Friday, February 26, 2010

Hooking Up?

There are some interesting and needed conversations going on surrounding a recent blog post by Rachel J. Simmons. Her words have me wishing for a dialog with ministerial peers who understand the constraints our recovering southern evangelical culture often imposes concerning issues of female sexuality. Instead of offering education and empowerment, our culture tends to hand out fear and prooftexting as a means to control wayward desires.

Rev. Debra Haffner of the Religious Institute has offered a helpful guideline for those trying to determine if they are ready for a sexual encounter. In her book, What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know, Rev. Haffner lists criteria for a moral, ethical sexual relationship:
Mutually pleasurable
Protected against pregnancy and disease of any type of intercourse occurs

Also listed are three conditions that help individuals know if the five criteria are present in their relationship:
Shared Values

As a minister and a feminist, I am supportive of the sexual equality of women of all ages. When reading articles about the casual sexual encounters of young women today, I am concerned that in our thankfulness for their sexual empowerment, we are neglecting the balance needed as we honor our bodies and the relationships we make whether casual or long term. When using Rev. Haffner's criteria as a guide, in my opinion, hooking up does not allow enough time to determine whether or not the encounter is beneficial to those involved.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Goes In

What goes in, must come out. This week I'm reminiscing about my high school youth group trips. We had a rule in our youth group - no secular music allowed on trips - only Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and Sandi Patti could tag along. One memorable trip, Shannon Myer copied over her Wayne Watson tape with some 80s big hair bands and had a secular music song fest in the back of the bus. Our youth minister packed her up and shipped her by Greyhound back to her, no doubt, displeased parents.

Now I drive buses of teenagers to and from activities and I have grown weary of much of the secular music to which they listen. I am tired of singing about the degradation of women. I am tired of hearing, over and over again, how a woman has a rear that will swallow up a g-string. And this one, which drives me absolutely crazy, "I'm trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful." Seriously? How about these words, "Hi, you look very nice tonight"?

My girls, your girls, everybody else's girls listen to these songs over and over again. These are songs that condition and prompt them, I believe, to act in ways that are beneficial for those who find it easy to disrespect women. How do we teach our girls that this type of music is unhealthy? Digesting this type of music has a direct effect on actions. Those who write these songs, produce these songs, and play these songs know that.

Body Theology manifests in multiple revelations. Who we think we are as body selves directly affects our actions. What goes in must come out. That holds true for the man who grew up under decades of conservative Sunday morning sermons that prescribe who God is based on a theology of fear instead of love. It holds true for the girl exposed to True Love Waits who now has trouble reconciling her sexuality. What goes in must come out. So this music that my girls listen to scares me. It scares me that they are constantly bombarded with hyper sexualized messages detailing how they should dance, what they should wear, and how low they should go.

I most certainly will not offer the average contemporary Christian song as an alternative. I question the words in many of those songs too. I've taken to classical these days. The girls don't really appreciate that, but we seem to be settling on the music that Shannon Myers had on her taped over copy of Wayne Watson. Yes, 80s big hair bands and Lyndard Skynard are offering us alternatives. We could argue the sexism in those songs too, but I feel the women depicted are on a more equal basis with their male counter parts. They are more often players in the scenarios and not just objects.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

To Write Love On Her Arms

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Remembering a Favorite Ash Wednesday

"Our Ash Wednesday service was one of my most meaningful experiences as a minister. I can’t explain it, but repeating, 'It is from dust that you were formed and to dust you will return,’ while marking the heads of young and old was powerful and comforting.”

"I honestly don’t know how to describe how it felt to look into your eyes as you came forward for your ashes. One would think that repeating words about death would be depressing, but on that day, for me, it wasn't. I was reminded that we are not alone and that our lives are part of something bigger than just our flesh and this earth."

"But the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What if General Assembly Were Like Fashion Week?

What if General Assembly were like Fashion Week? Each year (or every two years) denominational groups gather to wow their constituents with updated curriculum and workshops that are designed to teach the latest studies or missional emphases. Denominations could learn some valuable presentation lessons from New York City's semi annual Fashion Week.

Dream with me for a moment . . . what if CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) had tents set up throughout the grounds of their rented space and each tent was hosted by a different "designer" (designer of curriculum, books, missional thought)? The goals of these tents would be to inspire those visiting. There could be swag, and I'm not talking about lanyards, random jar openers and key chains. Let's say this swag came from businesses and companies that understood the power of a collected group of people gathered as a captive audience. CBF constituents buy soap and shampoo. They shop at Target and Banana Republic. With a little extra effort, swanky swag could happen.

And let's say that twice a day their was a runway showing of ideas and dreams. The spring or fall line that CBF had decided to roll out for the critic's review. There would be live blogging, twittering, and video streaming. A synergy of generations and thought waiting to inspire and be inspired.

Let me know when the tents go up.