Monday, July 9, 2007

American Christianity's Carnival Trick Mirror

American Christianity’s Carnival Trick Mirror


I spend quite a bit of time online these days. In fact, I have spent many hours online for the last five or six years. I check my email daily and read the local, state, national and world news. I also visit my standard forums and peruse blogs utilizing a search engine on Google ®.

I have noticed a few disturbing trends in North America, specifically among those of us in the United States that are the Church. There are prevailing mindsets and attitudes that cause alarm. Strangely, American Christians seems to think that our Christian experience is the ultimate and most holy in God’s eyes. Think about it.

First I’ll start with the move towards ultra conservatism. As an aside, I will admit that I am a moderate conservative. (A term that is synonymous with “liberal” in many closed minded camps) There seems to be an idea that one can never be too conservative. And the more conservative one can be is directly proportionate to personal holiness.

Secondly, I am alarmed at the herd mentality and group think when it comes to dating, marriage and gender roles. I believe that marriage and family is the unit that God created to be the building blocks of society. However, I also believe that the Lord made man and woman differently. That said, different does not mean second-rate.

Young Christian women in America are being brained washed to “dummy down”. They are being encouraged to not seek higher education. I understand that it is a choice whether or not to work outside of the home. I have no problem with either choice. I do, however have problems with a woman being left with no marketable skill sets should a spouse pass away or if a marriage fails. Many young women are being taught that they should not contaminate their hearts and minds with worldly knowledge.

I concur that we are not to be of the world. However we are called to be in it. And we need to know how to survive regardless of our gender as a Christian in a godless world. We must have tools in our arsenal. We must be prepared to meet them on an equal academic footing whether we are keepers of the home, or work outside the home as well as maintain the home. God is faithful and will protect and provide. However, I do not think the brains that women are given are for optional usage. They do not need to be switched off to please our fathers, boyfriends, fianc├ęs or husbands. As long as our minds are transformed with the help of the Holy Spirit… everything is well.

There is much more to discuss, but I am out of time. I’ll address improperly defined submission, authority and respect in the next entry. Misogyny and the inferiority/superiority conundrum in American Christian males need exploration. Also, the hidden racism riding the coattails of American Conservative Christianity is in my cross hairs.

Until next time…

Friday, July 6, 2007

Rainy Summer Night

The boisterous thunder and sheets of driving rain
during the heat of the day have gone.


In their place there is cool darkness and quiet, almost
melodic, gentle rain.


Mischievously, cool breezes flirt with my skin…then run away.
They caress and retreat, sly with their touch.


In the temporal peace I hear individual rain drops gently
land on tree leaves.


Tap- tap- tap as water drips and dribbles from the down spout then
the cheerful splat causing my sidewalk to glisten in the soft porch light.


Occasionally interrupted by a slowly passing car, the frogs
croon to each other songs that only they and their Maker understand.


When I try… I imagine that I can hear the thirsty grass roots hum
greedily as they drink in the water, like a hungry baby latching on to the breast.


Fresh and pristine from the afternoon scrubbing and the gentle rinse of the night,
the air is sweet and almost intoxicating.


I stand on the porch and reflect on how rarely I remain still, quiet
and listen.



-JH2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wrapped Up In My Today

Luke 1: 46-55

46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.




Wrapped Up In My Today


Like many, I tend to view my life and situations from a “self” viewpoint. I lose my focus (Jesus) and begin to look with the attitude of how situations and people affect me.

I give too much power to the actions of those present in my today. I allow myself the luxury of centering everything upon myself.

I am well glad to realize it.

The big picture just escapes me sometimes. I guess that is one of the character issues that the Holy Spirit is working on.

In the first chapter of Luke, Mary’s clarity is inspiring. I mean, come on!!!
She wasn’t thinking of what the neighbors might say (or worse do to her). She wasn’t thinking of how all of her plans were irrevocably changed. She didn’t whine about any of it. Instead, she rejoiced in the Lord.

Mary magnified the Lord’s power and mercy and love. She chose to look at the mighty God we serve in awe. She chose to trust. She put her today in perspective. Compared to her testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness, her today was a walk in the park. She knew that God “had her back.”
Her confidence was in God.


Dear Lord,
Thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for Your mercy. And Lord, I thank You for Your patience with me as You mold me. I pray that my eyes remain focused on You. Because You are my yesterday, today and tomorrow. You are my eternity.
In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Best Things

Everyone has heard that saying: "The best things in life are free."

Well, no surprise-- it is true.

I adore being outside in the sunlight, feeling the breeze on my face. I come alive listening to the birds and smelling the sweet grass and cool earth.

Beach lounging is one of my specialties as well. There is just something about the sand between your toes, and the sun warming your skin. The ocean breeze can be intoxicating.

Even when I am constrained to indoor living........most mornings my window curtains are drawn back, blinds retracted and windows open. I crave the sunlight and sound of the breeze blowing through the tree tops. I giggle watching the lizards race through my hedges and rock garden. I long to venture out to the freedom waiting.

Yes, for me the adage is true. Some of the very best things in life are free. I'm gonna find my shades and head out into the great outdoors. I'll pack a light meal and some cool drinks and me and my flip flops will be good to go.

As the song goes...

"Grazin' in the grass is a gas! Baby, can you dig it?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Destructive Ranking and Powerful Cliques

Many have heard about the book:

Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman.

It details the various personality dynamics in play within a young girl/woman's social life.I would like to challenge those of you familiar with a certain element of cyberspace known as the virtual neighborhood (forum boards) to contemplate a few disturbing trends that have become rooted in the culture of some Christian boards.

This blog will address the vicious and relentless judgment and ranking amongst conservative Christian women.


Just as teen and tween girls elbow each other for position and cache', inexplicably some of my Christian sisters still engage in this harmful spirit torture. Ironically, it isn't the "prettiest" or "richest" or "most educated" that is the 'IT" girl that all hope to emulate. It is the woman that can demonstrate the most extreme observance of supplication, modesty, frugality and submission. To understand my concern, one must understand the meanings of these adjectives to that group.


In order from "best" to "least desirable, possibly sin"….


(Queen Bees)

Head covering, no hair cutting
Dresses only
Quiver full
No jewelry
No makeup
No conversing with opposite sex outside of family
Home birther
Breast feeds with child led weaning and tandem nurses
Home schooler 2nd generation

(Side Kick)

No head covering, but no hair cutting
Modest culottes and loosely tailored slacks
NFP (since they don't QUITE trust God)
Wedding ring, one hole for studs per ear
Makeup for weddings
Can speak to opposite sex with other people present.
Home birther or woman's center
Breast feeds at least 1 year
First generation home schooler

(Torn Bystander)

Cuts and styles hair
Fashionable yet modest
No children yet, either longing to marry or engaged or trying to conceive
Wedding rings and other jewelry in good taste.
Light makeup daily
Social adept with appropriate boundaries
Likes the idea of hospital birth, but without drugs or C-section
Attempts to breast feed out of guilt, for a few weeks then bottle feeds
Contemplating homes schooling, but thinks Private may work

(Messenger)

Cuts and Styles hair, but self critical
Modest and attempts to be fashionable but struggles with guilt (posts a lot of self berating and "is it a sin" questions)
May or may not be married with children, worries that she isn't as "good a woman" as others on the board.
Feels guilty when she gets dressed up, so usually doesn't
No time for makeup. Besides it would be a give away to her unrighteousness and financial irresponsibility
Shy
Holds women in awe that are in the first group
Attempted breastfeeding and became a bottle feeder
Knows that she cannot do home schooling and berates herself while championing the cause


What I find overwhelmingly sad is that within a group that is regularly overlooked, walked upon and under appreciated…these women cannot muster compassionate community amongst themselves.

Instead under the guise of Christian admonition and advice, women are spiritually tortured for missing the mark of the first group.

Never mind that lifestyle choices are completely the sole business of each couple… thus saith Evangelistic Christendom: You must be as we deem acceptable. There is more than one way to plan family size and childbirth experiences.

There is more than one acceptable fashion code. In fact, fashion isn't a dirty word. Shaving or using disposable diapers isn't an accurate measure of the quality of work a woman performs for herself, her husband or family.

How a woman takes care of her personal hygiene during menstrual cycles is even a measure of Godly womanliness. How much money does the method cost? Can it be homemade and cheaper?

Which brings up the question of household finances…

It seems that many of my sisters on some Christian boards are sacrificing and scrimping when it comes to personal needs or even desires. And to feel better about it, they file it under stewardship and submission and being a helpmeet. Although we are called to be wise with our resources, I don't know where the idea that anything that feels nice or is not a necessity is sin or waste.

I guess what I'm missing is a sense of balance.

In truth, the tighter one can squeeze a penny, the more clothes that you can make for yourself, the more babies that you can trust God to supply for, the avoidance of "government schools" at all cost and so on ad nauseum only add to the hierarchy of the Godly. It also adds to righteous indignation towards those that do not adhere and smugness.

Let's love each other as the wonderfully made women that we are. Let's encourage each other to seek the Lord's will for their family and lifestyle. And let's encourage following that leading from the Holy Spirit, even if their lives don't mirror ours.

Bottom line, you should only be "crunchy" if God calls you to it… Not just because it is the "in" thing in conservative Christianity. Don't let our sisters become an emotional casualty of condemnation. A C-section is not failure. Public school isn't disastrous. Occasional pampering is not moral turpitude. Responsible (non abortifacient) birth control is an option.

You know what they are: choices.

Imagine that!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

In Little Ways

In Little Ways

The teenaged son that checks
the locks and windows nightly,
just because he cares and worries.

The younger one that empties the
trash cans around the house and
puts trash out to the curb, because he knows
his mom fell asleep.

The friend that drops everything
to come get your car started,
because he knows you don’t have money to fix
it yourself.

The friend that forgives with encouragement,
because he knows that raising children
Is hard.

The mom that makes blueberry muffins from
scratch, because she knows they are one
of her boy’s favorites.

Saying “I love you” is easy…

Showing love can be too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Connection

Connection

A strangely familiar voice on the phone…


I smile.


Effortless and plain conversation…

Talk for an hour…


“Are you going to be awake later? Can I call you back?”


“Yes.”


A comfortable spot on my bed…

He calls.

We flirt.

The natural flow of ideas, laughter and serious discussion…

How did another hour pass so quickly?

--jh2007