We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you’re here in the States, I hope you did, too. As usual, I baked pies — pumpkin, pecan, and sour cream raisin — as well as roasting the auxiliary turkey on the grill, with great success. It was also a day away from the Internet, which is always good for the soul. Today, I’m taking my sons on their first-ever pheasant hunt — just two hours at a game farm, but they’ll get the chance to see what it’s all about.
In between, however, I thought I’d get down some random thoughts about what’s happened here on the blog in the last week.
1) One never knows when a post will go viral. I suppose there are some bloggers who have a formula for it that more-or-less works, but I don’t. I can’t seem to make it happen. But, on occasion, it does happen.
2) As of today, it’s been one year and one day since another viral post, “Where Are the Women?“ That post was a totally different deal altogether. It was written quickly, almost absentmindedly, on a day that I was trying to get out the door. A year later, some people still seethe with anger over that post and the ensuing commentary. In spite of their ongoing anger at and demonization of me, the number of women commenters on this blog has continued to climb. I’m thrilled with this development, and it’s made this blog a better place.
My post from last Friday continues to generate passionate responses from all sides. I’ve gotten positive and negative feedback, both publicly and privately. The most challenging and yet generous response has come from one of my closest friends, Sarah Cunningham. Sarah is a fellow author, blogger, and event producer — we’ve worked on stuff together in the past, and we’re currently planning two events together.
Over the past few days, Sarah and I have talked at length on the phone, exchanged lengthy emails, and traded dozens of text messages. I asked her to write a guest post for this blog, and she suggested that we do it in dialogical format instead. So we started a Google Doc, but after about 2,200 words and another passionate phone call, we deleted the entire thing and started over. Where we ended up was the Sarah would state her presupposition, and then pose a series of questions/statements, to which I would respond.
Before I get to that, however, I want to say that everyone should have a friend like Sarah. She has been very tough on me in these conversations — she fundamentally disagrees with my position — but she has relentlessly stated and restated her love for me, respect for me, and friendship for me. I feel the same about her.
That being said, here is our dialogue.
I’ve gotten many emails about my call for schism over the role of women in the church, in addition to all of the public posts and tweets that you can see yourselves. Among the emails is this one, posted with permission, from Shirley Taylor. Shirley is the head of Baptist Women for Equality and the author of Dethroning Male Headship. She partners with the Center for Biblical Equality and blogs about these issues at bWe. Because there isn’t a Baptist church anywhere near her in Texas that allows women to lead, she and her husband attend their local Methodist church, where she reports that they have been “welcomed with love and acceptance.”
Here’s what she wrote to me:
Equality will not happen by osmosis.
The only way equality for Christian women can happen is through a deliberate, concentrated, dedicated plan. A plan devised by women and men who have a fire in their belly for equality.
I don’t take this lightly. I very much take Jesus’ prayer for unity in the Fourth Gospel seriously. Our eschatological hope is that the church will be one, and that we will all be united in belief, practice, and love.
But sometimes we need to separate. We need to say hard words to those who are not living the way that Jesus laid out for us. We need to divorce.
The time has come for a schism regarding the issue of women in the church. Those of us who know that women should be accorded full participation in every aspect of church life need to visibly and forcefully separate ourselves from those who do not. Their subjugation of women is anti-Christian, and it should be tolerated no longer.
That means: [Read more...]
That’s what Mark Oppenheimer asks as he reports on the troubled legacy of John Howard Yoder:
“Physically he died, but his work and his theological writings live on,” said Linda Gehman Peachey, a freelance writer in Lancaster, Pa., who is also part of the six-member group. “For those who have known this other side — his behavior, particularly toward women — that is really painful.”
Mr. Yoder’s memory also presents a theological quandary. Mennonites tend to consider behavior more important than belief. For them, to study a man’s writings while ignoring his life is especially un-Mennonite.
Professor Koontz regularly tells his students reading Mr. Yoder that “his behavior is one thing we ought to take into account when we read his work.” Ms. Peachey noted that Mr. Yoder wrote a good deal about suffering as a Christian virtue, but “if you know this part of the story” — how he made women suffer — “you tend to read it with a different eye.”
A couple weeks ago, I started a Hump Day Series called “Got It Goin’ On.” What a great idea, I thought. But, like Led Zeppelin, I didn’t steal that idea. It just quietly seeped into my head from another source. And that source is The Burner Blog. You see, The Burner Blog has had a “Got It Goin’ On” feature for a long time, even giving out a pretty sweet badge for it:
When someone pointed this out to me, I had a V8 moment. So I’m giving it back to them, and renaming my series, Lightin’ It Up. Every Wednesday, I’ll point to someone, or organization, or blog that I think is kicking some ass and doing some good in the world.
This week, that honor goes to…
I’ll admit that sometimes I feel that I’ve walked out of a Portlandia sketch. I’m a bit clichéd, that way. I bake bread every week, tend a huge organic garden, pickle many things, and I’m a sucker for small-batch, handcrafted whiskeys and cocktails. Above, for instance, is a neat pour of the hard-to-find Balcones Whiskey, which I make a point of drinking when I’m in Texas.
There’s a huge surge in interest in these kinds of whiskeys — and other spirits — which is why you can’t find Balcones even in its hometown of Waco. Prices for whiskey are rising, especially among those that are casked for 8 or 10 or 12 years — a decade ago, no one saw this heightened interest coming.
And this is being driven in large part by millennials. In RHE’s super-viral CNN post about why millennials are leaving the church, she wrote,
Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions– Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. –precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.
What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
Shedding light on a similar phenomenon in the world of spirits, Jimmy Flores and Maddie Marston write about why the craft spirits boom is happening among millennials. Anyone interested in engaging this generation in the life of the church can learn a lot by reading it:
When I started as the Minister to Youth & Young Adults at Colonial Church in 1997, I inherited a lot of programs, as most pastors do. Among them were Sunday school for both middle schoolers and high schoolers. Since I couldn’t be two places at once, I alternated weeks between them, and I had other leaders help me out.
The very first realization I had was that the high school students hated Sunday School. I mean they HATED it. Only about half a dozen students came, and they were all sophomores who hadn’t yet gotten their driver’s licenses. (Freshmen were in confirmation class, and they were required to attend worship.)
So I canceled Sunday School for high school students. They were relieved. Some of their parents were pissed. And I announced in staff meeting, “We’d better figure out ways to make our worship services more relevant to teenagers, because they’re be in worship as of next week.”
I’m happy to report that the church staff did up their game. The senior pastor began using more anecdotes from when he was in high school in his sermons. And when he gave litanies like, “This week, when you’re at work, with friends, at the gym…” he now added “at school” to those lists.
The choir director invited high school students into the choir, and I started putting students down to read scripture and lead prayers in the services.
All this week, as part of Patheos’s “Passing on the Faith” series, I’m writing about how the church should — and should not — educate our children about Christianity. Today, I excerpt an excellent post from Beliefs of the Heart:
Several years ago I met with a woman distraught by her son’s rejection of Christianity.
She said, “I did everything I could to raise him right. I taught him to be like the ‘heroes of faith,’ with the faithfulness of Abraham, the goodness of Joseph, the pure heart of David, and the obedience of Esther.”
She wondered why he rejected Christianity.
I wondered why it took him so long.
Here is how we destroy the gospel message
Look at almost any Sunday school curriculum. You’ll find:
Abraham was faithful, and God made him the father of a nation. So be faithful like Abraham.
Joseph was a good little boy (unlike his “bad” brothers), and God made him Prime Minister of Egypt. So be good like Joseph.
David had a pure heart (unlike his brothers), and God made him King of Israel. So have a pure heart like David.
Esther was an obedient girl. God made her Queen of Persia and she saved God’s people. So be obedient like Esther.
Finally, if we fail to be good, Jesus will forgive us (a “P.S.” tacked onto the end).
What’s so bad about these Sunday school lessons?
Nothing really. Except that they lie about God, they lie about these “heroes of the faith,” they lie about the Bible, and they lie about the gospel. Apart from that, they are pretty good. Oh, they also create “younger brother” rebels and “older brother” Pharisees.
Is the gospel our central theme, or is it a “PS” tacked onto the end?
I couldn’t agree more. In fact, it’s a theme that’s addressed by Rachel Held Evans in the new Animate: Bible resource that I developed.
Have you tried something different with Sunday School? Or have you canceled Sunday School altogether? I did both. I’ll write about it on Friday.