Saturday, August 30, 2008

On Being a Woman in Certain Circles

How fun is this?

The Republican pick for VP is a woman!

Now, let's see what all the arguments will be against her. The glass ceiling is being challenged, with 18 million cracks no less.

The debate within religious circles about women leading is an interesting one. I'm a woman. I'm in the minority as far as this debate is concerned.

Speaking of minorities: We have traveled some outside the United States. Several years ago we went to Brazil on a mission trip, and we went by ourselves without a guide. We found ourselves several times in difficult situations because we did not speak Portugese. Our contact at the airport didn't make it, and we had to get to another airport without the benefit of knowing how or where and we couldn't speak the language. We made it, but I gained a new appreciation of what it means to be laughed at, to have the feeling of not belonging, and to be a minority. Not a good feeling or situation.

And being a woman in church, I've also experienced very much the same thing although under the guise of being Biblical and doing what God wants. Hmmmm.

But in the corporate world, it's very different. I'm an executive, I'm respected, I'm listened to, I'm asked for my opinion, I'm asked to lead teams and projects, and I find myself enjoying being a capable leader.

Then I go to church.

If a woman speaks up in the traditional Sunday School couples class, she's often only acknowledged and appeased, but not necessarily listened to or respected as being anyone with an opinion worth listening to. (Just my opinion.) The situation is quite different when a man might volunteer his opinion. All seem to listen with rapt attention. Hmmmmm.

Women are asked to cook and bring food. Women are asked to accompany their husbands. Women are pitied if they're left as widows.

Needless to say, it's an interesting contrast to be respected and listened to five days a week, and then go to a place where we're to relate in the deepest sense and minister and be ministered to, but to be treated like a minority person without the credentials necessary to be "someone" in this environment. And, we're supposed to invite others, our women friends, to come to this life-giving, life-changing, wonderful place? This causes me pause.

My thoughts on a woman being a leader in different settings.

A fun postscript: I have my "handsome feller" read my posts before I post them as fresh eyes to catch any mistakes and to see how the "spirit" of the writing comes across. He read this one and commented, "I hope they know you are respected and listened to at home." I can honestly and firmly say that is very true. I am respected as an equal and am a co-leader in our relationship. It's a change from how we started, and it's a place we've grown to. It's a good place!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Saddleback Debate

Last Saturday night the two candidates for president answered questions on the Saddleback Civic Forum. I thought that was a very well done event. Personally, I was encouraged by both candidates' answers.

But I was really watching Rick Warren, the moderator. Years ago in Fort Worth, Rick was a seminary student at Southwestern and he was a member of the church where Paul was pastor.

I remember Rick as a slight, light-haired, rather timid young man. He was asked to sometimes play his guitar and help lead on Sunday nights. I remember he seemed shy and I often had a hard time hearing him. That's my memory.

When Rick finished seminary, he and his wife Kay packed all their belongings in their car (I think it was a Volkswagon) and headed for California. They said they felt God calling them to start a new church in CA.

Over the years we would hear how the church was growing. When it was just beginning, Rick and Kay encouraged casual dress and tried to invite each visitor and new member to their home to get better acquainted.

Once over the years, Kay called to ask me a question, and she started out saying you probably don't remember me. They were already getting famous. I quickly responded that of course I remembered her. I always think that's a funny memory.

Coming back to the present–Saturday night was an exciting time for me. It was great watching the presidential candidates, but it was extremely pleasing and satisfying to watch Rick and see what a wonderful pastor and person he has become. Time magazine called him the most influential religious man in America today, the next Billy Graham.

I remember when. . .

Just wanted to share a fun memory.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Shack

I've been reading comments and blogs criticizing people who are reading and enjoying The Shack. Mostly the critics are theologians or pastors who are trying to warn people about false theology.

I find this quite interesting. I do think it's wrong to create your theology from books like The Shack, but I also think it's wrong to condemn people for reading and enjoying these books.

Who's to say what different books, events, people speak of the love of God to different people?

I read one blog where the author wrote:
I will say that, as an allegory, it was brilliant. I don't imagine many people were too happy with Bunyan when he wrote Pilgrim's Progress either, but as an allegory, it was also brilliant for its time.

I do not read The Shack as a book on theology. I read it as fiction and as an attempt at allegory. Much like I do when I watch movies or listen to songs or anything else. Even in the most unexpected places, I am always looking for a glimpse of God; not a full description or manifesto of theology. I have seen things in Shawshank Redemption, Bruce Almighty, and Narnia that have served to bring me closer to the heart of God. I have heard songs by bands like The Brand New, Pedro the Lion, and various others that have served to help me recognize God's love and grace in new ways.

This book is no different. I wrote several quotes from the book in my journal, and this book, because of its vivid allegory has revived my spirit and soul in places that had felt stagnant and dry. It made God and his great love a step more tangible for me. . .

. . .even a book that is decent fiction and is only a story.

Where are all the haters for Narnia? Oh. . .but that's C.S. Lewis. . ."

This writer captured exactly what I think. Who can say what means God uses to speak to people? I know several people who had life-changing experiences from reading The Shack. 

A couple of those people are very close to me and one has suffered extreme, unexplainable hurt in her life. This book helped. The other person suffers from performance pressure and guilt. Reading this book helped. 

Who am I to say it's wrong to read this book? Or for that matter, who are these "shepherds" who are telling people, as if they're God's spokesmen and they alone speak the oracles of God, that we shouldn't read that book? 

Sometimes it's difficult to control my gasping astonishment at the gall of certain leaders. I do believe there are things much more harmful in this world than reading a book that speaks to certain people of the love of God.

Seems like I read in the Bible that certain Pharisees criticized Jesus because he did things and said things that didn't correspond to their ideas of correct theology. Hmmm. . .

How about a reality check on this?