Tired of Being Single?

Here, read this.

You’ll be repulsed to the point of losing any inclination you ever had towards marriage. At least if you’re a woman.

I’ll quote the best part for you:

In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.

This is a statement by Douglas Wilson (the man who made me a feminist – Thank you, Mr. Wilson) that was recently re-posted and endorsed on Jared Wilson’s blog. Its admittedly taken out of context, so you should probably read the whole post. Then, you should read some Dorothy Sayers or something similarly edifying to cleanse your mind.

But really. If you’re a single person who sometimes feels a little melancholy about living alone, remember, it could be worse. You could be living with Mr. Wilson.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

WTF?

 

From Matthew Paul Turner

Introducing Martha the Cat

Gentle Readers,

It is my great honor to introduce you to today’s guest writer, Martha the Cat. Martha is a firmly secular cat with an agnostic life philosophy who has, against her will,  found herself living amongst conservative evangelicals. As such, she has amassed a great many opinions which she is most eager to share with us.  Her first post below addresses the subjects of piety and humility. Read on!

Greetings, underlings, Martha the Cat here to talk about pitfalls in Christian culture, specifically Christian women’s culture.

One of the biggest problems I have with women in the Christian community (besides an alarming tighthandedness with cat treats) is piety. Actually, piety is fine, it’s false piety which irks me.

For example, let’s say I was 15, human (horrors!) and I’d just made a pie for a church dinner. Before the pie was served, I would have to declare for five minutes that I didn’t make pies very well and this was only my best, but still amateurish pie.

And, there’s five minutes I’d never get back.

This is behavior frequently displayed by young Christian women. I can guarantee that no girl is going to walk into a church dinner, put a pie on the table and declare, “This is one kick-ass pie, y’all!” Instead, anything one does must be carefully prefaced with statements like “Well, I’m not very good at this but…”

It gets old.

To take it a step further, false piety and false humility becomes a matter of pride. And we all have to defend our pride.  Get a group of these people together and soon they will come to blows about which among them is the most worthless. Obviously, as a secular cat, this is a great time for me to pull out the lawn chairs and settle back for some free entertainment.

In all seriousness, so much of my time is wasted listening to these statements when I could be taking a nap!

So, it’s time for me to speak up. If you’re good at making pies, don’t brag obnoxiously about it, but say that it is a skill you have cultivated.  In my un-christian opinion, true piety is being honest about your gifts and using them to help others.

Tagged , , , ,

The Mommy Wars or Shut Up About Breastfeeding and Talk About Something That Matters

I could write hundreds of posts about preposterous things that Christians do on Mother’s Day. But, instead, I want to point you towards this post by Kristen at Rage Against the Mini Van. She sums up her point nicely when she states:

When it comes to issues of motherhood, there is one issue I care about: some kids don’t have one. All of these petty wars about the choices of capable, loving mothers is just a lot of white noise to me, Quite honestly, I’m often astonished at the non-essential parenting issues I see moms getting their panties in a wad about. Particularly when there are so many kids in this world not being parented at all.

 

Surprisingly, although I’m an opinionated individual, I don’t generally tell people what they must and must not do. There are enough people in the church delivering edicts left and right and I don’t feel like adding my voice to the cacophony.

But here’s an exception.

If you are a Christian, you need to be thinking about orphans.

Maybe you should pray. Maybe you should give money. Maybe you should volunteer at a group home. Maybe you need to contact people in state or local government. Maybe you should support families who foster or adopt.

Maybe you should adopt. Because God adopted you.

God cares about orphans. That means we have to care about orphans. And while there’s not one right action for all of us to take, its right for us to take action.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Tagged , , ,

From Stuff Fundies Like

Image

Chik-Fil-A is where many of my girlfriends went to work before they could find a suitable covenant head. Women working was questionable, but we could make an exception for a good Christian company like Chik-Fil-A

Chik-Fil-A: Employing Fundamentalists Across the South

Tagged , ,

The Christian Lexicon or Stop Saying “Casting Vision” Before I Cast You Out

A few days ago, I was chatting with a friend and our conversation turned to the obnoxious pervasiveness of certain words and phrases in the church.  Naturally, we started compiling a list of some of the most inescapable and most objectionable Christian catchphrases.   I now present this list to you:

Pursue.  I first heard the word “pursue” used when I was about 13. Naturally, the context involved courtship and young men stalking and securing their brides. (Stay tuned for a blog post describing my traumatic early encounters with the writings of that killjoy, Joshua Harris).  We still enjoy saying “pursue” to describe the ideal male’s actions in the ideal romantic relationship, but we’ve expanded our usage to include our relationship with God, the church’s relationship with parishioners, and even friendships. When I hear “pursue,” I envision a redneck decked out in camo trailing a deer.  I beg of you, for the sake of my mental health, stop saying this.

Share. We like to substitute this for the perfectly functional words “said” or “told.”  Constantly saying “share “makes it sounds as though we are all in a large group therapy session rather than in a church.  This cannot be attractive to newcomers.

Come Alongside.  The syntactical awkwardness of this phrase offends me.   If this construction is ever appropriate (which seems doubtful), it is only in a maritime context. For example: “The tugboat came alongside the steamer.” I just spent 5 minutes attempting to think of a suitable non-nautical use for this phrase. I could not.  If you can conjure something up, leave me a comment.  I’d be highly interested.   If this phrase was used by a renegade pastor once or twice, I wouldn’t be bothered, but the fact that it has entered the vocabulary of otherwise eloquent preachers is galling to those of us who value the English language.

 In other news, I googled “come alongside” because I had a bet with a friend about the results of said search.  After a dictionary definition of “alongside,” the first result was a website with the telling address www.victorshepherd.on.ca.  Apparently, the victorious shepherd himself endorses this phrase.

Cast Vision.  I’m honestly at a loss as to how best address this semantic travesty. It would appear that no one in the church actually knows what the word “cast” means.   (Generally, “to throw or hurl”). Or perhaps this phrase is linguistically legitimate, but only because we’re reaching deep into the bowels of the Oxford English Dictionary and drawing out an obscure definition. I generally glory in using arcane and antiquated words, but this phrase just makes us sound confused.

I’ve created with my own narrative about the origins of this phrase. In my imagination, a pastor attends a business seminar, hears about the importance of mission and vision statements, and then decides to pair that terminology with the word “cast” since casting sounds like something the disciples might do with fishing nets. Having redeemed a secular concept with a sanctified word, he then proceeds to broadcast the phrase among his colleagues until it is fully incorporated into the ecclesiastical vernacular.

Blessed.  When used appropriately, “bless/ed” is a valid and pleasant word. However, some individuals sprinkle it so lavishly through their conversation that it takes on obnoxious qualities.  Part of the problem is that “bless” can function as a variety of part of speech. One can bless (verb),  one can hear a blessed sermon (adjective) ,  one can be presented with a blessing (verb), and one can live blessedly (adverb). Having discovered this, some of us have taken to substituting the appropriate form of “bless” for any positive noun, verb, or adjective.  This reveals a remarkable lack of originality.To combat the pervasiveness of “bless,” I refuse to let the word pass through my lips. When I’m particularly peeved, I purposely use words like “lucky” or “fortunate.”  This distresses pious people who then begin to say “bless” more and more frequently and aggressively. I respond in kind and everything rapidly devolves.  *

Naturally, any community will develop its own vocabulary. When I go out to drink chi chi craft beer with my fellow academics, we like to say things like “ juxtaposition of the public and private spheres,” constructed narrative,”  “politics of desire.”  Any group of people with a common interest will naturally produce their own shared language.

Here’s the difference. If an individual walks into the bar where I’m chatting with my psuedo-intellectual friends and finds us incomprehensible, she’ll write us off as snobbish idiots and walk away. This is hardly upsetting.  But we have a problem if an outsider walks into one of our churches and has a similar reaction.

Its appropriate for some groups and communities to be exclusive.

The church isn’t one of them.

*If you are in certain reformed churches, people take things a step further and use forms of “providential” instead of “blessed.” In these situations, I have taken to peppering my speech with phrases such as “What a lucky coincidence!”

Tagged , ,

Using “Feminine” as an Insult

This week, Douglas Wilson (the man who made me a feminist by virtue of his numerous treatises on appropriate female behavior in his delightful monthly serial Credenda Agenda) wrote a blog post entitled “Your Worship Service Might Be Effeminate If…”

Mark Driscoll totally already wrote this blog post. Actually, he’s written it at least five times.

Exploring Wilson’s article in depth would result in an unhealthy spike in my blood pressure, so I’m just going to make one statement. Individuals like Driscoll and Wilson use the words “feminine” or “effeminate” to indicate that something is weak, sentimental, and lacks thoughtful rigorous theology.  In doing so, they reveal an expectation that women are not capable of strength, objectivity, or the meticulous study of God’s Word.

I highly recommend that they both spend some time reading Dorothy Sayers.

The idea that women’s souls and brains are weak, unsubstantial, untrustworthy objects is an old story. In Jesus’ Palestine, for example, women couldn’t stand witness in a court of law.  Jesus didn’t care. He chose to make women the first witnesses to his resurrection anyway.  Apparently, Jesus wasn’t as bothered by femininity as Messrs Wilson and Driscoll.

Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk said it much more eloquently than I could in this post Esau Christianity.:

What is clear is that Wilson exudes a deep distrust and contempt for women in this post.  What he says sounds nothing like the way Jesus or Paul related to their sisters and partners in the Gospel.For instance, he throws out the old canard about women conspiring to form a “shadow government” behind the scenes in order to function as illicit leaders in the congregation…

Furthermore, he suggests that restoring “masculinity” to worship will reach men and by doing so, we will “reach the women.” Indeed, by making worship more masculine we will “include them, bring them along, and make them feel safe.” In other words, women are not worthy of our direct attention. They are followers and meant to be followers. They must be attached to a man and “brought along” by men in the church. They are vulnerable and must be made to “feel safe” because they cannot (should not) stand on their own as full and free citizens in the Kingdom of heaven. Every Eve needs an Esau to protect her.

I’m thinking that what Douglas Wilson needs is a Bible study.

Agreed.

Tagged , , , ,

A few days ago, I had a confrontation via gchat.  I spend a considerable amount of energy avoiding online confrontations.  Few things in life seem as shameful as getting into a fight on the internet.  An online quarrel lacks the civilized dignity I strive for in my altercations. Not to mention that while I enjoy a good verbal fracas as much as the next over-educated academic, I also appreciate non-verbal weapons. If I’m going to engage in non-physical fisticuffs, I want all my resources at hand. I need my incredulous tone of voice and all of my dubious facial expressions at the ready.

So, what sparked me into an online quarrel?

This is the part where it gets really rich. I threw aside all of my reservations about gchat arguing because an individual informed me I had to participate in extreme sports to be a good Christian friend. To wit, my reluctance to spend an entire day injuring myself on a ropes course in the name of Christian fellowship pointed to a lack of love for my community. (I understand that some of you are preparing to inform me that a ropes course is hardly an extreme sport. I just used a rhetorical device. Stop already)

At some point in the absurdity that ensued, I may have glanced around my office, fixed on my framed photograph of the 1923 Princeton football team, and demanded that they “tell me how we got here!” Maddeningly, they did not answer.

Gentle Reader, I know I am not alone.  All of us have been nudged and prodded into activities in which we genuinely did not want to partake in the name of “Christian love and fellowship.”  Some of these activities are even more preposterous than a ropes course. Individuals have chastised me on multiple occasions for declining to go out for beer and fellowship.  (You know you’re part of the New Calvinist movement when…)

Since I like making lists, I made a list that we can all refer to in these times of trial:

  1. We are not unloving because we have budgets and keep them.
  2. We are not unloving because we refuse to spend every single evening and Saturday at a church event or with members of our church community
  3. We are not unloving because we plan our schedules ahead and are not spontaneous. Side note: In general, people have a weak grasp on the real meaning of the word “spontaneous.” It may interest everyone to know that “spontaneous” means “coming or resulting from a natural impulse or tendency; without effort or premeditation; natural and unconstrained.” By this definition, my natural unconstrained impulse to jettison human company in favor of a nice pot of tea and a good book is spontaneous. Tragically, it is generally felt that “spontaneous” means “The ability and inclination to drop any and all plans to cater to another’s social desires.”  Armed with this misunderstanding, inarticulate fools everywhere grouse that their friends are not spontaneous, when it would be more accurate to complain that their friends aren’t pushovers.

Church community is built on generosity – being generous with our time, our money, and our love. But our generosity should be thoughtful. There are a ridiculous number of issues to think through when we consider what entails true generosity.  For instance:

 Is it generous to spend all or the majority of our free time with our church community, thus abandoning our non-church friends or robbing ourselves of the opportunity to form friendships outside the church?

Is it generous to spend a large proportion of our money on church social activities?

Is it generous to abandon rest?

I will be the first to admit that I have not considered most of these questions at length. But, in the aftermath of my gchat dispute, I had a sudden jarring realization. Jesus didn’t spend every waking moment with the crowds.

It seems obvious that Jesus loved people. Almost everywhere you read in the New Testament, Jesus is spending time with people.  But even Jesus needed to rest.  At one point, in Matthew 8, Jesus sees a crowd and crosses the Sea of Galilee to get away from them.   (I utterly sympathize with Jesus. More than once I have wished there was a large body of water in the sanctuary and I was on the other side. The baptismal simply does not function well in this way. Do not think I have not tried)

Even better, Jesus commanded his disciples to rest. In Mark 6, Jesus tells his disciples (who have been scurrying hither and yon teaching and healing),  “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest for a while.”

I’m not claiming to be as busy and exhausted as Jesus’ disciples. That’s clearly ridiculous.  But if Jesus commands his disciples to rest from teaching the gospel, I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s acceptable, perhaps even beneficial, for all of us to take the occasional break from church social events.

Also, I’ll be invisible on gchat for at least two weeks.

Gchat Fisticuffs and Ropes Course Fellowship

Tagged , , , ,

Critical Kathleen Returns

I’m back.

I was gone. After only two blog entries, I decided to stop writing. Because I felt critical and nasty and mean-spirited.  Because I got busy with church stuff. Because it actually takes a lot of energy to write a blog post that is critical but still a little bit constructive.

But then a few nights ago, I was discussing my loathing for group cards with a friend and said, “Wait, I actually wrote an essay about this. Let me send you the link.”  And she said it was “top notch stuff” which stroked my ego. A couple of days later, I found myself itching to write something really biting about Christians who don’t understand the concept of boundaries or the phrase “I’m operating at capacity.”

Also, my brother is getting married. And really what is better fodder for a “Stuff Christians Hate” blog than a good conservative evangelical wedding?

So, I’m back. Probably not all that often. And maybe with shorter posts. But I’m back.

And stay tuned for that entry about Christians Who Do Not Understand Nor Respect Boundaries.

Tagged ,

Obligatory Christmas Gifts

I love many things about celebrating Christmas as part of the Christian community.  Christmas carols, advent wreathes, Christmas Eve candlelight services – I treasure all of these traditions.

Here’s something I don’t treasure: Obligatory Christmas Gifts.

Most of you who have been involved in a church group, ministry, or Bible study know that of which I speak.  At least you do if you are a woman. I have a niggling feeling that men don’t get quite as caught up in the vicious circle of obligatory Christmas gift giving as their female counterparts. (The men have other problems. I’ll address those at some later date. And don’t worry, I have many things to say.)

In general, the gift giving takes two forms. The first is Premeditated Gift Giving.  This is when a group decides to have a formal gift exchange – often Secret Santa or a Yankee Gift Swap. I’m not generally opposed to Premediated Gift Giving, particularly if its a “Find something weird that costs less than $10 and we’ll all have a laugh” kind of exchange.  After all, who doesn’t want to unwrap a neon orange Neti pot with Billy Idol’s face emblazoned on the side? And if you really don’t want to participate, its easy enough to excuse yourself. (If you need a good excuse, I have at least 10 that I’ve been saving up. Shoot me an email.)

Occasionally though, someone will take the Premediated Gift Giving a little too seriously. For example, the girl who insists that she can’t possibly find a  gift worth giving for less than $30 and thus induces dreadful stress in every other person involved in Secret Santa.  Or the guy who treats Yankee Gift Exchange as though it is the Battle of Stirling Bridge and makes it clear that he is the William Wallace character. The correct response to either of these infractions is to quietly liquor up the offending party. Usually all they need is something to relax them.

The second, much more nefarious form of obligatory gift giving, is Spontaneous Gift Giving. This occurs when an individual suddenly decides to give a gift to every person in their group or ministry. Gifts are not given quietly, but are presented in a loud and promiscuous manner. Often the instigator trumpets statements such as, “Well, I just wanted to show my love for everyone in this group since its Christmas” as they foist tastefully wrapped packages on their friends. Immediately, everyone starts feeling guilty and people start planning last minute shopping trips. The next thing you know, you’re in line at the Body Shop with 32 bottles of lavender hand lotion because you’re afraid of being judged.

Can I be frank? I do not want or need bath salts, weird smelling candles, or fifteen low quality Thomas Kinkade journals.  And if you are honest, neither do you.

Do you know what I love most about the Christmas season? We’re celebrating a Savior who gave to us freely. He didn’t come to Earth and humiliate himself because he felt obligated. He wanted to give himself for us  because he had the kind of great and gracious love that I simply cannot fully comprehend.

Perhaps that’s what rankles me the most about all this guilt-drive gift giving. Jesus didn’t give to us out of guilt or because He wanted to look like a nice person. He gave out of love. And he didn’t give us the  smallest thing He could get away with. He gave generously and freely.

So maybe this Christmas, instead of giving out of a sense of guilt and obligation, we can give as a reflection of Christ’s love. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what that looks like.  One of my friends skipped buying the stationary and scented soaps this year, and instead gave a donation to a missionary in her friends’ names.  That seems like a good start.

Advertisements