Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas is Fake.

Christmas is Fake.  There are lights—and annoying green wires.  There are pretty Christmas trees—and an agonizing trip to pick one out a Homedepo.  Christmas Eve service?—broken projector, singing to CD, candles burning your hand, and a lot of awkward hugs.
Christmas is something we do.  We play our part.  We survive Christmas.
But on December 24, 2011, there are also things quite real.  The fear of 2012 (not because I think the world is imploding), the life this year has brought, and an uncanny process of tomorrow.  It’s all in future and past, yet so, so, real. 
Beyond the fuzzy, and the feeling, there is oddly love and God.
Love and God.
Aren’t they supposed to be fuzzy?  Aren’t they supposed to make us feel happy and warm and carefree?  They do.  But in the misted of fake and fuzzy of Santamas, the invisible and strange God is something of a comfort.  My fights with God can wait for tomorrow, I’m quite happy to know we can have them.  I’m happy to marvel at the story I find myself written into, into the life I never thought mine to live.
A good writer tells a story, where the only glorifying they make of themselves is how invisible they are.  How through their witty narratives, effortless romances, and twisting plots in the end the reader is in love with the characters.  In turn the love for the writer is different. This love is a knowing.  As we read the pages of a skillfully crafted work the uncanny feeling that we have walked a path cut for us.  That we know the writer by his words and yet he knows us because we have read them.  There is the strange feeling the writer understands us, because we understand him, or rather, he has understood us because he has helped us to understand him.  Much more it is the memory, the love of the revisited pages bringing us back to old places.  We love these memories—stories—and yet it’s ease makes it harder to appreciate the triple edit, the quibble over a single word, the crafting, editing, plight of the writer.  And that is his glory.

Of God and love,
Nothing more kind,
nothing more good.
A kindness,
A grace
To walk a great road
to not walk alone. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I am the air in space,
no matter what you give I take.
I take and take,
across the abyss.
My soul consumes all every last wish.

I’m tired of my own two hands. 
Turning things to gold,
souls at that!
I am sick of being the one,
who breaks as ask for mercy upon,
a tattered remnant of what once I was.
Untouchable, or try and see. 
I am the shatterer who makes you give,
I am the taker for which you live,
I am the wretch which once was lost,
Now found, I simply wander on and off.
 I am a child with little hope,
I ask today and tomorrow for more. 
I am the greatest,
most insolent
I am loved and should never hope for a favor.
 I am a hole within the sea,
trying to drink all the grace around me.
            But even that I find,
                                                I’m failing, 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Needing to Need "Needs"

We don’t know what we are.  We are as divided as ever before, and yet unisex.  We have been fighting for freedom for so long we beg to be put into boxes, if only to fight out of them.  We are men and women.  And everyone is so damn sure, we are from different planets.

See, it’s because men are men, and they don’t speak much English.  In fact it really bothers them, so in order for you women to expect your man to put up with all that English you speak you have to trade it for something else…something he wants…err um, go ask your mom what that is.  The main thing is to make him think he’s in charge.  Let’s face it you’re basically manipulating his perception, but making him think he’s in charge seems to work.  He gets to tell you what to do, and you get to tell him your feelings, this is respect.

And men, we will keep it short.  Everyone knows women are petty. But it’s worth the bull**** because not only will you get ‘what you want,’ your laundry will get done too.  So try to stay awake for a few conversations and sound sympathetic.  That is love.


(This is the most ungraceful blog ever, I apologize.  Really it should be a paper I’m too lazy to write.)

We call this “meeting each other’s needs,” this is more like the current economic crisis with China and the U.S. 

See China is like America’s woman.  She bought our debt and in return America took her plastic-factory-crap.  For a while it worked, America wouldn’t like something China did, and the trade slowed down, but because China is more dependent on America for the sake of the starving factory kids, she usually listened.  In returned America got the goods.  After a while, China bought so much of America’s bull**** that she decided she’d throw some weight around next time America tried to manhandle her.
--Now pretend you’re a pastor, what would you tell China and America.

It seems today all that’s needed for a happy marriage is good international policy.  Mutually Assured Destruction, the ability to give and take, to measure the value of losses, a healthy supply of goods, and a crap load of B.S.—I mean, cultural sympathy.

If men and women have needs as described by a lot of people, we are merely consumers of each other.  We are living in 2 dimensions that smash awkwardly together, feeding off of one another.  We lack a personal purpose outside of hedonism, making ourselves happy out of the use of another person. Love.

Can we be human, and yet different?

Is it so impossible to think that we can work together, side by side, without a power struggle?  Can two totally different beings become one?

Because they have strengths and weaknesses that the other doesn’t, but the mere fact that they are strong and weak seems to imply a scale universal. 
We are not totally devoid of some unifying light. 
We are different, but the same.  We can be weak because the other is strong, relatively.

Relatively, relationally, relationship

I think instead of “needs,” we need purpose,
We need to need each other’s strengths, and to be useful.
                        We need to need each other.

So when we’re talking more biblically speaking we have love, and respect.  It ripples through the pages repeating itself over and over. 

Love, and Respect.

However I highly doubt Paul has read anything about the “needs” of men and women.  I think generally speaking, in a culture of buying brides, it’s hardly a question running in his mind.  Instead, we have a reminder.  Because first and foremost he’s talking about the church in Eph 5:32.  This is a reminder as to how their marriages could mimic Christ and the Church. 

Because in the mist of surviving,
          in child raising,
                             Roman occupation,
racism,                                     religious uproars,           war,
                             poverty,                                   a new thing called church,
we are reminded,
          to love the one we were given
and to respect them, no matter how dark things are around us.

Because using each other’s strengths, means there will be weaknesses to cover.
            And because there is always one more thing wrong in the world, love can’t wait.

Instead of men only gaining “respect” a better word might be trust, as in, to trust their ability in the relationship which (in a survival setting) tends to be out front for reasons of physical ability, children’s needs, and ability to provide. This is also supported in the Greek word “kephale” or “head” referring to the husband as head of a house hold. "Head" today seems to have the connotation of supreme ruler, but the term was also used militarily as in “the person out front leading a charge.” Personally, I think far more often we forget to trust Christ to care about the church than to for get he's God...unless you're a liberal... The challenge Paul brings the women of the church is to trust the only person running to her defense, to rely on the only person in their lives who can go out in front in a society where they were in danger.

In a world where women were powerless the reminder is blaring, to know the difference between them and him

It is to trust and give, when every hit taken in life seems to tell her otherwise.  Likewise, it is a reminder to love, because that wife could be the only constant good in his life.  Because he’s not an island unto himself no matter how many other things seem to fail and betray him in this world.  It is the reminder he is not alone.  Love, because time good enough for love will never come.  There will never be enough peace in the world to satisfy before he’s ready to take that plunge.  Because like it or not those two people need each other to survive.  They need to work together; they need to go through life together.  Much more it can be a real, good, and full life.

He will refuse to under prioritize her, even in the face of chaos.  She will hold fast to him, when everything presses her to close herself off.

While we remain as men and women, merely pacifying each other’s “needs” an yet having no purpose in life, we are doomed to keep score.  Everyone is finding creative ways to make the other feel useful, valuable, and strong in some area of their meaningless existence.  We live pointlessly and can only expect to feel unfulfilled.  While the rest of our comfy lives scream for a reason to exist, we somehow assume this won’t affect our relationships.

I am falling,
swirling to and from obscurities.
Lost in my own empty contentment
longing with my heart's over flow.

I am eternal and changing,
redesigning or am I erasing?
To discovering or remember,
something lasts forever.

I am a kite in the wind.
I am a bird in a storm.

All the colors in my hair
growing ever more aware
of misery, and the depth of my own loss.

As the years pattern my skin
I weave cloth to hing in,
to adorn
to address
the ever unraveling mess
of me.

To glorify
and rediscover,
lost in selfish wonder,
in the arms of the Other,
I am I live.

Days, and nights
it was seen as good.
My life

I am my profile picture on facebook.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Superly Natural and the Supernatural

Today I made a box maze.  This is year three actually.  Life, though seemingly lost in the 21st century abyss, is a rhythm. I do, what seems new and great, as I have every year.  Time marches on, and nothing is played the same twice, and yet, always to the same four seasons sheet music.  Tomorrow is Halloween which means today, I made a maze.

It’s all so cut and dry (pardon the pun).  Boxes arrive from a member of the congregation who owns a motorcycle dealership. Mike, Tony&Di + a million little kids, and a few others come to the church.  Chairs are stacked, boxes brought in, and we begin.  My fingers grow sore from pulling zip-ties, stabbing with a box cutter, and ordering around the little kids running through the maze holding duck-tape and more zip-ties.  FINALLY the walls are up and half the group gives up leaving me and a few strong others to finish the roof.  In the end I’m the last standing…literally in the middle of the maze.  I begin the crawl through.  This year was impressive, I made it out without hitting a dead end but impressive all the same.  Everything looks different from inside, slightly claustrophobic, but to be honest my rug burned knees keep the hysteria to a minimum. 

I can’t decide what’s better, to be the maze maker, or to be the kids the maze was made for.  It seems it’s something everyone revels in too.  We love the imperfect, and yet to value is to lift up.  When we look at a hero from some fantastic story he is either a saint, or she is the lowliest of humans, a simple non-individual or a demigod.  But to look at either we still raise them up, “look upon this one for—” their normality or superiority.

Ever thought we probably do the same to God?

            Today Gold dust was swirling on the ceilings of bethel. 

Today I worked all morning, took a nap, caught up on some computer stuff, and made a maze.

This is where I’m supposed to be emergent and tell you about true spirituality
 and how I did the same by my actions
and how God loves me because I’m so
compelled to justify my normal moral behavior
and lump it into time with God *in order to* kill two birds
with one stone the same way my iphone does.

I don’t have an iphone and, sorry Mr. Smith…

So I stood a moment in the family room, watching Redding California’s Christian-Costco, Crazytown, swirling in gold dust.  I saw the worship of hundreds singing in acapella and I knew.  If God were anywhere he’d be there.  I became ACUTELY aware that I simply was not there, that I was here, 2,000 miles away.  It’s easy to forget that on a little screen but for some reason that moment was clear, Bethel’s service was going on right then and there, and I was not there at all.

This is the point at which a charismatic is supposed
to tell you that they turned on their
Jason Upton and suddenly beamed into the service,
or said Shaba and then God appeared—or
an angel and it was better than any old service. 

But instead I kept watching Mad Men, because while I knew God was there, I knew He was also here.  I was here with Him. I’m not sure which one is better.

I used to feel left out with stuff like that.  How my ridiculous record for never being in the right place to see crazy signs of God haunt me.  They still do.  (I’m still pissed about it, by the way God…) But the difference simply came when God’s presents became separate from the amazing.  God was not in the fire/wind/earthquake, but he certainly caused it.  I can’t decide what’s more wonderful.  That God was swirling crazy weird gold dust at church OR he was sitting with me at the foot of my bed watching TV.  I can’t decide whether to revel in this human Christ or the Glorious God.  It is both the incredibly normal life that hosts the presents of God, and the God who is touching down in to normal life.  But I guess He’s in both.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Something happened to Christianity.

It’s funny how this came about.  Driving around with my mom.  The term ‘Emergent’ happens.  I mean it happens because it seems to be a creature all its own, with thoughts and feelings and behavior all its own.  It’s an ambiguous term for preachers who wear cool clothes and write blogs, and, best of all, make a stir on these blogs.  They film their bible study devotionals with cool music and camera effects.  Don’t get me started on the cool thick rimmed glasses either!  BUT most of all emergent pastors write ‘scary’ books.

Something happen to Christianity when we became scared of a book, much less mad about it.  Why? Because half the time pastors are dragging their congregation by the ear to make them read something and suddenly they’re reading—the WRONG things!  After decades of watching the value of the written word drop, a book is written; and it scares us.

It’s the “watered down” gospel
It’s “catering to nonbelievers

How dare those tax collectors like Jesus?
I mean, they spend their whole lives following selfish pursuits
there’s no way they would like Jesus!
We don’t believe in any benefits to Christianity!

And then, what about the believers that read these books?  What happens when all that is read are a bunch of questions with a few “view points” thrown in?  What’s a 'view point' anyway?  What if the 'view point' that’s believed is wrong?

--Something wrong is here.  Whether it happened or it simply flares up when a Luther is about, something is really wrong.

We’ve become Believers, we stopped being Followers.

This is not the part in the blog,
Where I tell you to get off your butt and save people
This is not the point where I hand you a
Shane Claborn book and a
“be poor” mantra
We are so scared
of believing the wrong things.
We are no longer following this
Rediculously kind God
who popped up on earth and said

Follow me.

We just have to believe he said that.

But what if we’re wrong?

Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God.
Work as thought everything depended on you.”

But we don’t think that way anymore. 

We are so scared.
So very scared.
And we should be.

Because we’re Believers, and what we believe depends on what we choose
and what we choose, chooses our salvation.

We have become Believers we sure as hell, yes, sure as Hell, better get it right.

But I don’t think Jesus wanted Believers.
He said, follow me.

You can follow someone and be wrong. 
You can also not follow someone and be right.
In fact, you can not follow someone and be wrong too!

They were all “Believers.”

But Peter was a really, really wrong follower. 
He didn’t even know what he believed sometimes,
which, as you know, is the 8th deadly sin of ‘emergentism.’

Followers are friends.

Believers are slaves. 
They are happy to know the facts about God and stick to them.

But I want to know His thoughts
                        I want to know truth.

So I’m going to follow.  Because Jesus, You have the words of eternal life’….” John 6:68

Monday, October 10, 2011

Are we really?

Are we merely mechanics,
Over what?


Are we groaning
And alas dashed to nothing

Forgoing facts
Yet sure in our observation
Renouncing faith
Yet fully embracing our despair

We are so so sure there is nothing.

Are we mere scientists to see our thesis and conclusion,
To create our net-like theories and statistics
We have made our bed
But nobody is in a hurry to lie in it.
No instead is a groan of despair
For we are now reduced to being observers
We are passive and sure
While we once hailed the death of certainty
We have made our bed
And we are lying in it in death.

We have hailed the end of systems
We have hurled reason into chaos
Given voice to mad men
And are sure of our futile cycle.

Once we were called to dream.

To see as though from above, to see the world
in all its complexities below, a bustling city of queer patterns
and predicable anomalies.

Or overwhelmed with the passion of the experience. 
Standing in the center of it all and seeing into the deeper recesses.  Gloriously.

In awe or blissful experience we once stood.
But in front of the pattern now we stand,
as children after the fair—
or watching puppet show
 from the wrong side of the stage. 
Our worse fears have come true. 
The paint is not as bright,
the lights only shine on the outside,
and the set is all too flat and grim.

 Our pinnacle of philosophy is merely to “understand” the system.  The ridiculous revel in knowing what’s wrong; because, so much is wrong.

But what mechanic only knows the problem?
A philosopher is now nothing but a blinking, whining, repetitive, oil light.

We are crying out like a child who fully believes,
he fully knows,
that everything is wrong.

Philosophy died not when she crucified reason, or proclaimed even God was dead,
She was no more when she decided, that nothing could ever be said.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bitches and Earthquakes

I’ve been thinking.  Then I hit a road block and I look for more ideas to mix in.  Then I realize it’s not a road block it’s the great wall of china, or perhaps the actual edge of the world. I have theories too.

The problem is marriage.  Or rather, marital submission.  Secular feminism vs. traditional views are totally irrelevant with this one.  This boxing match has a well built ring.  The bible, tradition, other writings, practicality, we’re not talking about some abstract.  We have verse taken as holding truth.  We have our eternal purpose at steak as we decide what to think on the God’s opinion of our existence.  With that let’s take egalitarianism out of the fight.  Why? Because as it is there seems to be no egalitarian thought which also holds to marital submission.  What’s being fought here is complementarianism --A hierarchy of God > Man/Men > Woman/Women >Children > animals.  (The animal part was my addition…)  For the most part this is agreed upon as complementarianism.  It’s pretty straight forwards.  Everyone works together in a heavenly bureaucracy of love and higher-ups.  However there seems to be a deviation in the philosophy when talking about women.  I always find that when men preach on this topic they do such a nice job with talking about what a Man is, then they move to part two and I find myself hugging my knees and running my hands through my hair.  But alas here are the two deviations.

Golden Retriever theory:
When deciding that Women are to Submit to their Husbands one train of thought says that because God ordered man in this way it’s universal throughout culture.  Meaning, women are to submit to all men, married or not.  This is a logical conclusion if you believe that men and women are different to their core.  That their spirits are both man and woman as are their bodies.  This is good.  I don’t think God make a bunch of people spirits and then separated them into team red and team blue then said team blue already wins, sorry suckers in red.  It just isn’t logical.   In the end the woman can understand him better, be wiser or more intuitive, be kinder and in better character.  She may "complete him" or "make him who he is today" (both things you can here from people at a dog park) she is still a dog.  With a leash, and a crate, she's the best thing that happened to him. Yet, she's still of lesser value in her opinion and influence in his decisions.

The problem with that is by that standard no woman is to EVER hold authority over ANY man. Even the times when actual bible characters did... Why? The same reason your dog doesn’t do crafts with your kids on the kitchen table if you don’t let him eat there.  I mean.  Equal is flat bullshit in this opinion.  Men are higher than women.  Dolphins don’t hold swimming lessons no matter how good they are at it because in the end its an animal in a cage, the trainer teaches, the dolphin swims.

Tectonic plate theory:
This one is a little more illogical in the beginning but seems to have a more reasonable outcome. Men and women are equal and serve each other.  They don’t however submit until they are married at which point a woman submits the same way as she did as said above, only, not to anyone else.  This is called my tectonic plate theory because it’s the only way I could think of drawing that graph.  Think of the unaffected parts of the two plates being friends and others, equal, then BLAM! The man is over the woman in this crumpled blip where she’s shoved below the surface or he’s as high as a mountain.  I don’t exactly know why God would do this.  I mean, everyone appears to get along fine as equals and then marriage forces someone to be a leader?  Much more, does he rise up in power or does she shrink in her authority?  Why, if they are totally innately equal does this phenomena take place?  I mean, they were equals, then she put on a ring and he became higher.  It doesn’t really make sense but as long as this theory is in practice a woman has a chance of working outside the home, and having influence even over men, as long as her husband is okay with it.

Even in the mist of this bleak ultimatum I’m unfashionably ashamed to admit that I can’t help but believe that there must be some kind of marital submission of wives to their husbands in marriage.  Why? Probably because I’ve never known a day without that ideal. I can’t see life thought any other lens at present. I just can’t seem to find a logical answer as to why submission must happen.  In most balanced homes both partners seem to work together in a way that solves issues without one needing to be “leader.”  In order to pull the leader card a man has to know he’s severing the relationship, perhaps only momentarily, with his wife.  He’s saying, ‘I get that you think that, but right now my idea is more important and it’s more powerful.’  Perhaps it’s “for her own good,” (like no one has ever abused that phrase,) the point is, he finds his opinion and idea higher than hers.  That’s not equal, it simply isn’t.  It means that while a woman may have the privilege of making decisions with her husband they are merely privileges and can be revoked at any time.  Of course most sensible husbands don’t do that, or at least very often, my point is that he can. 

I’m not really worried about the practice.  Sure both of these options could potentially annihilate some of my hopes and dreams, but really, I’ve always been too optimistic for a future in theological studies anyway.  The point is deeper to me:  that I am something, or could be something, less than what I once thought.  That 50% of the world’s human population is superior to me in a way I can never achieve.  I cannot think like them, or speak like them, or feel like them, sure, but are their thoughts are higher than mine?  I may be smarter as, kind as, wise as, but at the end of the day could they still be unmatched in some invisible quality that God finds it good for them to be more privileged that me?  If this is true, it is more that I must realize I have been severely wrong.  It’s the feeling you get when you find out one you’re your coolest friends was hanging out with you out of pity. The small worthless feeling just about everyone get’s at some point in high school.  Unlike high school, where your mom told you that you were amazing anyway, you aren’t.  Actually, you are innately inferior to a being you have a 50% chance of producing when you get pregnant. In fact, your only real hope in life as far as influence goes is by producing said superior child and molding his young psyche until he grows up to do big things.  If you have daughters, well, too bad.  I guess they get to try what you tried in creating more superior beings.

This is bleak.  I don’t care.  If God made it, and God is good, (I’m still convinced) then I should at some point find joy in this existence.  I mean a dog might have his dreams as a math teacher dashed, it doesn’t mean he won’t like bringing in the paper.  But all I want is to know why.  Why God would find me not good enough and yet keep me smart enough to care.  I just want to know why.  It's not that I don't trust God, it's not that I'm even angry or doubtful.  I just want to know why.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Men’s Rights

If you think I’m taking a break from the feminist thing, I am. Don’t wanna talk about it. That’s obviously why I’m writing this.  So I’m not.

I’ve been watching this show called Man Men. Why? Because I’m an escapist and after an entire day of serving people I need something to take me off my feet and put some ice on my mind….perhaps the other way around… After endless tasks of napkins, puppy care, dishwashers and dish washing, it's a strange comfort to watch a show which subtly reminds you that life in the rat race is meaning less.  Really, it is.  Perhaps it's something like angsty teens listening to screaming-thrashing rock-n-roll.  The first few episodes you don't think it's all that dark, then a comedy, then you pretty much just feel sorry for them.

 Here’s the Netflix description:

Set in 1960s New York City, this AMC series takes a peek inside an ad agency during an era when the cutthroat business had a glamorous lure. When the cigarette smoke clears and the martinis are set down, at the center of it all is ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Meanwhile, his marriage suffers as his wife, Betty (January Jones), recoils from his womanizing ways. Garnering numerous awards, the show also stars John Slattery and Elisabeth Moss.

That is laughable.  Here’s my description and why I watch this show.  Donald Draper is Mr. Man.  He is everything the man of his era would have wanted, and he’s miserable.  It’s not that he doesn’t want what he has, he’s just miserable with or without what he wants.  In one season he’s had two affairs, both women end up leaving him. 

Men’s rights.  It’s funny that this miserable man’s “womanizing ways” seem pulled in two directions. Either he is evil or he’s a victim, he is ruining other people’s lives or he is in ruins. He longs for love and upon finding that he is unloved seeks it somewhere else. It’s ironic to me how “frowned upon” this personality is in society when if he were a woman she would be sympathized with.

His wife “doesn’t understand him,” but unlike her he has the job and the car.  He has the means so he should buy his happiness more responsibly? It’s amazing to me how social status actually matters today.  It’s so couth in our stick-it-to-the-man republic.  With “cool” being defined as over-educated poor hipsters working for peanuts. We like to believe that status doesn’t matter, that everyone is equal.  But honestly the only equal things in life seem to be hopeful at the starting gate and indiscriminant at the finish line.  But in between?

I don’t think men’s rights have anything to do with getting more established.  Perhaps less attacked in their establishments but more so men need to fight for their feelings.  With a divine kick of irony no one is questioning a man’s equal pay, or capabilities, we question their ability to fail.  We are disgusted with male moral failure because of his responsibility not because of his motives.  We are angry for the victims, without question of the perpetrator’s story. 

In the end Don Draper, partner of a huge advertizing company sits alone on his the stairs in his great big house, great big empty house. Miserable.

“Where O’ Israel are you lovers?”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A dream.

I see something more.  
So different, invaluable.  
So incompatible it's a necessity.
Why does a house benefit best with a Father and Mother? What is out of balance when one is gone?  
Why are we so scared of needing each other?  
We want to change the system but instead we're only editing the binary.  Perhaps "when the two shall become one," that one wasn't ever meant to divide from 9 to 5?  So much of marriage is the eternal commitment not to go through life alone.  What God has brought together let none other put asunder, not even the vocation of ministry?
In Jewish culture women cover their hair as submission to their husbands but it is also a symbol of the Spirit of God resting on them.  The "helper" holds the symbol in the house of the Helper Spirit of God.
What if that word"`ezer"  
Strong's H5828
--what if it wasn't used as some sort of accident for woman?  If we're all made in the image of God--made in a way that shows some sort of characteristic of our creator.  Could this mean more for the "humble helper" on earth?

What if it really wasn't good for Adam to subdue the earth alone?
                   What if together they were actually better at what they did

Because they're different,
            They are so, so different,
                        and yet there are two of them.
                                    Why wasn't the best of both worlds created?

But maybe they're halves of a whole, 
or whole but combined even more,
maybe that's the mystery.

Because they're great a lone,
and together they raise up a bunch of little mini-people.
--and God saw that it was Good.

Then we have this church,
and the two who are one become half.
One remains silent while the other speaks,
one serves and the other is glorified.

5 For this reason I left you in aCrete, that you would set in order what remains and bappoint celders in every city as I directed you,
 6 namely, aif any man is above reproach, the bhusband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of cdissipation ordrebellion.
 7 For the 1aoverseer must be above reproach as bGod’s steward, notcself-willed, not quick-tempered, not daddicted to wine, not pugnacious, enot fond of sordid gain,
 8 but ahospitable, bloving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,
 9 aholding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in bsound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

So often we write this verse off.  Or we go down right crazy, forcing families to be perfect for their leader so he looks good to his leaders.  Madness. But what about the eyes of love?  What are the eyes for this passage of a leader of sound doctrine?  Ephesians 5:33b “each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  What about this marriage?  Why is Paul so concerned with this house being in order?  This is the house of love, can we chose to see it as the ideal Paul sets before his people, and for his leaders in their search for other trustworthy leaders?  What if he is looking for a house at peace, running with both man and woman working together to do their first and for most priority of their family?

Why are we asking people to split in two for a job in the church? 
What if we’ve just gotten so used to half a person in the pulpit we don’t know what to do with one? 
Because it’s apples and oranges. 
Equally incomparable,
better at one thing or another maybe,
but each so valuable. 
Valuable in and of themselves,
but not good to be alone. 

When have we seen really them together in action?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

With Fear and Trembling- the place of the Christian Female.

I’m a Christian.  I couldn’t be anything else.  It’s a part of me, the way I tick.  I believe.  That’s enough. I have a problem.  It’s not simple.  It’s not something your mother can solve.  It’s not something kind people can bestow with their respect.

So often in all of this I can’t help but feel I lack a home.  Where am I?  It’s an odd passion for a 14 year old to have but I've wanted to be involved in the church.  Theology, to be specific.  I love a good theory, either something to throw rocks at or hail with praise, there’s nothing like the feeling of wrapping your brain around something.  It feels like cling-film around a globe.  This new amazing thought stretching out all I’ve already thought/feel/believed—stretching it out for me to see this theory in its wholeness, from every angle, while at the same time I uncrumple myself, I see more and more parts of me.  Wrapping myself around it is stretching my own heart out like a canvas.  It burns so good.

You still don’t know me.  There’s something in me that’s between pride and trodden humility, I like serving people.  Really, I do.  I remember my boss warning me that some of his previous employees felt ‘crushed’ by their work in food service.  I laughed but then again I do work at a little hippie coffee shop *hipster points?* But he was serious, “some people feel it’s degrading.” 

I love it.  I love making someone’s morning with the right bagel and a latte with their paper.  You need a knife to eat that? Well, that’s a first, but here’s some napkins—can I watch?  I love helping people with my 10 second interaction that only leads to an hour of bliss at my coffee shop.  I really do like this stuff.  I like doing things that save people time and make their day easier.  I think I can remember 3 times I didn’t do my friend’s dishes last year at Bethel. Realize I basically lived there…  Why? Because someone had to do them, and I didn’t mind that person being me. Someone else benefiting simply seems more valuable to me than a little lost time on my behave.  I’m a strange girl.

So what? I’m evangelical, we’re smart and servant hearted, but for some reason theologically as a woman I can’t help but feel the pull between these two concepts.  I could go to either, I would love them, but I might have to chose. 

How? I mean, the most theological person must serve, and the most humble servant has theology behind their actions.  Yes, but, to put it bluntly I expect to be more.
“Called” is a really lousy piece of terminology these days. “Called” sounds like something from an alien movie, “The Called” or a really scary North  Korean propaganda movie “The Called [One].”  I never saw “called” either way until I grew up and started telling adults what I wanted out of my life.  Then I realized I considered myself, “called.”

I was 14, at the bottom of an alter call so big I couldn’t get back to my seat because of all the bodies.  So I just sat there and kept praying.  Over and over I repeated what I had said before because, I didn’t have anything else.  Literally, I was pretty sure ‘Lord I give you everything,’ meant, everything.  From that day in August I was no longer mine.  I know this sounds, like some crap from that Mandy Moor movie “A Walk to Remember,” *barf* for the record I’m not dying of leukemia…

From then my life drew a drastic conclusion, my life is not my own.  I learned guitar because I felt called into youth ministry.  All the youth pastors around me were a) poor as dirt, b) played their own worship in services because they never had enough help, and c) were basically the church slave.  So I got on the list.  I was leading Sunday school, I was born to stack chairs, I was an interceding-bible-reading machine, and I was awful at it.

My pastor wanted me to teach this awful bible pamphlet stuff which I couldn’t stand, so after doubling the Sunday School I quit. *Rebel?* My voice wasn’t good enough for any worship team with options, but seeing as they often didn’t have options I got a few shots.  I worked hard in school and had a job.  My youth group had little use for someone babbling on about the New Testament-Old Testament paradigm, much less a use for me.  I didn’t make friends.  A lot of it was out of my control. I have still yet to have a friend for more than 2 years who didn’t lose interest in me or move away, and I was strange.  I usually asked questions people didn’t have answers for, I had questions and thoughts about things people didn’t like, and those were the times I could express what I wanted to know.

In the mist of this Christian bubble I clung to a few absolutes: I was God’s not my own, God wanted me in ministry, my life would never be boring (obscure is the grown up word).   I had a purpose yet at the same time I killed any thought of life outside of these principles. Being fully God’s, for some reason meant not even bothering to think about where I would live, what I’d like to do in my free time. Being God’s somehow encompassed every hope for my life. I would go to seminary, I would be a youth pastor. That’s about as far as I thought out. The more and more specialized this “call” for my life grew, the less and less did I think life would exist outside of ministry.

But then I grew up,
And what’s cute for girls
Is a problem for women.

See in Christian circle #1 women are beautiful, strong, kind beings, they are grace in bodied.  They are the picture of servant hearted sacrifice.  They are moms and they are silent as the grave.  They have women’s meeting and women’s socials where they socialize with other silenced beings.  Perhaps that’s why men find those things so scary; the silent house makers suddenly form a complex society with rules and hierarchy—almost too equal for a man to believe.  It’s petty, but women are just as capable of forming a social ladder as men.  That’s scary.

It’s scary to me because it’s beautiful.  It is a Christ-likeness unheard of; a love for family and friends that is backed with the sacrifice of a lifetime.  It is beautiful to watch as each woman becomes the pillar of a house.  They are the encouragement to their husbands, the open arms to their children, and the open door to their neighbors. It’s Jesus. But they are silent.

But I’m not stuck in that circle.  My Father has yet to accept an offering of chickens or cows for my hand.  I’m also free to go to the next train of thought.

So option #2: Everyone is equal.  

See women here aren’t dead weights, they pull their weight—hell, the pull their weight and all the extra weight they feel they need to pull.  In a kinder light they prove that women are mentally capable of theological discussion, they are not inept at leadership and decisions as well as mentorship.  To me it’s lacking.  It’s not that they are trying to be men as much as they don’t know what they are.  They call it womanhood but their “independence” simply drives them to deny their insecurities. “I don’t need to be told that I’m beautiful,” sure, okay.  Where they go a little crazy is, “I don’t need to be beautiful.” They are a graceless machine.  Not the warrior, male, father, types like the good ol’ boys they fight—no they’re something in between. They are neither soft nor strong, they simply are.  They represent the odd third option of simply ceasing to exist within gender.  Dress like a girl, but it’s anyone’s game after that point.

That is lonely, and bitter, hollow; honestly I don’t have the energy for any one of those things.  I was and often am exhausted by the Christian life which for the most part has been totally alone.  I know God of the Last Breath, God of the Inch More, God of the One-Foot-In-Front-Of-The-Other, a hell of a lot better than any Rich King.  He was Hagar’s “God Who Hears” for sure, but He was listening to me crying, and the words I didn’t have anyone else to hear.  But the reality is I don’t know of an option that changes that.

So upon this balancing act I can stand.  Forsake my gender and become a floating soul, reject the comforts of man and woman, or fall back fool heartedly.  I could dive deep in to an obscurity that will surely kill a part of what I have believed a calling towards.  I could forever silence my weary head and humble myself to a silent servant.  I could roar, without love but in loss, as a non-woman, or only smile from the sidelines.  Either I be filled with the goodness of love to say something, or fight for a voice that will have nothing to say when I get a hold of it. Because, as I see it now, I have been really, really, wrong about my “calling” and I freaking want to know which half I’m not supposed to believe in.

And this, breaks my heart.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Girls and Boys are different... don't read this if it will make you grumpy.

I’m thinking…
            This is dangerously abnormal.

If the earth can’t stand up to a good man who goes to war,
What about when your fairly contented, semi-smart, girl gets to thinking?

I have thoughts about a problem. I like patterns.  I like patterns a lot. Philosophically I like to call them principles.  “Love your neighbor,” is a principle. It means talk to an old lady, buy some girl scout cookies, keep quiet after 10, call the cops when you hear domestic violence and infinite other actions that stem from that one belief.  I like that.  I like it because it’s a concrete without confining rules.  It’s an absolute that requires application.  It is ridged and versatile.

 But I have a problem.
            I see what I disagree with,
                        but I can’t see the principle,
                                    to the problem, or the solution.

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam...

It’s the big question.  Or rather, what you do after you agree to the “big question.” 

I have ideas.
            I have things I’ve been raised with
                        I have things I’ve been taught
                                    I have a bible
                                                And I have a slew of people I disagree with.

Problem? All I have is examples.  I have inductive research, I want the deductive stuff.  Say you don’t know very much math, but you happen to notice that you multiply the length of you field by its width and you know how many square feet of crops to put in it.  That’s fine, but its coincidence until you realize that L x W = Area. It’s not that you were wrong, it’s not that it didn’t exist, but it was coincidence until the formula.

I want the formula.
            This makes me grumpy.

Oh I see,
it’s ‘love’ it will “work out”… “it’s what works for you”… “it’s what you and your spouse decide…”
            Agh, no.

                                    No because, I’m not talking about that, this is bigger.

It’s bigger because there’s more than two people involved. 

What about kids?  Kids see their parents and then build their expectations on that view.  Kid’s set standards and place judgments based on their parents.  So you think you put up with our spouse’s crap, you’re not alone…

Pastors, pastors are an example to possibly hundreds of people.  They set a bar for more than their home.  Their lives are watched and judged.  It’s not even a bad thing, it just is.  People will not only look at their lives, they’re going to ask questions, receive marriage counseling, and enter into marriage! All alongside whom? Pastors.

Third, God.  It’s biblical people.  Christ is to Church, as Man is to Wife.  Sounds simple, it’s not.  It’s not simple to every black-eyed beaten housewife, every henpecked man, and every kid who has ever had to watch it go down.  Marriage?  There are way too many kinds of marriages to say that—come on Paul!

Marriage is a principle; I just can’t decide what it means.  There’s the historical, which sucks for women.  Then there are the present times, in which %50 don’t give a damn about marriage after the first few years.  In the past this would lead me to back up, go back to when marriage seemed to “work” and move forward from there.  But what am I looking at here?  Women couldn’t vote until the twenties.  In Jesus’s times women got stoned, a lot. 

Well then Adam and Eve perhaps?
            Um, the only real talk about their active marriage, (if you can call it that)
                        is fighting.
                                    Fighting and getting evicted. Joy.

Ok so what do we know? 
Do we actually know anything?
Sorry for being annoyingly postmodern….my bad…

Well here’s something I’m happy to assume is right.

Boys are different from girls
Girls are different from boys

Yep.  I believe that.
            Girls don’t grow beards.  Boys are allowed to have hairy legs.  That’s stereotyping but on average true.  For future record, we’re looking at the averages.  Ok? Got it?  Not universal truth, but what most is likely is true for the largest number of people in that category.  I’m just saying.

Boys and Girls are different.  God made them that way.  It’s a good thing.  Different body parts, different thought processes, what about different roles?

Here’s where we start stepping on nerves.  Since Boy and Girls are different it is IMPOSSIBLE to think that they would act the same way in everything.  In fact I would say it is more than likely that they would act very differently in a situation, job, or conversation.  That’s not to say inferior. 

Inferior, hmm
            Inferior = less than?  Could one gender be better at something than the other and still not be “inferior?”  Or is it okay?  Women make better researchers, using all those social-networking brain juices.  Men are better in maths, concrete, black white, stuff.  There are men in research and women in math, but that’s the average. While I’m too lazy to hunt down more sources it seems reasonable to think that at best men and women will complete tasks differently, which means, it’s not too far out there to believe one will do better the thing in question better than the other.

So we’re not all the same…
                        How equal is that?

I don’t know, how many ‘equal’ but ‘not the same’ things do you know?

The thing about different is I’m not sure about how comparable that is.  I mean it’s different, like, apples are to oranges?

Are you grumpy yet?

Okay let’s keep it biblical. 
That’s what your ma’ma says it fixes everything.

Gen. 2:But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

This is the start of it all.  It’s also the mantra from the men of, “Make Me a Sandwich,” club.

Strong's Number H5828

“Helper” is a really ironic term here because its used in the bible mainly to describe God.  Yep, God.  The Lord. Like in Psalm 20:2

“Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion;

Gentlemen of the Baptisic Faith, I do believe you have almost expected God to go make you a sandwich.  Be proud.
…Okay I’m done.

Now that that’s out of the air let’s move on. Tune in next time to hear me say:

Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul