Some Notes on Christian Feminism Week

Next week, this blog will be populated exclusively by posts from Christian feminists. I’ve had several submissions, and there are more coming in. You can read about the initial invitation and learn how to submit something here.

Some have wondered why feminists need to post on my blog and not, instead, have a space of their own. They don’t need to post here. And many do, thankfully, have blogs of their own. In fact, a couple of next week’s posts are cross-posts from their own blogs. The reason, I suppose, to submit a post for this blog is to reach a different audience, and to say some things to that audience that need to be said.

Others have asked why, in my original invitation, I said that I would be reading, but not commenting or moderating comments. I won’t be commenting because, quite honestly, that’s when I’ve most often put my foot in my mouth. It’s better to let the commentary play out without my involvement.

I won’t be moderating the comments because I don’t want to be put in the position of favoring one post and disallowing another. I don’t actually think that several of the guest bloggers would even trust my judgment in that regard. However, each of the guest bloggers has my email address, so they can always notify me if the commentary is getting out-of-hand or disrespectful. Editors at Patheos will also be watching the commentary, as they always do.

If any of you thinks the commentary is growing abusive or disrespectful next week, please contact me.

I think that, for the most part, you will find what I have found: the readers and commenters on this blog tend to be thoughtful, respectful, and interesting. Of course, we have the occasional fundamentalist troll, but we’ve managed to shake most of those people loose over the years.

I’m looking forward to reading all of the posts and comments next week. I hope you are, too.

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  • tony, i assume you read the post about this/you over at Shakesville. this concern was covered there, but if you truly want to encourage and amplify underrepresented perspectives–and tackle the perception shared in the Where Are The Women debacle that your site/community may not be a safe space–intentional comment moderation is necessary.

    • Tess

      Here’s the post in question, so Tony can read it if he already hasn’t.

    • Tony, I looked up the referenced post above and, while I don’t think the whole post is fair, I think the point Suzannah makes (and is made several times in the comments) is a valid one. As someone who admires you and this blog and as someone who genuinely wants you to succeed in what I see as a sincere attempt to reach out to women, I would encourage you to consider moderating your comments on these upcoming posts in some way. I know you “put your foot in your mouth” sometimes, but I know you can show restraint. I think deciding to comment on these posts would be courageous and it would show that you are willing to listen to and take suggestions. You don’t have to engage debate, but if you say SOMETHING, if you say “I heard you” or “I’m thinking about this… specifically X point or Y point,” you show us that you’re there. You’re present. I enjoy your posts a lot more when you are present for the comments as well. I feel like the message you send if you don’t do that is “You can borrow my table and sit around it and have a chat, and I’ll sit in the corner and watch you.” It’s different than saying “You borrow my table and I’ll sit around it with you.” Will you consider it?

      • I hear you both. Just to be clear, I VERY RARELY delete a comment. In fact, I haven’t in months. So moderation of that sort doesn’t happen much on this blog.

        However, at your suggestion, I will be involved in the comment section next week.

        • corvelay

          Oh excellent. You’re taking advice from Shakesville fans. There’s no way this could possibly go wrong.

  • I don’t understand the concept of “Christian Feminism”, or any “Christian -ism” for that matter.

    I’ve been reading Colossians quite a bit lately. “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is in all, and is all.”

    Paul’s point here is that it’s not “Christ plus” any of these things, just Christ. I struggle with these kids of distinctions and the way in which they might detract from our identity in Christ.


    • Craig

      Identifying oneself under one description (“I am a sister”) doesn’t necessarily detract from one’s identity under another (“I am a woman”). So what is Paul getting at exactly? Maybe it’s just another instance of his fanaticism.

      • It appears that the issue was people creating identities of “Christ plus”. This was at the heart of the problem of “secret” wisdom; the “real followers of Christ” did “x”.

        When you use the word “fanaticism” what do you mean?

        • Craig

          excessive, ideological devotion. St. Paul strikes me as a theory-driven guy with a penchant for religious zealotry.

          • “excessive, ideological devotion” like “take up your cross and follow me”? Or “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”?

            Paul? Theory-driven? He lived the full-on experience of a man driven by action. I fail to see any “theory” there…

            • Craig

              It’s quite right to notice that what looks excessive to one person may look perfectly appropriate to another. To say that someone is theory-driven isn’t to say that he or she isn’t a person of action. Paul’s peculiar actions were driven by his peculiar theories. When I read the epistles ascribed to Paul, I see a man who is driven by his ideas, his theories. Theories about God and Christ and sin and grace are theories nonetheless.

              • And, the Amish girls?

                • Craig

                  I’m not familiar with them. There is to be sure such a thing as heroic courage and commendable self-sacrifice. But if such actions are motivated by delusional beliefs, or if such actions are only “heroic and commendable” according to some peculiar and highly questionable ideology, then I suppose there is probably an element of fanaticism.

                  • Here’s the story:

                    Are these people “fanatics”? Is that wrong?

                    • Craig

                      What is it exactly that you find possibly fanatical and wrong about the Amish girls?

                    • A- I thought you were unfamiliar with them.
                      B- I’m challenging your construct of “fanaticism”.
                      C- Those girls, and their families by what they did after, clearly displayed a “penchant for religious zealotry.”

                      You seemed to be indicating that Paul was in the wrong for his “fanaticism” and “penchant for religious zealotry.”

                      Did I mis-read?

                    • Craig

                      So I’ve read the article you suggest. Where exactly do you find the girls’ penchant for religious zealotry clearly displayed?

                    • Girls- sacrificing themselves
                      Parents- displaying forgiveness and acceptance of the family of the killer. Bringing her food. Attending his funeral.

                    • Craig

                      Why do you think that self-sacrifice is a clear display of a penchant for religious zealotry?

                    • It’s in the “why?”. Their faith led them to these conclusions.

          • Of course, some might consider the Amish girls at the West Nickel Mines School who offered to stay behind and be killed instead of the younger children as adherents to “excessive, ideological devotion” “with a penchant for religious zealotry.”