Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Art of the ordinary (repost)

Over at What's Wrong With The World , there is a rousing discussion going on regarding the rule of women. Some of the usual suspects have appeared, including a feminist I have seen posting on MereComments in the past. After she pulls a tired old (dare I say it?) canard out of her back pocket, attempting to dismiss a woman who is rather more well educated and mannerly than she by telling this other woman to get herself back to the kitchen, my friend, Kevin J. Jones , had this to say:

Educated minds produce more than a series of cliches. Please stop bashing the kitchen. Cooking is perhaps the greatest art of the ordinary. Anti-kitchen feminism has impoverished our cuisine and our family table traditions. It is an adjunct of fast food colonialism, to borrow academic phraseology.

That is so right, it's simply brilliant. It also speaks to one of the abiding joys of my life in the last couple of years. Since I left the angry religious feminist-me behind, it's been an amazing and (mostly) joy-filled journey. A time of discovering simple pleasures and real delight in the every day. I am back to baking my own bread, I've finally discovered a successful red cabbage recipe, Baklava is back on the menu on occasion and I may even experiment with my once-legendary Beef Stroganoff recipe to see if I can substitute Greek Yogurt for the sour cream . . . but perhaps not. Why mess with a good thing?

I take Kevin to be using "art" in two senses. The first is the sense in which art refers to a field of human endeavour (painting, sculpting, pastry making, etc.). In this sense cooking is an art of the homemaker. The second sense encompasses the skills, techniques and methods required to ply the craft of cooking.

The homemaker, kitchen wife or everyday cook can be an artist of the ordinary if she learns the techniques and applies herself to the use of these techniques with loving care and a little flair of her own. Whether it be decorating, sewing or any of the other homely (meant in the old fashioned sense) arts, she is an artist with her own palette. A still life is a still life is a still life -- or it can be if it is painted by numbers from a kit. But if the painter is Picasso or the Dutch master of the still life, Willem Kalf . . . it isn't simply a still life, it is a work of art. A turkey is a turkey is a turkey if you simply cook by the book. However, if you discover your own secret to making the holiday turkey all your own, people will beg you for your recipe.

But Kevin is right to speak of "the art of the ordinary" in another way, specifically related to food and the family table. Instead of looking forward to mom's meatloaf (and when was the last time you had a sandwich made of meat loaf the next day for lunch?) or that special way she does potatoes for the Sunday roast, we are cruising through the fast food drive up window, wondering whether to try the "next new thing" or simply get our regular serving of salt, fat, and food-like chemicals. We eat in our cars, mostly alone, and we forget after the first bite what we are doing.

We lose, in this process, fleshly connections. And, it seems, these connections are important. The French, despite what food police tell us is a horribly unhealthy diet, don't seem to be suffering for their wine and cheese. Could this possibly be because the French meal consists of small portions, eaten slowly, around a table filled with family and friends? The "Slow Food" movement, which started in Italy, is spreading across America now because people are longing for those connections -- and the enjoyment of food that itself is something so much less (and, consequently, so very much more) than the industrially-produced, semi-edible substances which fill the shelves of the center of the grocery store. It reminds me of television chef, Lidia Bastianich, who frequently welcomes her mother, her daughter, or another family member to the set to assist in the day's cooking. It also reminds me of the line with which she closes every show, something we could profit from if we aim for this more often than we aim for a drive through:

Tuti a tavola a mangiare! (translation: Everyone to the table to eat!)

P.S. The Flavor Bible is my newest tool.


Since this old post has received some attention this weekend, I am adding the old bio of Carolyn Custis James from the Common Ground website (the bio is where the term "kitchen wife" originated):

Carolyn is her husband's favorite theologian. She is not a kitchen wife. She does not keep house, cook, clean or sew, but she reads an awful lot and often talks to women (and sometimes men) from all over the world about women's struggles within the evangelical church. Lately, she has been reading a lot on the plight of women in the Middle East. She helped establish Synergy Conferences for women seminarians and women in vocational ministries, which is sponsored by her ministry organization, Whitby Forum, in alliance with Campus Crusade for Christ International and RTS/Orlando.

I didn't ask for this

I readily admit I am remarkably undisciplined.  Sometimes, in a fruitless attempt to embarrass myself into being a little more disciplined I will publish a blog post in which I say I will do this, read that book, not engage so-and-so. And then I fail. Get the picture?

However weak and ineffectual my efforts may be, the one thing I do know is that I have a unique history.  I've asked folks who should know if there is anyone else out there who used to be an "Egalitarian" involved with CBE who has repented and embraced God's good design for men and women - and, apparently, I am it*.  Not any place I ever wanted to be and certainly not any place I believe myself equipped to be.

So, much as I would like to just fade away into oblivion and write a really bad mystery novel that sells approximately 7.3 copies, I don't think that's going to happen.  And, much as I would prefer to never again type the words "heresy", "blasphemy" or "religious feminism", I don't think that's going to be possible.

So, if you think questioning my veracity or my reality (this "Kamilla" person, as one commenter recently put it) will embarrass me or shame me into silence, you can stop now.  It won't work.

As for who is preventing me from commenting on Rachel Held Evans' blog, here is the only proof I have to offer:

*I know there are many other women out there who have forsaken feminism, religious and secular, I'm just talking about the specific experience with CBE.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Here's my Question

**If you are going to toddle on over to Rachel's blog, please don't neglect to read the comments. Once again, the religious feminists are letting their slip show.  The rank demotion of homemaking to "home caretaking" and the way homemaking and motherhood are openly despised should tell you, even if their revisionist exegetical arguments have not, that this movement is NOT a godly one.

Normally, I would tell folks to just ignore anything coming from someone claiming to be a Christian while publishing blasphemy about "God Herself", but this time Rachel Held Evans has piqued my personal interest by  adding Mimi Haddad of CBE to her "ask a ..." series.  Since I am prohibited from responding on her blog, I'll just have to ask my question here on my blog.

Someone has already had the courage to asked the "slippery slope" question - why does acceptance of "egalitarianism" seem to lead to the affirmation of homosexual relationships?  No doubt this will get a chorus of "boos", but allow me to follow that up with a bit of supporting background.

CBE does have a rather spotty record of maintaining Evangelical orthodoxy outside of the "woman question". They have featured the work of openly homosexual minister, Paul Smith and his book, "Is it OK to call God Mother?" as well as a similar work for children by Jann Aldredge Clanton.  Until recently, they featured Shawna Atteberry as a listed blogger on The Scroll.  In addition to being homosexual-affirming, Clanton and Atteberry both support something called the "Christian Godde Project" which promotes worship of "Christ-Sophia" and "divine wisdom" as "a key to understanding the Divine Feminine insofar as She reveals Godde."  The Smith and Clanton books were removed from CBE's bookstore listings after public attention was focused on them.  Of the three, only Atteberry's association was discontinued at her own request - but again, this only happened after Atteberry's rank paganism was brought to public light. 

With that as background, here is my question:

In the past, CBE has disassociated from pagan-progressive writers such as Clanton. But now you seem more willing to embrace such writers, speakers and leaders such as Shane Claiborne, the gnostic Vaun Swanson and Rachel Held Evans (who writes of "God Herself"). At the same time those on the more conservative end of your constituency, I think here particularly of Doug and Rebecca Groothuis, seem to be distancing themselves from their association with CBE.

Does it not worry you that the "slippery slope" charge appears to be bearing itself out in less than a generation

UPDATE: After a few more hours' sleep, I think it would be good to add a few more pieces to the argument that CBE is falling prey to that fabled slippery slope.

CBE has hosted Jenell Williams Paris as a speaker and published her in their journal.  I have reveiwed Paris' book here where I detail some of the problems with her approach to sexuality, including the claims that celibacy can be damaging and that sexual relationships outside of marriage can be good.

In addition, not just a slippery slope but a slide into plasticized, self-defined sexuality is evident in the description of a presentation at CBEs 2009 conference, given by Megan DeFranza:

Gender Construction in Society and Church: What We Can Learn from the Intersexed **
Because of the creation of Adam and Eve, most Christians assume there are only two sexes (male and female), and that these sexes work themselves out in two genders (masculine and feminine). Intersexed persons are those born neither clearly male nor female. Some intersexed persons and their advocates are calling for recognition of a third sex category and rejection of traditional understandings of male and female, an idea not yet adequately explored by theologians. Jesus’ teaching on the eunuch may provide a resource for the intersexed and open up new ways to think about sex and gender in society and church.

That enough evidence?