Category Archives: Forging a New Path

On #metoo… From a Friend

I pieced this together from a recent tweet by @rachelheldevans. I felt it was a great thread, not only from a Christian perspective, but from a female perspective as well. Christian men, we’d do well to listen…

This week: 1 James Dobson encouraged Christians to fast & pray for the protection  of a serial sex abuser (Trump). 2 When a mega-church pastor’s criminal sexual assault was exposed, he received a standing ovation from his congregation. 3 One of Roy Moore’s victims’ house burned down.
All of these stories point to why I’m sadly pessimistic about a #metoo-style cultural shift in evangelical Christianity (and, to an extent, the broader Church). I’m pessimistic because of the deadly combination of patriarchy & (as discussed recently) evangelical exceptionalism.
As I’ve stated before, evangelical exceptionalism understands “the world” or “the culture” to be filled with darkness & sin, teeming with people who are “lost,” and evangelicalism & evangelicals to be the sole bearers of light, the counter-cultural path to salvation.
White evangelicals perceive “the world” to struggle with racism & sexual immorality, but not themselves. Because of this, it’s rare to see serious efforts made at examining the ways racism & toxic masculinity/patriarchy are embedded in evangelical culture.
You see this so clearly in the fact that Andy Savage’s church rejects LGBT people, yet gives their abusive pastor a standing ovation! (This points to the reality that anti-LGBT sentiment is usually more about prejudice than a commitment to “sexual purity.”).
The fact is, evangelical culture (and, generally speaking, the Church culture at large) remains mired in patriarchy. So someone who is perceived as a “man of God” doing “God’s work” will almost always be protected over women & children. It happens. All. The. Time.
When Savage’s victim came forward, who did she face? Who was in charge of her church? Men. All men. When churches sideline women from leadership, a culture of patriarchy is inevitable and toxic, abusive masculinity can flourish.
But you won’t see many churches challenging patriarchy or abuse or toxic masculinity in Christian culture. Instead, you hear sermon after sermon railing against immodesty, cohabitation, sex before marriage, LGBT people – all those real or perceived “sins of the culture”.
In order to turn #metoo into #churchtoo, the Church in America, and specifically evangelicals, are going to have to muster some humility and take a serious look at how patriarchy, sexism, and toxic masculinity have infected their culture.
It’s great to see women like @BethMooreLPM & @KayWarren1 speaking out. But as long as church leadership & evangelical culture are dominated by men (who believe God wants it that way!) I fear the voices of women & victims will not be heard and nothing will change.
TLDR version: In the name of Jesus, smash the damn patriarchy.

…So I feel like this thread was too pessimistic and Oprah says we should be hopeful. So some hopeful thoughts: While the Church in America is perhaps not positioned to lead the charge against sexual harassment & toxic masculinity. There are some significant generational differences within the Church, including evangelicalism, that suggest attitudes are changing on gender & sexuality. I’m hopeful this means more introspective conversations about consent, inclusion, & patriarchy in the near future.
Also, our present cultural moment, as tough as it’s been, seems to have emboldened some voices of dissent among evangelical women. If evangelicals yield to their wisdom, there’s hope.

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Plans? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Plans!

Well, with my last post I kinda gave y’all an idea of where my head was at for 2018. Now I thought I’d lay out a few of my plans, such as they are.
I know, I know, plans, especially those created at the first of the year, look an awful lot like new years’ resolutions, complete with the prompt forgetting about them within a matter of weeks. I won’t lie, these may be among those too, but for what they’re worth, here’s what I’ve got in store for the coming year. (BTW, in telling you this, it makes you all accountability partners to ensure my success. :-\ Fun, huh?!) Continue reading Plans? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Plans!

Do Better

Well, here I am: writing to get back into the habit of writing. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my last blog post; over sixteen months since my last published book, These Threads of Faith; and, almost 2 ½ years since I’ve spent time with the Drifter Series in, The Privilege of Sin.
It’s not like fodder hasn’t been there. There’s been plenty of grist for the mill. But the muse has just been…gone. Setting pen to paper, or in my case fingers to keyboard, only filled me with a sense of frustration and bewilderment. With the past year’s events I’ve often been more irritated than inspired. 2017 couldn’t have been over with soon enough.

So now, here we are: 2018. Everything is new. Everything is filled with a renewed sense of hope and optimism. Everything is waiting to be reopened, reborn, like the first buds of spring.
Yeah, I know, I don’t believe that either. Continue reading Do Better

Would You Pick Up Your Cross and Walk?

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)

This is what taking up your cross looks like. As many as 1000 or more White Supremacists, and “alt-right” protestors, armed and well organized. Maybe a few hundred or less clergy from all walks of religion and faith, spit on, ridiculed, insulted, hit with tear gas and urine-filled balloons.

We (white evangelical Christians) want to believe that taking up our cross invites us—expects us actually—into the realm of persecution. And make no mistake, these people in Charlottesville endured persecution. But this persecution came at the hands of other so-called “Christians.”  This persecution came from our own. This persecution came from us.

We (white evangelical Christians) need to acknowledge that our legacy, our history, our very cultural makeup, consists, at least in some small measure, of white pride, of white privilege, of racism, of nationalism, of the ugly underbelly of humanity that is present in all of us.

We can overcome this ugliness. But overcoming does not equate to denial of its existence, nor does it equate to fingerpointing at the other side and screaming, “Well, they’re doing it too!”

This is not an “us vs. them”. This is not about “them”. This is us.

Taking up our cross and standing arm in arm with our brothers and sisters, with our neighbors, our poor neighbors, our black neighbors, our Native American neighbors, our Muslim neighbors, our gay neighbors, our immigrant neighbors.

THIS is what taking up our cross looks like, because when we take up ours, we take up theirs as well.

Here are two well spoken essays from two Christian writers who were there, who stood with their neighbors, who took up their crosses,

And walked.

From Brian McLaren: What I saw in Charlottesville

And, from Lisa Harper via Ann Voskamp: Would I Pick Up My Cross 

Related post: Persecution…Comes With the Job?