Archive for August, 2008

Elissa Elliott is Blogging! (Plus – are YOU an Ooze Select Blogger candidate?)

Let’s shift this conversation to some positive depictions of women, both in sacred/archetypal history and today! My new friend Elissa Elliott, a Books & Culture contributor, is now blogging. You should start reading her ruminations here. At the top of the new year, her provocative Eve: A Novel of the First Woman will be coming out from Delacorte Press (Bantam/Dell) at the first of 2009. Think The Red Tent in the 21st century.

Special related note: We are once again looking for a few good Ooze Select bloggers, to help populate a new cotiere of intrepid bibliophiles. If you’re interested, drop me an email at zoecarnate [at] theooze [dot] com and I’ll give you the full lowdown!

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Why Not Women? (Or, Why’s It Always Gotta Be White Guys?)

So a new configuration of Calvinist communicators has once again emerged, this one called The Gospel Coalition. As I looked at the sea of the half-dozen or so bigwig figureheads, I couldn’t help but think of all the other high-profile groups out there – Ligonier, Together For the Gospel, New Attitude, Desiring God, 9Marks etc etc etc, and how they’re all male and they’re virtually all white. So, through no fault of GC in particular, I wrote them a Comment today. I guess since I’m re-posting it here, this makes it an ‘open letter’ of sorts. Please know that I don’t think this is a uniquely Reformed malady, and this isn’t a swipe at their overall theology per se. (Though it is a swipe at their gendered practices – when it comes to women having full voice in the church I’m an egalitarian, as is fairly well-known) It’s just a plea for these folks to put more of their leading ladies up-front, in ways that are in accordance with their own theopraxis. I hope this starts some fruitful (and playful-yet-respectful) conversation.

Oh by the way, here’s GC spokes(ahem)man John Piper has to say to women in one of their officially-produced videos. It’s entitled What messsage do you have for women in the church?

Okay, and here’s my ‘open comment’ –

I know I’m picking on you, in particular, when I could be picking on scores of similar ministries – so my apologies in advance. But could you PLEASE have some women as figureheads and teachers on some of these?

I KNOW you all are into CBMW, and don’t think women should teach men. But this is the Internet – and there are lots of women on the Internet. So even within your theology/praxis, you should have some by-women, for-women teaching available, yes? I mean, you say women can teach women, right? So please – prove it!

Of course, I realize you might have some fear that a *man* might watch some of these videos, and inadvertently put themselves under a woman’s authority…but this should be the man’s sin to worry about and not yours or the teachers, right?

I apologize too for some of the snark…I really am being mostly serious here…it’s just hard for me to take much that groups like yours say with the exclusive white-male figurehead thing going on…

Thank you for listening.

Sincerely,

Mike Morrell

If they reply, I’ll post that here as well.

Update: Wow – I’ve never received so much feedback so quickly after posting. Keep your reflections coming! Of course, I have the feeling we’ll have someone(s) raining on our egalitarian parade soon; just probabilities. And that’s perfectly fine – let’s just keep it gracious.

And it’s also worth saying that I didn’t start this post to debate egalitarian vs. ‘complimentarian’ per se – though it’s something I feel very strongly about and one of the (very) few issues that make practical fellowship impossible for me – that is, being in a church gathering where women are effectively silenced. (Of course, it’s much easier to detect such a policy in my native habitat of house churches – in most more institutional churches, virtually everyone is silenced, irrespective of gender!) BUT, what I’m asking The Gospel Coalition is not to revisit their theology and men and women’s participation in spirituality/church/life (which they will not do anytime soon), but to consider featuring women in a more prominent role as teachers within their own parameters – that is, teaching fellow women, and (I guess) children – and making these resources as available online as the white menfolk. If you agree with me – be you a white male Reformed complimentarian or a hippie-dippie emergent transgender egalitarian – would you please tell them so too?

Reformed Rap?

Ohh yes. Tim Challies points me to a whole new world, filled with the likes of Evangel, CHRISTcentric, Flame314 and more. It’s nice to see Tim soften a bit from his previous, more negative stance on Christians in rap music. I have to say, the music is great (unlike much in CCM), though the lyrics aren’t always my cup of tea. Besides songs with titles like T.U.L.I.P. and ones extolling the virtues of penal substitutionary atonement theories, there’s this zinger from Evangel’s debut album:

Conversion is good but when you got the wrong version
It could be a deterrent to the urgent that is currently lurking
That’s why we’re not emergent. Cause to the flesh it sounds good, what
But you don’t just buy any detergent; you buy what’s worth it, right?

Who would’ve thunk to rhyme emergent with detergent? : )

All the same, it’s pretty fascinating stuff.

Listen for yourself!

How to Get Published and Avoid Alien Bloodsuckers

Aspiring authors, heads up: Wired commentator Lore Sjöberg offers this sage (and hilarious) advice. https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bc/Chupacabras.JPG/292px-Chupacabras.JPG

No US Post-Charismatic? Say It Aint’ So! And, Bentley Sadness

So Rob McAlpine pens this (from my early web-readings) thoughtful book, Post-Charismatic, and I’ve been waiting for a couple of years now to read it in book form in the U.S. I thought my friends at David C Cook USA were gonna pick it up, but apparently they’re not. Do me a favor: If you want to see this book in the US of A, go to Robby Mac’s post and comment up a storm, all of you. Then I’m going to go to Cook with that post and show them the demand of folks who’d like to buy a US version. Personally, I think the charismatic movement is hot, with friends and foes alike looking for substantial writing about it. Rob paints a balanced portrait of this stream, giving an accessible history and credible way forward.

Speaking of the volatility of our Spirit-filled brethren, Boston Vineyard pastor Dave Schmelzer provides a balanced take on the Lakeland revival, and Brother Maynard gives us a good (though difficult) account of the it and the Bentley’s marital separation. Let’s pray for the Bentleys, Lakeland Florida, the unity of the Church, and for all God’s people to cultivate a healthy appreciation for the beautifully subversive and transformative nature of both God’s power and God’s ideas (teaching, Scripture, doctrine…however you want to put it).

Jesus is the Way, Truth & Life: What I Mean

Years ago in my early 20s, I came in my unsophistication to an understanding of the relationship between Jesus and ‘orthodoxy’ that has served me well. Every five years or so what I believe tends to undergo some rather dramatic shifts, either in actual content or emphasis. So much so that the me of 15 years ago would scarcely recognize me as a “Christian,” in the way that ‘he’ would understand such a term. And yet, I still consider myself a friend and follower of God in the way of Jesus. Why is that, if the actual ‘beliefs’ (or ‘way of believing’) is so fluid?

Because Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life. What do I mean? Jesus is the Path, for one thing. It’s about becoming, not being. But even as ‘Destination,’ Jesus is Truth – not a set of propositions about Jesus, God, life, or reality. And this is a way of Life God invites us on, again, not a set of propositions.

Propositions aren’t the enemy here. To some degree, they’re unavoidable. We all hold images of God in our hearts. For my part, I try to have the best darn images I can – informed by Scripture, the best of our shared story (Tradition), my own life and lives of those around me, and, well, reality. I want a true-to-life picture of God, and a story-honoring Story to live by. But where Pete Rollins is so helpful (and him, taking a cue from Derrida, Levinas and others) is he won’t let us rest here…and I never let myself rest there. Because by my early 20s I realized that beliefs are like snake’s skin – they protect and keep clean and fit for a season, but then they get old, scaly, and slide right off – to reveal new and supple skin beneath. A snake trying to carry around old skin would be ludicrous…as would living in denial of the natural life-cycle of beliefs. Because Jesus is Truth, I can safely navigate provisional truths that lead me closer to Truth. Because Jesus is also Way – lived in the context of Life.

For this reason, “Orthodoxy” has never been a very helpful idea to me – in the popular understanding, not in terms of “right praise” which really resonates. Not because I’m hell-bent on being unorthodox – no, most of my beliefs might well be pretty staid by most people’s standards – but because of the sheer varieties of religious orthodoxies (with apologies to William James). Even within the Christian family, there are just so many to choose from. I think as we enter postmodernity and postchristendom, we’re realizing that it’s absurd to think we have to choose between ‘Orthodoxy A’ and ‘Orthodoxy X’ out of whole cloth; rather, we can, in the apostle Paul’s words, hold fast to what is good and helpful, and disregard the rest.


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