I took a little blogging break last week because I was extremely busy and because I wanted to spend some time thinking about why I blog. It was a nice, somewhat clarifying week to me, and now I’m ready to jump back into the game. I have several plans for new directions to take, and one of them is to try to orient my blog more tightly around the “Kingdom Civics” theme. To that end, one simple change I made was renaming my “Top Three on Tuesday” column something more fitting to my theme. “The Civil Reader” is pretty lame…but I kind of like it. I’m a nerd when it comes to themes, and to me, this new name serves my purpose better. The purpose of this weekly feature, after all, is to curate articles that will help us be more “civil minded,” in the Kingdom sense. (That said, I’m definitely linking to an article on kids drinking “beer” at the bottom, simply because it cracked me up.) Also, I’m tired of having to limit it to three articles. Since it’s been two weeks, I have lots of articles to share, and I want more freedom in that regard. I’m also going to interact more with the articles. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments!
The Disease of Building Theology in the Theoretical or “A Needed Corrective to Our Polarizing Discourse”, by Jon Huckins at Red Letter Christians
Recently, I read a blog (I have no idea where, or I would give credit) questioning the absence of female voices in the theological blogosphere. The author, a woman herself, went on to suggest several possible reasons why women shy away from discussing theological issues, either on their own blogs or the comments sections of other, more well-known blogs. One of her hypotheses was that even when women do write about theological matters, their blogs tend more toward “memoir-style” writing than strictly theological. For some reason, I sensed a hint of dismissiveness in this description, and it gave me pause. I started my own blog, after all, to discuss theological matters, and not because I was trying to make a name for myself or “get ahead” in the blogging world (whatever that means), but because…well, because I am interested in theological matters. However, I do tend more toward memoir-style writing, and that is very much on purpose, although I don’t think it is because I am a woman. You see, over the years, I seem to have developed a spiritual allergy when it comes to matters of faith separated from concrete action. As much as I love talking about God, too much talking makes me antsy, and I feel the overwhelming need to actually do something real about it. It’s like a nervous tic, and sometimes it can be a bad thing. For example, this tic led me to blow a whole essay question on the final for one of my college Bible classes. Instead of answering the question, I calculated (and accepted) the hit to my grade and then teed off on my disillusionment with the content of the class. As much as I loved my professor, I was so disgruntled with the idea of all these erudite biblical scholars devoting their whole lives to sitting around and talking about the Bible. My whole “essay” was somewhat misguided and more than a touch judgmental, but like I said, my obsession with corresponding action is a quirk I can’t seem to shake. That same year, a group of us started our current church, and I may or may not have driven everyone crazy with my insistence on sticking to our “launch” date. I was just so worried that if we pushed it back, we wouldn’t start it at all. I hated the idea of us just sitting around talking about it. We did end up pushing back the date a few weeks (definitely a good call), but thankfully, it did start!
Nervous tics aside, my point is that, to me, there is something so sterile about discussing matters of faith in a strictly theoretical way, apart from the actual application of actual life. This article does a good job of articulating those ideas, and it does so by contrasting the faith of Christians in the “first world” with Christians in the “third world.” There is also the tacit suggestion that the reason we get caught up in theological disputes is because we have too much time on our hands. I agree.
It’s Not Complementarianism; it’s Patriarchy, by Rachel Held Evans
The thesis of this article is neatly contained in the title, but what intrigued me the most was the opening, where Evans quotes the dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Seminary. This dean laments his theory that many marriages that would define themselves as “complementarian” (where the male is the head of the household) are actually “egalitarian” (where both partners are treated as equals) in practice. Reading that, I realized that my own marriage could probably be described that way. I was raised to take the Bible fairly literally– a habit which can be quite troublesome when one reads Jesus’ words–and so I’ve always embraced the Christ-church model of marriage in Ephesians 5. And yet, in my marriage, my husband certainly does not act as “lord.”
These thoughts led to a very interesting conversation between Greg and me that evening as we contemplated what to do for dinner. We had gift cards to Outback, but it was Friday night, and we didn’t want to have to wait for a table. I suggested take-out, but Greg has this real bias against take-out from nice restaurants. He says the food gets too cold, and he doesn’t want good food to get cold before he eats it. I laughed at him, told him he was crazy, and said how we always got take-out growing up. I even mentioned that my mom and I have gotten take-out from Carrabba’s a couple times here, and it is always fine. He still was not for “blowing” our gift cards on take-out, so we didn’t do it. It was as simple as that. It got me thinking, though, and I told him about Evans’ article.
“The thing is,” I said, “I don’t think I acquiesced to your preferences because you are the ‘man,’ but because I love you, and I would not want to spend ‘our’ resources on something you would not enjoy. There were no gender issues at work right there. I respect you as a person, not simply as a man.”
Greg agreed, and added a great twist: “Exactly. It’s just like when you are crazy and don’t want to eat at Baja Burrito, we always eat somewhere else–even though Baja Burrito is awesome. Because even though I think you are insane, why would I insist on eating somewhere that you didn’t want to eat? That’s stupid.” It’s true. Baja Burrito is awesome, but I haven’t been in the mood for it for months.
We paused. “I know some husbands who would insist on the restaurant,” I said. Greg laughed. “I do, too, and they would think they were exercising their God-given rights as men.”
The bottom line is that Greg agreed that, whatever we said about our marriage, it is pretty egalitarian. The thing is, though, I still think our marriage is based on Ephesians 5. The section starts in verse 21, where Paul tells husbands and wives to “submit to one another, out of reverence for Christ.” And the very idea of embodying Christ in a marriage (the husband’s role) would seem to suggest radical self-sacrifice and service to one’s family. To me, my husband embodies that really well.
I don’t know…the whole thing just made me think about that idea of a “biblical marriage” and what that is supposed to look like. I agree with the commenter on iMonk’s open forum yesterday, who said, “Personally I feel what other people do in their marriages is their business. But I do get tired of people holding up their marriages as the “Biblical” example.” So just to be clear, I’m not holding up Greg’s and my restaurant dealings as “the biblical example”; it just made me think about how our marriage looks different from what I’ve sometimes been told is the biblical example. And not just in terms of restaurant choices.
Okay, I’m going to stop rambling about every article. (Clearly, my blogging break took its toll on me. I have a lot of words to get out!)
An Apology to the Democrats (and Jesus), by Marla Taviano
I’m not even a Democrat, and I’m tempted to accept this apology.
Or give it!
In light of my thoughts, actions, and experiences over the last ten years, I’m kind of in a position to do both.
Wounded Healers and Healed Healers: Physician Heal Thyself, by Jennifer Dawn Watts at Red Letter Christians.
From a ministry standpoint, this one is really good. Over the years, I have become more and more aware of the inherent brokenness of ministers (due to their humanity), and I’ve also seen several people whose pasts and predilections pose particular problems in ministry (I was not even trying to get that alliteration! Sweet!). I’ve often wondered about this conundrum of “wounded healers,” especially when some of the wounds are so…obvious. This article gives me a lot of hope, as well as a reminder that we don’t have to be perfect to serve in the Kingdom.
Oppressors, Activists, and Spiritual Stinginess: St. Paul’s Guide to Praying Better Prayers, by Jenny Rae Armstrong
This is a wonderful read on Philemon, full of that practical application I was talking about. Plus, Armstrong highlights a dynamite prayer by Paul that I had never paid attention to before. Seriously, it’s a great verse–I bet you’ve never noticed it!
Missing, by Michelle DeRusha at Rachel Held Evans’ blog.
As one whose faith grows and shifts with each passing year, I could really relate to DeRusha’s predicament of passing on her “faith” to her children. Like her, I have to say, “I don’t know” more than I would like to admit.
When Sex Sells and Provides, by Tim Fall at Think Christian
Faithful blog commenter, Tim Fall, muses on the decline of our culture from his perspective as a judge. As suggested by the title, much of his reflection centers around the way our society, as well as others, views sex. Even though many of us don’t interact with strippers in our day job, I think we can see the truth of his words just by turning on the tv occasionally.
Waiting, by Courtney Steed at Living Peacefully Less Stressed
My dear friend, Courtney, is currently in a season of “waiting” on God. I know how hard, yet fruitful, these seasons can be, and I love her words here.
The Time the Kids and I Drank Beer at Target, by Kristen Howerton at Rage Against the Minivan
Okay, this one is just funny. As a mom who is “a little bit Amish when it comes to soda and the kids,” I found it all the more amusing. Thank goodness my kids don’t have a great idea of what beer is, either, or I could completely see this happening in our own lives!
Well, those are the interesting articles I found this week. Do you have any interesting reads?