Restore the “Vagina”!

Yes, you can buy this shirt by clicking on it.

Loyal readers will know that my friend, Rachel Held Evans, has been pressured by her Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson, to remove the word “vagina” from her forthcoming book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master. The publisher, it seems, fears that Christian bookstore will not stock the book if it contains that word.

The problems with this are too numerous to enumerate. Among them:

  1. Many Christian (read, conservative evangelical) bookstores won’t stock her book anyway, because they’ll consider it “feminist.”
  2. Even if they do, they won’t sell many copies.
  3. Wait, there are still Christian bookstores?
  4. Wait, there are still bookstores?

I could go on. But there are lots of other GREAT reasons for Thomas Nelson to reconsider this decision, and they’re being posted on an Amazon petition. Like the fact that “vagina” is the least offensive term for that body part, and that speaking about the sexual organs euphemistically (“private parts”) leads to more patriarchy and more misogyny — not to mention is exacerbates evangelical fear of human sexuality.

So, do Rachel a favor and sign the petition. You can also leave a comment on Michael Hyatt’s blog. He’s the chairman and former CEO of Thomas Nelson.

UPDATE from Rachel here.

When Are Women Going to Revolt?

Eve by Anna Lea Merritt

There was an interesting column in Martin Marty‘s Sightings this week, linking the unlikely pair of Lisa Miller and Jim Henderson, both of whom are predicting that women are on the verge of leaving Evangelico-Republicanism en masse.

Felice Lifshitz writes,

Christianity has consistently been open to pro-feminist movements, but this has resulted neither in a fundamental egalitarian transformation of Christian institutions, nor in a mass exodus of disaffected women. The current wave of “resignations” fits squarely into a 2000-year-old tradition of tension over gender and spiritual authority; if proponents of patriarchal forms of religious organization do not feel particularly threatened by the alarm bells Henderson has rung for them, it is because historical precedent encourages complacency on their part. After all, their predecessors always managed to hold on to power. “The men of the right” have found, in every generation, a substantial number of Christian women who considered the limited roles and secondary status allotted to them to be quite comfortable. It is certainly easier to execute simple, circumscribed tasks such as meal preparation than to shoulder the responsibility for major policy decisions. But every generation has also witnessed rebellion and discontent. (Read the rest: Patriarchy’s Persistent Bastion? Religion by Felice Lifshitz.)

I’m not so sure. Every time I get excited that women are really, truly, exerting feminist independence within evangelicalism, I read something like this, in which Rachel Held Evans agreed to take the word “vagina” out of her forthcoming book on women and the Bible out of concern for evangelical bookstores.

It’s tragic, I think. So maybe Miller and Henderson are right. Maybe the women of Evangelico-Republicanism are going to revolt. I, for one, hope that they do.

Attention Gardeners

I’m dramatically expanding my garden this year, in one of those DIY projects that’s probably way too big for me. The plans are below. I’m going to dig up a total area of 18′ by 28′ and put three raised beds therein. Around the edges, I plan pumpkins, melons, and other gourds, sunflowers, and herbs. In the plan, up is West.

So, I’m asking those of you who garden, what am I missing? Got any tips on how I should build and how I should plant?

Mark Driscoll’s House of Cards

Mark Driscoll

Believe it or not, I take no pleasure in the flailings and failings of Christian leaders who hold dissimilar views to me. I’ve had my own failings, including divorce and foreclosure. And these failings have humbled me. I’m regularly told by friends and acquaintances, especially those who’ve not seen me for a few years, that I now seem more gentle, more humane. I attribute much of that to the love I’ve experienced, most notably from CourtneyDoug, and my family.

Mark Driscoll and I were never close. In the early days of proto-emergent, I was on the fringes and he was an intimidating figure in the inner circle. He made it abundantly clear that he had no respect for a youth pastor like me. By the time I made the inner circle, he’d left. I’ve attempted to correspond with him since — even to get together with him when I was in Seattle — with no success.

I say all that as prelude to the buzz that’s been making the rounds this week. A pastor who was fired by Mark a few years ago, and the pastor’s spouse, have gone public with their story. It is, I think you will agree, a chilling story. It’s full of intrigue, and could easily devolve into a gossipy sin feast.

But that’s not why I’m posting it. [Read more…]