Dear straight conservative Christians: I’m sorry I offended your “biblical worldview”

Actually, no, I’m not.

Yesterday, I posted about World Vision and their change in policy to allow married gay couples as employees. Obviously, I spoke too soon. They’ve hit rewind on their decision. I would like to pretend I’m surprised, but I’m not. Pressure from conservative Christians is swift and powerful. (I will not blame this on “evangelicals,” though conservative evangelicals do seem to be at the forefront here.)

I am angry. Yes, partly I’m angry at the hateful bigots who put pressure on World Vision to change their minds.  I’m angry with World Vision for not having the backbone to see it through the backlash or the foresight to put protective measures in place. But you know what makes me angriest?  World Vision’s apology to straight people.

You read that right.  It’s telling that the apology wasn’t to the 2000 children who lost their sponsors yesterday or to the gay people who lost their job opportunities today. No, it was to the conservative Christians who went after World Vision over their policy:

We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Oh, World Vision. You are “brokenhearted” that your friends were upset? Well, gee. I guess that must be hard. Much harder, of course, than applying for a job and then finding out that your legal marriage disqualifies you. Much harder than the fact that your stupid flip-flopping has led arguing of a strand that calls into question the very humanity of the people you just yesterday promised to affirm.

That must suck.

Well, I’m not sorry for offending any conservative Christians—not even a little bit. Come at me, folks. I’ll be happy to have you tell me I’m spreading a “false gospel” or that my eternal soul is in danger of the fire of hell. Remind me again that I’m leading my brothers and sisters (and people who identify as neither, both, or something else) astray. Tell me how I’m corrupting my children and causing someone else to “stumble” in sin.

Because I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to stop challenging the conservative belief that there is something fundamentally flawed about people based on their sexual or gender identity, and I’m not going to stop affirming every single person’s humanity, intrinsic worth, and right to live however and love whomever they choose.

Lest anyone think that there’s no cost in taking a firm, unapologetic stand, let me assure you there is. But whatever minor inconvenience, and whatever difficulties I’ve faced, that’s been nothing compared to what the people I cherish have endured. World Vision could easily have withstood the criticism and the loss of support, but they chose not to try even for a whole day.

Apologies to the conservatives who had a little of their assumed privilege curtailed for a few hours? No. My apology goes to the people who were harmed by World Vision’s indecision and by the fighting that resulted.

I’m sorry this is hurting you.

I’m glad you are part of my life and my church and my faith.

I love you.

Kyrie eleison–Lord have mercy.

World Vision and Unmasking Priorities

So, this happened.  World Vision is now allowing married gay Christians (and unmarried gay Christians willing to agree to WV’s policy of abstinence until marriage) to serve in the organization.

As you can probably guess, I’m behind this as a step forward.  Is it perfect?  No.  I’m not a champion of abstinence until marriage (and really, are they so sure their employees are all waiting anyway?).  I also understand that this prevents couples in any state not recognizing legal same-sex marriages from employment, since that’s the specific parameter.  I understand the implications that WV appears to be endorsing a heteronormative view of relationships (that’s a whole other discussion).  But in the Christian world, this is huge.

Which, of course, means that the backlash has been huge.  And that’s what I was thinking about when I woke up this morning to see that my friends had linked to several articles, tweets, and blog posts in which WV has been accused of deception, “empowering the darkness,” embracing “the world” (Christianese for “stuff the church considers wrong in society”), presenting a false gospel, and more.  People have questioned whether they should withdraw support or discontinue sponsoring a child through WV.  Lots and lots of people have expressed being “sad” about WV’s change in policy.

To which I say: Wow, people have messed up priorities.

Nothing reveals the true values of people more than asking them how they feel about anything related to same-sex marriage.  Almost no one says, “I don’t really care; whatever.”  The vast majority of people have one view or the other–that it ought to be legal universally or it ought to be banned or called something else so as not to mess with the “official” definition of marriage.

It would be awfully nice if it were a non-issue, but it isn’t, certainly not when people are expressing horror and outrage at WV’s comparatively innocuous change in policy.  I mean, come on, people.  WV did not suddenly announce that they have adopted a policy of beating small children or setting forest fires or shooting sub-par employees or drowning puppies.  All they did was say they’re going to hire gay people.

How about we get back to protesting something that actually matters for a change?  Because honestly, the only reason it makes a difference whether WV hires gay people is if you think being gay and/or being in a same-sex marriage is worse than acts of harm and violence.  It only matters if you think same-sex relationships are more terrible social ills than poverty.

Yesterday, I posted a link on Facebook to a good review of the movie Frozen.  (I promise, this is related.)  A family member joked that I must not be worried that watching it will turn my kids gay.  I replied that I wasn’t, but even if it did, I didn’t care.  I suspect that’s the real fear—that gay missionaries are going to somehow turn the world gay.

I suppose my question, then, is this:  Who cares?  Which is more important—telling people about God’s love and providing people with food and clean water, or making sure no one is threatened by the presence of gay people?  I guess maybe my own priorities are messed up because I sure prefer the former.

And if my kids somehow turn gay* because they’ve been around gay people or watched “gay” (by that I mean “things people accuse of being gay”) movies, so what?  That just means both the church and the gay community get two more awesome members, ’cause everyone knows my kids are the best and anyone would be lucky to have ‘em.

Let go of the warped idea that a small subset of the population is looking to colonize the world and plant their rainbow flag in the dirt of impoverished villages everywhere.  Instead, let’s take seriously WV’s call to come together in Christian unity for the good of all.

*I truly do not believe it works that way; I’m just saying I wouldn’t care if it did.  For real, I could write a whole blog post on why we need to stop saying “But it’s not going to turn them gay!” as a defense regarding gender pigeon-holing.

Notable News: Week of July 27-August 2, 2013

Better late than never, right?  Blogging’s been hit or miss this summer, as sometimes happens when both kids and my husband are on school vacation.  Today, we kept ourselves busy by sending my car to the shop (possibly for the last time; we’ll see) and hanging out at the children’s museum.  Anyway, here I am to bring you my favorite posts from the week.

1. Being used

If you haven’t seen this piece on being “used by God,” you may not have been on the Internet this week.  It’s been passed around by just about everyone.  I’m sharing it here in case you missed it.

2. Being used (part 2)

Here’s a cartoon by the always-wonderful David Hayward in response.  I particularly like this quote (and also the non-use of gendered pronouns for God):

Pushing that to its logical limits, the glory of God is God, and when we are our truest selves, fully alive, this is God in all God’s glory. There is now no separation. There is perfect oneness. There is perfect unity.

3. Being abused

This is a wonderful post over at Deeper Story by Susannah Paul.  We are failing to listen to those who have been deeply wounded and spiritually abused by churches.  I wish I had just a penny for the number of times someone has said they are reluctant to return to church because of the pain and some well-meaning person has said, “You just need to find the right church.”  A small part of me curls up and dies every single time.  We can do better.

4. Being owned

If you haven’t been following Sarah Moon’s You Are Not Your Own series, you should go do that right now.  I mean it.  Stop reading this post and just go do it.  If you just want to read the most recent one, that’s cool, because it’s an excellent one about unmarried women and “ownership.”  I am thankful my parents never took this approach with me.

5. Being a dancer

A friend sent me the link to this post about boys and dancing.  As the mom of a boy who dances, I always appreciate hearing from other parents who are proud of their kids and don’t limit them based on gender expectations.  What does make me sad is that nearly all of the ones about boys and breaking stereotypes are by women.  If anyone wants to comment here and link to posts by dads of boys who do things society considers “feminine,” that would be welcome.

6. Being an adoptee/adoptive parent

A fresh perspective on the “But people want your unborn baby!” from a mom with two adopted daughters.

7. Being body confident

Like many women, I’ve had a lifelong struggle to love my body exactly as it is.  I’m doing my best not to pass those feelings on to my own daughter.  Body-shaming must end.  (I could write a whole post on this, but I also think health-shaming and exercise-shaming and food-shaming need to end.)  Here are some wise words about how we can break the cycle.

8. Being a douchebag

My online friend and fellow writer Tim Gallen has some great advice for those looking to increase their douchebaggery.  My favorite line involves a sexually frustrated large mammal.  This is a guest post for Kim Ulmanis, who is honest and funny and just plain good; you should check out the rest of her blog while you’re over there.

9. Being a douchebag (part 2)

And speaking of douches, why am I not surprised that Hugo Schwyzer is at it again?  Why is this guy continually given a platform?  I think Dianna Anderson answers that question to an extent in her fantastic take-down of the culture that encourages people like Schwyzer to behave the way they do.

10. Being a writer

There’s so much advice out there on how to be a “proper” writer.  Honestly, it’s easier to explain how to do it wrong than to do it right, as evidenced in this very funny piece by Chuck Wendig.  How many of these are you doing?

11. Being a woman

Several of my friends posted this hilarious ad.  I shared it on Facebook, but it definitely deserves a second round.  If only that kid had been available when I hit puberty.

12. Being a geek

I love this video of Wil Wheaton delivering a message for a convention attendee’s newborn daughter.  I admit to having had a teensy (okay, huge) crush on him when I was in 8th grade.  Although I no longer sigh like a teenage girl when I see him, I do keep finding new reasons to think he’s just plain awesome.

13. Being a geek (part 2)

That video above is particularly important, because far too many girls grow up into women who have to defend our geekiness.  I’m glad I’m raising a boy who thinks that girls who know their video games are the most fun and a girl who knows it’s okay to be completely absorbed in your chosen geekdom.  Watch this video for more totally awesome geeks who just happen to be girls and women.  Also, Wil Wheaton.

14. Being from Rochester

My own city gets some love at HuffPo with an article on our fantastic street art.  I’ve never been more proud of my wonderful city!

That’s it for this week.  I should be around a bit more in the coming weeks (I hope).  If nothing else, check in on Monday for the first post on Fifty Shades Darker.  I would say you don’t want to miss it, but this is Fifty Shades we’re talking about.

Have a great weekend!

Notable News: Week of June 1-7, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad it’s Friday.  My kids have one last recital tomorrow, and after that, we’re done with performance season.  It’s always a lot of fun, but it’s tiring!

Here are a few of my favorite posts this week.

1. Femininity

I appreciated Megan Gahan’s Reclaiming Femininity because I, too, have struggled with accepting the frillier parts of womanhood.  I suppose all I would add is that being feminine isn’t about rejecting or embracing lace and ruffles and high heels.  It’s about the freedom to choose without shame.

2. Sexism

Sarah Moon continues her series “You Are Not Your Own” with this post about gender roles and dehumanization.  The photos she’s used to illustrate animalization and objectification are strikingly horrible.  Lately, I’ve started seeing some things creeping into my various social media timelines in which men are dehumanized in similar ways.  The answer to the objectification of women is not to do it to men, it’s to stop doing it.

3. Masturbation

Rachel Held Evans gathered 7 different perspectives on the subject and shared them on her blog.  I highly recommend reading it, and if you’re feeling strong, read the comments as well.  Unfortunately, there is still a lot of shame both in the act and in discussing it, so even if I don’t entirely agree with some of what’s been said (and generally think that “Christian” perspectives lack the necessary knowledge of basic human biology), I’m glad people are talking.

4. Writing

Feeling creative?  Like to write?  My fellow writers/bloggers Tamara Woods and Michelle Liew are running the Creative Buzz Hop.  Go check out the prompt and write something, then link up with them.  You’ve still got nearly a week for the current prompt, so get writing!

5. Dialects

These maps of regional dialects in the U. S. are interesting.  I don’t know whether it’s because of bias in the questions or because of my specific location or because my parents weren’t natives to the city in which I grew up, but quite a lot of these were wrong for me.  You can check it out and see if it fits for you.

6. Headdesk

A friend introduced me to this Tumblr account.  She sent me this one a few days ago and it made me laugh out loud.  It may have made me snort, though I won’t confirm that.  I also really, really like this one.

7. Cartoons

Two really good ones this week from Naked Pastor: Rob Bell’s bullshit and emotionally invested preconceived stereotype of women.  Boy, can I relate to the last one.  The one and only person I’ve ever blocked from my blog and my Twitter feed (other than bots, of course) certainly had quite a lot of it.

8. Slut-shaming

Here we go again.  I’m not really interested in the lives of celebrities, but this article made me furious.  It’s not so much about morals as it is about how people who otherwise don’t care who gets into bed with whom think it’s okay to go off on Kate Winslet for having children with the men she’s married.  It’s framed in such a bizarre way that we would not see if it were a man and his successive wives.  It’s also something done to non-celebs all the time, particularly non-white women.  Back when I was a school nurse, we had a student who was the middle child of ten.  He mother was not married at the time the girl was at my school, but she had a very young baby–which meant she was open to the ridicule of the staff.  I remember saying at the time that we didn’t know her life or her circumstances and we needed to shut up (and thankfully, my principal and the girl’s classroom teacher backed me on that).  Even then I knew that the attitude was both misogynistic and racist, though I didn’t have quite the words back then to describe what bothered me.  Anyway, we need to shut up about Kate Winslet, since we don’t actually know her whole story or her life and it’s not any of our business regardless.

9. Superheroes

I love these wonderful drawings of favorite women superheroes wearing more practical–and less skimpy–clothes.  Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure at first about the drawing of the men in skimpy costumes because (as I said above) I don’t think the answer is to objectify men.  But I think that’s the point of the drawing–that it’s equally bad when we make it all about paring down the costume so we can see ripply muscles and, er, other endowments, as well as underscoring the impracticality of saving the world in a bathing suit.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Notable News: Week of May 25-31, 2013

It’s a gorgeous, hot, sunny day here where I am. Today, my 9-year-old takes part in his first big competition.  He’s going with his jazz band to a school about an hour away where they will compete against middle and high schoolers (his is the only elementary band, so they’re in the middle school category).  Best of luck, kiddo!

While I pass the hours until my daughter and I drive out to watch him, I’m rounding up some of my favorite links for the week.

1. When modesty policing happens

Modesty culture: the gift that keeps giving.  Or, in this case, that keeps pitting us against one another as we struggle to define terms and create safer space for women.  I will admit to going into my reading of this piece on Rage Against the Minivan knowing that many of the writers I respect disliked it.  I was surprised to find that I actually agreed with quite a lot of it, but there were niggling doubts in my mind.  The responses to it confirmed that it wasn’t my imagination.  Several people have expressed their concerns far better than I could.  Here’s a list of the best ones:

2. When “ask Rachel Held Evans” happens

For those who haven’t been following her, she has a regular “Ask a…” series.  This time, she’s left it open for us to ask her.  Go take a look and post your questions.

3. When kindness happens

I haven’t been following the story, but apparently others have.  Over on Hännah’s blog she’s been tracking the story of her friend’s escape from a controlling, abusive, fundamentalist environment.  She had requested donations to help Jennifer, and the response was overwhelming.  I hope you have a few minutes to read the original posts and the update.  It’s pretty inspiring.

4. When affirmation happens

I happen to attend a welcoming/affirming church.  Sometimes, that’s what’s needed.  I challenge you to make it through this post from Registered Runaway without feeling moved.

5. When fatherhood happens

This is a fantastic post about why it’s a terrible idea to label women the “natural nurturers.”  When our son was born, I remember one of the women at the church we attended telling me that she hated when people referred to dads as “babysitting” their children.  Although I would not have thought to use that phrase myself, I had never given it much consideration.  After nearly 10 years of parenting together, I can confirm the truth in that.  My husband is, in fact, much more naturally nurturing than I am.  And he most definitely does not “babysit” our kids–he parents them.

6. When “things that should never be combined” happens

You get something like this.  (Warning: Contains Christianese and reference to Christian porn.  Not explicit, but read it after any minors are in bed.  Also, I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s not real.)

7. When fiction happens

If you haven’t been reading the series “On the Night Bus” over at Rubies and Duels, go do so right now.

You can also read my own latest fiction, The Smokin’ Hot Wives Club.

That’s it for this week.  I hope you all have a great weekend.  I’m going to spend mine watching my kids perform in their first recital at this dance studio.  I’ll be back on Monday with my usual Fifty Shades post.  Catch you all later!

Notable News: Week of May 18-24, 2013

Why, hello there, Friday!  I don’t know what the weather is like where you all are, but here it’s rainy and cold.  Here’s hoping for some improvement in the conditions so I can enjoy the long weekend.

Lots of stuff going on this week.  Here’s a look at a few:

1. Oklahoma

I am incredibly sorry for all the devastating loss this week.  My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Perhaps the same cannot be said for others, unfortunately.  Apparently, I mostly know decent, kindhearted folks, because I hadn’t been aware that anyone had implied that the people of Oklahoma don’t deserve our help.  Kristin Rawls writes eloquently about the flaw in such thinking.  I’d like to see us move past tired political and religious debates every time there’s a tragedy.  That bad things will happen is a given; that people can respond with love and care is apparently not.  Let’s change that.

2. John Piper

No one should be surprised that John Piper said something insensitive in the wake of the tornado.  Whether or not he was trying to, he hurt people with his unthinking tweets.  I’m hesitant to ascribe motive, but I also know that it was flat-out wrong.  Rachel Held Evans has a great response to the theology of deserved punishment.

3. The Pope

The Pope made some statements this week that have some people thrilled and others cautious.  Did he really suggest something that sounded like universalism?  Maybe not.  Either way, I think it’s good that he made such statements.  I would add, however, that my non-Christian friends hardly need the Pope’s permission (nor mine, for that matter) to continue believing as they do.  The debate is really only relevant if one believes in a literal Hell anyway.

The above three things lead me to . . .

4. Hell

Dianna Anderson sums up nicely what’s wrong with using tragedy as a warped wake-up call to repentance and salvation.

I’m familiar with the idea that all our interactions with people must have an agenda.  I learned early on in my Christian faith that it was a top priority to tell everyone how to be saved.  Saved, of course, had a very narrow definition–that of saying a magic-words-type prayer to “receive” Jesus into our hearts, at which time we were assured of not going to Hell.  I’d been a Christian for a year when someone came at me with that prayer, and I was left convinced that since I’d never said it, I wasn’t actually saved at all.  Naturally, I didn’t want to go to Hell, so I said it.  For many years after that, I felt guilty that I couldn’t produce that same result in my peers.  So as a college student, I volunteered to lead middle school kids.  Nothing says “Jesus loves you” like taking kids to camp, wearing them down for three days, and slamming them with the doctrine of Hell, right?  Yeah.

5. Defense of Piper

You can read it here.  Just let it sink in for a moment.

6. Oppression

I love this piece by Marika Rose, a PhD student at Durham, about our need to recognize our own oppression and listen to those who point it out to us.  Instead of having hurt feelings, we could all try learning about what we’re doing wrong.

7. Premarital stress sex

All the effort to remove the stigma of non-virginity and stop obsessing over what unmarried people do with their privates is paying off.  This article from The Atlantic is a good summary of the dialogue that’s been going on for some time in Christian spheres.  It’s time to break this wide open so that we can have a real conversation about sex that doesn’t rely on tired purity narratives and rules-based theology.

8. Womanhood

Sarah Bessey has the right words to explain what makes me feel awkward every time I’m in a Christian bookstore.  For years I lived with the sense that I hadn’t arrived yet at “real” womanhood.  And if I wasn’t the right kind of woman, what did that make me?  I love this line from the post:

I believe that in the Kingdom of God, true womanhood and true manhood is not so different from true personhood.


9. Gaslighting

I absolutely won’t post my own bloggy drama from this week.  If you follow me, you’ve read it, and I don’t care to rehash.  What was interesting to me was that I had some private communications with four or five people (who I won’t name, out of respect) in which all of them used some variant on “gaslighting for God.”  This morning, I noticed that one of the people I follow on Twitter had referenced this post by Sarah Moon on the very subject of gaslighting.  The experience she describes in the post about criticizing a popular Christian leader echoes my own quite nicely, and I appreciate this:

They are good at stepping on your feet and then making you apologize for asking them to move.

10. Boy Scouts

For heaven’s sake, Boy Scouts. Make up your damn minds.  Either you’re ok with gay people or you’re not; let’s not have this wishy-washy crapola passing as “progress.”  I really ought to write a whole post about this, but let me sum up.  Allowing gay youth to be scouts but not gay adults to be leaders:

  1. reinforces the lie that gay men are pedophiles or dangerous in some other way (by recruiting? not sure)
  2. tells gay youth that they will not be welcome once they are adults
  3. implies that being gay is a phase and that if youth sufficiently outgrow it, they’re still welcome

May I also remind everyone that this is not a step of progress.  BSA considers this an end point–some kind of compromise.  I guess the good news is that they’ve managed to piss off just about everyone with this decision, so perhaps there’s a chance to rethink things.  Good grief, it must be the Apocalypse; Tony Perkins and I both agree that something is a bad idea.

11. Anonymous

You should really check out the posts in The Anonymous Project over at Jennifer Luitwieler’s blog.  There’s some really good stuff going on.

12. Humor

This post is actually about the unfortunate choices we make when writing, but I loved the story about Chris Morris’ eight-year-old, and I hope you do too.

I think that about does it.  I’m taking Monday off to hang with my family and go to the orthodontist (yay! home stretch on my braces!), so I’ll see you all on Tuesday.  Have a great weekend!


Notable News: Week of May 4-10, 2013

It’s been quite a week.  Here are some of the highlights of what I’ve been reading.

1. Charles Ramsey is a hero

The interview with Mr. Ramsey after the rescue was compelling.  He comes across as a man of great compassion.  I heard several people saying they thought “hero” was too strong a word, since “all” he did was call 911.  But I like how this article in the New Yorker puts it:

But one phrase in particular, from the interview, is worth dwelling on: “I figured it was a domestic-violence dispute.” In many times and places, a line like that has been offered as an excuse for walking away, not for helping a woman break down your neighbor’s door. How many women have died as a result? They didn’t yesterday.

So, yes, Mr. Ramsey is a hero, and those hostages are free as a result.

2. And speaking of victims

This is a fascinating article on the fixation with crimes against white women and girls.  Many years ago, a local girl was kidnapped and murdered by her neighbor.  When she went missing, it was huge news.  Everyone was in on it, and people were glued to the television.  I remember my mother saying that she felt terrible for the girl and her family, but she was disappointed that yet again, a white girl’s plight was more important than all the missing non-white children.  Things haven’t changed much in the intervening years.

3. Are Christians a persecuted minority?

The short answer is, “NO.”  If you’d like a longer explanation, though, you can read one here by Myisha Cherry.  I’m going to throw my own two cents in on this one.  I don’t appreciate being lumped (by other Christians) into the category of “maligned.”  I do not now, nor have I ever, felt as though I could not express my faith or my views–except as an LGBTQ ally in a conservative church.  Even when I held those conservative views I didn’t feel persecuted.  No one–not even my LGBTQ friends–ever told me to keep my mouth shut (though maybe they should have).  On the other hand, I was asked to silence myself among conservatives.  How much worse is it for those who cannot live authentic lives because of the disapproving words and actions of the church.

4. I have rage

In the last few weeks, I’ve had several online and in-person conversations with people about publishing and marketing and the biases there.  Despite all that, apparently some men seem to think there’s nothing “for them” to read.  Because the shelves at Barnes & Noble are not stocked with all kinds of action/adventure/spy novels or memoirs of football players and pro wrestlers, of course.  There is nothing available that men would like, right?  And of course, there are absolutely no men writing fantasy or science fiction, in case one likes those sorts of books.  Most of the classics weren’t written by men with men as the main characters.  But, you know, publishing is alienating half the population.

5. On finding our way again

Kassie Rutherford is a phenomenal writer.  There is something compelling about her words; she has a knack for venturing deep into emotional territory in a safe way.  This incredible post is about how beautiful our stories are, even if we’re the only ones who know them.

6. Sometimes, we’re all just tired

Andi Cumbo sums it up nicely in this post.  Maybe, in the midst of all our weariness, we, too, can find sustenance in the things around us.

7. Guest post

I had the privilege of writing a guest post for Dianna Anderson this week for her series “Account and Countenance.”  You can read it here.

That’s it for this week.  Have a great weekend, and come back Monday.  I will have my usual 50 Shades post plus a big announcement.  See you then!


Notable News: Week of April 27-May 3, 2013

It’s been a busy week in my world, with a busy weekend ahead.  I’m pausing the chaos long enough to highlight some of my favorites this week.

1. A little encouragement for my friends who are “actively dating”

It’s been a long time since I had need of language for dating, but I remember being in college and finding it strange how many of my classmates seemed to be there for the purpose of finding a husband (yes, women–because let’s face it, this is not how men talk about their college education).  I enjoyed Dianna Anderson’s post about changing the way we frame dating and marriage.  I hope this brings encouragement to those who need it.

2. Progressives, conservatives, and the abortion debate

I have nothing to add to what Rachel Held Evans has said.  For me, it’s been a discomfort in aligning myself with an aspect of feminism with which I don’t agree.  I’ve had to step away from the conversation for the sake of friendships, because when I’ve voiced an opinion–on either side–I’ve gotten some pretty hateful responses.  And that’s just my actual, real-life friends!  As a person with a lot of education and experience in health-related fields, I come down squarely on the side of “this can largely be prevented.”  Unfortunately, that’s a pretty unpopular stance on both ends of the spectrum.  My Christian friends often think I’m advocating rampant, consequence-free, sinful sexuality; my feminist friends have repeatedly said nasty things about “What if she didn’t consent? What if her birth control failed? What then?”  And I’m just left shaking my head.

3. A little more of Jennifer Knapp

Jennifer Knapp is my Christian music crush.  I loved her longing lyrics and unusual sound from the first moment I heard her beautiful voice.  Have a listen to this song, then go read her responses to “Ask a…” at Rachel Held Evans’ site.

4. Another round of the “Christian vs. Gay” debate–now with 83% more racism

I was morbidly fascinated by the ridiculous meme going around about how “hated” Tim Tebow is for his faith, while Jason Collins gets a virtual party thrown for his coming out.  This is my news recap, so I’m not going to repeat myself here about the magnitude of Suck in that belief.  You should just go read this piece on how Collins’ faith was ignored and the erasure of non-white Christians from public consciousness.  The article highlights the way black athletes are marginalized until they express something that fits into white politics.  I would take that further to say that it not only fits into white faith politics but also upholds white beliefs about black faith culture.  This isn’t limited to black people of faith, either–the same holds true for any non-white people who don’t fit neatly into the expectations of white evangelical culture.  It’s more important to fix that problem than to argue over whether the media likes Tebow or Collins better.

5. No more body shaming!

I should really write about this, but I’m so often appalled at the way Christians, who claim to be “in the world but not of the world,” really like to body shame people.  Thinliness is next to godliness, of course.  Well, no.  And if you’re not feeling good about yourself today, then you need to go read this wonderful post full of affirming, honoring truths.  And while you’re at it, skip the stupid Dove ads.  Your body/looks/”beauty” do not affect your ability to live, love, laugh, and be happy.

6. And while we’re on the subject…

I laughed so hard I almost peed myself at this parody of the Dove ad.  Warning: NSFW, because, you know, balls.  You probably don’t want to watch with your kids around, either, though I don’t think I’d care if my almost 10-year-old saw it (the little one wouldn’t understand it).  Before you ask, NO, he hasn’t seen it, and NO, I’m not going to show it to him.  I’m just saying that I think he knows what they are and what they look like at this point.

7. My latest story

Inspired by Mark Driscoll.  That man is a never-ending stream of blog fodder, including short stories.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you all on Smut-Shaming Monday (AKA Amy reads yet another chapter of Fifty Shades).

Notable News: Week of April 20-26, 2013

Woohoo! It’s Friday!  Today, the sun is shining and there’s hardly a cloud in the sky (miraculous, where I live).  I hope your day is shaping up to be fantastic.  For us, it’s the start of a 3-day weekend for the kids–no school on Monday due to scoring the state tests.

Here are some of my favorite posts for the week.  Go get a cup of coffee (or tea or whatever) and have a look.

1. Something that made me want to punch things

If there is any doubt that there is a link between conservative teachings on modesty/purity and the idea that rape is an acceptable punishment for “sin,” this should blow that away.  I get it about free speech and all, but this crosses a line.  It doesn’t matter that he’s not naming specific individuals; he’s making a lot of people feel unsafe.

2. Something that made me cringe

I admit it, I like most versions of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”  I’d really like to read the book that was just released about the song.  But I absolutely can’t stand the idea of “Christianizing” the song.  I’m pretty much not a fan of Christianizing any song–that falls into the squicky category of “Jesus is my boyfriend” material.  But taking a song that already  has more spiritual depth and changing the words so they’re overtly Jesus-y?  Yeesh.

3. Something that made me feel inspired

I’ve grown to dislike the phrase “a voice for the voiceless.”  About a year ago, I met a missionary who gave a talk to some teens about valuing the dignity of all people.  He said that while we may not think it’s much when a person lives in a hut with a dirt floor, to that person, it’s home–and they likely don’t feel the same way about it that we do from the outside.  He made it clear that it’s not our job to speak in the place of others about what we think they should want or need.  This fantastic post from Kathy Escobar is a great reminder of what advocacy should be.

4. Something that made me cheer like a fangirl

I love Jennifer Knapp’s lovely and unique voice.  I was enchanted from the first time I heard her sing “A Little More.”  So imagine my delight when I saw that she was featured this week on Rachel Held Evans’ “Ask…” series and the floor was opened for questions.  I can’t wait to read her responses!

5. Something that made me hopeful

Oh, Nevada.  You know we love you for your legal prostitution and your Sin City and your 24-hour Elvis chapels.  Now perhaps we can love you for marriage equality, too.  (Even if it is 3 years away.)

6. Something that made me laugh

I used to have a desk calendar of Jack Handey sayings.  I think it was a Christmas gift from a college friend.  This little game made me laugh out loud.  Can you tell who said it?

7. Something that made me pump my fist in solidarity

Three somethings, actually, with a fourth to follow.  Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion surrounding men, women, and differences.  The general idea seems to be that men are generic and women are specific–in other words, things written by or about men are about broad topics, while things written by or about women are only for other women.  I find this interesting, especially since as a blogger, I don’t see much difference in my readership–I have a fairly even split of men and women.  Andi Cumbo (who is delightful; you should really be reading her blog) has written this week on the subject:

There’s more to come on this topic.  I missed the blog round-up this week, but I think I will put in my two cents next week.

8. Something that made me proud

Let’s just say I’m acquainted with the blogger who posted these: Hilarious Lambs 2.0 and The Last Hilarious Lambs.  The lambs make me smile every time.

9. Something that made me satisfied

I finally finished my series about the Royal Family of Hell (for now; perhaps there are future misadventures in store).  I hope you enjoy the ending.

Have a great weekend!


Notable News: Week of April 6-12, 2013

Here we are, the end of another week.  I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here it’s rainy and cold.  I’d like to spend my day curled up with a mug of hot tea and a good book. Sadly, it’s not to be.  I hope you all are more successful in your plans for today.  Meanwhile, here’s what’s going on:

1. About that song…

By now I’m sure many of you have heard the Brad Paisley/LL Cool J song “Accidental Racist,” or at least heard of it.  I’m sure lots of you thought, “Wow! That’s very cool that they’re addressing modern racism.”  Yeah, not so much.  Go listen to the song (if you can stomach it), then read this post over at Shakesville.  This about sums it up:

What’s being described in the song is a White man wearing a t-shirt with a Lynyrd Skynyrd logo, which features the Confederate flag, and expecting Black people to understand it only means what he wants it to mean. That is neither unintentional nor accidental. That is obliging marginalized people to center privileged people’s rewriting of a history to salve their own discomfort with that history.

2. Hope for the future

This post, An Open Letter to The Church from My Generation, has gotten quite a lot of attention.  (This is one where I think you should just avoid the comments.  Not worth the headache.)  She suggests that the real reason young people are leaving the Church (and even their faith) is the Church’s reluctance to accept its position on the wrong side of history.  It’s an eloquent plea for the Church to stop fighting change and instead grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a chat.  Sounds just about right to me.

But my generation, the generation that can smell bullshit, especially holy bullshit, from a mile away, will not stick around to see the church fight gay marriage against our better judgment.

3. About a body

I love this wonderful post by Andi Cumbo.  I think I’ve linked it everywhere except this blog (and now I’ve remedied that).  She puts words to exactly what I want to do–create safe space for my kids to ask questions.  As a child, I knew the hard, cold facts.  But questions were often off-limits because they were strange or embarrassing or “rude.”  Yes, it’s uncomfortable, at least in part because of this generational failure to be open.  It’s necessary, though, if we want our children to grow up with healthier views than we did.

I heard lots of conversations – a friend losing her virginity in a shower, another wearing a “promise” ring, boys and whispers about boobs and third base.  I heard lots of lectures, too – wait until you’re married, God made sex for marriage, women were made to be the helpmeet to men.

But no one talked to me about my body or about sex. No one answered my questions. No one asked if I even had any.

4. Beautiful honesty in struggle

These two posts–about expectations within marriage and about living with rapid-cycling bipolar–are both achingly honest and brutally lovely.  Everyone has challenges, and it helps to know we’re not alone.  Whatever you’re struggling with today, I hope that you find comfort and hope in these women’s words, even in the midst of difficulty.  Today, find a friend or be a friend, and open your heart to listen.

Airing out our unmet expectations didn’t magically transform our despair into joy and contentment . . . But it did allow us to evolve with one another, to reevaluate what our marriage would look like as Christians and feminists… [from Unmet Expectations in a Feminist Christian Marriage]

When depression comes. It’s a black numb night with no stars. Everything becomes about me: about how God is taking special notice of my situation and punishing me. How nobody likes me. How every movement of the world is designed for my special torture.

Mania is all about the stars. Or, rather, the star: Me. Because when I’m manic, you’d be a fool not to notice me, want me, befriend me, sit in the sheer awe of magnificence.[from I is for Me]

5. Christian identity

This fantastic post by Tina Francis about identifying as a Christian and being ourselves was one of the best things I’ve read this week.  The cultural differences are fascinating to me.  One of the things I took away from this post is that the way we come across may not be read the way we want it to when it comes to people who didn’t grow up in our western culture.  That understanding about what Christian discourse looks like makes me think that we Christians need to do a lot more listening and a lot less talking.

Because I did not grow up in the West,  I sometimes find it tough to follow social discourse. This is especially true for the plot lines (read: battle-lines) in the Christian Blogosphere. It’s like watching a game of tennis, with words instead of balls. My head bobs from side to side as I try to understand what each person is grunting about. You say, “Penal Substitutionary Atonement Theory”; I hear, “Pee Pee Glibitty Glob.” I find myself lost because I haven’t read the right books, listened to the right music, or watched the right movies. So I don’t always get the references.

6. Naked Pastor takes one for the team

Because David so kindly tackled this, I didn’t have to.  Many thanks!  (And have I mentioned how much I love when men get all feminist?  Remind me to link to some other good ones sometime.)  Anyway, Lee Grady used some loaded terms in his post Six Women Leaders to Avoid.  Go read it if you want some deep feminist rage.  Instead of pointing out traits to avoid in any leader, he used words associated almost exclusively with things many people dislike about women.  Fortunately, David drew a great cartoon and offered a well-written commentary in response.  (Also, when you read the last part about traits to avoid in any leader, guess which well-known preacher came immediately to my mind?)

It’s that old fallacy that men allow women to do what men do but under certain restrictions and expectations. Our club has been dominated by men for centuries but we’re going to now allow women to join. Now these are the rules.

7. Your humor for the day

It is entirely possible that I know and am related to the author of this blog.  Maybe.  I might also be a little bit proud of the person for creating it.  I hope you enjoy the blogger’s take on Hilarious Lambs, More Hilarious Lambs, Even More Hilarious Lambs, and my personal favorite, Too Many Hilarious Lambs.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! Back on Monday for [DUN DUN DUN] 50 Shades of Lambs.