Working Out Reconciliation
Feb 14th, 2008 by Sonja

I remember when I first heard about blogging. I was not impressed. I certainly never thought I would actually have a blog. That sort of thing was for silly-hearts and people with nothing better to do all day. I, of course, would never be so nerdy as to need a place to write my thoughts on the internet for all to see.

Then I was introduced to blogging more seriously and I was intrigued by it. I began to read other people’s blogs and realized that I could participate in them. I thought that perhaps I could write one too. There are things that I have grown to love about blogging. I love the relationships that have developed across the country and around the world through this funny system. I hope that one day I will get to meet some of these cyber-friends I’ve made. I love the new perspectives on life, the universe and everything that I am exposed to through blogging. There is one thing I don’t like about blogging though. That is it’s immediacy. Conversations happen in the blink of an eye and require instantaneous thought. There is little time for reflection and processing or the conversation will move on by. It is, of course, life in the information age. Life moves faster and so must thought.

For a variety of reasons, I have had an intense week this week and blogging has taken a back seat. I had a number of other things going on that required my time and attention, so yesterday I finally had some space to turn to my clogged reader and do some catch up reading. There I found a small bit in Emerging Women pointing me to a somewhat lengthy conversation at Josh Brown’s place entitled Challenging the Critiques of Emergent: A White Man’s World. I came late to the conversation; Josh had put up his original post on Feb. 11 and I think there were already 50 someodd comments when I stepped into the conversation. In his initial assessment of the critiques of Emergent it’s “just a bunch of white men sitting around talking theology,” Josh makes some valid points that are really worth considering.

In the comment thread that follows, there is a lot of discussion about the very different perspectives that come out of more mainstream Christian churches contrasted with the perspectives of people who come from a more fundamentalist or evangelical background. It is well worth reading the post and the comment thread. I found it worthwhile, though I felt that there was “something missing,” but could not put my finger on it.

At the same time, around the world, Kevin Rudd (Australia’s Prime Minister) announced an apology. He apologized to the Stolen Generations of the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia. Please take a moment and read the full text of the apology. It is an apology … a full apology. It offers no excuses, no outs; it is an acceptance of responsibility for wrongs done and offers a way forward to right them. If you use that link, you’ll see an audio-slideshow in a sidebar to the right. One of the voices near the end says, “Sorry is just a word.” She’s right. It will be interesting to see what the government of Australia does to make good on it’s promises. Things are very hopeful right now as I hear from Matt Stone that Mr. Rudd has reached across their aisle to his opposition to ensure that the necessary laws will be passed unanimously.

I woke up this morning with these two things on my mind. Playing back and forth, as if on a teeter-totter. I couldn’t get White Man’s World off my mind. The post, in general, had a sense of validity, but yet, I could not fully agree. What was missing? I was chewing on it. The Australian Apology was giving me hope. I was in the middle of a conversation about it with Matt. Since my childhood I have felt that our Native American population has been in similar straits as the Australian Aboriginals. We know from the history of South Africa of the great power of an institutional apology and the great lengths to which it can go towards reconciliation.

I am accustomed to having ideas play around in my head for awhile. So I let them go. They were having fun on the teeter-totter, after all. Who wants to be a kill-joy and pull ideas off of a perfectly good teeter-totter ride? And I went about my important morning business of drinking coffee and reading a few blogs to wake up. I read Christy Lambertson’s Throwing hand grenades at Jesus: This isn’t what I was going to write. She quoted Matthew 23 and went on to write:

There was a point in my life where chapters like this would tap into my cold fury at Christianity, Inc. and inspire me to launch into my well-rehearsed speech of “Why you people suck!” – delivered with fervor. Today, though, I’m mostly just sad – sad that Matthew 23 feels so very very true, that underneath the anger is still a well of pain. Even after all this time and all this work, some scars never go away, and I may always feel locked out of the kingdom of heaven – whatever that is. Sometimes it still feels like they won, because there is so much about religion I just can’t do: praying and expecting a tangible answer, believing in a personal God who loves me, all the creeds and liturgies and trappings, and a certain simplicity of faith in the goodness of God and things in general.

I’m at peace on my path, more or less, but I still sometimes think I might be missing something, that there was something I was supposed to be able to believe and participate in, and that faculty of trust got taken away. It would be nice to once, just once, hear someone in a pulpit get up and speak of God and not wonder what he’s hiding or who he’s hurt along the way. I would like to feel like I don’t have to keep my distance if I want to save my soul, like I don’t have to shut myself down completely just to walk in the goddamn door.

There’s so much more to what Christy wrote that you really, really must read it for yourself. If you’ve never read Dry Bones Dance, you are really missing out. She is a voice in the wilderness. I can’t speak for Christy and I’m not entirely certain about all the different bits that she might be referring to, but … when I read her post the teeter-totter in my mind hit perfect balance and I knew the needful thing.

An apology.

I want to be very, very clear. This is not just about Josh. This about men in the church in general and in the emerging conversation specifically.

Men: We women need an apology. We need it from the leaders and we need it from our local leaders. I understand that many, indeed most, of you are not now part of the problem. We understand that most of you are working to change things. But I think that until you recognize, acknowledge and admit that there is a problem and apologize for your part in being a dominant culture (because you are … I’m not blaming you, it’s just the way things are, until they are changed), we are going to be stuck in some sense.

There is a well of pain underneath the skin of all of us women of evangelical background. Some have it deeper than others. That well needs to be drained during the working out of gender reconciliation. Or that work will not be complete. It will always have something missing. Women cannot drain the well on their own. The path to opening that well and allowing it to drain begins with an apology.

That’s all.

Space For Women
Oct 26th, 2007 by Sonja

Optical Illusion

Well … what do you see here? Tell me in the comments. I’ll tell what I see later too. I found this at My Blue Puzzle Piece, but it’s a fairly common optical illusion. I like how the author of the site presents it though:

Have you ever been with other people while looking at one of those optical illusions? Have you ever been the one person who couldn’t see what everyone else sees? It’s frustrating! It’s easy to suspect they’re just playing a prank.

I particularly suspect they are playing a prank when someone hauls out one of these … Just stare at this for a while the instructions declare … so everyone does, including me.  So … just stare at this for a while.
Optical Illusion 2
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I could stare at that for the rest of my misbegotten days and nothing would happen.  Not one blessed thing.  The rest of you would chatter on about all the wonderful and cool things you saw.  Me.  Nothing.  It’s a prank.  Only, I know it’s not.  I know for certain that all of you saw something.  I wish I could.  I know that I have sucky eyes (astigmatism, near-sighted and who-knows-what-else and am legally blind without correction).  It could have something to do with all of that.  Or perhaps the way my abi-normal brain works (I do have a seizure disorder with an abnormal EEG).  Who knows?  It’s frustrating.  So when people haul out these party games out, I mostly just walk the other way and find something else to do.

I was thinking about this optical illusion quite a bit lately though.

Two Faces or Vase

Depending on whether you look more at the white space or the black space you can see either two facial profiles or one chalice.  I’ve been involved in several conversations in a variety of places this past week about women in church (that’s the Body of Christ worldwide, not necessarily any particular church).  I like this illusion because it’s a good visual for me (just me) about how I feel about women in church.  I’m pretty committed to the idea that it takes balanced participation from both men and women to present a holistic picture of God to the world.  So I like this visual because there are two equal profiles and one chalice … to me the chalice represents the wine or Blood of Christ poured out for us.  And this is an easy illusion to see through.  Most people can “get it.”  They can see both sides easily.  I like that.  It’s helpful in pushing the envelope to opening up the other side.

In my conversations I’ve thinking about what the contribution of women might be and how women can fit in.  I’ve been asking, of myself and others, what does this look like?  How can women fit into the picture?  Yesterday, I realized that I had been making some assumptions about the painting that had been all askew.  Look again at the illusion above.  You’ll see some very wonderful symmetry there.  The two profiles match exactly.  It’s makes a great visual … but it suddenly occurred to me that trying to find that same symmetry in real life was not terribly effective.  I had that thought as a result of reading the following on GodSpace, the blog of Christine Sine:

It reminded me of a book I read many years ago written in 1970s by Swiss psychiatrist Paul Tournier called The Gift of Feeling, in which he reflects on what the world would look like if women found their true place.  At one point he comments “If women dared to be themselves, to realize their special mission and if their influence increased, would our society become more humane?”
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Father Dear writes in his article:

“Women are the peacemakers. The world will not achieve peace without the energy and the work of women.” So writes Dolores Huerta of the United Farmworkers. Gandhi said the same thing in 1947: “Women are the natural messengers of the gospel of nonviolence, if only they will realize their high estate…. It is for American women to show what power women can be in the world. You can become a power for peace by refusing to be carried away by the flood-tide of the pseudo-science glorifying self-indulgence that is engulfing the West today and apply your minds instead to the science of nonviolence…. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with women.”

“It” is an article by Father Dear in The National Catholic Reporter to which Christine links. And, I must confess, I’ve really given you most of Christine’s post.  Because it’s good.  I must also recommend the article in the NCReport by Father John Dear.  It’s also a must read. Discover the power of clomid forms! Are you struggling with fertility issues? Don’t lose hope! Introducing the game-changing clomid forms that are designed to support your journey towards parenthood.

As I reflect on both and my conversations that I have been involved in, I continue in my commitment to the having space for women in the picture of God.  For having a full profile for women as well as men in that optical illusion as it were.  But I’m beginning to understand that my understanding and perspective on symmetry may need to be adjusted as I wander down the path.

On Creating Space
Oct 21st, 2007 by Sonja

We just got home from an early hockey game. We played at a new rink in the area. It’s the rink that the Washington Capitals practice in. Ooohhh. Aaaahhhh. There was a certain sweaty aura about the ice there.

It was a hard game. The girls played really hard and really well.

They lost. 8-0.

Losing Heart

This morning it was hard work to be a hockey mom. It was, I’m certain, even more difficult to be a hockey girl. It was heart-breaking to watch these girls who I’ve come to love skate their hearts out, do the moves, and get wiped up.

Then, it made me angry.

We faced a team of seventeen 14 year olds. We had 11 on our bench. 2 of those girls just turned 11. So … them’s the breaks you might be saying. Yeah … I could say that.

Here’s the thing though. The team we faced is part of a club that supports girls hockey. It opens up space for the girls to flourish and grow. They don’t just have travel teams. They have house teams that feed into the travel teams. The club board supports the girls program and knows what’s happening on that program at any given time. They get special coaching at the same level that the boys teams get.

Our team? Our team belongs to a club that pays lip service to girls hockey. Last year’s club president didn’t support girls hockey and this years club president doesn’t really either. So we have girls hockey teams. Yep. They’re invited. Yep. We have equality. Girls are present and they are part of the program. Backsasswards County Virginia has girls hockey. Guess how many girls are in the house program right now?


Five. That’s right. One hand’s worth. That is what happens in a program that does not open up space for the girls to flourish and grow. There is no one coming along in the wings to build the program on. We essentially have a developmental team as a travel team. It is disheartening.

Slowly it seems that things might have a chance to change. CoachWonderWoman has spoken of her plans. The girls have taken some initiative to learn more and practice harder. But still … without that support, leading and space. Without those younger girls coming in from behind to feed into each of the older more experienced teams, all of the plans and initiatives in the world aren’t going to help a team of eleven grow against a team of seventeen. The problem is not with the team … it’s with the club. The problem is not even with the notion of equality. Because that is evident in both clubs. Both clubs have equality of gender, right?

I imagine if you were to talk to the men on the board of our club (which I do need to start doing), you might hear things like, “Maybe we do have a responsibility to do something, but everytime we do the response is, ‘It’s not good enough,’ so I’m sick of doing anything.” or “We have two girls teams … isn’t that good enough?” (two girls teams vs. eleven boys teams) or “I’m tired of everything always coming back to the gender issue, can’t we talk about something else?”

Maybe we can … someday, when we face that team with a more equitable bench.

(Any resemblance the reader may see to the discussion on gender in the church is purely in the eye of the writer.)

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