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Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Are we welcoming?
So having lurked on a few blogs that link here, (thank you technorati) I have read in a couple of places of women who have visited this blog and decided that they want nothing to do with us. The reasons vary from our spelling being poor, to our using terms people find inappropriate, to our being unwelcoming. That critism was presented in that the visiter didn't find others who agreed with her opinions here and therefore branded us as unwelcoming.

I understand that we are who we are. This is a group blog and its tone is made up by whoever decides to add their voice here. So it's up to the general blog public to decide what this blog is about and what perspectives get discussed. Obviously we can't be all things to all people.

I asked some of the women who had issues to bring them up here, but have had no responses so far. But I want to bring it up. Are we welcoming here? What has been your experience (feel free to share whatever you want)? How can we sustain diversity of opinion and still be welcoming? How can we improve discussions so that lone voices are heard? Or is that something that is necessary for us to even strive to do? Do we need to change who we are or curtail discussion because someone somewhere might disagree? Or is there a healthy balance?

I'm interested in your thoughts, your experiences, your ideas.

Labels: ,

 
posted by Julie at 12:52 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


43 Comments:


  • At 11/22/2006 01:25:00 PM, Blogger lydia

    tangent

    spelling being poor

    I thought this reason was pretty funny.

    Yes, I notice the use of incorrect grammar or spelling on the web, but this is something I expect to encounter in informal settings (just as I wouldn't be shocked if I heard one of you accidently burp after eating or mutter a curse word under your breath after stubbing your toe if we were meeting in a face-to-face context).

    But, hey, to each their own. :)

    /tangent

    Are we welcoming here?

    There could be a log in my eye, but I haven't noticed any problems in this area.

    Do you have any specific posts or incidents you could share? It's hard to know what to say without being aware of specific situations.

     
  • At 11/22/2006 01:46:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Here is an example that I found most to the point. I don't want to hurt the original poster, but here is part of what she wrote -

    Maybe I’m TOTALLY wrong, but I tried interacting a few times…once in a post regarding mothering - and I sortof felt like I was one of the few who was saying how mothering, for those of us have children, is a holy calling that God can and will equip us for…and that it’s something worthy of our attention, somethign valued in the sight of God though it may look like a waste of time to the world’s eyes.

    I was just kind of surprised by, at least what seemed to me, the general, “let’s whine about motherhood,” and/or “how dare they tell us we should be mothers,” instead of seeking to find God’s heart in it. I mean, the world whines enough about this stuff–I want my mind regenerated, you know, so that I see service “to the least of these” as something BIG, good, WORTH my time. I don’t think everyone has to have a big family, by any means, but I do think that we all should go to God and ask Him for His heart regarding our family, not just buy into what we’ve been taught or what we have planned.

    It seems like most who post there are younger, in the first year or two of marriage, and/or don’t have any children (or have one or two). I guess I just feel like I live in a bit of a different world than most of these women…?

    And I will admit to feeilng that I wouldn’t be very well recieved..that I would probably never feel comfortable there. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, but that was my inititial impression.


    I honestly didn't know how to respond to that without hurting other people as well.

     
  • At 11/22/2006 03:04:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    I'm a relative newcomer to EW and I will say that I did actually feel ignored for my first couple of posts and I wondered if I was "stepping on toes" by intruding on a discussion just for women pastors or what? But I was careful to acknowledge to myself that some of those thoughts were just my own shit and so I hung in there and kept at it and pretty soon found myself in actual conversation with other posters at EW. I was too thrilled to find such intelligent and stimulating discussion to give up quite so easily. : )

    This group is not exactly homogeneous but I personally have found everyone to be respectful of differences and making some attempt even, to understand those coming from "different places". I'm sorry others have felt invalidated or dismissed.

    However, I had to laugh at the assumption that everyone here is 20-something with 2 young children. I happen to be 48 years old. And while I do "only" have two sons, one in his teens and the other edging into adolescence. I was married for 10 years, wound up divorced and carrying the burden of parenting financially, emotionally and physically while employed full time in a highly satisfying professional position. I recently remarried...a man I was crazy about in high school who sought me out after 30 years. So, I also have two college-aged step-daughters. And while I might be older than many here, I don't think I'm the only "Boomer" contributing to the conversation. Personally, I have found a group of people that are remarkably like-minded for the most part but still challenging to me and I can't believe all I have learned since jumping in here just a few weeks ago. If people do not find the subject matter, language or spelling to their liking they have a multitude of options. They can "choose another yoke", as it were.

    However, I think it is in rather poor taste to bad-mouth EW contributors on other sites and make such blind assumptions about those in this conversation. It contributes to a divisiveness in the Body that is sad, really. And aren't things already shakey enough in that regard?

     
  • At 11/22/2006 03:09:00 PM, Anonymous Christina

    I think that one of the challenges of writing is that sometimes it's hard to tell what the writer's tone actually is. In face to face meetings, it's so much easier to communicate what you mean (even that isn't always easy).

    I know that when I'm responding to someone, I try to keep it short and to the point, but then things tend to get left out that would bring balance and demonstrate understanding. As it is, sometimes I come across as much more hard nosed than I am.

    I'm saddened that someone would feel rejected here since this is supposed to be a safe place to share. But then again, some people (not necessarily this person) feel rejection wherever they go and they need to take responsibility for their own feelings.

     
  • At 11/22/2006 04:30:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist

    As a relative newcomer, non-member, and "older" non-mother, I can absolutely tell you how *I* was received: reasonably well. I wasn't fawned over, I wasn't shouted down, and I wasn't scolded, all of which generally happen when I venture into online venues designed for Christian women.

    What I find refreshing here is the assumption that there is more to me than my potential as a mate and a mother. I've seen those who are both, speak with great affection and respect for being wives and mothers. Yet unlike so many other groups, you don't appear to idolize these "estates" by twisting them into a "woman's highest calling in life." I see general agreement here that serving God above all, is our highest calling as human beings (male or female). Believe me, you don't find that just anywhere.

    I can see that if people want mainly to discuss motherhood and marriage, they might not find this group exactly to their liking. And those who have spent their learning time focused primarily on marriage and children might sometimes feel "out of their depth" when the discussions tend to the theological. So many churches discourage women from truly studying theology, the Bible (in depth; usually stays "memorize this verse and fill in the blanks about what it means" level), church history, related historical and cultural study, and modern sociological trends that can and should inform our practice of evangelism. Sorry, but that's the truth. Women are often not permitted to form that solid foundation of education so that they *can* renew their minds.

    I don't mean to put anyone down, truly I don't. But a group that exists to support women in the emergence of the church as God is making it new, are not going to be just another "moms'n'wives" group. And no, not all of us are moms or wives. Not all of us are even women! But all of us are human beings, seeking to follow Jesus Christ. I haven't seen anything here that would in any way be unsupportive of any other human being seeking the same.

    Rock on, EW!

     
  • At 11/22/2006 07:20:00 PM, Blogger Doxallo

    I have several comments but not sure I can get them all in with everything going on here this evening.

    First - poor spelling isn't all that it appears on the net. In 'comments' one does not have the option of going back and editing and I, for one, don't compose elsewhere, spell and grammar check, then come back and post. I post as I multi-task and my posts are replete with typos, and I am sure spelling errors. I apologize to the group if this is reflecting poorly on us.

    I will say that ANY group can become 'cliqueish' or have the appearance of being that, especially on the internet. People tend to congregate with like minded people...even if the group isn't homogenous, there are some shared desires, goals, thought processes, mentalities, etc. When someone comes in to a conversation it can be hard to gauge things when others already know one another and may be joking with one another or using 'inside' phrases etc. You may KNOW what I mean when I say something but someone new may have no idea what I really intend or mean.

    That brings me to something I've said recently about asking questions rather than thinking we know what someone means. In some areas we are quite 'open' in our thinking - being 'emergent' and all, but I wonder sometimes how 'emergently open' we are with women who hold more traditional conservative views of scripture and life.

    Finally, here is an example I'll share, one I've wanted to mention for a few days now. When I was at the VA beach retreat someone made the comment in discussion, laughing - she said how some woman she had encountered 'she didn't even know what the lexionary was...haha'. Well, silly me, I thought she meant like a lexicon and I sort of laughed as she shook her head seemingly mistified -- only later did I realize she MEANT lexionary and that it is a book of scheduled readings or something or other and it dawned on me how many (apparently...but I could be wrong) came from that sort of denomination or background or something in this EW fellowship. All to say, I think we need to be careful how we say what we say. I understand she may have been referring to someone who had been in her denomination for a lifetime and maybe really 'should have known', but still, to someone else...I don't know. In reality, someone somewhere will always be offended by something we say..but I think we could stand to remember this IS a very public format and if so led, we could be more mindful of how we say things.

    I often feel somewhat similar to that poster, but I enjoy learning and stretching and I think THAT is one commonality most of us have. Actually enjoying the iron on iron. And yes, sadly I think she made an assumption based on the topic that was 'up' at the time. Depending on what is currently 'active' on the blog, people coming by can get very different perspectives on who and what we are about.

    My only other thought is -- can we somehow divide up the blog into areas? Put new posts in 'sections' so women could search what topics they are interested in? And maybe have an intro area? I don't really know what capabilities blogger has in that regard. I've seen some other blogs that have links on the side for categories.

     
  • At 11/22/2006 08:15:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    thanks for the responses so far

    Doxallo, I really like what you have to say here. And having mae my own blunders at the East Coast gathering (from the evangelical side...) I totaly understand your experience with that.

    You wrote That brings me to something I've said recently about asking questions rather than thinking we know what someone means. In some areas we are quite 'open' in our thinking - being 'emergent' and all, but I wonder sometimes how 'emergently open' we are with women who hold more traditional conservative views of scripture and life.

    asking questions is a good thing and something I need to learn how to do more of. its hard with being open to those with different views especially when they often assumwe that those with more "liberal" views can't really be christians... but maybe I've just been burned too often!

    You wrote - can we somehow divide up the blog into areas? Put new posts in 'sections' so women could search what topics they are interested in? And maybe have an intro area? I don't really know what capabilities blogger has in that regard. I've seen some other blogs that have links on the side for categories.

    Honestly I wish. Blogger, being free, doesn't have all those features. I'm trying to figure out which "hacks" might help make thinks more navigable, but that's slow going. I know that through technorati one can add tags in each post that help make it searchable. That would require each poster to add special html code into each individual post... which is a bit tough with a large group blog. I have been wanting to create an intoduction post that could be used as a permanent link to help people become better acquainted with us... so if one of these days you see a "welcome to emerging women" post, that's what its for...

    plans are still in the works to create an emerging women website with all sorts of spiffy features (and I think this blog would be rolled into that site). But funds are an issue at the moment (among other things).

    I hope that answers some of the questions. If anyone has suggestions about how to improve things let me know!

     
  • At 11/22/2006 10:54:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    My sense is there are two separate issues here. The first is a matter of clear statement of purpose and expectations. if someone thought EW was just a cool Christian sight for average evangelical women with a slightly more open-minded bent, I can see how someone might show up and feel a sense of a mis-fit, which would probably be a fair and accurate assessment. I don't think this is a problem with the kinds of discussions taking place -- in fact My sense is that our conversations are far more informal and less intellectually elitist than those of many Emerging sites where men predominate the discussion. I do think perhaps clearer communication about the nature of the site would be helpful so that those visiting could quickly appraise whether or not this felt like, "home" or just an interesting place to get another slice of life.

    The second issue is about who we are as women and what kinds of wounds we carry that impact how we relate to to others who we perceive as potentially threatening to an area where we have unhealed spiritual and emotional injuries.

    My sense is that those on this site who choose to devote their lives to God in other ways besides motherhood and/or marriage have had to defend that decision and have felt so repeatedly invalidated for that choice. As a result, when blessings, metaphors or other insights and positives that come from motherhood are brought to the table there is an instinct of fear on the part of women who've had to fight hard for their non-mothering vocations that there is an insinuation that the contributer is threatening the validity of that calling and/or choice. This is a natural fear, but not a fair assumption.

    I, for one feel that women, regardless of childbearing status, as well as men can benefit richly from the metaphors and stories that come from motherhood. Jesus was not a mother but he compared himself to one. So did Paul.

    Yet I have found on this sight that in my posts emphasizing the womb as a metaphor for feminine creative fertility, and the importance of that metaphorical womb to the Emerging conversation, there has been surprisingly little discussion given the scope of the topic.

    I can only speak for myself, but when I talk about the womb and motherhood, I am in no way invalidating the choice and/or calling of a woman who does not reproduce, marry or who has undergone a hysterctomy. I am not speaking primarliy about the physical womb or in anyway claiming the reproducing and raising children is superior to other paths of service to God; insteand I am drawing on the rich metaphors, analogies and parables I find for the essential feminine creativity, power and love that I believe is universal and a potential in all human beings, but often especially revealed in women. My wish is that all on this site could tap into this source of strength and inspiration, regardless of vocation and family style.

    Lastly, I've noticed that certain controversial threads get alot of posts quickly, and sometimes some of these posts can tend to come across as a little reactive and catty. When a controversial topic comes up, we (and I) would probably benefit from being a little slower to speak and quicker to listen, pray and wait before responding. I think we might get just as much truth and more grace that way.

     
  • At 11/22/2006 11:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Excellent posts in response to a great and challenging question, methinks!

    As an XY, I've felt very welcome and comfortable reading, learning from, and contributing to this blog.

    I think the suggestions about investigating possibilities for topical organization are good ones, but when all is said and done at the end of the day, I really don't think you have a responsibility [nor, I beleieve, would it be in anyone's best interest] to desalinize your saltiness, as it were, and become more PC in any direction.

    If you can't be honest and expressive on a blog, where else can you be?

    I think Jemila's idea about praying [probably many if not all of you do, though I confess I've been lax] prior to posting, especially when it's a hot-button topic is a great idea. Another opportunity to maximize God and tone down the ego in a healthful and constructive way.

    As for typing and spelling, when the day comes that we posters are paid for our writing, that's the day we need to make the posts "look professional," in my opinion.

     
  • At 11/22/2006 11:43:00 PM, Blogger sylvia skinner

    Julie

    Sounds a lot like hmmmm church! You can't even turn the toilet paper in the ladies room the wrong way without offending someone. Sorry for the cyncism, but this is one 'ol tired pastor's wife who is just sick and tired of hearing that someone has been offended or felt not welcomed.

    I'm not sure about the link between poor spelling and not feeling welcome...by the way, Julie, you mispelled visitor--just had to chuckle a bit :) I always feel kind of dumb when I mispel something and don't catch it before I push the button--like when my post entitled Wouldn'T it be nice and I used a capital "T" at the end of woldn't. Guess I was feeling more passionate about expressing my feelings than proofreading.

    I agree with the sentiment that it's so hard to really hear someone online, without any facial expressions or the tone of a person's voice. Somehow through this blog I came across LeRon Shults (I think it was in that rant by someone who was clearly hijacking emergent blogs) and I bought his book called The Faces of Forgiveness--only halfway through, but pretty interesting stuff about what our face communicates and how we long for the face of God to smile upon us, how we are constantly seeking for that acceptance and love in the face of each other. So...withough the face-to-face dialogue, we are definitely communicating at a disadvantage.

    Even still...I sense some projection in those comments. I've read most of the posts since I joined and I'm not sure how someone was able to come to this conclusion.

    We all want want to be heard. I've kind of joked with a friend of mine who posts here and who I see on a regular basis that her posts have had more comments than mine--in jest, of course! (well, maybe?)

    Well, I'm rambling now...oh, and by the way, almost 44 here with boys 21, 18, and 15! Hee, hee.

    Finally, I do want to say that there are several of you that I've felt like I've kind of gotten to know. I recently commented to my friend that I really missed someone who posted here a lot before, but she clued me in that maybe she had changed her blog name--she couldn't remember what the new one was--hope I figure it out. I haven't agreed with everything that's been said, but I'm so very thankful for a safe place to share. And your words have encouraged me to think in new and creative ways. I really don't want to blog where everyone thinks the same...how boring is that?

     
  • At 11/23/2006 01:40:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist

    My sense is that our conversations are far more informal and less intellectually elitist than those of many Emerging sites where men predominate the discussion.

    Now that is the truth. I have something kind of funny going on at one of these sites. Somehow it's marked me as a spammer, even though I haven't commented any more often than anyone else. But it won't let me comment anymore! Nothing the site owner does makes any difference, and to be fair to him, he says he's tried and I believe him. But talk about KNOWING how it feels to be ignored! And yet, what few comments did get through before it became impossible, were almost all ignored by the "big word men." It's ironic, too, because I am seminary-educated and I know the big words and even understand what they mean (you'd be surprised how many big-word people--men and women--use them incorrectly, perhaps in order to try to sound important? Who knows?) I simply try to use more everyday language because more people understand what I'm saying that way.

    But anyway, I found it strange at that site, and a couple of others that I no longer visit, that even in "women in ministry" conversations, some of the men ignore what we women say, caricature what we believe, and advocate for the traditional conservative status quo, as though that will still the evil feminist uprising and put us uppity women in our place. That's the impression I'm left with, anyway. What a horrifying thought: women actually having something to say on the subject of women in ministry!

    :-P

     
  • At 11/23/2006 04:34:00 PM, Blogger Past the Wishing

    Well, I guess my new claim to fame might be that I'm the oldest EW blogger at 53! (Is that somthing I should be admitting to?) ah- too late! :-)

    MHO: Great Blog site, great conversation, great interplay between diverse voices, lots of open, wild, colorful and imaginative conversation! Thanks goes to our host administrator, Julie, and all contribiting conversationalists!

    From an ancient emergent, Aristotle: "The mark of an educated mind is one that can entertain a thought without having to accept it."

    Considering all of our collective brokenness from which we speak, :-) I think we're doing a pretty good job of "entertaining others' thoughts" most of the time!

    Sherri
    (Hi Sylvia ... From the Margins, now 'Past the Wishing.')

     
  • At 11/23/2006 05:00:00 PM, Blogger lydia

    From an ancient emergent, Aristotle: "The mark of an educated mind is one that can entertain a thought without having to accept it."

    I like this.

     
  • At 11/23/2006 07:31:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I really like the quote too, thanks Sherry! And I hope to be 53 and still emerging...actually I hope to be emerging all my life.

     
  • At 11/23/2006 09:22:00 PM, Blogger The Vicar of Hogsmeade

    I think it is WAY too easy to criticize someone without ever speaking directly to her. I'd suggest reading Matthew 18:13 and following.

    I've lurked more than I've posted. I didn't post expecting to be fawned over. And, I was pleased to be acknowledged.

    I agree that motherhood is a high calling and so is being a pastor and so is being a Christian. Each of us has an opportunity to make a difference in the life of another everyday. Creating a heirarchy of "callings" does not seem to be a priority for making disciples or helping others see Jesus.

     
  • At 11/23/2006 10:19:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Vicar, I'm not sure I understood what you were getting at in your first two sections:

    "I think it is WAY too easy to criticize someone without ever speaking directly to her. I'd suggest reading Matthew 18:13 and following.

    I've lurked more than I've posted. I didn't post expecting to be fawned over. And, I was pleased to be acknowledged."

    I'm not sure if the second part was directed at me in response to my observation that not alot of discussion resulted from my post on the value of the womb/motherhood as sources of metaphor and creativity. My concern wasn't a lack of acknowledgment -- I have felt plenty welcomes and affirmed here -- it was more a concern that the reason there wasn't much discussion was because the subject matter made people feel uncomfortable out of a fear that discussion womens' unique contributions, esp in the form of womb images would lead to a "complimentarian" view that would threaten gender equality or the non-stereotypical callings and roles of women. I could be totally off-base, and am happy to be corrrected. I think if I was accurately picking something up, it would be sad to avoid the richness of feminine creative power out of fear of getting shoved back in a box. I think most of us agree that boxes are best reserved for Christmas and birthday packages, not people.

     
  • At 11/24/2006 01:13:00 AM, Blogger sylvia skinner

    Hey Sherri

    Thanks for identifying yourself! I've missed you...I guess I haven't really missed your posts, but I missed seeing you smiling up at the camera, lounging on the grass and knowing that was you!!

    You are all terrific! Julie, you're the best :)

    Syl

    p.s. great Aristotle quote too!

     
  • At 11/24/2006 01:43:00 AM, Anonymous Cynthia

    Hi all,
    First, for the record, I am 42 years old, married with nine children ... 22 yod, 20 yod, 17 yos, 15 yos, 14 yos, 12 yos, 11 yod, 9 yos and 7 yos.
    Just wanted to to break the stereotype of there only being young women in their first years of marriage ... but then again, I haven't truly become a voice here yet. Though I will, I will. I am still working on releasing the voice from the subtle bondage of women must be silent ... unless we are exchanging recipes, scrapbook ideas and waving the banner of motherhood.
    Hey, I LOVE being a mother. My greatest joy is reading to my children and seeing them walk into maturity in Christ. I don't really love the laundry and cleaning but it gets done. I also love being a blogger, a writer, an artist, a thinker, a questioner, a student.
    Is my journey your journey? Nope! Wouldn't want it to be and neither does God. I want to celebrate women who are walking with God, no matter if how that is manifested ... with children or not, married or not, working at home or not.

    I haven't entered the conversation here yet but I expect that everyone here will be gracious and welcoming. It is what i have witnessed so far. I plan to read God Politics in December and look forward to engaging through books.

    One note, Doxallo mentioned an incident with someone "mocking" someone else because they didn't know what a lectionary was ... well, I didn't know what a lectionary was until last year. It wasn't part of my spiritual journey until then. There are SO many words that I don't know the meaning of and feel a little intimidated of speaking out until I do. I am grateful for Scot McKnight's blog-glossary ... it has helped me so much. As for anyone here, I expect that if I revealed my misunderstanding of a word, there would be definitions offered with complete graciousness.
    I guess the bottom line is that I don't see why anyone would consider this an unwelcoming place. I have witnessed nothing but gracious hospitality.

     
  • At 11/24/2006 10:20:00 AM, Blogger juniper

    I recall reading an article in The Ooze suggesting that this wasn't the most welcoming place, but I haven't found that to be true. I'm glad to find a place for discussion with women who have wonderful assorted combinations of education and life experience, who are married and single, and who are seeking God. I wouldn't expect to agree with everyone (or their spelling) anymore than I would expect to agree with everyone in my church. (Something that will happen sometime after hell freezes over.)

    Since we're sharing status -- I'm a single, never married, 40 year old mother of cats.

     
  • At 11/24/2006 10:29:00 AM, Blogger sylvia skinner

    Sherri

    Sorry...I commented very late last night and didn't really read what I said. I haven't missed your posts becuase I've been reading them, just under a different name, but I didn't know that was you! (Talk about being unwelcoming on my part!!)

    See...computer communicating can be rather challenging. Good intentions can so easily sound not so good :)

    Syl

     
  • At 11/24/2006 11:08:00 AM, Blogger Past the Wishing

    Syl. hahaha... that was pretty funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Late night blogging will get ya every time! :-)

    My son and I have had an ongoing discussion for the past year or so about 'community' ... how can one feel 'in community' with online people. He's been a Halo gamer for years and has shared with me the real sense of community between them all. When they finally meet each other at national tournaments they seem to be able to forego the small-get-to-know- you talk and have a pretty good friendship. It's been a relevant discussion between us as we've shared our thoughts about the real possibilities of developing faith communities online.

    I believe this blog community is just such a faith community ... I already 'knew' you well enough, Sylvia, to know that it was a funny mis-typed phrase. So, this just added to my understanding of online-faith friendships and 'community.'

     
  • At 11/24/2006 04:53:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    PTW: Funny that you say this because I have already been thinking just this thought...that I actually DO consider the EW group as my faith community. I'm feeling affirmed in my decision to leave the community that has been my home for about 13 years and this is my answer for now, as there is nothing even close to this where I live. Well, to be honest, I do belong to a group from my old community that is enjoying getting together to discuss books and get to know one another better and we seem to all have similar perspectives...we'll see what happens. House church? : )

    I do believe that cyberchurches are a viable option for many. While face-to-face contact is special in a number of ways, so can be connections in cyberspace. They are just different and both very powerful alternatives. I for one can say I feel blessed to have come across this blogsite and you EW "regulars"...already such a grace to me. Thank you!

     
  • At 11/24/2006 11:08:00 PM, Blogger Cary

    1. Is being criticized really such an event? In the world of the internet, if you are drawing any sort of crowd you're sure to be criticized on another site somewhere.

    2. If we really do want to become more "inviting", I've got a suggestion. People like to feel that they're being heard, whether it be on a blog, in an e-mail or in a face-to-face discussion.

    Maybe we need to encourage those who post to make a point of checking in on their own posts for the week or so after they've posted and make a concerted effort to respond to the comments there. Even if it's just a "Thanks for your input," it makes the commenter feel acknowledged and appreciated.

     
  • At 11/25/2006 02:19:00 AM, Blogger The Vicar of Hogsmeade

    Sylvia, my comments were directed toward the original post.

    Matt 18:13 and following is about going directly to the one with which you have a problem. In "counseling" terms, it's called triangulation. I become more frustrated with Christians who talk about others without ever talking to others especially when we have Matt 18 that is clear about what is right.

    I think that the feeling of the lack of welcome may be directly related to the nature of online community. Because I have participated in online forums of various kinds, my expectations are generally low. I think others may have higher expectations and are then disappointed or hurt. That disappointment or hurt is better expressed to the community rather than elsewhere. That's what my first two sections were related to.

    I didn't read your post about feminie imagery so my post wasn't realted to that at all.

    As a clergywoman, I have had both very positive and very negative responses to the feminine perspective. I agree that we have lessened our view of God when we leave out feminine imagery. After having a baby and being a nursing mother, I read Isaiah very differently. There is an urgency a nursing mother has toward her baby that has no comparision to any other relationship. And that's the image for how God is compelled to us. My lack of response to the imagery was directly related to my lack of reading.

     
  • At 11/25/2006 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Vicar, thanks so much for clarifying -- I really appreciate it, and I feel so much better. And in fact perhaps this is a good model for anyone who has a concern/potential misunderstanding or hurt feeling, as you were stating earlier. I would not have experienced the relief of knowing that you weren't indirectly assuming something negative about me if I had not openly asked about it and sought to clarification. Maybe some people feel too shy to bring things like that up and suffer as a result of living with their own misunderstandings and end up feeling unwelcome. I guess by modeling an online culture where it's cool to bring stuff up, hopefully others will sense that and find freedom to join a healthy style of openess.

    What kinds of positive and negative reactions have you had to feminine metaphor in your church?

     
  • At 11/25/2006 07:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Hi ladies.

    I was one of the ones taking part in that discussion at the Blind Beggar. I didn't mean to ditch the discussion; I had to take an online break, including killing off my own blog. The 'net can be an incredible timesuck, can't it? And I have issues with self-control.

    I thought I'd come here and share my original concerns after hearing that you all were talking about it. Here is what I said at Blind Beggar's place:

    Hi Julie–yes, thanks for being gracious.

    I’m sorry that I don’t find language and grammar petty. I’m on a journey to define my faith, and there is nothing more important. I cannot learn from someone who can’t even be bothered to spell correctly. I don’t read Greek or Hebrew, and am relying on others for insight, and if they can’t get the English correct, well, it does color my opinion.

    Also, I believe there are many women on the same journey I am, and the Emergent church appeals to us. In taking on the title Emerging Women, you have assumed a huge responsibility, whether you meant to or not. It is going to be the first place a lot of women go to for information about emerging/emergent ideas. Titling a post “Butt Sex” is offensive, and would be a slap in the face to many conservative women. Is this really the image you want to project?

    I’m not some shrinking violet, but I do feel somewhat protective of the more sheltered ladies I’ve met online. Some of these are women looking to escape patriarchal influences, and again, your site may be the first they come across. I just think you need to be a little more careful.


    As far as the English language thing, I'm not talking about an occasional slip-up. I'm talking about absolutely not caring about grammar, and as I said, it is important. If I'm looking for an intellectual discussion with someone about something as important as my faith, I at least have to know that she can spell the word.


    I was, however, spoiled by being a long-term participant in a forum where I felt like the dumbest member. No one ever misspelled or made grammatical errors.

    However, there was an edit function in the comments. So if I posted something and realized I'd made a mistake, I could fix it.

    Anyway, as far as not feeling welcome here, well, I didn't, and I believe it's because I first posted on a political topic, and I'm conservative by nature. The replies I got, I felt, did not consider my position. They just wanted to tell me how wrong I was.

    I was not the one talking about motherhood, but I read the conversation in question, and yes, it shocked me, how seeking God's will for such an important decision was completely a non-issue. The majority of the comments never even mentioned seeking Him and what He would have us do.

    In fact, I find very little of Christ at all when I scroll through that discussion. Frankly, what comes across is a whole lot of me, me, me and what's best for me.

    As far as the butt sex post, I think homosexuality is an issue that needs discussed. I took offense to the title of the post, not the content. I don't see the need to be so offensive, especially when, as I said, this board may be the first place conservative women seeking to escape patriarchy land, and I guarantee you that one read of that would have them clicking off and running for the hair covering they left upstairs.

    I don't mean to cause contention. I'm a reasonable and fairly open-minded person. Y'all asked, and I answered.

     
  • At 11/25/2006 09:00:00 PM, Blogger Doxallo

    Hi Marcia! I very much appreciate your comments. And I agree that sometimes reading through one might not hear a lot about Christ or God's will. Sometimes I think we take for granted that its a 'given' but I agree that it could (should?) be rolling from the tongue to the typepad more often. I know I can definitely lose that when I'm on the blog. I might be thinking it, but not saying it.

    Thanks again. I'm glad you posted. :)

    Janice

     
  • At 11/25/2006 11:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Hi Marcia,

    Interesting perspectives that you shared. I wonder if you are aware that several of your points come across as if you were making them out of context. Namely, the idea that those comprising the Emerging Women collective are responsible for creating a space where anyone of any Christian persuasion should be able to come and feel comfortable is, I believe, unreasonable to expect of those who choose to contribute to and read this blog. You really can't please everybody, and to have any kind of consistent essence, you shouldn't. As I mentionned in a previous post, a blog is a place to be honest and communicate ideas, not to be overly self-conscious of any and every possible implication of these communications to every possible reader. Your contention that Christ is minimized and that the individual posters are maximized suggests to me that you would like to see a liturgical signature on every post, or something like that. Instead of coming across as instructing us as to the content of our posts, why not trust that we post as we are led and to pray for our discernment process? Also, I believe that if you really would revisit the blog with open eyes, you would be able to see that rather than "me, me, me," as you put it, rather a very engaging and supportive community exists here, and I for one carry a greater and more hopeful anticipation of heaven in my heart from participating in this blog than when I read about the glass city in Revelation.

    I'm available to consider your response,

    Blessings!

     
  • At 11/26/2006 12:09:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Marcia,

    I can understand where you are coming from in terms feeling concerned about your conservative sisters in Christ and not wanting them to shut down as a result of language that is a hot-button trigger for them. I can also empathize with feeling like you hold a minority opinion and being frustrated that everyone around you very strongly holds a different opinion. That can be lonely and feel disconfirming. It truly must be a supernatural thing for people of so many different personal, theological and cultural backgrounds and callings to be authentic and still find the place where we are one in God's Spirit. Being authentic in any relationship (in my experience) necessarily means at times offending and hurting people; what ultimately makes or breaks relationships is how these situations are addressed and whether the deepest motive is genuinely seeking the truth and grace of Jesus.

    Jesus often used harsh words and shock value/hyperbole statements and metaphors -- most often in his dealings with the religious conservatives of his day who had built walls around the law which was actually preventing people from loving God and neighbor. I see this happening so much in the conservative parts of the Christ's body and it hurts me. And I feel angry about it on behalf of those God-seeking people who would never even consider Christianity because of the kind of closed-mindedness, fear-based legalism and sexual hangups of Christians who've built all kinds of walls around the gospel, which itself is the invitation to receive God's embrace through redeeming grace, and to follow Jesus, loving God and neighbor.

    I certainly would never intend to scare away a woman taking tentative steps away from patriarchy. At the same time, my passion is giving women/people -- especially those on the fringes of Christianity who've either left, are still trying to walk with God but struggling profoundly with wounds from conservative Christianity, are thinking of leaving or never visited because the lanscape looked to judgmental and repressive from a distance -- permission to discover a Christianity that is truly more accepting, truthful, playful, just and gracious than the world. Sometimes, for me, this involves a little shock value and free-spirited expression, which are part of my authentic journey, and I hope (some) others to find truth, laughter and refreshing perspectives. I understand this may offend some.

    Our differing perspectives, approaches and even callings may well have somethin to do with our own spiritual experiences and journeys and the sorts of people we identify with, and to whom our hearts most empathetically and passionately connect.

    Clearly your heart is in the right place for conservative women at the tentative beginning of a journey toward greater openess and equality. Maybe God is calling you to a ministry to those women to create a safe place especially to help them in the scary transition from a secure, sheltered environment of black and white to a world that's colorful, but confusing, liberating but totally alien, like walking on the moon and wondering if you'll just float off into space if you take another step. You could create posts like that on Emerging Women, or start your own site or other form of ministry.

    Whatever approach you take, may God bless you richly and fill your heart with Christ's joy.

    Thanks again for sharing your perspective and helping us all to grow in our faith.

     
  • At 11/26/2006 07:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Hi ladies--I only have time for a quick response, but I will come back as I have time to respond to the great points you have made.

    I truly appreciate your honesty and graciousness. And I don't think I made it clear that I was only referring to the few posts I had read; I haven't read everything on the site.

    In particular, I was only talking about the "mothering" thread when I said I didn't see Christ in it, and that it seemed self-centered. I didn't mean that to sound like a judgment on the whole site, or the posters here.

    Thanks again for clarifying things for me, and I will be back. It may be a couple of days, though.

     
  • At 11/27/2006 10:41:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    I've been hanging around on this site for a while, posting here and there, as I have time. I've always felt welcomed. I do sometimes wonder whether I have something to offer, although I've figured out that this is my "wanna-be smart person in a stay-at-home-mom" mentality and am coming out of my shell! :)

    To address a couple items specifically, I was surprised and a bit offended by the "Butt Sex" article at first. But, I clicked on Jemila's profile and read somewhere in there that one of her children brought that up in a funny way and just figured that's why she brought it up that way. Plus, the conversation that followed was very interesting. I think it's important to give each other the benefit of the doubt, but also understand that it can be difficult for new people coming into the community. It's probably something to keep in mind and, as Jemila stated earlier, surround our comments with thought and prayer. (Which, by the way, Jemila, I really appreciate you and what you've contributed here).

    Marcia, thank you so much for coming and joining us for this discussion. Your comments and willingness to discuss them here help us all to think and reflect, which is invaluable. I do want to address the spelling issue. I certainly understand the professional aspect of writing with correct grammer and spelling. Yet, I'm the mother of three children five and under. I tend to type in the midst of life, thus not always with accuracy. If this was a place where I couldn't make a mistake, I wouldn't be able to be part of the conversation. You've challenged me, though, to be more thoughtful..and maybe to try to post more after 8 p.m.! :)

    Thanks all for a great place to share and be involved!

     
  • At 11/28/2006 12:04:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    I have been out of town, and was reading on my Palm phone, but couldn't post until I got home!
    I have been here for months now. I was referred here by a wonderful, but struggling friend. As someone else said, I feel that this is "my community". I love the church I am at, but when it comes to women, I haven't established too many relationships where I can talk about things openly. I have found that, here, I can be open and honest. I don't feel like I have to "wear a mask". My whole life in churches, I didn't feel I could be who I am. Here, I have been honest. I don't always understand everything being discussed, agree, or respond. I do however, read everything. Sometimes it sparks something in me, other times, I don't have the time, or feel the discussion is out of my reach. I have learned a lot here in 6 months! I was just telling someone the other day, that some time I would love to meet up at one of the gatherings, just so I can meet people face to face.
    I am a mom of 2 small kids. Until recently that is what defined me. I did go to college, and received a BA in Psychology, but the kids came, and I felt "that was what I was supposed to do". This blog has enabled me to see that I can be "more". I love my kids and love being mom and wife. I was raised in a home where women should submit, stay home, and take care of the house. Deep down, that wasn't me. I am smart, I love to learn, I want to use my "gifts", and I was miserable trying to live up to that "concept" of what God wanted from women. I am still at home with my kids, but I now take care of me, too. I read all of the time, take "me" time, took a job with my church, and feel much happier than I did for a long time.
    I think what this blog has done for me, is show me how people can be very different, have very different experiences, come from different walks, but meet in a place where we are all seeking God. I have sensed God within the words of this blog.
    I have learned to be a confident woman- open to God's work within me. Not what other's think it should look like, but truly being ok with my seeking of God. I feel blessed to have this blog in my life. I am sorry that some may not feel the same way. I don't feel it's intentional. I know from being here for a while, that we are not the same. This isn't a clique. There are differences. I do think it takes some time to sense the flow of this blog. For the most part I think everyone has been fairly respectful, and polite. As others have said though, reading comments is much different than face to face discussion. I take that into account when I am reading.

     
  • At 11/28/2006 11:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Okay, I've pondered all of what's been said, and first of all, let me apologize. I think I had a picture in my mind of what a site called Emerging Women should look like, and this wasn't it.

    That doesn't make it wrong, or bad. Just different than what I had expected, and I'm sorry I judged.

    Also, some of the concepts here make me uncomfortable. Again, that doesn't make them wrong. It just makes me want to hide. Different is scary, same-old, while confining, is safe.

    Lastly, Jemila, you said, "Maybe God is calling you to a ministry"

    Oh, girl, you give me far too much credit. I am nowhere close enough to having it together spiritually to minister to anyone else. I don't even know what it is I believe half the time.

    The idea of helping women out of bondage appeals to me, but it would have to be sometime in the future.

    And I would need you all to chip in and, like, clean my house and stuff. Would you mind?

     
  • At 11/28/2006 01:09:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Marcia,

    you said...
    “..you give me far too much credit. I am nowhere close enough to having it together spiritually to minister to anyone else. I don't even know what it is I believe half the time.”

    I have struggled with this thinking this year. I always felt that “others” knew more, were better at spirituality, prayed the right way etc. I certainly didn’t feel I was destined for “great” things for God. I still sometimes feel that. This year has brought big changes. Many times I have felt “what the Hell am I doing?!”

    I thought I would mention an “AHA moment” that I had last week. I was reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. There is a chapter where he gives a little Jewish background and the “Jewish World” that Jesus lived in. He talks about Disciples, how the great Jewish students became a Rabbi’s Disciple, and those that didn’t do so well went on to take on the family trade. He writes about the Disciples that Jesus calls-Fishermen; those that didn’t make the cut, they weren’t ‘good enough’. He writes “Jesus calls the not-good-enoughs.” That sat with me for awhile. I don’t know why, but it was light a light. This seems to be a running theme. “Great People” of the Bible many times didn’t feel that they were “great people”. They struggled.
    The next page over Rob Bell writes about when Jesus walks on water.

    “If you are a disciple, you have committed your entire life to being like your rabbi.
    If you see your rabbi walk on water, what do you immediately want to do? Walk on water.
    So this disciple gets out on the water and he starts to sink, so he yells,”Jesus save me!”
    And Jesus says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
    Who does Peter lose faith in?
    Not Jesus; Jesus is doing fine.
    Peter loses faith in himself.
    Peter loses faith that he can do what his rabbi is doing.
    If the rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes you can actually be like him. ……He even says to them at one point, ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you.’
    So at the end of his time with his disciples, Jesus has some final words for them. He tells them to go to the ends of the earth and make more disciples. And then he leaves. He promises to send his Spirit to guide them and give them power, but Jesus himself leaves the future of the movement in their hands. And he doesn’t stick around to make sure they don’t screw it up. He’s gone. He trusts that they can actually do it.
    God has an incredibly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing things."

    When I read this I saw something so different. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge of Jewish background, and was surprised how different I saw this story. I always thought that Jesus was questioning Peter’s faith to “trust” him. This gave me a whole new picture. It spoke to me,that God seems to choose those that many times wouldn’t expect it. I see that God can work through me, and I need to have faith in myself. God has great faith in me.
    I tend to worry that I will do things wrong, or screw up royally. That thinking, many times has inhibited me. I pray now that God will continue to work, to help me with faith in myself, and yet at the same time, help me to be humble and continue to seek guidance.

    I hope that is an encouragement….Stick around, sometimes not being comfortable, transforms us and propels us to new places. ;)

     
  • At 11/28/2006 06:43:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Marcia, when I read your post, I was literally moved to tears, because this is how the body of Christ is supposed to operate. I'm so glad you were willing to bring up your feelings and concerns directly here. I'm so glad you felt that you were heard and responded to with honesty and graciousness. I also really admire your ability to listen to the perspectives expressed here with an open heart/mind, even when doing so is uncomfortable and challenging -- and to reeavulate your conclusions based on a new, fuller understanding. Thank you for your honesty and humility.

    Of course there are seasons of waiting and coming aside for God to do secret work, but I strongly agree with Michelle L that God often uses us best when we are at our weakest, and that our unknowing-yet-trusting attitude can be used powerfully by the Holy Spirit to come along side others on a spiritual journey. How many of God's "favorites" really had it figured out, according to the Good Book? Yet they walked with God anyway.

     
  • At 11/28/2006 06:56:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Amy, thank you for the honest and kind way you expressed your initial reaction to my post title. I appreciated that you made a clear distinction between your preference of word choice and how you feel about me as a person and contributer to this group. BTW, the story on my blog referred to my daughter announcing that Snow White is a butt doctor. Even I would be disturbed to hear the phrase, "butt sex" coming from my four-year-old! ;)

    If we met face to face and hung out over time, all of you would know that I am a deep, goofy, conflicted, shock-value, walking-paradox kind of a girl. Even those of you who tend toward to more conservative side would probably get used to me after a while and would write off my "inappropriate" comments as, "There goes Jemila again. Hahaha. That's just her personality." So if I say something on the wild/controversial side in the future, and someone new is offended, perhaps a time will come when some of you can pat them on the shoulder and whisper in their ear, "Don't worry about it, she's okay. She doesn't mean harm; she's just a little wacky sometimes."

    On a side note, while I am usually the controversial envelope-pusher in Christian circles, I am the tame, ho-hum goodie-two-shoes family girl among my secular friends. So it's all a matter of perspective.

    And Michelle L, I loved reading your post. It just sang to me heart. I celebrate with you in your journey of coming into your own as God's own.

    I'd love to get to gether and hang out with you all in person Except that I'd probably make lots of silly crass jokes, and you'd have to either gag me or send me to the bathroom for "potty talk." ;)

    Anyway, I'm so grateful for you all.

     
  • At 11/28/2006 06:59:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Michele L, I'm so sorry, I just noticed I spelled your name incorrectly, and on a post with so much discussion about correct spelling, I'm ashamed! I can't believe I'm so bad at names even on the internet! Please forgive me.

     
  • At 11/28/2006 08:49:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    Well, if we are truly emerging women, our "look" will likely continue to change over time. : )
    I'm going to enjoy making the trip with you all. Thanks to each of you for sharing yourselves so openly here!

     
  • At 11/28/2006 11:51:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Jemila,
    I have loved your spark from the start. I know not everyone appreciates that kind of personality, but you are who you are. I can be quirky and have a tendency to have thoughts from my head not make it out of my mouth the right way. I picked up on the spunk right away. I cringed when I saw "Butt Sex" because I knew my mother would have died! I, however was in complete agreement with that post. I come from a very conservative background. I have no problem with it, but I also see how some times shock value is needed to light a fire under some!
    One thing I am learning is to extend grace and understanding, and I am trying not to judge. I can disagree, or not like how something is said, but I can just move over it, and move on to other things. Sometimes, because it is a blog, we don't know what drives certain things. I think by now we can respect that God is molding all of us, where ever we are.

     
  • At 11/29/2006 07:31:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Thanks Michele L,

    You made my morning! :)

     
  • At 11/29/2006 08:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Michele and Jemila, thanks. You've given me a lot of food for thought.

     
  • At 11/29/2006 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Amy

    Jemila, you are just plain fun! Thanks for your spark and insight. I really value you.

    I really value each of the women that contributes here. Michele L. said it great earlier in this conversation...this is a place where I can come and be honest in my walk in a way I cannot currently in my own faith community.

     
  • At 11/29/2006 05:01:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Thanks Amy, you're cool too! And Amen to community where you can be real and people value that, even when it means a wild ride.

     

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