When Abby Kelley, a 19th-century abolitionist, expressed a
desire to address the Connecticut Anti-Slavery Society, this is how a
local minister argued against her right to do so:
No woman will speak or vote where I am moderator. It is
enough for a woman to rule at home… she has no business to come into
this meeting and by speaking and voting lord it over men. Where woman’s
enticing eloquence is heard, men are incapable of right and efficient
action. She beguiles and binds men by her smiles and her bland winning
voice… I will not sit in a meeting where the sorcery of a woman’s tongue
is thrown around my heart. I will not submit to PETTICOAT GOVERNMENT.
No woman shall ever lord it over me. I am Major-Domo in my own house.
I’m taking a class on the Gospel of Luke this semester, and
one of my assignments is to engage in an ongoing spiritual practice
related to that particular Gospel. So for the entire semester I am
reading the Magnificat daily. It’s a passage that I’ve been drawn to in
recent years, but it has been particularly illuminating to be dwelling
on it during Lent this year, since it is typically confined to the Advent
season. Somehow the triumphal language of the justice that God has
already accomplished fits with the modern treatment of Advent as a
celebratory season. But Lent is a season of penance, which puts an
entirely different spin on the text.
I was watching one of those competitive cooking shows the
other night with my six year old daughter Emma. The challenge in that
particular episode involved taking the chefs out to (as they called it)
“the middle of nowhere” and having them butcher a pig and cook it over a
fire they built from wood they gathered.
Since starting seminary I've had the opportunity to read
through the Old Testament with a thoroughness I haven't used since my
evangelical youth group days. While building biblical literacy is something
evangelicals do very well, reading the Old Testament now reminds me how my context
shaped how I read the Bible. And it all had to do with sex.
A friend at
church asked me to help with her son's project for a college psychology class.
He was studying the criminal mindset of women inmates and needed a control
group to compare them with. So his mom handed out the survey to adult women at
The American Family Association has published this year's
"Naughty or Nice?" list. It measures which businesses
support, marginalize or censor Christmas by how often they use the word
"Christmas" in their advertising. Concerned Christians then know which
businesses to support and which to avoid.
Aside from the Bible, The Chronicles
of Narnia have been the most formative books in my life. My parents hung a
Narnia map in my nursery, and my dad started reading the books to me at age
three. Soon I was reading the books a couple of times a year.
I'm a sucker for Christmas songs. I'm not so far gone that I'm okay
with department stores playing some pop princess's version of "Baby It's Cold
Outside" on an 85-degree early November day here in central Texas. But let me
join in on a round of "O Holy Night" or "White Christmas" and I'll get choked
up every time.
I am not a fan of Disney princesses. I can deal with the
tiaras and the pink, but I'm disturbed by the sexualized visions of thinness,
the suggestion that to be ugly is to be evil and the promotion of extreme
body modification in order to get the guy.
I can't stand the word "entitlement." I
use it sometimes, when people annoy me with their belief that the world owes
them something or that their needs are more important than those of others. But
when I do this, I'm guilty of the same thing they are: dismissing the
importance of someone else's desires and asserting the importance of my own. I
get caught in an entitlement trap.
I was born missing my left arm below the elbow. This
technically means I have a disability, though I find it hard to identify with
the label. Missing my arm is simply what I know, part of my basic everyday
existence. I know the limits of my ability, but I see no need to define myself
When I flew home this past
weekend, I got to see the new TSA screening measures in action. The tiny
airport I flew out of didn't have the new backscatter machines, but TSA agents
were selecting passengers to receive the full-body pat-downs.
In a new study
on the influence of the NeoReformed or "New Calvinist" movement on the church,
the Barna Group concludes that "there is no discernable evidence from this
research that there is a Reformed shift among U.S. congregation leaders over
the last decade." A number of
evangelical Christian leaders maintain that the study seems to contradict their on-the-ground
In recent conversations with my seminary classmates, we've
been lamenting the state of Christian education. In many churches it is evident
that the average member hasn't grown in religious or biblical knowledge since he
or she heard moralistic tales of Noah, Esther or Daniel as a child. Some even resist
pastoral attempts to expand their Christian knowledge, and they simply refuse
to learn about other
religions. As seminarians, we are struggling with how to respond to this.
I grew up attending Bible and Baptist
churches; now I generally identify with the emerging church. So I've had quite
a learning curve at the Episcopal seminary where I'm studying. Between
balancing prayer books and hymnals and crash courses in chanting, I've frequently
felt like a stranger in a strange land.
America's propensity to see
ourselves as God's new chosen nation has often led us to claim scripture
directed at Israel (or Judah) as promises for ourselves. While such
thinking generally makes me squirm, I can re-apply such interpretations
to see how they apply to the modern world.