25 Things

I have been tagged for this list more than three times in the past 2 weeks, so I suppose I should get to it.

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. I am hugely afraid of small, tight, dark places. Can’t imagine how I ever went spelunking in college, but I did.

2. My elbows and knees are double-jointed. I can, therefore, make some really odd shapes with my arms and legs.

3. Probably due to #2, I have dislocated both knees multiple times.

4. …and had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee when I was 14. The first time I dislocated that knee, a bone chip came off my kneecap and was floating around in my joint.

5. I threw up a lot after being under general anesthesia for that surgery. Ick.

6. I never threw up while pregnant. No morning sickness at all, not even nausea.

7. I never dreamed of being a mom when I was a little girl, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world now (most days, haha)!

8. I did dream of going to seminary someday. It’s been a great opportunity to fulfill that dream at Biblical!

9. I hate shopping- food, clothing, stuff for the house- seriously, I only do it because I have to.

10. I have more guy friends than girl friends.

11. I wanted to marry MacGyver when I was a young.

12. I used to take calculators and other toys apart when I was a kid, and it drove my mom NUTS.

13. There was a point in my life when I was closer to my dad than my mom.

14. I have a freckle in the palm of my left hand, which we all called “my treasure” when I was a kid.

15. I also have birth marks on my left leg and the bottom of my left foot. I have always wondered why my left side was “cursed.”

16. I hated, hated, hated the fact that I had a boy’s haircut growing up… but now, having a girl with long-ish hair, I understand why mom kept my hair short.

17. I was actually pretty good at basketball in 6th grade. A kid who was my arch enemy throughout elementary and junior high school actually called me the rebound queen.

18. I lost all athletic ability after 6th grade… really….

19. I think I am partially addicted to coffee because it’s a connection I still have with my mom, who was also a total coffee junkie.

20. I have never doubted God’s existence, but I have doubted his character.

21. I believe in tackling problems head-on. Mom used to call me her bull dog.

22. Once in a while, when I think about calling my Dad, I forget that mom is gone and think how good it will be to hear her voice on the phone.

23. And then I remember she’s gone and there is an ache in the pit of my stomach… even after more than four years.

24. I learned a lot of my philosophy from Star Trek: the Next Generation, but only realized this when I took a philosophy class in college.

25. My family teases me because of my sensitivity to justice issues. The running joke, when I go off about something I believe isn’t right is this: “Ah, Kris Anne’s just cause number 83, 294.” (or some other random number)

Honestly, most of my friends (in the blogosphere and on facebook) have done this list already, so I really don’t know who else to tag!

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The never-ending conversation

Last Tuesday our seminary cohort sat down to (try to) tackle 1 Timothy 2 and the issue of the role(s) women should play within church. It has been years since I have heard anything new in this conversation. Basically, it’s all in how you read the text, how you understand the ancient context, and how you hold the whole Bible together. Reading only one of Paul’s passages on women or one of the Gospel stories where women play a major role or one of the Old Testament narratives involving women is dangerous. It’s dangerous because then one misses the depth and the contradictions that lie within the passages of this Book that we call our Authority.

As I wrote my paper last week and continued to think about this issue once again, this thought occured to me: my call in Christ, whatever specifics it might hold (preacher? teacher? pastor? shepherd? leader? who knows!), is a call to lay down my life just as Christ did. This call that I claim is a call to service, to slavery, to self-emptying love. Yes, even those who suffer injustice, whose voices are ignored or marginalized, who are abused and neglected— the call is the same for everyone. Part of me recognizes the deep truth in that and responds to it. Another part of me rages against that. I was born with a very sensitive justice radar, and my instincts rise up and urge me to take a stand against injustice. Someone has to name what’s wrong in this world WRONG. I am realizing now that this urge to stand against injustice is a gift, a very good thing, as long as I am using it on behalf of OTHERS rather than myself. My call is to lay down my life and not to take it up again. Ouch.

This is not say that I think I should stay in a situation where I am being marginalized or my voice is not taken seriously. I think at times in our lives, it may be completely appropriate to step away from a task for the sake of our own mental, emotional, spiritual health… perhaps even for the health of the group in which we were serving… and to state the reasons why: “This position was not life-giving for me. I found it difficult to function in healthy ways here. I do not believe I was a good match for this group.” On the other hand, if we are stepping away out of a desire to punish them for what they did to us, or to teach them something or get back at them… can you sense the difference in the attitude? One is Christ-like living. The other is not.

Here is a great quote from The Shack by William Young (p. 148ff):

[Jesus is speaking here] “Mack, don’t you see how filling roles is the opposite of relationship? We [God] want[s] male and female to be counterparts, face-to-face equals, each unique and different, distinctive in gender but complementary, and each empowered uniquely by [the Holy Spirit] from whom all true power and authority originates… I came as a man to complete a wonderful picture in how we made you. From the first day we hid the woman within the man, so that at the right time we could remove her from within him. We didn’t create man to live alone; she was purposed from the beginning. By taking her out of him, he birthed her in a sense. ” “Oh, I get it, ” Mack interjected…”If the female had been created first, there would have been no circle of relationship, and thus no possibility of a fully equal face-to-face relationship.” “Exactly, Mack… Our desire was to create a being that had a fully equal and powerful counterpart, the male and the female. But your independence with its quest for power and fulfillment actually destroys the relationship your heart longs for… Just like love, submission is not something that you can do, especially not on your own.”

In Genesis 1 & 2, 1 Corinthians 11, Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 2, I see this theology. Mutuality, partnership, mutual submission, servanthood, a willingness to empty oneself for the other. There is no grabbing for position or power. There is no concern for proper hierarchy or positional authority. The concern is an unbroken circle of relationship.

“Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman, but ALL THINGS COME FROM GOD.” 1 Cor. 11:12

Do I still get angry when I encounter systems that marginalize and devalue female wisdom and leadership? Yes, of course I do! Am I learning to let God be the justice-bringer? Am I learning to love and serve those who believe differently than me? I sure hope so. I want to be faithful to Christ’s call.

More thoughts on Exiles

A few more reflections on M. Frost’s book, Exiles: living missionally in a post-Christian culture

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Exiles need each other as they live fully in the empire without giving over their allegiance to it. After reading this book, I think I am beginning to see where we (American Christians) have gone wrong in nurturing our exile-groups. We focus so much time and energy and resources on relationships within our churches—building unity among believers, nurturing relationships within our ‘church family’—that we have forgotten what truly creates community. Frost briefly describes something called “communitas” (see pp. 108ff). Communitas happens when groups of people bond over a significant experience. It often happens when battles are fought together, when people experience major life transitions together or when they go through tragedy together, or when people find a common cause that they feel passionately about and pursue that cause together.

Frost notes the example of the young men from the Ndembu tribe, who leave the tribe for a time and participate in the rites that make them men in the eyes of the people: “The young tribesmen, while in this liminal, or ‘limbo’ stage, discovered a depth of community so great that it transcended what we normally mean by that term… a portent and distinctive form of social community that led to a spontaneous experience of intense intimacy and equality. It was undifferentiated, egalitarian, nonrational community” (p. 109). I find these descriptive terms surprising and compelling. They turn my traditional notions of community upside down. In traditional church, we differentiate all over the place—clergy and lay-people, men and women, old members and new members, regular attenders and visitors, children and youth and adults. We are not egalitarian, though some congregations may strive to be. Rather, we stratify and concentrate power according to position or gender or other categories. And we are rational. We use logic and reason to define ministries and goals, vision and purpose. While there may be many reasons for all of these things, some very good reasons I am sure; we have missed a key to community.

Some would say that we need the differentiation of roles and position to have order and in order to get anything accomplished. Some might argue that without clear organization in our churches there would be chaos, loss of direction and even immorality. That is true, I suppose, but I fear that the cost of all our structure and organization is actually the death of real community. We bring groups together and set up times for study and discussion and demand that they be a community (this was exactly my task as a youth director: build the youth community!). How often does it actually happen in the normal ministry routine? Hardly ever. Rather, community happens when, once a year, we go on a mission trip together. That is when “community” is born, by shared trial and error and success while we work toward a specific goal. Frost puts it this way: “I wonder whether Christians don’t do well to build community as an end in itself. We build community incidentally, when our imaginations and energies are captured by a higher, even nobler cause… Christian community results from the greater cause of Christian mission” (p. 108). I wonder what it would look like for daily, weekly mission to bond a group of Christian exiles together. I have a dream of our church basement becoming a food pantry and used-clothing shop for our community in these difficult economic times. What if we could find a way to offer people jobs, too? My imagination is burning…