16 January 2006

What About Women?

Some of you have been wondering where I've been, what I've been up to, why the long silence? Well ... I was getting ready for church yesterday. I did a lot of prep for that talk yesterday. I hardly used any of it. It's alright, I'm going to blog it later!

In the meantime, I owe some of you book titles and books about women in ministry after reading the Grassy Guy's post and comments. Sorry, I should have gone back to that sooner. I feel pretty strongly about women in ministry (obviously). As in ... women should be in ministry doing whatever God calls them to do. God called me to teaching. At our former church I went to the elder in charge of Christian Education and told him I had some ideas for Adult Sunday School classes (in response to his pleas for teachers). He told me that there wasn't any room for a women's only class. I told him I didn't think these classes were necessarily designed for women only. Then it all broke loose. He became really angry with me when I told him he didn't know what it was like at the back of the bus.

Here's the problem, I was arguing with him with one hand tied behind my back. Oh, how I wish I'd read the prophets. Or at least Amos. I wish I'd known then what I know now about God's vision of justice and how our vision of justice is so small and half-hearted. I doubt it would have changed anything, but I would have had all three legs on the stool of my argument. His mind was made up and unchangeable and there was nothing for me to say. But I wouldn't have sounded so petulant and small; my argument would have carried more weight. Not for me, necessarily, but for someone else in the future. Who knows?

That's the Evangelical/Fundamentalist Church for you. Supposedly the Emerging Church is going to make that all better. I have my serious doubts about that. So far the men are all talk and little action on that front. On my good days I believe that it is innocent, that they just don't get it. They don't understand, and can't, what it's going to take to allow women into the circle. Most of them are 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation Christians whos' families openly resisted the feminist conciousness-raising during the 60's and 70's. They come out of the Christian ghetto where it is openly believed that men and women cannot be friends without falling into bed and sin together somewhere along the line. Their circles simply do not include women and never have. Their blogs have a paucity of women. Some have one or two that they have picked to show that, "Look, see. I've got some friends who are women!" Then they've got a long list of men (some of whom they do not even know!) on their blogroll. But they won't put women they don't know on the blogroll. Men make the cut by having good content. Women make the cut if they are known; a far higher and more difficult standard. On my bad days, well, I'm slightly paranoid, so I should probably keep those thoughts inside my head. But to end, here are a couple of good posts on different blogs speaking to this topic. I guess it's appropriate that they came out near the day that we've set aside to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. who started us on our quest for social justice. So go read them, one by the Abbess of Monkfish Abbey and the other by my Quaker Friend.

UPDATE: So, the LightHusband read the above and asked me a couple of pointed questions (darn him) like, what about your AwakeFriend? And, well, that's the problem with early morning writing and age. One gets confused sometimes. In my head I'd lumped together some comments I'd made on the posts I've linked to above and this post. In one of those comments, I mentioned some "notable exceptions." And, of course, our AwakeFriend is a "notable exception." And not just because he's our friend. Or maybe he is our friend (in part) because he's a notable exception. But because he has done a lot of thinking (I think) about this or maybe he's just thought about how he is going to treat people in general and does not treat women any differently. So for that I applaud him. And thank him for the support he so generously bestows on all of us (regardless of gender) in his sphere of influence. There are others out there too who are trying to break down this wall. I wanted to be sure I said that and didn't make it sound all bad!

I think the hardest part to overcome is the segregation between praxis and home life. Men have traditionally segregated their lives into many compartments and the compartments stay separate. Women's lives are much more integrated. You can see see this very clearly in their blogs (for the most part). Many men's blogs are about one topic (for the emerging church the topic is theology or church or something similar) and that's what they write about. If they get an overwhelming urge to write about other things too often, they start another blog. Women's blogs are about everything all mixed in together. Men (generally speaking) find this frustrating. Men will also find that last idea frustrating. Generally. So they don't frequent women's blogs because they can't be sure what they'll find there. For me, my theology IS wrapped up in what I do all day and that might be teaching my children, making a quilt, helping a neighbor, running errands, being nice to a clerk, any number of weird quirky things. There's metaphor there, but you might have to dig for it.

I'm sure I'll come back to this subject again someday. Maybe later on today if LightHusband keeps asking me more hard questions. Why can't he just ask softball questions anyway?

UPDATE 2: Here's a thought that I had while making congo squares to take to my quilt guild meeting: I also want to point out that I'm talking in this post about the Emerging Church/Conversation in general. So, don't any one of you who reads this think that I'm pointing at you saying, "Hey, Mr. Man, you don't take me seriously." Especially if you're one of the men who go to my church ... this is not about you.


Blogger Call Me Ishmael said...

You makes some good points. On this score the Emerging Church isn't exactly making a very big break with the past. I hope I'm not writing anything that would offend anyone here, but more cynical (some might label them "radical") feminists might be tempted to see a certain phallo-centrism in the choice of the word "emerging" to describe the movement. But I digress...

1/16/2006 07:03:00 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

It's funny you mention putting everything on one blog. I started a second blog that was going to be just my theological stuff and it just didn't feel natural. So I've abandoned it. Humm...

1/16/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Very interesting thoughts, Sonja. Interesting in a good way, that is!
I also find your comment about blogs interesting... So often, I think, "I should update my blog." "But I have nothing interesting to say." "Oh, well. People can read it, or not." I love reading more personal things about people, not just their highfalutin' theological thoughts. (though those are excellent, and very thought-provoking, too.) I think a balance is nice.
Maybe that's because I'm a woman, though...

1/16/2006 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I've noticed that the emergent movement is very male-oriented also. It's also rather white. It's kind of disturbing on both points to me.

My old church believed in Women Preachers and leaders. But there were a bunch of doctrines that didn't make that as simple as it sounds. Male headship of the home spilled over into relationships in the church everywhere and in the end meant that the inner circles of power were 10 men and 1 woman in ratio.

I'm not sure if the emergent movement reflects the demographics of the groups it 'emerged' out of or if they are still too busy philosophizing to notice that their wives are too busy with domestic tasks from their former roles to philosophize too.

Do men notice? Are they bothered? I mean I'm sure at our church they are, but is anyone in the broader movement really concerned about women's roles?

1/16/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Croghan said...

You got me thinking (as per usual), so I decided to do a tally. For the record, I seem to have blogrolled (by my count):

Women I know: 5
Women I don't know: 5
Men I know: 11
Men I don't know: 11
Amorphous blobs: 1

So I definitely have a sexist bias, but it's not reflected in a preference for known vs. unknown bloggers. Hmm. Know any good women bloggers I should read?

1/17/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/17/2006 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

If I can add a "man comment" here... :)

(And sorry... that deleted comment was me)

As a general observation, women who think (or "philosophize" to quote Becky) are, by and large, poor domestic servants... and that's a good thing. It seems like the women who don't mind if things pile up a little are the one's out and active in the blogosphere and in the Emerging Church and in politics, etc.. It also seems like many women limit their influence in the marketplace of ideas because they put enormous pressure on themselves to keep a perfect house, mainly in order to avoid condemnation from other women (particularly mothers and mother's in law :). Obviously, I know that many husbands fail horribly, both in terms of HELPING around the house, and also by placing an abusive amount of pressure on their wives to work AND be solely responsible for all of the domestic duties. In that regard, I can't see how it's possible to love your wife as Christ loved the church when you can't lift a finger to ease her burdens, but don't get me started...

Am I off base here? Do women limit their influence by choosing housework over hermeneutics? Or is this another societal 'norm' that women are held to and men aren't?

1/17/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Ross, I don't at all mean to imply that your comment was sexist, but I really think that we need to get past the kind of language that says if a house is messy, the woman is letting things pile up and the man is not helping enough. Helping implies that it is not his job. Women use this language just as much as men. I do it too. I think that at first changing language doesn't do much, but over time it changes our mindsets. Let's stop saying that a man who does the dishes is helping his wife and that dad is babysitting while mom is away.

1/17/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

I think Maggie’s onto something here. On one hand. But then what do we do with a stay at home mom ... and I am one. Ostensibly, my primary responsibility would seem to be the keeping of the house and the care and raising of the children. BUT ... when two parents are present in the home (and I don’t just mean actually physically present), I think that both share ultimate responsibility for the upkeep of the house, the laundry being done, the sink being clear (not necessarily shiny), and the children healthy and growing, etc ... whatever that couple and/or family deem necessary for them. I think it was in the comments on one of the posts I linked to where someone mentioned Edna St. Vincent Millay and her littany of lovers and husbands who supported her writing. Too often in bearing responsibility, women do not delegate at least some of the work to their husbands and children but allow them to run off and play (or philosophize).

Ultimately it is in changing our language that we change our minds and our hearts. So ... Maggie ... you’re right and it’s not minor. It’s major and it’s important. Thanks ...

1/17/2006 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

No, I really meant to say it that way! And you need to understand that I don't consider housework to be women's work... when I was referring to "the women who don't mind if things pile up a little...", I really was just talking about Women who AREN'T obsessed with the house. In other words, I was challenging the norm that most women hold that the house is more important than their leadership, thoughts, influence, whatever, outside the home. There are plenty of men who mind if things get messy, but too often they just dump on their wife to keep it clean. So when I referenced "helping around the house", it's helping in areas that will free their wives from the house... not because I think that women SHOULD be tied to the house, but because they assume that role on themselves and their husbands should take action to change that. Do you see the difference?

1/17/2006 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Revem said...


Im a female minister and can do hermeneutics and housework, even at the same time if someone wants to talk while I'm sweeping!

I have a blog you may be interested in, Revem

It includes an array of reflections on life faith emerging church blah blah blah



3/18/2006 02:16:00 AM  

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