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Notable News: Week of August 17-23, 2013

Here we are at the close of another week.  It’s been a busy one for me, with my volunteer work at the kids’ last summer camp of the season.  I can’t believe that school is just around the corner for us.  Two weeks from today, my kids will be finishing their first week of classes.  The summer has flown by.  Meanwhile, I’m trying some new things in my life outside of blogging.  I’m looking forward to new challenges and opportunities.

This week, there have been some great posts.  Here are some of my favorites:

1. Religious privilege

This is a great summary of the privileges enjoyed (often unawares) by most Christians (other than those considered too “fringe”).  Because I still identify as Christian (even if I don’t always know how to define that, even for myself), I have definitely experienced many of the things on the list.  Although I’ve done well as an ally to people of other faiths in some ways, there are places where I can improve.

2. Love and Marriage

This story from Lana Hobbs is incredibly moving.  I’m not posting it here in order to “prove” to anyone that courtship works.  I’m posting it because so often lately, I read black-and-white pronouncements without any sense of the varied experiences of real people.  Lana’s story is one of hope in which despite her feelings about the process, she and her husband value and affirm each other.  There is rich beauty in that.

3. Leaps of Faith

I wish erinrebecca a blessed, hopeful journey this weekend in coming out to her parents.  I don’t have any special words of wisdom or deep, meaningful prayers to offer.  All I have to give is support from one writer to another, a thin line of Internet hope, and an affirmation of God’s love and mercy.  Grace and peace be with you as you go.

4. Jesus’ Gag Reflex

One of many fine responses to the gag-reflex-worthy poo fest that was Thabiti Anyabwile’s dreadful Gospel Coalition article.

5. More Gag Reflexes

And, of course, this one.  A friend of mine made a similar comment about his gag reflex for het sex.  Gee, thanks, guys–you’ve cleared things up for me.  Now I know I’m the one sinning because I’ve tripped your gag reflex!

6. Misogyny of the Week

I honestly find purity, modesty, and “courtship” culture kind of trips my gag reflex.  I’m glad my parents didn’t encourage any of this.  I’m also glad I married a man who even thought it was weird to ask my parents for permission to marry me.  After reading this dreadful post, I’m currently glad I will never have reason to allow this man to counsel either of my children.  I’m still laughing about how he calls this post “PG-13.”

7. Virgin Sacrifice

I’m glad I wasn’t drinking hot coffee when I read this.  Also, I misread “virgins” as “vaginas,”  to which my brain helpfully supplied, “That too.”

8. Christian Music

Apparently they meant “Grew Up A Christian Music Fan After 1992,” as I didn’t relate to most of this.  But I was a Christian music fan in the late 80s-early 90s, and I was one of those die-hards who refused to listen to secular music.  Other than the Billy Joel I used to sneak in.  And whatever my sisters happened to be listening to.  And U2 after they weren’t Christian anymore.  And Metallica.  And REM.  And…oh.  Never mind.

Have a great weekend, everyone!  See you on Monday.

Looking for Super Girls

This post is a bit lighter than my last one.  It was written for the Creative Buzz Hop; this week’s theme is “Superheroes.”  If you’d like to join us, write your post and link up at either Pen Paper Pad or Muses from the Deep.

I was a little disappointed to see this week’s theme, superheroes.  After all, I’ve never been much of a fan.  I don’t think I’ve been to a superhero movie in the theater since Spider-Man 2, and I’m not sure I’ve seen one at home in that long either.  Neither of my kids is much into superheroes.  So what the heck was I going to write about?

Even though I have some thoughts on comics, superheroes, and geek culture, that didn’t seem appropriate.  It’s true that there is a distinct lack of super women, and the women in comics play a wide range of “stand by your man” (even if it means death) roles.  I’m put off by the skimpy costumes on the women and the disgustingly large muscles on the men.  I could probably write forever about that.  On the other hand, there are already some women writing about those things who have more of a vested interest than I do and who can speak to the issues better than I can.  I’ll leave them to it.  It also occurs to me that lots and lots of people love superheroes for a variety of reasons, and I’m sick of the feeling that we’re all being policed for our choices in books, movies, and television (see my post yesterday on why, sort of).

Where does that leave me?  It leaves me with the one “superhero” my daughter actually likes: WordGirl.

Yes, people, I know it’s a PBS kids’ show and it’s meant to be educational.  But come on.  Who wouldn’t like something that, in the last year, has helped my daughter expand her vocabulary by several hundred percent?  Besides, WordGirl has an enemy called Lady Redundant Woman.  What’s not to love?

For those not familiar (probably because you don’t have any kids under age 10 in your house), WordGirl is an alien from the planet Lexicon who lives with an Earth family and goes by the name Becky Botsford.  She has a sidekick, a monkey named Bob (or Captain Huggy Face, when he’s in full superhero sidekick mode).  WordGirl fights villains such as the meat-slinging Butcher, the cheese-obsessed Dr. Two-Brains (his second brain is a mouse’s), and the conniving knitter, Granny May.  The whole show is just such campy fun.  The best part is that WordGirl is a strong, smart, and capable role model.

The show’s writers have created one of the most likeable characters, appealing to kids of all sorts.  The feminist mama in me rejoices that there is a fantastic television girl out there that is relatable for both boys and girls, something sorely lacking in a lot of our culture.  At a time when so much of kids’ literature, television, and toys are separated into boy and girl categories, we have a show with a main character that appeals to everyone (even mom and dad).

I know my daughter’s time with WordGirl is limited.  It won’t be long before she wants to watch things she perceives as more “grown up.”  Maybe someday she’ll be interested in more mainstream superheroes; maybe she won’t.  Maybe the culture will have changed enough that we’ll see more and better options regarding women in superhero comics and movies; maybe it won’t.  For now, she and I can enjoy watching Word Girl and learning something new–and hoping that once again, WordGirl will protect Fair City from the likes of Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy.

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For the very curious, you can see what I’m talking about:

Notable News: Week of August 10-16, 2013

It’s been hard staying in a rhythm over the summer, with both kids and my husband home.  I’ve also had twice as many editing/proofreading projects as last summer, so that’s left me little time to keep up on my blog.  Along with that, we’ve had several unexpected things happen, including sending my faithful Nissan Altima to the Great Body Shop in the Sky.  I’m now the proud owner of an SUV.  I never thought I would say that–it really does make me feel like such a suburban mom.  Anyway, I may not have been writing much, but I’ve definitely been reading.  This week’s list is a bit short, due to my own limited time, but here are some of the things I really liked this week.

1. Penal Substitution

Anyone who’s been reading my stuff for a while probably knows (or has at least guessed) that I’m no fan of the penal substitution view of salvation.  This Naked Pastor cartoon nearly made me snort my coffee out my nose.

2. Too many to list separately

Registered Runaway is my go-to blogger when I feel like I’m just done being harsh and frustrated.  I have a pretty forceful personality, and that’s not going to change, but the gentle people in this world are a good balance and keep me from toppling over the edge into cyclical rage.  I couldn’t pick just one of his posts this week, so I’m just linking the blog and you can read them all.

3. Well, all righty then.

Simon Chan wrote this.  It made me wish I’d had time this week to write something scathing and witty in response, but buying a new car broke my sarcasm function.  Fortunately, there are other good writers on the Internet.  Check out these excellent responses: Women Are People, Too: A Conservative Baptist Take On Inclusive Language and Why We Call God Father: a response to Simon Chan.

4. Today’s short story

I just posted this on my fiction blog.  Haven’t put anything up there in a long time, so it feels good to add a new story.

I’m not sure how the next week will go.  I’m volunteering every morning at a summer camp, so it will be sporadic.  I’ll do my best to keep up, though.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

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 8-14, 2013

Happy Friday! Here at our house, this is the last Friday of the school year (for the kids, anyway).  They’re done as of next Wednesday.  I’m glad, because I need a vacation.  The nice thing about the school calendar is that just when I’m starting to feel burned out, we get another break.  I’m going to be making the most of mine, that’s for sure.

Here are the cool (and not-so-cool) things I read this week:

1. The “question” of consent

Dianna Anderson has a fantastic post on dignity and not treating people as questions to be answered.  She rightly points out the inherent problem of calling consent a question and where the Church must tread lightly in regard to ideas open to debate.  Ironically, the same day I read this post, I read another one in which the writer cheerily talks about wanting to interact with “the gay community” in order to demonstrate how loving she is–all while simultaneously referring to “the gay lifestyle” as being outside God’s perfect design.  Guess that writer didn’t read Dianna’s post first.

2. The “question” of breadwinning wives

I highly recommend you make time to read all of Danielle’s response to Mary Kassian’s post on breadwinning wives.  I particularly liked the second part, My Marriage Is Not a Form of Prostitution.  In parallel, I’ve seen couples treat marriage this way outside of the career/financial angle–a lot of people seem to think that it’s an acceptable transaction to trade sex for goods and services.  I’m not convinced that’s a healthy view of marriage.

3. Questions for N. T. Wright

If you’re a fan of Wright’s work, you may be interested in his responses to readers’ questions on Rachel Held Evans’ blog.

4. The “question” of women teaching

This is a great read from Laura Ziesel about the illogical view of women as “more easily deceived.”  I have long held that not only can we not determine exactly when a boy is too old to be taught by a woman (many churches arbitrarily use 18), we also have the stupid view that a 70-year-old life-long woman of faith cannot teach a young, inexperienced barely adult male of 18 or 21.  Now there’s another one–that women, being weaker and more easily deceived, should probably not be teaching children, either.  What a load of manure; thanks, Laura, for pointing that out.

5. Questions for a couple coping with chronic illness

This is an interesting interview with a couple in which the wife has endometriosis.  I appreciate the wisdom in recommending that the Church develop healthier ways to talk about sex and relationships, especially given the fact that it’s never one-size-fits-all.

6. The “question” of PDA

Yeah, I admit I’m one of those people who prefers that couples not stick their tongues down each others’ throats in public or grope each other under their clothes on the beach.  But a little kissin’? Heck no, that doesn’t bother me.  It makes me just want to scream whenever I see someone on social media write,

I’m not homophobic, but I really don’t need to see two guys kissing.

I get it that some people don’t like PDA, but until everyone starts pointing it out when they see a het couple doing it, then those people really need to keep that thought to themselves.  Anyway, go read this article about couples who were asked to leave for PDA and then try to tell me it’s not homophobia.

7. Love isn’t a question

My fellow writer Aaron Smith has written a beautiful guest post over on Registered Runaway’s blog.  He says it all; I have nothing to add.

8. A question of point of view

Novelist Adrian Smith explains using second person.  I do it all the freakin’ time, on this blog and in casual speech, but I’ve never written a story in second person.  When done well, it’s good; when done poorly, it’s awful.  See if you can make it work. (See what I did there?)

9. The “question” of modesty

Oh, dear Lord, here we go again.  We women don’t know what we “do” to men.  Apparently, they have to repeat the internal mantra, “Don’t think about boobs don’t think about boobs don’t think about boobs dammit I’m thinking about boobs.”  This just seriously creeps me out, because I don’t think I know any men who really have these issues, but a few who do have managed to convince a whole generation of young men that they do, too.  So gross.

10. A question for Cheerio-despising racists

At the end of this spoof of the Cheerios ad with the biracial couple, the question is: “What? Now this is a problem?”  Go watch it and share the funny with your friends.

11. A story with a question

I’m not entirely sure what happens after the end of my story for Fiction Friday.  I’ll let you decide.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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!