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Archive for the ‘equality’ Category

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Great article from Sally Morganthaler on women in the postmodern church context. She asks some awesome questions for women looking to make an impact in the church, including, “In summary, what does it really mean for a woman to be released into her potential, to be trusted with a ministry role, or to secure a salaried ministry position only to find that, for all her new-found freedom, authority, and seeming equality, she is only rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?”

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Nice stuff from daniel t. over at Jesus Manifesto on living in God’s kingdom.

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Very cool summary by Scot McKnight of a chapter in Divine Embrace by Robert Webber at Jesus Creed. I now want to read this book. He also asks some serious questions about intellectual Christianity in chapter 6. This was me ten years ago. Nicely done.

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For readers of Kamp Krusty, this is a stunningly beautiful confession about the struggles of what it means to take medication from one of the funniest guys on my blog reader. The follow up is awesome too. It’s good to see the heart of people.

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Alan Hirsch asks some hard questions about reformed theology and the tendency to become religious Paulinism.  Nice.

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Makeesha put out the challenge to listen and respond to the following audio presentation from Sister Joan Chittister. It’s a very powerful dialog and includes some interesting points on the role women play in ministry. She essentially asks, “when are we going to engage the question of women in ministry?” Even though her question is asked of the Catholic church, I believe her question applies to the larger church as well.

But she also pointed out some interesting ways to look at the emerging church as well. One of the really great things she said was,

“We’re at a point where we have so many new questions but the new answers have not emerged. There only beginning to simmer in this stew that is humanity. The old answers don’t suffice and if they suffice they don’t satisfy.”

Nice.

Listen to the audio presentation here.

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This is hilarious for all the conversation around mega-churches. What happens when a small church tries to be mega?

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Brian McLaren sharing his thoughts on what the Gospel is really about. I love the simplicity of what he is saying.

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Mark Lowry throwing out some great observations on women in the church.

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For the September Syncroblog.

I have a friend who is a Pagan. It’s not something you really hear about much, at least in Sacramento, although it is growing. I really wouldn’t know he was pagan unless he told me, and that he has Wiccan book in his briefcase. To be honest I really am not an expert on paganism and how it plays out in his life. I know enough to be dangerously misrepresentative of it. So I don’t say much. If I were to say anything about my friend, it is that he is remarkably like me about ten years ago. He’s in wonder about the future, very broken in relationships, and desperately wondering if he can make anything out of this life.

And on the days we have met, as with any day, I am not reminded of what he believes but what I believe. And sitting across from him I want to see him the way Jesus would see him. I want to show him that he is worth it to God and that the cross was equally meant for him as well as me. Am I being love to him across the table. Am I speaking to his dignity or am I shaming him? And I’m asking myself questions in these conversations. Have I earned the right to be heard? Have I given him an experience with the Gospel, not just what is in it? Have I shows him he is worth it to God, not just told him so?

I have often sat across from the table and have been tempted to think that I can change his life. I have the answer to his problem. And something inside of me reminds me that what this is really saying is, “Look at me. See what I know.” I don’t want that anymore. Only my Father’s Spirit can change a life. And he gets that through Jesus. But I do want to be love. I want to be part of God’s process to restore his life, if this is what my friend wants. I recognize that in love, God is not interested in controlling my friend, indoctrinating him with a belief system that is reminiscent of religion. What he’s interested in is restoring my friend’s heart, so that he may be love to the world around him.

Others in the conversation

Matthew Stone at Journeys in Between
Christianity, Paganism, and Literature at Notes from the Underground
Heathens and Pagans and Witches … oh my! at Calacirian
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith
Chasing the Wild Goose at Eternal Echoes
Visigoths Ahoy! at Mike’s Musings
Steve Hollinghurst at On Earth as in Heaven
Undefined Desire at Igneous Quill
A Walk on the Wild Side at Out of the Cocoon
Observations on Magic in Western Religion at My Contemplations
Tim Abbott at Tim Abbott
Spirituality and the Zodiac: Stories in the Cosmos at Be the Revolution
Rejection, Redemption, and Roots at One Hand Clapping

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Another set of random questions from the journey.

– Could the church’s common approach to someone who is homosexual (hateful bashing, protesting against, etc.), which is a expression of belief, be considered heresy?

– Assuming Jesus would vote as a way of taking part in civic actions, would he vote Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green, or other? Why?

– If someone were simply saved to get to heaven, after death what would be their first words when they encountered a God they never really knew?

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Last year I picked up and read “A Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McLaren. I really liked the book for the reason that it explored the beauty of our differences. I appreciated listening to different traditions than my own. It helped me process the beauty in other ways of thinking.

My formative years were spent in a very loving but small Baptist church. It had the small chapel with the hard pews and the stained glass windows. From junior high through high school I went to a non-denominational church (which is a code word for we don’t want you to realize we really are a denomination) that was located in a former computer technology complex. The church was deeply influence by the Baptists but never said so. In college, I floated attending several high profile mega-churches in Southern California. I couldn’t remember what they were? Nothing really stood out to me other than they were really, really big and had 67,000 different programs that were entertaining.

After marriage, my wife and I chose to specifically find a small church, settling on a church that was from the RCA (Reformed Church of America). It was here that I got my first introduction to a true, distinct denominational mindset. It forced us to wrestle with issues of child baptism and women in leadership, etc. Loved the process. We visited a Lutheran church once for a Christmas Eve service and had to stand for the entire 90 minutes. My wife attended a Greek orthodox church with a friend and also had to stand for 2 hours while she suffocated under the potent fumes of the incense. (No slam intended). I went with the youth group to a Catholic church and appreciated the beauty of the building but don’t remember anything else. When my family moved, we found ourselves attending a small CRC (Christian Reformed Church), which is split from the RCA over the question of the masons. Then we chose to leave and attend a covenant church. I really like the evangelical covenant church. They have found a way to agree to disagree.

Which brings me back to McLaren’s Generous Orthodoxy. In each of the churches I attended, I found people who strongly believed they were right. They believed that their way was the correct way to believe. In a lot of cases the differences were minor (RCA/CRC). And in reading the book I began to ask, “What denomination would Jesus attend?” Would Jesus choose the Catholic church, with it’s strong emphasis on liturgy and reverence? Would he choose a protestant church with its strong emphasis on grace? Would he choose a charismatic church, with its strong emphasis on words of knowledge and communicating with God? Would he choose the Methodist church, hoping to find Wesley’s strong emphasis on going to the people and building leaders? Would he choose the Baptist church for its strong emphasis on salvation and baptism? Would he choose the Lutheran church with its rich historical protestant background? Would he choose from one of the other 30,000 denomination for their unique distinctives?

Which begs a couple of questions. How would he have the time to visit all 30,000 different denominations? If he visited every one on every Sunday, that would take 82 years. And would visiting one more than once validate that denomination above the other ones that he either visited once or never visited? Would it invalidate a denomination if he chose to leave the service early because he had to catch an early flight to the next location? Or would he choose to skip the big churches all together and worship in a house church?

And then I began to realize that maybe form is a product of our own need for validation? Maybe we separate ourselves into smaller and smaller camps to validate what we believe? Maybe we find the smallest of differences to argue about so that we can be right and others can be wrong, which elevates the individual above the other, at least in one’s own mind.

I keep thinking of how God chooses to identify himself. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” (Deut 6:4) (emphasis mine) How do we find our way back to a shared community that is one, living with a sense of wholeness and togetherness, celebrating our differences yet working together? How do we find a way past our differences to His church?

Your insights are appreciated?

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Two bloggers, that I read often, have posted dialogs on egalitarianism. This is the long running conversation on the role of women in church and delves into the question, “are women equal?”

David Fitch’s comments here.

Makeesha Fisher’s comments here.

I understand both positions and coming from a male perspective have wondered what it would be like to be a women in a male dominated society. The church has always been patriarchal. For some reason God chose to use men as the primary leaders in his mission of restoration. All the fathers of the faith are men (Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Joseph, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.). Jesus chose twelve men to be his disciples. Paul wrote the primary bulk of the New Testament epistles. The role of men in God’s mission is just obvious.

But women also do play an important role in his mission. None of those men would be here if it weren’t for their mothers. When I look at the women in Scripture, especially the women who followed Jesus, they seemed to get it more than the men. The first person to anoint Jesus was a woman. It was women who were with Jesus at the cross. It was a woman who sat at Jesus’ feet. It was a woman who first went to visit Jesus at the grave. Women just seem to get it before men sometimes.

I don’t really want women to be equal in the traditional sense, always competing for the top rung, whatever that is. I don’t want women to be like me or like my buddies. I think when women try to be men, they miss the beauty of what it means to be feminine. The women I know who try to compete with men inevitably miss their own humanity. What I really want to know is why God chose to make us different. What is the real value of our differences?

I didn’t choose how God lives out his mission of restoration. I didn’t set humanity and gender roles. God did. I also don’t want women to be reduced to subservient add-ons that serve a purpose when we need them sexually, or for care-taking purposes. So how to we find a way to coexist in harmony and congruence, especially in leadership? Maybe there’s a third way, a way that elevates women to the glorious gift that they are in our lives.

I do want to see women the way love would see them. I really liked how Makeesha states this. How do we discover and lift up each other’s humanity? How do we, as men, lift up women? I just know that love elevates.

So I’m left with a wonder that men, in our silly need to subjugate women, we may be missing something. Maybe women sometimes see it better than we do. And when they are pushed down we miss one of the real ways that God is speaking to us. I know that when I really need to listen to God, my wife is one of the first people I trust to speak honestly with me. She has been one of the primary ways I hear how my Heavenly Father is speaking to me. She has validated what I am feeling (even when I don’t like it) more often than I care to admit.

Maybe if men learn to listen to women a little more, we’ll begin listening to a different voice that has always been available to us, a voice of reason and compassion. A voice of love. Maybe men have spent so much time pushing women down, we’ve missed one of God’s glorious ways of speaking to us, providing us wisdom when we most need it.

So my question is, “How do we find a way to lift women up in the church?”

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