When the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated comes through the door at my house, I know better than to grab it. First dibs go to my husband. Unlike me, he won’t just “feast” on the photos of cakes, BBQ ribs and soufflés. He’ll actually read the recipes, select one, shop for ingredients and prepare a meal--and that’s where I come in.
How do we solve the gender gap in ministry? With women outnumbering men in seminaries today, how we do break that stained glass ceiling?
Our current approach in the Presbyterian Church is to require churches, when looking for a pastor, to interview at least one female candidate. The thinking is, of the final three or four candidates, there would be a woman in the mix, and perhaps even churches with an unspoken default of pastor=male might be sufficiently moved to think outside the box. Not that every church will follow that up with a call to that woman, of course. This is mysterious Holy Spirit stuff, not to mention that there are women pastors who aren’t all that. But churches should at least look.
With every cycle of our respiratory systems, we are sustained by the same intimate inspiration God exhaled into Adam’s muddy lungs. That breath permeates every cell of our being, nose to toes, invigorating our bodies and minds and souls until it is ready to be released, silently, from the same nostrils through which it came.
This is as ordinary as oxygen and carbon dioxide, and as extraordinary as spirit and miracle.
Like most churches, we occasionally receive requests for money from people in our community. I suspect I am not alone when I say that I have come to dread these calls. It’s not that I don’t think that the church should help people in need, or that I resent the “intrusion” on my time or anything like that.
I grew up on evangelical praise choruses. I cut my musical teeth playing them at church. As a young adult I found a home in a more liturgical church, and I turned against choruses with a vengeance. I adopted two go-to arguments: worship isn’t about me and my personal-relationship-with-Jesus, and its purpose isn’t to pump me full of arena-rock enthusiasm.
In a recent interview with the Century, Michelle Alexander, the civil rights lawyer and author of The New Jim Crow, wonders about the stigma in many churches attached to people who have been recently released from prisons. “The deep irony,” she says,” is that the very folks who ought to be the most sensitive to the demonization of the ‘despised,’ the prisoners, have been complicit and silent.”
But the kinds of conversations that Alexander’s book seems to demand are very difficult to have--in churches and outside them.
After Sen. Rand Paul made an offensive (and unfunny) joke involving the word "gay," Tony Perkins (of the Family Research Council) criticized him:
I don’t think it's something we should joke about. We are talking about individuals who feel very strongly one way or the other, and I think we should be civil, respectful, allowing all sides to have the debate.