I blog constantly. The trouble is that because [good] writing is so arduous and time consuming, most of it never makes it out of my head and on to the screen. Here are a few relics to prove it. Now's your chance to tell me if you would me to flesh out (pardon the pun you'll soon recognize) any of the following (italicized bits are transitions between posts):
What's Missing from the Modesty Debate
I'm an unabashed card carrying member of the modesty patrol, but I'm about to jump off the bandwagon and start my own band of vigilantes, because I'm starting to see where we've been coming at this all wrong....at least from the view of what it means to follow Jesus. Behind every virtue is another virtue, so if we track modesty back, we get to humility, and if we trace that to its root, we get to love. As C.S. Lewis said, true humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."
You can't be humble and immodest at the same time. The attitude of "if you've got it, flaunt it" isn't humble. So what is? It's seeking to help others rather than draw attention to ourselves. Putting on a low cut shirt or skin tight jeans or a short skirt cannot be done from a place of humility. It's either insecurity, vanity, or another -ity that is self-centered.
...On a kind of related note...though I didn't get far enough to make the connection, and to be honest, I've rather forgotten what it was right now, but considering I was willing to embarrass myself, it must have been profound...
Of Dainties and Danishes
To some women, God gives dainties, and to others, danishes. I confess to having coveted my neighbors' danishes, while failing to appreciate my own dainties. It didn't help that when my children depended upon my dainties for nourishment, they still didn't grow to the size of danishes, and they turned out to be low fat!
...More bodily related stuff...what is the fixation?? I think I'm digging myself deeper here...
What If We Prayed As Often As We Peed
I'm a master at two things, which go hand in hand: procrastination and inconsistency. Take, for example (actually the point of this post), the prayer closet I created in the spring. Most days it collects dust, much like my soul. Distractions trump good intentions almost every time. And then I go looking to recalibrate my spiritual life, which is what happened three weeks ago, when I went to the reflective retreat at Mount Hermon, which was, for the second time, like entering the wardrobe and coming out in Narnia, minus the animals and the drama. I've been meaning to blog about my experience ever since I returned (which is what I meant to do a year ago when I went the first time). Obviously it hasn't happened…yet. There's that word I'm always saying: "not just YET…"
…So a funny thing happened that has nothing to do with spending time alone with God, but it's affecting it…in a good way. Even more than my soul, I neglect my body. One thing I don't do enough of is drink water. I was reading a book (being so theoretical is largely responsible for my YET life) and it talked about the importance of getting enough H20. So we bought a fancy alkalizing water filter (to help balance out our acidity) and now I'm trying to drink more water…and tea, and sometimes coffee (but caffeine
...Yup, I stopped mid-sentence. Probably the kids' fault. Life is a series of interruptions. But at least I got that far, unlike this next post which is a mere title...
How Homeschooling Liberates Women
Worship or Performance?
Her.meneutics blogged about the underrepresentation of women in Christian music. I posted this comment (which will make more sense if you read the post first):
Personally, and I don't know why, but I tend to prefer the sound of male vocals - I wonder if there is a scientific explanation (what isn't there one for, these days?) However, I love Plumb's newer songs and I do like some other female artists - Amy Grant was a favorite for years. I also often like couples or other mixed gender bands - can't beat those harmonies.
An interesting question would be what is the difference between leading in worship and performing? I know it when I see it, and the times it has felt like the latter, it was always a woman up front...and yet, I have experienced some of the best worship through music with female leaders who were totally worshipful. In both cases, the women had physical beauty, but their countenance was different, and usually their dress as well. Not advocating legalism but a humble heart is reflected in modesty outwardly as well.
When Women (and Men) Pray
My husband has a passion for prayer. He is reading everything by E.M. Bounds (I ordered him the full collection of his works). I stumbled on to an old copy of What Happens When Women Pray by Evelyn Christenson. I started it last night and just read another chapter during my quiet time today. I am intrigued. I am hopeful. I am praying.
This is totally not like me. I was thinking my husband could be Prayer Warrior and I could stick with Bible Girl. Except that lately that hasn't felt like enough. Oh sure, I pray throughout the day, and with our children before bed, but often they are like stale, repetitive, comfort prayers. I feel too tired to be passionate. Yet I suspect that if I became a passionate pray-er, I would be less tired.
So what if I fall asleep sometimes while I'm praying? Next time I'll get on my knees instead of laying on the couch. I might even pray aloud. A friend told me she won't say (or write) certain things since she thinks the devil will only know about them that way (that he can't read minds but can hear words). Sounds like a trick of the devil to me - to gag us with fear that keeps us from praying fervently, and also from connecting with others - the Bible tells us to confess and pray aloud. The enemy's knowledge of our weaknesses (which I believe he knows whether we say them or not) cannot match God's power over us through prayer.
Maybe my husband and I will both get into this so much that we'll actually pray together. We have a great marriage and family but I'm wondering what God would do if we more intentional about seeking Him together. I wonder if there's a way we could work in exercise and prayer at the same time...definitely possible on our family hikes (that's what we recently decided would be our "thing", like some families have biking or camping or the Wii or whatever - we want to be a hiking family and we live in the perfect area for that).
I also want to do this with other women. Pray, that is. Thinking of starting a bi-weekly prayer meeting, following the example in the book I'm reading. Might do this for the new year...
Heroines or Hypocrites?
Out with evangelical media spokespeople Falwell and Dobson, in with Palin and Prejean. Am I the only one who doesn’t see this as an improvement? It’s a shame the evangelical everyman (or woman) can’t get fair representation. Finally the press moves the spotlight off the dying (if not dead) old guard religious right white male figureheads, but only to hand the microphone to the contemporary conservative beauty queens of power and pomp, respectively. Of course it’s their peculiar positions–in both senses of the word–that make their stories worth printing. The politics of celebrity. The celebrityhood of politicians. Evangelicals in public positions are inherently different from the rest of us, and that’s not necessarily bad, but there is the question of whether what they are doing in the world (which is watching) is actually in harmony with the Christian faith and values they claim to represent.
So Palin didn’t get elected VP. Thank God! She can actually stay in the same part of the world as her teenaged daughter who is a new mom, and perhaps have a little spare time (which I’m assuming governors have slightly more of than VPs) to spend with her special needs baby, not to mention her husband and her other three children.
So Prejean was fired from her “job” as Miss California. Hallelujah! I heard she’s a new Christian–maybe now she can find her identity in Christ instead of selling her sexuality (to the point of pageant officials paying for her breast implants and her sending topless photos in January to her sponsor to ask if she was in good enough shape for the pageant–I am not linking the source because it would be…well…inappropriate). I haven’t written the Prejean Paradox yet but someone else did (and the comments are worth reading as well): Her.meneutics: The Other Miss California Controversy.
Also, to elevate Prejean (in particular) to the level of a heroine detracts from the believers in other countries and eras who have been persecuted, imprisoned and even martyred–not for speaking political views–but for living out their faith. Discrimination is wrong, and even if it did occur in what I consider an embarrassing example, wouldn’t it be more Christlike and a better witness for our voices to be heard the loudest where prejudice doesn’t just dethrone, but it actually dehumanizes? Like say in Georgia, where segregation endures on prom night.
Palin Paradox II
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I'm sorry, I can't help myself but rant some more. As is often the case, I see things very differently from my fellow evangelicals, but this time it's with an ironic twist, since my view on women is a fuzzy hybrid of egalitarian and complementarian (I'll go into that in another post someday).
Here are my thoughts in response to this from Challies:
Where did this idea come from that what supposedly applies to Christian women in the church and at home doesn't apply to them in the world? That's not logical or consistent and God is both.
Also, the compartmentalization (separating her calling as world leader from her role as wife and mother) is, on an opposite pole, reminiscent of what happened during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal when people were saying that his role of President was completely separate from his personal life.
A woman with five children, one of whom has special needs, and another who is expecting a baby, already has a calling, and it's right there with her kids. If she had another calling on her life (for this season), then why did she go and start a family? I read that she gave birth to her first child 8 months after she got married, so I suppose you could argue she didn't intend to have a family, but to go and have four kids after that, all the while pursuing government offices, seems to be the ultimate in irresponsibility. Like trying to have your cake and eat it, too.
Or, I could be wrong. She could be super woman and have two simultaneous callings on her life and not need to sleep to function properly. If Deborah (in Judges) had young children, I stand corrected.
Let me just add that I don't know her heart, or who she is, and I could very well be wrong in my assessment, but from what I know of the Lord and my own experience as a wife and mother (and a person with other callings--not for this season), my discernment says that something is very wrong here and it's appalling how Christians are using doublespeak to defend it. It's also embarrassing, as though we're so desperate to keep "the other side" from inflicting their immorality on society, we'll do anything to have one of our own in power, even if it means undermining the very values we claim to care most about.
The Palin Paradox
Evangelicals are gushing over Sarah Palin because she's one of their own--her voting record and credentials align perfectly with the conservative Christian platform...but do I spy an 800 pound gorilla in the room? How can it be that a woman, a wife, and a mother is actually being praised for stepping into the highest eschelon of leadership, and working outside the home instead of being a full-time mother to her children, including a baby who has Down's Syndrome?
I have two problems with Palin as VP. One is my personal view and the other is the hypocrisy of her being supported by evangelicals. The two are interconnected, so let's start with the second.
As a whole, evangelicals have not looked favorably upon women in leadership (over men) or mothers of young children working outside the home. And yet, along comes Sarah, seeking to be tall but in no way plain, and suddenly it's not only okay for her to go against what has been touted (and beaten over women's heads) as Biblical values, but it's actually praised! What's up with the double standard? Is there some exception clause I'm not aware of that says women can be exempted from their "biblical" roles if they can achieve a position of political power that enables them to legislate "biblical" values?
The quotes I put around "biblical" beg the question of whether I think they're biblical or not. So glad you asked. Yes and no. And this brings us to my personal problem with Palin as VP. I believe women can and should be in leadership both in the church and outside it. I believe they can teach men, but I'm not convinced they can shepherd them--then again, in countries like China, women pastors are the norm, so the jury is still out. My understanding of the Bible (and the women in the Bible) is what leads me this position. But there is a catch.
I do not believe that women with young children should pursue full-time careers outside the home for any other reason than financial necessity. A woman with children that has a husband who can provide for their family has been given a gift. That gift is called motherhood and it's a full-time job, especially when the children are young. The more children she has, the more responsibilities there are in her job. So what is a Christian woman with five kids, one of whom is about to have a baby in her teenagerhood, and another of whom is an infant with special needs, choosing to run a state, let alone vying for the leadership of an entire country?
My view is that a woman with such ambitions has two choices. Either not having kids or not pursuing her career goals until after she's raised her children (or at least seen them through their childhood). Having her cake (to the tune of 5 kids!) and eating it too (to the tune of being vice president of a nation) is not a healthy option. I speak from experience as a well-educated, former professional (student) turned stay-at-home mome of three.
Sarah Palin seems like a gifted and loving woman, but she has made a tragic mistake that will have repercussions on her family. Is it not possible that her daughter's choice to be sexually active was a result of a mother who wasn't there for her the way she needed? After all, we're talking about a Christian family who obviously raised their kids in church and taught them Biblical values, so why the departure from what she knew was right? Yes, teenagers can be rebellious and this has happened to daughters of stay-at-home moms also. But in this case, it didn't. It happened to a woman who chose to lead other people instead of her family. Or do you think it's possible to do both? Could she actually be a Super Mom?
Another thing that irks me. I read somewhere that she doesn't believe in birth control. Well, I don't believe in using the pill (because of its abortifacient properties and the health dangers of artificial hormones) but I believe in an omnipotent God that is sovereign and whose will cannot be blocked by contraception or even vasectomies. There's nothing wrong with family planning as long as one does it with the realization that God could override it.
But if someone--Sarah Palin, in this case--believes that it's wrong for her to do anything to prevent future pregnancies, then it is completely irresponsible of her to pursue two of the biggest jobs anyone could ever hold--mother of a large family and leader of a large nation (or even state or city). Pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, breastfeeding, early childhood development...that's a 12 (or more) hour a day job that all women struggle through without doing anything else! If you're planning to make your life an endless cycle of all the above, when can you find time for another 12 (or more) hour a day job? You can't.
Nor do I feel comfortable with the idea of the potential President of the United States getting pregnant with a 6th child while caring for five others, including one with special needs...not to mention her relationship with her husband, which as all mothers know, needs extra nurturing when children come into the picture.
The Palin Paradox truly boggles the mind and wrenches the heart.
UPDATE: The New York Times ran this story tonight which addresses a lot of what I was talking about, albeit from their liberal slant, but it's a pretty balanced piece. It also reminded me that I would say this same stuff if it were Palin's husband (or a husband/dad with young kids) running for high office, though as a mother, I feel more passionately about her role.