Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Our world glamorizes personal intimacy. But intimacy is more talked about than experienced because it is a painful process. It involves risks, possible misunderstandings, vulnerability, perhaps even losing something of oneself to the other person. Relating to the other as person means giving him or her free space to be truly a person. It means foregoing the temptation to impose our own will on the other. There is joy in personal relationship, but the joy comes by way of death to self. Giving, listening, and personal intimacy are painful processes, but they are also renewing processes that form our communal character."
Simon Chan, Spiritual Theology [HT: Faith Dance]

In God We Trust-- an Essay on the Idolatry of Security
[via Ben Witherington]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Unexpected Possibility of Power

This twisting of feminist history and rhetoric to protect a champion of anti-feminist causes, traditionalism and sex-kitten objectification, is particularly unnerving for exactly the reasons that Palin's biggest supporters claim it is: for its elevation of antifeminist "real women" as icons of rebellion against a supposedly powerful and elite feminist status quo (however depressing it is to begin untangling that premise)....

That Esther's biblical fame is actually due to her subversion of that submissive role — using her beauty in order to save her people from genocide — seems fitting for the sort of adulation conservative Christians have for Palin in hailing her as the right woman for the times. They linger on her victimization at the hands of a cruel media — with Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America demanding that the media "Stop Bullying Sarah!" and offering Palin, post Charlie Gibson-interview, comforting words against Washington, D.C. "data robots" who know nothing of heartland values — while at the same time crowing about the hidden power that Palin will tap into. As Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition declares, trying his hand at coining demographic catch phrases, arguing that Palin has energized a groundswell of "Faith Moms."

..."Faith moms," "hockey moms" or "real women," the formula for the campaign is the same, yet another twist on the Esther story: the conservative argument that not only can traditional submissive wifehood hold unexpected possibilities of power, but a step further to the coercive promise that women's return to more traditional roles is the only avenue through which they will find power.
[via Religion Dispatches, HT: Benediction Blogs On]

Healing And No Ammunition

One thing I've learned in life is that you can't stop a bullet without something getting destroyed.

I'm talking about emotional hurt, the kind of things that are symptomatic, those moments that prove beyond doubt that human beings are flawed in how they relate. When someone takes something you value and treats it with contempt or apathy, the pain is like a bullet, a small thing, that with the speed of a moment penetrates and damages. Words, too are tools, for destruction or for building. Sometimes what is left unsaid is a weapon, too.

Some of the smallest moments become that bullet. You can tell someone outside the bubble about that moment that wounded you, and they may laugh at you and tell you it's only a small thing. And that it is. Bullets don't crush you, they riddle you with holes that drain life. In some relationships the wounds heal and the scar disappears, and in some one wound lays open for a long time, and in others you lie bleeding for what seems like years, and sometimes it is: decades....

You have the choice to know and be known. If you never let anyone past the wall, the medic won't get in either. Somebody out there has the power to fix you, or at least to try. All hands can be healing hands or weapons, and words can heal or hurt. We have choices. And the biggest choice is not to be the violent one who causes the pain. We fail so often at such a simple thing, but it's a choice we have to keep making over and over again: to be one who brings healing and not ammunition.

It's your choice. The only way to stop a bullet without sustaining damage is leaving it in the box. You can't stop someone else's bullets, but at least you can stop your own.
[via You saved my life from a colorless one]

Friday, September 12, 2008

Opportunity and Significance

So then, how have the various culture warriors responded to Sarah Palin, whose behavior and beliefs seem to fall into both conservative and feminist camps, yet cannot readily be defined by either? As it turns out, the old alignments have for the most part remained intact, yet with some subtle shifts, and the priorities of the right and the left regarding the women issue have been clarified in some surprising ways.

Actual feminists hate Sarah Palin. With one voice. There is no accommodating her in that camp. These are the left-wing, non Bible believing, abortion “choice” fanatics. Adherence to abortion “rights” is their litmus test, and it is enforced as rigidly and religiously as the patriarchal-complementarian (PC) institutions enforce adherence to “male headship,” and by the same means: censuring and ostrasizing all who do not pass the litmus test. This, then, is why feminists in the current culture refuse to acknowledge Feminists for Life as truly feminist (an organization of which Palin is a member)—even though abortion is the only significant point at which FFL breaks ranks with current, orthodox feminism. (There are a number of feminist issues that they don’t directly address, since their main focus is on saving unborn babies from destruction.) Albert Mohler says he cannot understand why feminists (such as Sally Quinn of the “On Faith” blog) are critical of Sarah Palin. After all, isn’t Palin demonstrating distinctly feminist proclivities? Well, Dr. Mohler, this is why.

On the other hand, staunchly PC mainstream evangelicals love Sarah Palin. But not quite with one voice. They offer diverse and somewhat inventive rationales for why a woman may be fit to lead the free world but never a small church congregation. I have surveyed numerous PC responses to Sarah Palin’s candidacy for Vice President. Diverse though the rationales may be, there is one consistent thread: A woman can be as competent as a man in high-level political leadership. Whatever the God-given “difference” may be between male and female, it is not the ability to govern in secular leadership positions. Whew! That is certainly a huge reversal of the traditional view of the difference between men and women. What, I wonder, have become of the PCs who believe that women just don’t have the gift of leadership? That God has not equipped women to rule, and especially not to rule men?

So we now see clearly that the primary concern of both the PCs and the secular feminists is the issue of “abortion rights.” The secular feminists would really like to have a woman in the white house—but not unless she is there to promote the alleged “right” of a woman to kill her in utero child for the sake of her personal convenience. The PCs really want all women to be subordinate and domestic—unless a woman is ready and willing to serve as a pro-life advocate in the White House.....

The Sarah Palin phenomenon seems to have given some PC women permission to express their suppressed yearnings for freedom, opportunity and significance outside the home (yet without dismissing their domestic duties).

Indeed, one must endorse the basic, early concept of feminism—that a woman should have opportunity to serve in a vocation outside the home—if one is to endorse Sarah Palin as a good choice for Vice President of the U.S. This is logically entailed and evidently readily recognized as such by those of the PC perspective.

So, it seems we’re all feminists now. No longer may “feminism” universally serve as the f-word. Its meaning now must be qualified. Sarah Palin is a feminist and a Bible believing Christian and is radically (that is, she lives it out) pro-life. No longer can PCs insist on labeling biblical egalitarians “evangelical feminists”—by by which they have meant “feminists who ‘purport’ to believe the Bible.” Feminism can no longer be snidely and categorically dismissed as “liberalism.” It must finally be recognized that there are strongly pro-life Christians who also want to see women break out of their conservative evangelical subculture and take up their freedom in Christ to speak to and influence the world and the church with the wisdom and talents God has given them.
[via Men and Women: Leaders Together]

Related: Sarah Palin is a Christian feminist. What is a Christian feminist? via Complegalitarian

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sense of Manliness

And this comes from the Church for Men blog (catchy blog name). This blogger, David Murrow, knows Sarah Palin personally and also is writer of Why Men Hate Going to Church. The post is innocuous banter about personal experience notwithstanding the final graph....

I find the comparison to Teddy Roosevelt quite odd--but maybe not. In Murrow's world, where church has to "restore the masculine spirit" perhaps his comparison of Palin to Roosevelt fits his perceived worldview quite nicely. Roosevelt was a president quite consumed with his own masculinity; one blogger even recently referred to him as the "manliest creature to have ever existed."

But in this world where the church has been robbed of its masculinity, has adopted the "Jesus is my boyfriend" persona, and church is tailored for women, Murrow advocates that a "strong shot of testosterone" needs to be injected into the church. This blurring of the lines in these people's theology is making my head hurt. In this world where feminism has bought Palin this opportunity to be John McCain's running mate (though not even a backward glance will be made toward feminsim, though she will enjoy the benefits), many men cannot be comfortable with Palin simply as a woman running for VP. So, we must liken her to manly Teddy Roosevelt and it takes a woman to bring this sense of manliness to the White House.{from this post}
[via The Rambling Prophet 2]

Assailed or Idealized

CNN’s John Roberts has recently mused about Sarah Palin’s relationship with her youngest child. He is quoted as saying, “Children with Down syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?”

Why oh why oh why are those questions not asked of fathers? Has anyone questioned Barack Obama about how he plans to balance being the president and not miss out on important years of his young daughters’ lives? Of course they don’t, because they assume Michelle Obama will take care of things....

While the skeptical words from people like John Roberts bother me, I am getting equally perplexed by how others want to play up the allure of Palin’s “supermom” status. Since when does being a supermom equate to having the credentials to be Vice-President of the United States? Why is there so much focus on her role as a mother? While it is understandable to show appreciation for Palin’s role as a mother, what we should be talking about are issues like her position on global warming, health care, the war in Iraq, and the economy, not her baby or her daughter’s pregnancy. What a grande distraction from the real issues! These concerns would not be the focus if Palin was a man.

Even in the midst of all the Palin adoration at the Republic National Convention, I still sense she is not being treated as an equal at all, but as a token woman being used to rally emotions. And that frustrates me as much as the outright misogyny and pejorative language that assailed Hillary Rhodham Clinton. Michelle Obama, too, has had to contend with sexism – and racism as well....

Whether a woman is being assailed or idealized on the basis of her sex, there really is little difference. In neither case is she being treated equally to a male candidate, who is not being evaluated based on his gender, how well he fits a gender role, or how well he parents. So, while the sexism at play with Hillary Rodhman Clinton might look completely different than the adoration given Palin by some enthusiastic voters, I would argue that there really is little difference at all.
[via 72-27]

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ache Beautiful
from the album "It's For You"

(Michael Roe)

you're so far away
and i won't see you any day soon
we came a long way
and now you want to fly to the moon
all alone going your own way
i thought i owned your love
and now you say

ache, ache beautiful for me
go along and ache
ache beauty babe

thought love was here to stay
for years, but now it's down to days
and it's one long long day
to Heathrow from Humboldt bay
love was a song we sang
so beautifully
and can it be gone permanently
and you say

ache, ache beautiful for me
come along and ache
ache beauty babe

yeah, ache, ache beautiful
but all this heart can do is break
so take a piece

you say you're young, too young
you want to just live for today
but true love don't come along every day
and you say

ache, ache beautiful for me
come along and ache
ache beauty baby

yeah, ache, ache beautiful for me
come along and ache
ache beautifully

yeah ache, ache beautiful for me
above me you can sail
duty free
and you say

ache, ache beautiful
but no heart ever breaks

© 1994 7 & 7 Is Music (ASCAP)