Thursday, April 28, 2011

What did I just write?

Well, not exactly this, but be warned, the BEAST is everywhere.  The plague may have left syndication on your local television station (or will at the end of this season), but she now has her own network, BWAAAHAAHAAAA!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There's discrimination and then there's Discrimination

Oh, I am so very thankful we can be gracious and humble and nissssssse to each other here!  That?  Oh, never mind him.  He's so gracious that you'd never know his little bite delivers a deadly poison.  Honestly, don't worry.  As long as we're all gracious to each other and set aside our differences so we can engage in conversation it will all work out in the end.  Snakey included.

One of the chief problems with the church today is that so few of us seem to have the discernment, let alone the courage to yell, "Watch out!  Deadly Snake!" when the presence of such a creature warrants it.  In fact, we are so far removed from such warnings that I doubt even many of the Shepherds and Titus 2 women among us can discern the difference between a black mamba and the earthworm struggling about on the sidewalk after a hard rain. 

Diane Montgomery's blog post assessing Rachel Evans' "Year of Biblical Womanhood" is a case in point.  Montgomery is a frequent contributor to CBMWs GenderBlog but this piece was cross posted at Unlocking Femininity where she blogs with several others.  I am interested in the piece's appearance on the latter, along with the accompanying discussion (I have not listened to the talk Evans gave at Baylor's Truett Seminary), and my purpose here is to take a look at that discussion -- the manner in which Complementarians engage a "thoroughly liberated" beneficiary of the feminist movement.  We are used to the Complementarians playing footsies with the self-described "biblical" Egalitarians, but are they a bit more stand-offish and wary of someone who openly embraces the "F" word?

The answer is "no". Even with a self-described liberated beneficiary of feminism, the Complementarians make a gracious and gingerly approach.  This is a grave mistake because, although feminists such as Evans pretend to be gracious, and live within porous boundaries, they actually have very strict parameters of engagement.  These parameters deal with form and style while the conversations remains friendly but they have porous boundaries where substance is concerned.  In other words, you can agree to disagree all the live long day but as soon as you use the "H" word or the "O" word or the "T" word, much less when you dare ask to clarify meaning and nail down definitions of terms, the gracious conversation rapidly grinds to a halt.  Distinction and discrimination with regard to tone and style is allowed, but discrimination and discernment are entirely out of bounds when making judgments about substance, the meat of the matter.

So Rachel Evans, for her part, "really respect[s]" Diane Montgomery's depth while Diane, in return, thanks Rachel for her "gracious comment[s]".  And all will appear to be well as long as we can be gracious and civil while we ignore the black mamba quietly slithering around our ankles.  While they are being gracious and respectful to each other, unsuspecting souls are being led into the belief that these matters are not so consequential after all.

 Matzo crackers or Wonder bread for communion?  Pish, not need to worry!  No fear of dividing over "nonessentials", my dears!  You want a woman pastor for your church, well you just go ahead.  I'm not comfortable, but we can agree to disagree agreeably, can't we?

In the mean time, an even uglier snake is given a platform to tell her false tales about Scripture, how the Canon came to be and just which bits we should obey and which we justifiably discard.  Erika, a respondent on the blog thread, dismisses portions of the canon as "in no way equal to the commands issued directly from God" and St. Paul as "a mere man" who wrote letters "addressed to specific churches - not the Church in general."  Erika also tells us that the rejection of "women in ministry" comes down to one single verse in Paul's first letter to Timothy and that St. Paul is a mere human from whose pan come "some of the most degrading ideas about women" in Christianity.

Now, I don't know Diane's reason for allowing Erika's fictions to go unchallenged, but I don't mind saying that the lack of response doesn't cause me to re-think my evaluation of complementarianism as a fatally compromised endeavor.  Complementarianism reveals its flaws when it fails to distinguish, where feminists also fail, between essentials, those matters which rapidly ramify into essential distinctions -- and -- those matters which are truly adiaphora, of secondary importance.  Several decades ago, Complementarians might have been excused for engaging the "Egalitarians" as well-meaning if misguided colleagues, but that time has long since passed.  When Complementarians can publish a glowing obituary of CBE's founding mother without once mentioning her dubious scholarship or her essential role in the founding of that organization, we have a problem.  When past CBE conference speaker Carolyn Custis James is listed by CBMW's annual annotated bibliography of "gender-related" books as "undeclared", the compromise is clear.

NEWSFLASH: Feminists Lie About God

Feminist and self-proclaimed former Christian Paula Kirby created quite a splash with her recent declaration criticizing God's commandments in Holy Scripture as being "Iron Age prejudices" and that the "Abrahamic religions fear women".  She then libels Christians of all stripes (from the liberal ones who try to deny St. Paul really wrote what he wrote to the orthodox Christian believer who embraces those 'Iron Age prejudices' as God's merciful gift to us) by lumping them in with the more extreme expressions of Islam which go about lopping bits off little girls without benefit of consent or anesthetic.  In short, she presents a hideously deformed and misinformed straw creature in order to take a slap at God.  She is angry and wants to make sure everyone knows it.

Along with Kirby, the worst president in history is, once again, exhibiting his talent for biblical revisionism and making news for his pronouncements on religion and how wrong his fellow SBCers are wrong about most things.  Carter has been quoted recently as saying, "In Christian communities . . . there is gross discrimination against women . . . But, as you know, [in] the Catholic church they practically worship the Virgin Mary, but won't let a woman be a priest."  Which just goes to show you Carter understands about as much about Catholicism as he does his own particular brand of Christianity.  Yet you have to shake your head in wonder at the spectacle of a self-professed Christian, who has a long record of teaching Sunday School, criticizing Christianity for not falling in line with current U.S. law (EEOC, Title IX, etc.) and contemporary concepts of "equality" and "justice".

We might find more excuse for Kirby who has had the honesty to reject Christianity.  But Mr. Carter has very little excuse.  Religious feminists such as he and Mrs. Frank James have embraced the twin lies that the world understands equality better than did (and still does, I imagine!) St. Paul -- and -- that the paradox which lies at the heart of Christian anthropology is no paradox at all but an inescapable contradiction which must absolutely be denied.  Carter shows us not so much what it is possible for a "bible-believing" Christian to promote as he does the folly of promoting someone as such simply because he proclaims himself to be such.  At least on this point, Carter doesn't believe the Bible so much as he does the United Nations and their sense of justice and equality.

So then we come to Mrs. Frank James who casts herself as her husband's favorite theologian and we have to wonder why she thinks Kirby's acid-laden screed should make Christians squirm?  Much less why Kirby's "questions" should be taken seriously.  Really?  We are supposed to take seriously someone who equates submission with female genital mutilation?  Sorry, but angry screeds and tired old canards don't make me squirm or give the least hint of discomfort.  Contra James, the questions are indeed dishonest and manufactured and therefore "unfair".

But, then again, James not only misinterprets Holy Scripture, she libels the countess numbers of Christians who have risked their lives as well as given their meagre fortunes to rescue those in danger.  Christianity has improved the lives of women since the first years of the Church, when they constituted a tiny and persecuted sect in the great roman empire.  Back then, we Christians were rescuing  the baby girls pagan families would leave out to die of exposure.  We've done it all along, then and today, when some of the most privileged Christians among us risk their lives in service to the persecuted.  We've always been there to rescue the persecuted and give comfort to the afflicted.

So lets stop lying about Christianity and cowering before angry feminists.  Let's stop lying about the questions.  It's not "IF" women are to join with men in the work.  It's HOW we are to do go about it.  And let's stop denying those who have trod these paths before us a place in the conversation.  Let's enjoin the most obscure and neglected of all people to come to the conversation table - if we are to take seriously the angry screeds of feminists, let us also not neglect to listen to the voices of those who have gone before us simply because they are no longer walking this earth with us.

Now THAT'S a conversation I'd like to see us have!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What fellowship has light with darkness?

The quote below is courtesy of Taylor Marshall and a timely reminder to all those participating in Rachel Held Evans' "[Cyber]Rally to Restore Unity". 

Evans' event is supposed to be a lighthearted get-together in spite of our disagreement over non-essentials. But, as a respondent of hers noted, we still haven't decided what is and is not essential. I have made the case on this blog and elsewhere that religious feminism is something we must divide over. To most Protestants it should look as wide as the division between Rome and Geneva and Antioch.While it may initially appear to involve a nonessential, it rapidly ramifies into essential doctrine and practice. Marriage means something and spiritual authority in the church means something - neither one are to be divvied up according to merit. Being a pastor is not something anyone has a right to, regardless of talents and gifts exhibited.

Marriage and spiritual leadership in the church mean something because they are supposed to show us something, they are aids to teaching. They picture for us the relationship between God and Israel in the Old Testament and Christ and His Bride in the New Testament. The Scriptures start with a wedding - where woman is taken from man.  She is made from the man, for the man, and brought to the man. And God's written revelation ends with a wedding feast - the marriage supper of the Lamb.

When we disagree about what marriage is, we disagree about the meaning of these foundational images. We do disagree on essentials and thus, cannot participate in a lighthearted pretence that these foundational disagreements do not exist. No amount of banter will combat what will likely be seen as vitriol. And yes, sometimes the kindest thing of all is to name heresy for what it is.

Here then, is the quote:

The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes;
she is tolerant in practice because she loves.

The enemies of the Church are tolerant in principle because they do not believe;
they are intolerant in practice because they do not love.

--Rev. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P

Monday, April 25, 2011

Like nothing so much as a children's play group

They had invented a class; now they had only to make that class conscious

Nearly three decades ago, Joan Didion wrote an essay titled, The Women's Movement in which she recalls the Marxist roots of that movement less than a decade after Betty Friedan began convincing women their materially comfortable suburban lives should be compared to concentration camps.  The label, "Second Wave Feminism" comes from  the truly radical feminist writer, Shulamith Firestone whom Didion quotes.  This feminism of the 1960s and beyond was not merely the revival of a political movement, "It is the second wave of the most important revolution in history."  Didion's exposition of this second wave of the revolution is excellent, still timely and I recommend you read the entire piece at the link above.

What I want to focus on here today is this from Didion's essay, "And then, at that exact moment when there seemed no one at all willing to play the proletariat, along came the women's movement, and the invention of women as a "class".  One could not help admiring the radical simplicity of this instant transfiguration."  Included with the acceptance of Betty Friedan's recasting suburbia as the land of concentration camps, what may well be the single most  effective tool for recruitment, reinforcement of ideology and retention of "oppressed" adherents was the concept of the "consciousness raising" group (I've written about CR here).  With such an effective tool, feminism is here to stay and is still dragging along its Marxist roots.

Oh, it may have smoothed off some of the more obviously radical edges and become acceptable to the "nicer" classes of women with its embrace of a certain kind of middle class life "style" adorned with the appropriate baubles and its "Oprahfication" (have you ever noticed how every episode of her show becomes, at some point, her own personal therapy session with you invited to participate as well?), but it is still a revolutionary movement and it is still with us.  In fact, it is so very present with us, we no longer notice it as something different.  It is so familiar now that the revolution has gone mainstream and we accept it as part of the culture and think the church should probably just go along to get along.

Feminism has scrubbed up so nicely that it has managed already to capture a rather embarrassing number of supposedly Evangelical churches, seminaries and publishing houses.  This captivity, however, has not been a help to women.  It has not fulfilled its promise of liberation and a life more valued and valuable. In fact, much as Eve fell to the serpent's deception, women have fallen under the spell of a feminism that keeps them in need. 

I came across a vivid example of this recently (you can read about the Denver Seminary connection here and here).  In the video promoting her women's center, one feminist has this to say, "you know, women in the United States are among the wealthiest, most well-educated, most powerful women who have ever walked the face of the earth.  We have tremendous assets to offer the rest of the world that the world needs.  And so we want to give women the opportunity to really use those gifts . . . to make a difference in our world."

Sounds great, right?  Makes you want to sign up for the next trip to Mali helping women set up a little home business with a micro-loan, doesn't it?  Makes you want to hop on the next plane to China protesting their one-child policy, doesn't it?  But wait, this is feminism we're talking about, not Christianity.  Never mind that Swanson has a DMin and earned an MA in Christian studies from an evangelical seminary, as it must, the feminism trumps the Christianity.  And feminism is all about the self, perceived needs and keeping women in this state of need through rehearsal of the shared narrative. 

So what does this women's center offer?  It offers therapists steeped in occult tools like the enneagram and Jungian depth psychology.  They can massage your uterus and help you create a sacred container.  You can take an art therapy class, you can learn how to share your story, journal your way to an Authentic Self and how to create a Rite of Passage for your life transitions.  You can even learn about dream work and transformative breath. 

I had not intended to write anything more specifically on this local example, but it's hard to look around for something else when a textbook example of the problem is right down the street.  I have just scanned a three month period on their published calendar (April, May, June of this year) and one thing becomes clear - it's all about ME.  All of the classes and events are self-focused.  Not one single event title or keyword indicating there might be something for the wider world these wealthy and well-educated women are engaged in.  They are not going to Nepal to help build a school or teach a summer bible camp to children - they are sticking right here and learning about Nepalese home cooking in their comfy women's center.

This local women's center presents us with a microcosm of the problem of feminism, especially religious feminism.  Lip service is paid to serving a hurting world, but the nature of the beast turns in on itself, keeping women needy and in need in order to perpetuate the revolution.  Only by taking women's eyes off a life lived in service to others, a life in which we only truly find ourselves by giving ourselves away - feminism tells us we must turn inward and serve ourselves or we cannot serve others.  The problem is, as the class offerings show, that even the wealthiest and most well-educated women on the face of the planet are so very needy and oppressed we need constant counseling, guidance and spiritual direction to find ourselves!

It's the perpetual infantilization of women, making them out to be nothing so much as a needy toddler who stomps her little foot when she doesn't get her way.  No, you can not be a priest.  STOMP.  I WILL be a priest!  And you can't stop me or I'll tell on you!!

It makes feminism look like a kindergarten and all those classes as nothing more than play groups.  Is this what feminism has brought us to?  Is this what we bought when we were told we would be lifted up to social and legal equality with men?  Is this the holy life Christ calls us to?  Yes, this is the end product of embracing life as a "class", a special interest group.  This is what happens when we forget our identity in Christ and look to the world to define our "Authentic Self".  This is the natural end when we look to the world to tell us who we are.  This is what happens when we succumb to the lie.  It's Eve all over again. The promise of the precious fruit and its enlightenment results in death and endarkment.

It all leaves me shaking my head and wondering why anyone with three working brain cells can believe the lie that it is the "mean old" patriarchalists that keep women child-like.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Follow Up: Denver Seminary's Transformation (Updated)

First, I have contacted Denver Seminary President Mark Young via email.  Since I wanted to include links in my letter to him, it seemed the most appropriate format.  I have not yet received a reply from anyone at Denver Seminary.  The day after the email was sent, however, four visits totalling nearly twenty minutes were made to this blog from Denver Seminary's server.  At this point, I don't intend to make any further attempts to elicit a response from the school.  As of this writing, the video is still available on their website.

Second, I contacted one of the "Affiliate Guides" of Pomegranate Place to clarify a point included in her biography.  Michanda Lindsey's bio says she "serves as a priest for a local cathedral".  Several search attempts using various key words and forms of her name turned up nothing.  A search on her name alone, however, turned up a top hit with a local talent agency.  In a telephone conversation with Myrna Ramos at the Donna Baldwin agency, Myrna said she did not know about that aspect of Lindsey's personal life and offered to pass along my contact information.  In short order I had an email from Lindsey telling me to feel free to contact her, but there has been no subsequent response to my query about where she serves as priest.

UPDATE:  Lindsey has responded, but declines to name the Cathedral, "I appreciate your inquiry.   However, my responses are not suited for email and would be better suited by phone or in person.  This would allow me to also gain a better understanding of who you are as well."

Last, I ask readers from Denver Seminary arriving via avenues such as google reader notices to feel free to contact me via email (link available on the profile page).  You should know that even in the middle of Holy Week this blog had approximately 1000 hits as a result of this story being picked up by other blogs.  Some will likely think it par for the course trajectory of evangelicalism in general.  Others will wonder how a supposedly conservative evangelical institution has fallen so far off the rails.

My question?  If you believe yourself to be a Christian of orthodox belief -- What are you doing to call your school to account for leading unsuspecting souls astray?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Carolyn Custis James: Stolen Identity and True Grit

Mrs. Frank James (oops, don't call her that, she uses that as an illustration!) uses women's stolen identity as a theme in her book, Half The Church as well as in blog posts.  I was getting irritated enough to write a response.  And then I realized that I already had:

James is consistently guilty of "identity theft" herself.  Being so fond of her ezer-warrior women who do extraordinary things, she finds them everywhere.  Even in places where they do not exist.  Her review of the film, True Grit, is a case in point.  After reading her take on the movie and having heard quite a bit about it, I went to see it for myself last year.  I walked out of the theatre wondering if we had even seen the same film.

When James holds up young Mattie Ross (the film's heroine) as an ezer she denies the character's identity.  Mattie Ross is a daughter, first and foremost.  And in the end, the goal of avenging her father's death is achieved not by any design or true grit she displays, but by happenstance.   Most importantly, just when she achieves her goal of avenging her father's death, her moment of victory is not savored.  There is no time.  You see, she has forgotten about the pit.  Even in the depth of the pit she thinks she can still rescue herself when, instead, she awakens the sleeping snakes.  She is bitten and it looks as if her moment of victory may turn into a moment of ultimate defeat.

 But she is rescued by Rooster Cogburn who carries her, at the last, in his strong arms.  The entire film is underscored in many ways, not by Mattie's grit but by a theme which you may not recognize until the end.  It is not the true grit of young Mattie Ross which underscores the story, it is the grace of God:

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

A Good Friday Meditation

God has a way of getting our attention. Sometimes he does so in rather spectacular fashion. I have recently been seriously ill - the sort of ongoing misery which has you begging for powerful medicine and contemplating whether or not a hospital bed might not be the place for you. The cause was a severe Strep Throat infection with several days of significant fever followed by a raging case of Salmonella poisoning all of which had me staying close to my bed, my reading chair and the bathroom for just over a month. Then, just to fulfill the saying that, "these things come in threes", I dislocated my great toe.

I actually laughed at that last one after the initial throbbing subsided.

One thing occurred to me in the depths of illness and another after, as I have almost completed my swing back out to a more normal state of health.

The first was a thought that came to me as I was crawling under the covers one night.  "This night your life may be required of you".  Now I did not believe I was so seriously ill that I might die (misery isn't necessarily life-threatening). But that state of health does rather concentrate the mind, doesn't it?  The truth is, we do not know when God will require us to lay down our life.  Not the day or the hour, not even if we will be taken while we sleep peacefully or if it will be while we have cookies in the oven or three books half read.

The second has been rattling around my brain over the last couple of days.  It is a twist on a familiar quote, "The price of health is eternal vigilance".  Over the next weeks and months my continued trajectory to "normal" or even improved health will require particular vigilance.  Even more than our physical state of health, our spiritual state of health requires eternal vigilance.

Just something to contemplate from now until we greet each other on Easter morning, and even beyond.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Death of Denver Seminary

Denver Seminary has a page with a list of videos called, Stories of Transformation. Scroll down to the sixth video by Vaun Swanson (with whom I attended classes while we were both students there). Then browse this page, Affiliate Guides , listing bios of all the Jungian, Enneagram, Spiritual Plant Healing and other assorted therapist, "sacred container" whatsits my co-alumna promotes through her women's center.

And don't forget the grad of the (is this a joke?) Kerouac School at Naropa University. The bios range from the frivolous to the frankly evil. I'd have to believe it was a spoof or a hack if I didn't already know this was Vaun and her work.

Is it time for me to give my degree back? This is not the first occasion on which I have been truly ashamed for Denver Seminary.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Are Religious Feminists desperate to see a woman in the White House?

It seems religious feminists are desperate to see a woman in the White House. the trouble is, Sarah Palin's star seems to be fading. The trouble is that Michele Bachmann's star is rising, at least according to one Denver Seminary professor. Perhaps after having given a speech at a gathering of Iowans for Tax Relief, the Minnesota Congresswoman might want to brush up on American history and Masonic symbolism. And her religious feminist supporters might want to re-think their desperation. I know, desperation might seem a bit harsh, but how else do you explain someone dismissing Bachmann's historical revisionism as, "small historical errors" that "are not that important"? Here's the video, judge for yourself: mea culpa: the original post contained a reference which I've removed because I just found it is wrong - The Congresswoman is not related to the Minnesota florists.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The terror of untethered "tenderness"

One of the tendencies of our age is to use the suffering of children to discredit the goodness of God, and once you have discredited his goodness, you are done with him. . . Ivan Karamazov cannot believe, as long as one child is in torment; Camus' hero cannot accept the divinity of Christ, because of the massacre of the innocents. In this popular pity, we mark our gain in sensibility and our loss of vision. If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber. -- Flannery O'Connor Mystery and Manners