Mutual submission, arguments, and “thank you” SamHamilton

This past week an article I wrote was posted at a Sojourner’s blog called God’s Politics (http://blog.sojo.net/2011/06/07/what-men-and-women-lose-under-complementarianism). In watching the ensuing commentary posted by readers, I had the opportunity to “listen in” to reactions, thoughts, and in some cases rants….the usual blog reaction kinds of things. Any time you start talking about mutual submission of believers and it’s application to male-female interaction, you have to be prepared to hear strong opinions expressed.

One of the comments particularly struck me. Basically the perspective was that I needed to do a far better job of making my case if my intent was to overcome the convictions of those who believe the Bible prohibits female leadership in Church. So I began to ask myself if that, indeed, had been my intent. Was I trying to “win the argument” of women in leadership? [Read more…]

Things I’ve learned about Canada since I married a Canadian….

Two and a half years ago I married a Canadian. Sounds like an introduction made at a twelve step meeting, doesn’t it? I’d visited Canada on several occasions, even had Canadian friends. However, in the past 30 months I’ve had a crash course in all things Canadian and discovered there is some truth to the stereotypes, but there are also some very unexpected things. Here are a few highlights of what I’ve learned….so far:

  • Canadians really do say “eh” at the end of sentences, making the statements sound like questions. For example, “We’ve really had a lot of rain this spring, eh?” (Which illustrates a second thing I’ve learned, Canadians talk about the weather…..frequently!)
  • Where America has Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football and even Football Night in America, there is really only one show that compares in Canada. You guessed it…..Hockey Night in Canada. There’s even a theme song that is sung by everyone attending a hockey game. I kid you not, the lyrics start out “The good old hockey game, it’s the best game you can name.” (I couldn’t make that up.)
  • Unlike America where football is primarily contained within about 6-7 months of the year, it doesn’t matter what season of the year it is, EVERY night is hockey night in Canada. Plus, at least once a week, year-round, there is a Sports Section page one story on something pertaining to hockey…..year-round! Never underestimate the importance of hockey in Canada.
  • Americans can learn something from Canadians when it comes to respecting the culture and beliefs of others. (Technically speaking, I already knew this was true. I’ve just seen more first-hand evidence to support this over the last two years.)
  • Canada supplies more oil to the United States than any other country in the world, contrary to popular American attitudes regarding Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.
  • Canadians have a love affair with choral music. Every area of the country is represented by multiple, highly talented choirs and choral groups. There’s even a weekly radio broadcast every Sunday on CBC2 that’s solely devoted to choral music! Fantastic!!
  • Canadians believe poutine is gourmet food (for the uninitiated, poutine consists of fries topped with cheese curds and covered in gravy….seriously). OK, gourmet may be stretching it…..but there are restaurants serving truffle poutine, breakfast poutine, smoked meat poutine, and the list goes on. They’re very proud of poutine.
  • At least once a week Canadian families sit down to a meal of Kraft Dinner. In the States it’s known as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Urban legend has it that it’s the only meal Wayne Gretzky knows how to make without assistance. (The fact that urban legends have developed around Wayne Gretzky just proves that, with apologies to Jackie Gleason, in Canada Gretzky will always be “the Great One” given his prowess in hockey. Notice how everything comes back to hockey?)
  • There are more raccoons living in the city of Toronto than there are people! I’m not sure what this means. However, watching one rummaging through the garbage bin at a commuter train station to get the McDonald’s castoffs left both Tim and I doubled over laughing.
  • For the most part being part of a curling team is really just an excuse to socialize with your friends. That doesn’t mean, however, that Canadians aren’t serious about supporting their curling teams, particularly when Olympic gold is on the line.
  • Parliamentary politics are just as entertaining as the two-party American kind.
  • Most mail carriers in Canada are women. Apparently this developed during WWII when so many men were away fighting.
  • Canadians will say “I’m sorry” even if YOU bumped into THEM.
  • Where Americans prioritize “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Canadians value “peace, order and good government”……which probably explains some of the differences in culture between the two countries, and why Canadians are universally described as “very nice people.”

This I believe…..

Lately I’ve been feeling as though I’ve spent too much time thinking and talking about what I disagree with. Whether it’s been in the Church environment or in my business career, for a variety of reasons I’ve frequently been the person at the table who had a different viewpoint to present. For example I’ve been the one pointing out that God intended men AND women to lead and use the gifts He gave them. My voice has been the one declaring that ALL our employees are smart, competent professionals regardless of whether or not their efforts directly produce revenue. At times I’ve felt overly earnest. (That’s actually a charitable description….a bit more serious than the average person, a little too focused, perhaps lacking in the ability to relax, are others that come to mind.) These past two years have given me the unique and precious opportunity to spend time stepping back from the day-to-day responsibility of leading an organization and focus on reestablishing balance. I’ve also been able to spend more time reading and thinking. I’ve been inspired by articles such as these: (http://www.examiner.com/christian-living-in-austin/the-predicaments-of-praying-from-privilege, http://mentanna.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html, http://blog.beliefnet.com/omeoflittlefaith/2011/03/doubters-evangelists.html, http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2011/05/can-you-hate-heresy-but-love-heretic.html). All that to say, in this post I’ve decided to write about what I believe IN.

I believe…..

  • no day is complete until something has made me laugh out loud.
  • time spent with friends sharing food around a table is intrinsic to building relationships and one of the true joys of life.
  • when you educate girls, you fundamentally change a culture for the good.
  • my husband is a fantastic chef, wonderful musician and loving godfather/brother/son.
  • sunrise is a really lovely time of the day, especially when you didn’t have to set an alarm to see it.
  • God creates women with gifts to be used to reflect His image, at home, in the church and in the world. It is only when we superimpose our human cultural understandings that we deny women opportunities to use those gifts.
  • coffee tastes great regardless of the temperature at which it’s served….even room temp (my husband, great coffee lover that he is, has yet to see the wonders of tepid coffee)!
  • Father Christmas is WAY better than Santa Claus, no competition.
  • disagreeing with someone, even vehemently, is no excuse for being disrespectful to that person.
  • Star Trek:Deep Space Nine is a seriously underappreciated series.
  • worship is far more than singing songs together, and it’s certainly more than watching the worship band “perform” on Sunday mornings. We worship God with our actions, reflecting His image. We also worship God when we collectively declare the truth of who He is and the wonders of His actions on our behalf. Being able to make these declarations as we sing is a bonus.
  • the most beautiful pieces of music in opera, excluding arias, are the trio from “Cosi fan tutte,” the duet from “The Pearl Fishers,” and the slave chorus from “Nabucco.”
  • we who have more are to be giving to those who have less. This is just one way we can reflect God’s image. This is not an unreasonable expectation.
  • the best chocolate is dark and bittersweet. This is not open to discussion.
  • there are plenty of options for teaching children that do not include “spanking.”
  • in treating people as though they are capable of being the best version of themselves, because they are much more likely to BE that person when you believe they can.
  • life should be lived with a soundtrack.
  • you do not have to experience something firsthand to have insight into the situation and wisdom to offer.
  • sometimes it IS better to ask for permission rather than forgiveness….but only sometimes.

Blessed are the “peacekeepers”

Over the weekend I participated in a discussion of how best to represent God’s image when our beliefs are not in synch with the beliefs of the elders or leaders of the community of believers we are part of. This came up as we discussed how we should apply the scriptural instructions regarding head covering for women and short hair for men. Since some of the people came from a Plymouth Brethren or similar background and practiced head covering for women, this was more than an academic discussion. Several individuals suggested that when we disagree with the practices of our congregation, we have a responsibility to approach the leaders of the congregation and present our beliefs. However, once that happens, they contended the right course of action for a Jesus follower is to “keep the peace,” based on our call to be peacemakers, and conform to the practices of the congregation. [Read more…]

What, me give?

There has been a lot of discussion recently about how we should treat and consider “the poor.” A good bit of the discussion has been held at a fairly high decibel level. I’ve read and listened to the different perspectives with a desire to clarify in my own mind what it looks like to bear God’s image and interact with those who have fewer resources and influence than I do. There is so much in scripture that is unequivocal in it’s instruction to care for widows, orphans, strangers, aliens and the poor and disenfranchised. However, when I look at my own actions, my reflection of God’s image seems a bit out of focus.

I was raised with the understanding that the scriptural instruction “if you don’t work, you don’t eat” was foundational to living right before God. The Puritan work ethic was alive and well throughout my family. My grandfather, a farmer who survived the dust bowl of Oklahoma and the depression, was literally disgusted by “panhandlers.” I remember going with him to Fresno, California, where he conducted some business at the county courthouse downtown. As we were walking back to his pickup to drive home, a man approached us. It was obvious from his clothing and demeanour that he lived on the street. He asked if we could spare a quarter for coffee. As a young girl, my heart filled with a mixture of pity and compassion. Left to my own devices, I would have handed over whatever money I had. However, my grandfather’s reaction took me off guard. He didn’t just ignore the man. His face darkened as he spoke harshly to the man and shooed him away. The message was inescapable….asking for money, even if you needed it, was something to be condemned. If you needed money, you should work for it. [Read more…]