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I think you're on exactly the right path here, Bill. Being female, I grew up thinking that anger was wrong and must be suppressed, and that I must always be kind and pleasant to everyone, and so I've fought to get back in touch with my anger as an essential part of my spirituality. The way I've come to understand it, anger can be an important part of our spiritual experience- after all, Driscoll's not making up all the passages where men in the Bible (and certainly women, if you look for them) get angry and express that anger. Anger shows us when something is Not Right and needs to change- and, like most signs from the Spirit, is almost always about change that needs to happen in ourselves before it can happen in the world. So I affirm that you're reacting exactly the right way- you feel angry when you read Driscoll's words, because you know how harmful those words can be to others. But you also know that nothing you can do can force Driscoll to change- even the most savage beating probably wouldn't make him acknowledge women as equals to men. Nor should you stand aside passively- because there is a sphere where you have influence. Just as Jesus stood up to the injustices in his day by refusing to continue them and by offering healing, you refuse to buy into Driscoll's view of the world, and you can offer grace and healing to those you know who are hurt by him. That's the middle way between raging and rolling over: standing still, in the middle of the most vile hatred, and being a powerful force for love and healing.
Thanks so much for the honesty and beauty of this post, Bill. It's such a blessing to realize how much our relationships can draw us to God, and how many chances we have to follow Jesus with others. Myself, I do pretty well with the people closest to me- my dearest friends, my boyfriend- those relationships are (usually) imbued with the essence of the person I'm called to be. I have a lot of trouble maintaining that godly behavior in all the less close relationships- remembering to be loving and open with strangers, or casual acquaintances, or especially the people I don't like so much- so hard! I pray to learn the grace to actually respond to everyone as a child of God, and not only those who have already proved their love of me. -Layne
Ugh it is AWFUL. I swear, every six months I get worried that Netflix is going to phase movie ratings out all together, and the whole POINT of the site, for me, is that I can aggregate data about movies I like in order to find other movies I will like. Why can't we just have an easy interface for navigating my rating? Is there anyone who actually chooses movies based on the artwork?
Thanks so much for this post, Bill- really thoughtful and beautiful. This is a concern near to my heart- how to truly love those who would tell me I have no place in the body of Christ, without denying them their own keys to the Kingdom. My heart breaks every time I read about a Westboro protest, not because of the hateful messages on their signs, but because it hurts me so to see the name of the God of Love so twisted. I've frequently found myself crying out for the healing of our world such that we will no longer claim there is ANYONE God refuses to love. It's so hard for me to comfort my queer brothers and sisters who feel so hated and abused by the church (in any form it takes), and to also determine how to minister to those who cause the abuse. Like you, I'm fairly certain that those who spew the hate are more in need of our love and prayers. One day I hope to be able to see Fred Phelps and his followers as my brothers and sisters, too, and to care for them with the same love.
I agree with you completely that our world and our God is best served when adults commit to each other in life-long, stable relationships to form families- bouncing between uncommitted relationships is terrible for children and adults alike, and is no way to establish a successful household and family. What I fail to understand, and perhaps you can better explain for me, is why this family can only be set up by two virgins, one man and one woman. In my own life, I've been able to partake of the glorious gift of worshipful sexuality with others who I have no further relationship with, and I also have a stable family and household where we are raising children who know they are loved, in addition to sharing God's love with one another. The only thing that distinguishes our family is that there are 5 adults involved, rather than just 2. Having extra adults around just means extra love flows- chores are more easily shared, the kids get extra attention when they need it, and there's more support to go around for everyone. In the Bible, families were complex- old testament patriarchs often had multiple wives, or large extended families lived together. God's vision for our world is of deep bonds of relationship, certainly, but there is no reason to silo ourselves in pairs and ignore the outside world. Our deep relationship with Christ can lead us to love more people more deeply, and this can only be a blessing.
Thanks for bringing this Psalm to the discussion of gender identity- I think it speaks so beautifully to God's creation- the verses "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!/Your workmanship is marvelous- how well I know it" resonate particularly with me. I actually have a very different idea of gender from you, though, which I find quite interesting. I grew up in a pretty traditional family, and was apparently something of a gender crusader as a small child (i.e. my mom tells stories about me throwing tantrums at the local Wal-Mart because there were more "boy toys" than "girl toys"- the distinction was very important to me, but so was equality). And like you, I had a lot of experiences to help cement a strong female identity- I am of the American Girl and Girl Power generation, and, growing up in the South, had my share of white-glove teas and cotillion dances. By adolescence, though, this security in my gendered skin began to fade. I started to find myself drawn to masculinity, male clothing, and male experiences. I wanted to read the stories of men, and not of women, and I wanted to seek more masculine company and experiences. It was very hard for me, living in a very female body, to not be able to "try out" male life, or easily experiment with different kinds of experiences of the world. I felt trapped in an identity I had never chosen, and resentful to be so stuck. Fortunately, I found a queer world where I discovered that gender can be fluid and we can be allowed to play with it, and I was lucky enough to begin to learn to love God with and through my body. These days, I don't worry at all about gender distinctions. I think of some things as "masculine" and others as "feminine," but I associate these not at all with how bodies are shaped- gender is more like clothing to me, something we can use to show the diversity of our spirits and not a rigid category to trap us. I count myself blessed that God has let me be so fluid, and that he has showered such love on me that I need not fear expressing that. I worry when our communities try to stifle young people who are still learning the full range of complexity God has made in them, and I hope we can learn to love and embrace the diversity of God's marvelous workmanship.
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Jun 9, 2011