions to their actions. Here's a decent article explaining the concept further.

Regaining Order:

Establishing a controlled-environment in which a child's temper tantrum does not take over a social situation. For instance, if a toddler throws a temper tantrum at a restaurant because they want dessert now and refuses to calm down after being instructed to, the parent would immediately remove the child from the table, take them to the bathroom or the car, make sure they are safe, but allow them to choose their behavior. They can continue throwing a tantrum, but it will only keep them from the fun inside, will not get them what they want, and the parent will not even engage in a conversation with the child until they choose to compose themselves. Once the child has calmed themselves down, BEFORE bringing the child back inside, discuss their behavior, instruct them on how they must behave once they go back if they want to stay in the restaurant. Repeat process if necessary. The same principle can be carried out while shopping or just at home. It's time-consuming and requires the parent to sacrifice their social time as well. But if this practiced consistently, it will not have to be done that much or for long. The child will soon learn that temper tantrums simply do not work.


Anticipating a child's behavioral tendencies (based on temperament and experience) and creating a plan before bad behavior arises. Discipline sessions go much smoother if a parent already knows how to respond to unwanted behaviors. Also, by being acquainted with a child's behavioral tendencies, a parent can avoid putting a the child in overly-tempting situations unnecessarily. For instance, don't take a temper-tantrum prone child on a long shopping during nap time. Make it as easy as possible for the child to do what is right by avoiding situations that are too much for the child to handle. Don't surround the child with things he cannot touch. Maximize the outlets to play and explore and limit the chances to get into trouble.

These are some of the disciplinary techniques we have chosen, what are some of the disciplinary techniques you find work best in your family?

Here are the links to the rest of this series:

We're Coming Out of the Closet...

Spanking and the Bible

Are the "Rod" Verses Figurative or Literal?

Why do some Christian Reject Spanking?

Spanking and The Imperfect Parent

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spanking and the Imperfect Parent

I am a violent person.

Well, I was a violent person and at times still desire to be one. By violent, I do not mean that I killed someone or beat someone up (except that one bully in the fourth grade), but that I struggled for years with fits of rage, during which I have thrown plates, punched walls, kicked doors, and even slapped, pinched, and pushed my husband. The early years of my marriage, a particularly angry and hurting time in my life, were filled with episodes of such unbridled rage that the ONLY relief came by hitting, punching, kicking, screaming or breaking stuff. Thankfully, my anger has dulled since those days as I began the long arduous process of healing from childhood wounds. I am happy to say that those uncontrolled behaviors have been tamed (now if I could only get my tongue under control!). But to this day, my husband reserves the skin on his elbow to offer me a "pre-approved" pinching spot to help me out when I am on the brink because when I get angry, the desire to act out in physically destructive ways rears its ugly head.

All that to say, I know myself. I, of all people, absolutely cannot give myself permission to spank under the guise of biblical mandates and loving discipline. It would not be so. Even though my mind and heart are wedded to the ideals of nonviolence and grace-based everything, I still live in a body that likes violence and likes to see people get what is coming to them.

Some have said that within every human being, there rages a war, a war between "good and evil." This analogy refers to the complicated web of conflicts and contradictions that make up the character of us humans. We possess profound beauty and potential for greatness as image-bearers of the Living God, and we also can produce disturbing ugliness and destruction as fallen, broken creatures.

So while the nonviolent and insanely gracious teachings of Jesus have won my heart, my base instincts prefer a theology of retribution, retaliation and vengeance. The teachings of Jesus have won me over precisely because of this reality. "Turn the other cheek" is beyond beautiful to me because I know firsthand how ugly the desires behind "an eye for an eye" really are.

My son is nine months old, and already there have been times when he cries in the middle of the night or will not settle down to eat or be changed that I want to give him a good whack. But this desire has nothing to do with discipline. This desire comes from the part of me that is selfish--the part that is put out and frustrated because MY sleep is being interrupted, because MY time is being infringed upon and because my innocent, precious son can't "get with the program." The desire to whack stems from the desire to relieve frustration. That is the ugly truth. But these are fleeting desires that quickly pass as I remind myself of the teachings of Jesus, the beauty and innocence of children, and my own shortcomings. The theology that preaches spanking would, in my case, foolishly nourish those momentary selfish desires and justify them under the guise of discipline. So, while biblical interpretation plays a major role in transforming my opinions about spanking, this decision is also informed by the painful awareness of my own weaknesses in this area.

I don't know what other people experience while spanking their children, but I do know that when Christians preach spanking as the only godly form of discipline, it puts Christians like me in a very precarious situation. I am not alone in this. When I began this series, I started by announcing my husband and I were coming out of the closet because choosing not to spank is a very controversial decision in church world. I have received quite a few e-mails from Christians who feel pressured, bullied, and biblically-guilted into spanking by their friends, churches and christian culture in general. I hope for someone, somewhere, my story and struggle can be a source of encouragement. And hopefully, the Church can better foster open and honest dialogue about this issue and the possible repercussions of spanking in the hands of imperfect parents like myself.

Why Do Some Christians Reject Spanking?

Since sharing our decision not to spank our child, I've received a lot of feedback, both positive and negative. In general, I've noticed that the biggest misconception about Christians who reject spanking is our motivation for doing so. Many in the pro-spanking camp portray non-spanking Christians as "world-pleasers," just going along with "the world's wisdom" instead of "God's wisdom." But the truth is, non-spanking Christians hold their convictions precisely because of the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament, not because of the advice of Dr. Phil or The Super Nanny.

And that's why the "rod" verses in the Book of Proverbs must be viewed through the prism of the New Testament. Even if those verses are NOT figurative, they can still be legitimately superseded by the higher standards of love and grace found in the New Testament. The Old Testament has been fulfilled through Christ. In Christ, we have a fuller picture of how God, as Father, relates to us, as His Children, and in turn, we, as parents, have a fuller picture of how to relate to our own children. We have Christ's example of nonviolence, overcoming evil with good, disciplining through teaching, unconditional love, mercy, grace, compassion, gentleness, kindness, patience, and self-sacrifice. We have been given the Holy Spirit to teach, guide, and convict. In light of these "developments," many Christians find themselves conflicted about using physical retribution to force children into compliance, let alone to bring about true repentance. Our understanding of the teachings of Jesus lead us to believe in grace-based discipline (which will be the subject of another post).

This conviction about forgoing corporal punishment, is much like the slue of other Old Testament practices that Christians have abandoned because of the fulfillment of the law and the higher callings of Christ. For instance, Christ updated "eye for an eye" with "turn the other cheek." He updated the callous allowances for divorce to a higher standard because of the hardness of men's hearts. We no longer abide by dietary restrictions, though eating shrimp is famously labeled an abomination in the Old Testament. We no longer engage in the harsh punishment, such as stoning people for behaviors like adultery (Duet. 22:23-24), fornication (Duet. 22: 13-21), or breaking the sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36). We also do not stone rebellious children (Duet. 21:18-21), or put to death children who curse or attack their parents (Exodus 21:15, Leviticus 20:9).

Likewise, much of the content of the Book of Proverbs, must be understood in the context of its relationship to Law of Moses, the legal system of the time, and all of the Old Testament must be filtered through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Randall Heskett explains in Interpretation Journal:

"The book of Proverbs can only be appreciated and correctly understood in an environment where the Law of Moses is the legal orientation. Without this understanding, the book has no real context. Remove it from this context and you have chaos. This also makes sense even from the very beginning of the book of Proverbs...Solomon, in the first proverb also urges his readers to "..hear the instruction of thy father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.” The word for “law” is the Hebrew word “torah” which is used numerous times to describe the “law of Moses.” The point is, all of the information that you find in the book of Proverbs was produced within a legal and religious environment where the Law of Moses was the governing religious system."

Of course, many of the standards of the OT carry over into the NT. The ones that do are reiterated in the NT, but no where in the NT are we told to physically strike children, though there are many passages that address the parent-child relationship. We are told to love, teach, train, discipline, and educate, but never to physically strike. In fact, when Paul lists the qualifications for leadership in the church, he requires that leaders must be a "no striker," (1 Timothy 3:3). And a few verses later, when Paul calls for leaders to have obedient children, he does not make an exception for disciplining children. Samuel Martin, author of Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me, expounds on Paul's "no striker" requirement:

"There are no exceptions given. He should not strike his neighbors, he should not strike his co-workers, he should not strike his wife, and he should not strike his children. In the Bible verse that follows the one that says that a pastor should not be a striker, the Bible says that the pastor should have "his children in subjection with all gravity." If striking the children was meant to be used as one of the means to keep the children in subjection with all gravity, then this would have been an excellent occasion to give spanking as an exception to the commandment to be "no striker", but no exception is given."

The absence of a single clear instruction to physically strike a child in the New Testament combined with the overall heart of the New Testament leads many of us to raise our children without resorting to hitting. Parents have a responsibility to discipline their children and teach them right from wrong, but many of us just don't believe spanking is an appropriate tool for the task, and in the long run, we believe it does way more harm than good.

Another good resource for the non-spanking Christian position is Rick Creech's article over at Bible Gems.

You can read my posts on the figurative interpretations of the rod verses here, spanking and the bible here, and our original "coming out of the closet" post here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Are the "Rod" Verses Literal or Figurative?

"Spare the rod, spoil the child."-- A phrase often mistakenly attributed to the Bible, but really comes from a 1664 satirical poem by Samuel Bulter entitled Hudibras and is actually describing a sex act.

The Book of Proverbs is part of the Bible's "Wisdom Literature." Using short and poetic sayings, the writers (whom most scholars believe to be Solomon, Hezekiah, and possibly Joseph, son of Jacob) convey the principles and practices of wisdom. And while these truths are timeless, they must be understood in the context of the book's intrinsic style and the culture from which it came.

Being wisdom literature, the verses naturally consist of metaphor, similes, and hyperbole. And the "rod verses" are no exception. To demand that these verses be applied literally quickly raises some problems. For one, should all the proverbs be applied literally as many spanking advocates demand the rod verses be? Should those who overindulge themselves and commit gluttony literally take a knife and slit their own throats as Proverbs 23:1-2 recommends? No sane person would teach that. The writer is making a point about the severity of gluttony and the need to restrain oneself, not advocating suicide.

Another proverb uses the rod in a clearly figurative fashion:

"In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them."--Proverbs 14:3

Obviously there is not a literal rod coming out of a fool's mouth, but "a rod of pride" is a word picture to describe the nature of pride. Likewise, "the rod of correction" need not be a literal rod used to physically hit a child. A rod can simply symbolize verbal correction, teaching, creating boundaries, a constant influence, and giving consequences that teach a child self-control, responsibility, and right from wrong. None of these goals require resorting to hitting. All the "rod verses" (Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:13, Proverbs 23:14, and Proverbs 29:15) can legitimately be seen in a figurative light. The "rod" is a symbol for authority, guidance, training and teaching--in other words, discipline. Plus, since the rod is most likely a reference to a shepherd leading sheep, it must be noted that a shepherd did not use a rod to beat sheep, but to guide them along the right paths and to fight off predators.

So one does not have to spank in order to take the bible seriously and remain faithful to the these proverbs.

Ironically, for all the talk of "taking the bible literally," these verses are not even applied literally in Christian spanking circles. The word used for "rod" is shebet and is most often used in the scripture to refer to a shepherd's staff, walking stick, or ruler's scepter, which is rather large and thick. There are other Hebrew words for "smaller" or "thinner" rods, like the the word matteh, which is a branch or vine, or the word choter, which is a branch/twig type rod, but neither of these terms are used.

Most spanking advocates carry out spankings with their hands, a wooden spoon, a belt, a small paddle, or some other small object. But the word shebet does not call for any such instrument. If these verses are to be read and applied literally, then an actual rod should be employed. And I don't know any parents who would consider spanking their children with such a large, menacing, potentially damaging object.

The word shebet is used 36 other times in the Scriptures. Most of these uses are clearly figurative, symbolizing the authority of God, nations, people (both wicked and righteous), and the heritage of God. Almost all of these instances use "the rod" to convey the image of a shepherd's staff or a ruler's staff, and only in a couple of instances is the rod used in connection to literally striking another person. And each of those instances are found in the Old Testament and are addressed to fully grown adults.

Another interesting point is that the proverbs in question are addressing a parent using the rod on their "child." But the Hebrew word here is na'ar, which literally means "he who shakes off" or "he who shakes himself free." It is most commonly used to describe teenage boys or young men who have yet to marry. The very first chapter of proverbs is addressed to a "na'ar," which is rightly translated there as "young man." The only time this term is ever applied to a baby or young child is in two extraordinary cases. Moses is called na'ar only after he is sent down the river and found by the Egyptians. This makes sense since he was "shaken loose" from his real mother at an abnormally young age. We also find that Samuel as a young boy is called na'ar after his mother takes him to live at the temple. Again, here we have a child being shaken loose from a parent before the normal age. Samuel Martin, author of "Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me," points out that:

"This word is found over 200 times in the Bible.There are some poetical uses of this phrase 'naar,' but the vast majority of these texts refer to younger men or women who have yet to marry."

Also, Proverbs 23:14 declares that beating a child with the rod will save his soul from hell. This is also not a literal phrase, nor do spanking advocates take it literally, since we (and they) do not believe salvation can be achieved through physical punishment or any other means besides God's grace through Jesus Christ. This is just more evidence to the figurative nature to these proverbs.

So if one insists that these rod verses are literal and call for the corporal punishment of children, then they must use a literal shebet rod to do it, only use it to hit a male child who is a teenager or young man still under his parents' care, and teach that the very act of hitting can save a person from hell. Most spanking advocates start spanking children as young as four months and recommend stopping by time the child reaches the age of 6 through 9. But there is absolutely no biblical basis for this. It may be wise to reconsider the meaning behind the rod imagery in Proverbs, because the so-called literal reading is neither taught literally, nor carried out literally. But the meaning behind these metaphors are full of wisdom and truth to be lived out by parents committed to their children and their God.

To read a more in depth analysis on the words shebet and na'ar (and the non-spanking perspective in detail) see Samuel Martin's book, which can be read for free online, "Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy.

Also see Parenting Freedom and Arms of Love Family Fellowship for some good resources.

The next post will focus on another lens through which The Book of Proverbs (and the entire Old Testament) should be viewed through: The New Testament.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spanking and The Bible

“Recognize that your children are miniature versions of yourself. Learn to think in terms of Adam and Christ, sin and grace. That itself will help you realize why God has given you the command not to exasperate your children.” --Sinclair Ferguson

So, my husband and I came out of the closet about our decision not to spank. Many factors contributed to our decision. And the first consideration was the Bible.

Spanking. Is it biblical? This is the big question, because for many in the spanking camp, the issue does not come down to practical results or passion for spanking for spanking's sake, it becomes an issue of being faithful to the Bible. If the Bible taught parents never to take their kids to the circus, parents would comply, not because they found any obvious dangers/evils present in the circus itself, but because the Bible forbids it. With spanking, there are indeed some who say, it works best practically and others who say it's one of those "God's ways are higher than our ways" concepts.

But what does the Bible actually say on the subject? (Of course, there are a myriad of interpretations of the Bible, some in conflict with each other, so I am not claiming that I am just so smart that I've figured it all out, but based on my studying, praying, and conviction, I am settled on how to proceed for our family on this issue.)

So, there are six verses in Proverbs that appear to support corporal punishment for children.

Proverbs 13:24: He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Proverbs 19:18: Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.

Proverbs 22:15:Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13: Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.

Proverbs 23:14: You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.(Sheol)."

Proverbs 29:15: "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."

These six verses alone make up the pro-spanking position. No where else, and especially no where in the New Testament, are we told to spank children.

Proverbs should be read through a couple of lenses. One, it's original relationship to The Law Moses, the reigning law of the time and then through the higher teachings of Jesus found in the New Testament.

There are two main views among the non-spanking christian crowds and they often overlap:

1.Proverbs, a book of wisdom written in correlation to the law of Moses that contains poetry, metaphors, similes, and hyperbole, renders the infamous "rod" verses as symbolic imagery, not meant to be taken literally. The "rod" is not meant to advocate corporal punishment, but represents a symbol of authority, guidance, training, protection and teaching. Thus, a parent is not required to dish out physical retribution for bad behavior in order to be faithful to meaning of rod imagery portrayed in Proverbs.

2. Proverbs, though inspired by God, is still part of the Old Testament which has been fulfilled and Christians are now called to a higher standard reflected in the Way of Jesus Christ. Thus, physical retribution is now superseded much like the "eye for an eye" mentality and stoning prescriptions for sinful behavior were superseded by the higher standards of Christ.

Both of these camps like to point out that so-called "literalists" do not even apply these verses literally (more on that later.).

Those are the alternate understandings of these scriptures. The next posts will examine the evidence for these views.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We're Coming Out of the Closet...

And it may be the second hardest closet to come out of amidst conservative christian culture. My husband and I have made a commitment NOT to spank our child. This decision has come off the heels of much research, experience, prayer, and conviction.

I considered keeping this information private, as I do with much of a my personal life, but child rearing is uncharted territory for us, and I know I need the support of my friends, family, and faith community. I don't care if Hillary Clinton said it or not, I *do* believe it takes a village to raise a child well. I am a new mother and I do not have all the answers to parenting--and I doubt anyone, new or seasoned, really does.

So while we are confident and settled on our decision for our family, we openly acknowledge that we have no idea what we are in for, that we will make tons of mistakes along the way, and will not always live up to the disciplinary ideals we have chosen.

Like sailors embarking upon unknown waters, we have prepared for the trip with patient sails, directed rudders, gentle oars, and a firm steering wheel, but choose to forgo the use of jet propellers that promise to get us farther faster because they also happen to make everyone on board seasick.

So, this is not an anti-spanking tirade to condemn parents who do choose to spank their children (I have many dear friends who spank, and I admire most of them very much as parents for their love and commitment to the well being and healthy development of their children).

But, growing up in the evangelical church, spanking is not only presented as *a* disciplinary tool, but THE disciplinary tool, mandated by God. Some teach that parents who do not spank are in sin, that they hate their children, and are committing a grave disservice against their children. In such circles, spanking as become synonymous with discipline--therefore, if one does not spank, one also does not discipline. This reality makes choosing not to spank a very fearful decision. It creates an environment where parents become inclined to hide the fact that they do not spank lest they endure the barrage of concerned lectures, passionate rebukes, and head-shaking "I told you so's," every time their child misbehaves.

Unlike most of my posts, this is not me on a soapbox trying to convince others to take a certain position, but sharing our journey in coming to this decision in hopes that my friends, even the ones who will vehemently disagree, will grant us their support. And to encourage others wrestling with the same issue.

The next few posts will elaborate on how and why we have come to this decision.

Our reasons for not spanking can be divided into three main categories :

1. Biblical Understanding
2. Personal Conviction/Personal Goals
3.Personal Weakness

More to come soon!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Playing Cards With Mark Driscoll

When I was a teenager, I was introduced to a card game with the uncouth name, "Bullshit." The game is basically about leading (or misleading) the other players to believe that you possess a better hand than you actually do. Once a player has caught on to another player's false claims, they call the bluff by shouting "Bullshit." I loved this game because it created a space in which one did not have to mince words about obvious and purposeful false claims. You simply announced these false claims for what they were.

At times, it seems like sectors of the church engage in a death match competition to prove who is more right, more orthodox, more faithful, more biblical, etc. And often each side will over estimate their own "hand" and underestimate the "hand" of the others. And every now and again, someone will so grossly misrepresent, that the time comes to stand up, lay all the cards on the table, and call the false claims what they are: bullshit. And I am having one those moments with none other than Mark Driscoll because of the following quote from 2008's Church Leadership booklet:

"Without blushing, Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. While many irate women have disagreed with his assessment through the years, it does appear from this that such women who fail to trust his instruction and follow his teaching are much like their mother Eve and are well-intended but ill-informed. . . Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourages liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them, pay for their own dates in the name of equality, spend an average of three-fourths of their childbearing years having sex but trying not to get pregnant, and abort 1/3 of all babies – and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality (p. 43). "

Like I said: Pure and unadulterated bullshit.

I usually take little interest in Mark Driscoll, though I've familiarized myself with his work for the sake of being well-rounded. Sometimes, I come across something so ridiculous that I might make it a facebook status, and then move on. I, clearly, am not Mark Driscoll's target audience. I am fiercely egalitarian, fiercely NONreformed, and have found a "home" in emergent circles. So, I don't waste a lot of time being outraged at Driscoll, since I suspect he enjoys the "persecution." But when I came across the quote above I was both irked and intrigued for the following reasons:

1. How blatantly hateful and ignorant it is. (not very surprising, but irking)
2. How poorly it was thought out and argued.
3. And most importantly, how it COULD and SHOULD serve as a wake up call for more reasonable complementarians on how they interpret 1 Tim 2:11-14.

First off, Driscoll's appeal to current women magazines to "prove" women are easier to deceive than men is probably the most dishonest part. Mark Driscoll and his engaged-with-culture-self should know better than anyone that men's magazines are selling just as many lies and just as many men believe them, including the one about "true" masculinity being about tough-guy, violence-prone Western notions of maleness. In fact, current top ten lists place both Playboy and Penthouse as two of the most popular men's magazine, in which women are portrayed as voiceless, brainless eye-candy for men to use for sexual gratification. And then other popular magazines, such as Maxim, Esquire, and GQ teach men their worth and the worth of others depends on good looks, money, fine clothing, current style, and how much stuff one can accumulate. Maxim just featured an article entitled "How to Cheat and Not Get Caught." Now should I uphold the lowest form of male-directed media and apply it to my brothers in Christ working to bring about God's Kingdom--who actively work against such mindsets? Of course not.

So while Driscoll's magazine anecdote is clearly ludicrous, I am more interested in his lead point. That the reason women are declared unfit to lead in the Bible is because they are gullible, easily deceived, and still paying for Eve's sin as clearly expressed by the Lord via the Apostle Paul. And I want to applaud Mark Driscoll for coming clean on this. Because most comps, who I admire for being as compassionate and as generous to women as their theology allows, should find these remarks very troubling indeed. Not only because they are extremely offensive and sexist, but because it is the logical conclusion of this kind of theology. If one wants to read the verses in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 "as is" (without considering the immediate context of the letter, the larger cultural context of the time, and the linguistic controversies that have plagued these verses for centuries), and apply these verses literally and universally, then one must also embrace the reasons for the "command." If one wants to continue to exclude women from teaching or having authority over men because "the Bible says so," then one must also accept the reasons given for WHY they are excluded. Mark Driscoll does exactly this, preaching that women are easily deceived and are still under the shadow of Eve's failing.

Most complementarians teach that the restrictions placed on women are about divinely mandated roles and gender hierarchy serves as a picture of Christ and the Church, and so forth, but never would they (or most of comps anyway) dare vocalize that women are restricted from teaching men or having authority in the church because women's very essence renders them dumber than men and it's a continued punishment because of Eve. And yet, that is the only choice the "as is" approach leaves a reader with.

Driscoll brings to light, though probably unintentionally, the quandary many comps find themselves in: how to keep preaching against women teaching men or having authority in the church without having to teach that women are fundamentally and irreversibly inept for the task compared to men.

My complementarian brothers and sisters, if you want to continue to exclude women from teaching and having authority in the church based on the verses in 1 Timothy, then do as Mark Driscoll does, and actually teach that women in their very essence are dumber than men because they are more susceptible to deception by their very nature and must still be held accountable for Eve's sin.

Because the only bigger bullshit move than actually believing women are inherently gullible and more susceptible to deception than men, is to still continue excluding women from leadership positions based on one part of a scripture while rejecting the reasons given for their exclusion in the very next part of the scripture.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A World Without Water Halts...

"In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind to even his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference."--Rachel Carson

A few weeks ago, a town nearby us, Toccoa, experienced some heavy rainfall and storms, which led to most of the water supply being contaminated or cut off from the town's residents for a few days. The local grocery stores ran out of bottled water, businesses and schools closed down, and people had to migrate to friend's houses in neighboring towns to take showers, use a toilet that flushed, and get some clean drinking water. The old saying is true. Sometimes you don't know what you have until it's gone. Since we are fortunate Americans, this loss of water was mostly a temporary inconvenience. But for those few days, seeing people experience what life without access to clean water is like--namely our world coming to a screeching halt--left quite an impression on me.

A couple of weeks later, I attended Rob Bell's speaking tour, Drops Like Stars (which will be the topic of a future post), where something very exciting was introduced to me. He informed his listeners to a unique non-profit organization called Charity Water . The founder, JahSun, a former entertainment networker, got bored with the life of luxury and frivolity. So, he decided to dedicate his life to improving the quality of lives of the "least of these" around the world. The brilliance of this organization is that 100 percent of donations go the ground work of providing clean water for the poorest people in the world. All overhead costs are funded through separate donations, mostly from the immensely wealthy entertainers he befriended in his former life. The JahSun has decided to use his "celebrity capital" to raise awareness to this issue and implement solid solutions. The second stroke of genius comes from how EASY they've made it donate to their efforts. They struck up a deal with all the major cell phone companies, in which all donaters have to do is text the word "WATER" to 20222. They will receive a text asking if they wish to have ten dollars added to their next cell phone bill and the donater just has to text back the word "Yes." It's that simple. Every 500 donations of 10 bucks ensures an entire village with long term access to clean water. This is such a small amount and such an easy way to help meet the vital basic need of access to clean water. Between all our blogs and facebook friends, if we all pitch in, we can collectively give entire villages clean water. So donate and pass it on!

Water Charity is a nonprofit corporation, directed toward improving the human rights and dignity of individuals throughout the world by providing them with resources that impact upon their health and wellbeing. With all donations applied to projects in the field, we have become one of the highest-ranked water charities delivering global services.

Water Charity at Lake Titikaka Water Charity implements practical solutions to provide safe water, effective sanitation, and meaningful health education to those in need.

Water Charity, in concert with key partners, surveys the needs, drafts the plans, assembles the resources, implements and manages the projects, and evaluates the results.

We plan for the long term and intermediate future, implement in the present, and react in the short term to crisis situations.

Our core group contains people with decades of experience in engineering, community development, construction, education, and public health. Led by Jacqueline Chan, Dr.P.H., Averill Strasser, and JahSun, we have completed many water and sanitation projects throughout the world in the past year, all on schedule and within budget.

"To donate $10 Dollars, simply text the word "Water" to 20222. When you receive the confirmation text asking if you want to have $10 dollars added to your next cell phone bill, text back the word "Yes." And you're done!"