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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Changes at Emerging Women
I am happy to announce that the long awaited changes here at Emerging Women have finally arrived. I'm excited to be moving ahead with this community and look forward to our future conversations. Most of the Emerging Women members already know about these changes, but for the broader community of readers, here's a summary of what's happening and why.

- From now on, Emerging Women will exist exclusively at the domain www.emergingwomen.us. Some of you may already be using this address, but until now it simply forwarded to the blogspot site. We will no longer be hosted at Blogger and are happy to have a cleaner more navigable site, so please update your links!

- The continued growth of Emerging Women means that we can no longer function as a membership based blog - there's just too many of us! But we will continue to be as open source as possible. We still want the blog to represent the voices and thoughts of a wide variety of women, so we are looking for your submissions. We are still looking for articles, book/movie reviews, stories, interviews, creative writings, questions, resources, links, and news items to share on the blog. So feel free to send those submissions at any time to emergingwomen(at)gmail(dot)com.

- But even without membership, Emerging Women desires to be a resource helping connect those in the emerging church to the women's voices in its midst. We will continue to have two blogrolls for this purpose. One will feature any (appropriate) emerging woman blogger who wants to be on the list. The other will include any websites, organizations, or men's blogs who want to be "friends of emerging women." The point is to connect us all together.

- All of the old posts will be at the new blog. It just might take some time to update the author info on each one.

I'm excited to see how the conversation develops and look forward to reconnecting with all of you at the new site!

- Julie Clawson

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posted by Julie at 6:56 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 4 comments links to this post
Monday, February 02, 2009
A Crazy Dream, a Praying Squad of Women Peacemakers & The First Woman President in Africa
I dropped my jaw in awe, amazement, heartbreak and inspiration reading this article about a woman's "Crazy Dream," and the movement she led of praying, protesting, peacemaking women reaching across the Christian-Muslim divide to end violence in Liberia and ultimately leading to exile of a corrupt leader and the the first African Woman President in Office.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/31/opinion/31herbert.html?emc=eta1

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posted by Jemila Kwon at 12:33 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 5 comments links to this post
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Celebrating my birthday - free stuff in Feb
I decided to do something new this year and randomly give fun and interesting things away all month to celebrate my birthday. The first item is a leather bound journal, for prayers, or whatever you enjoy journaling. To join in the fun, you can follow me on Twitter, or go to my website which will post details on that day.

It might help beat the winter blues too.

Life is a gift.
Best wishes.
-Lisa

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posted by LisaColónDeLay at 8:06 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments links to this post
Friday, January 30, 2009
Lilly Ledbetter and Her Sparkly New Law
It's just too bad she won't accrue any benefits from it.

Maybe you remember Lilly from last year's presidential campaign. Or if you're really observant, from the news in May 2007. If you don't, allow me to tell you a little bit of Lilly's story.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber company down in Alabama. She was an Area Manager (aka plant supervisor). She worked at Goodyear from 1979 to 1998. When she retired in 1998, she was the only female Area Manager, the rest of her colleagues were male. All 15 of them. Another unique characteristic that her colleagues shared was that they all earned more than she did. Every single one of them. Even those who had worked at Goodyear less time than Lilly had. Even those who did a worse job than she did.

Sometime in early 1998, Lilly finally had enough evidence and she filed paperwork with the EEOC (that's the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). She retired in July and in November she filed a lawsuit against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company claiming that they had discriminated against her on the basis of her gender. That's when the legal wrangling began. I'll spare you the details. But it went all the way up to the highest court in the land.

The Supremes got it. No, poodles, not Diana Ross and the Supremes. The Supreme Court. The Nine in Black. However, their decision made just about as much sense as MacArthur Park.

Now you can read the ruling in it's entirety if you'd like. You can download it for yourself here. However, the essence of the majority (5 to 4) decision, handed down by Justice Alito, was that Ms. Ledbetter had missed the boat. You see, Lilly had filed suit saying, in essence, that because there was discrimination in her pay at the end of her employment, there had been ongoing discrimination for a long period of time. Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas (who, being African American, ought to know better) disagreed and wrote, essentially that Ms. Ledbetter ought to have known about the discrimination in her salary from the very beginning and in order to have gained redress, should have filed grievances at every instance. They used plenty of the court's own rulings as precedence for this. Every single one of which as been overwritten by Congress. They ignored the intent and the scope of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and the National Labor Relations Act.

You see, the original court in which Ms. Ledbetter filed her claim she was given redress for the wrong and was awarded $3.5 million dollars in lost income. That seemed a little steep to me when I first saw the number, because at the time of her retirement the disparity in income was not that great. Ms. Ledbetter was earning $3,727 per month; the lowest paid male area manager received $4,286 per month, the highest paid, $5,236. However, then I realized that while the immediate difference was not great, this difference would play out for perhaps 30 years or more during her retirement. Ms. Ledbetter had not had the opportunity to save as much for retirement, nor Social Security as her male counterparts and so that must also be accounted for in the redress.

You may be wondering why Ms. Ledbetter won. Well, until the Supreme Court ruling, the presumption was that the clock (180 days) started running on the day that one recieved the most recent (or current) discriminatory paycheck, NOT the first discriminatory paycheck. So the court in which she originally filed suit found that she presented a valid case and gave her redress. Goodyear Tire did not like that answer and filed an appeal. Thus the case wound it's way to the Supreme Court.

Think back for a moment to your employment experiences. Go ahead. I'll wait. Think about the notion that salary decisions might be public knowledge.

Have you finished guffawing yet?

That's exactly what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg thought too. She wrote the dissenting opinion. Then took the unusual step of reading it from the bench after the majority opinion had been read. If you've never read Supreme Court decisions, this is a good one to cut your teeth on. It's fairly straightforward and you already know what's going on. Even more interesting (to me) are the dissenting opinions. The writing in those are more relaxed and less full of legalese, because they don't count for as much. That is, future jurisprudence will not necessarily be relying upon the dissent. Reading the dissenting opinion from the bench is very unusual. It carries a certain weight; it goes beyond saying, "We in the minority disagree." to also spitting on your shoes. In public. Here is some of what Justice Ginsburg had to say:

The Court’s insistence on immediate contest overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination. Pay disparities often occur, as they did in Ledbetter’s case, in small increments; cause to suspect that discrimination is at work develops only over time. Comparative pay information, moreover, is often hidden from the employee’s view. Employers may keep under wraps the pay differentials maintained among supervisors, no less the reasons for those differentials. Small initial discrepancies may not be seen as meet for a federal case, particularly when the employee, trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment, is averse to making waves.

Pay disparities are thus significantly different from adverse actions “such as termination, failure to promote, . . . or refusal to hire,” all involving fully communicated discrete acts, “easy to identify” as discriminatory.


There is so much more. This may not sound like much to the untrained ear/eye, but in the language of the Supreme Court it is a stinging rebuke. Especially since it was delivered in a public address.

And so things stood for nearly two years. But two days ago, President Obama and the U.S. Senate set the scales of justice just a little bit right again. The Senate approved legislation which would establish that the clock starts with the most recent discriminatory paycheck NOT the first one. Then President Obama signed it into law. It was the second law he signed since taking office. It's known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. And, God bless her, Lilly won't get one thin dime from it. The rest of us will. Or not. But at least we will have gained an equal footing on which to stand up for ourselves.

As Gail Collins wrote in yesterday's NYTimes:

Ledbetter, who was widowed in December, won’t get any restitution of her lost wages; her case can’t be retried. She’s now part of a long line of working women who went to court and changed a little bit of the world in fights that often brought them minimal personal benefit.

I highly recommend that op-ed piece. For two reasons. First, you'll read about women who have paved the way for the rest of us, the un-sung heroines in mostly blue-collar jobs who made it possible for us to get where we are today. Second, many of the cases that Gail writes about, were also used as precedence by Alito, et al; cases the Court ruled on which were then overwritten by Congress.

So, if you think about it today, say a prayer for Lilly Ledbetter and Eulalie Cooper and Patricia Lorance and Lorena Weeks. They fought so we could stand.
 
posted by Sonja Andrews at 7:10 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 3 comments links to this post
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Gender Analyzer
From Gender Analyzer (ht - Andrew Jones) -


Results
We have strong indicators that http://emergingwomen.blogspot.com is written by a man (91%).





okay... apparently we are all men. what????

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posted by Julie at 9:56 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 7 comments links to this post
Monday, January 26, 2009
International Women's Day Synchroblog/Synchrosermon
Each year on March 8 the world takes time to observe International Women's Day. It is a day dedicated to the celebration of women’s social, economic and political achievements worldwide. In the United States, this official day of observance is rooted in women’s efforts to campaign for rights to work, vote and hold public office, culminating on March 8, 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights, and an end to sweatshop conditions and child labor. In the early 1910s, the concept gained recognition in the international community and grew momentum as women across Europe continued to fight for the right to work and protest against ensuing world conflict.

This year March 8 falls on a Sunday. I know Sundays aren't typically big blogging days since they are days when we take time to focus on our faith. But for that reason, I think we should make an effort this year to bring our faith to the celebration of IWD. So I'd like to suggest a joint synchroblog/synchrosermon observance of the day for Christians. Too often in the church not only are the voices of women not heard, but the stories of biblical women remain untold. But the Bible is full of inspiring examples of women faithfully following God and making a tremendous difference for the Kingdom. So this year on International Women's Day I invite men and women alike to take the time to explore the lives of these great women through a -

Synchroblog - on March 8 post something on your blog about biblical women. This could be your experience (or lack thereof) with learning about these women, a reflection on the life of a particular woman, an exploration of the ways women led in scripture, or a midrashic retelling of the life of one of these women. Have fun with it, push yourself to discover new things, and let's tell these stories together.

Synchrosermon - these stories of women are rarely told from the pulpit, so I encourage those of you preaching or teaching on March 8 to include the stories of biblical women in whatever you do. The church often wont hear about these women or learn from their example, unless pastors and teachers make a deliberate effort to dwell on the mothers of our faith as much as they usually dwell on the fathers.

It's not difficult. This isn't like other negative or angry IWD blog endeavours I've seen (and participated in) in the past. It is simply a way to positively encourage women and let women's voices be heard.

So if you are interested in participating, leave a comment at my blog here so I can post the list of participants. Feel free to promote this among your networks as well. And thanks for helping women continue to have a voice.

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posted by Julie at 2:40 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments links to this post
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Changes Ahead
I just want to give a heads up that there will be some major changes occurring here at Emerging Women soon. Members will be finding out more about this very soon, and the changes should be public shortly thereafter. I hope this will strengthen this community and help push the conversation here forward.
 
posted by Julie at 9:26 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments links to this post
Sunday, January 18, 2009
What Would You Like To Inagurate?
"One. Trillion. Dollars."

TIME says that's Obama's take on what we are called to invest to kick-start the U.S. economy.

On Tuesday Barack Obama will take the next step in expressing his vision for this country and inviting us to celebrate and invest in that vision. And when the dude says invest, he is talking about your heart, your mind and yes your your share in one trillion dollars. It will be the inaguration of a ginormous investment. Invest almost enough and you may get modest improvements or even continued loss...Invest fully and appropriately to the situation and you may live to see a fabulous rising of what was dead (can we say that last 8 years!) into new life.

Like, can you imagine a half-dead Jesus limping down off the cross?

Invest Fully and something may come alive in you that was dead before. What could it be?

What is the spirit inviting you to inagurate in your life? What investment would it take to kick-start your Life?

What's state of the union between you and Spirit like in your inner economy: downturn or upturn? What would make YOU a full-out expression of the Creator's greatness as you look toward inagurating a new day in our country's history and a new day in the living herstory of God's Life in YOU?

Happy Inaguration Ladies (and you nice guys out there who like EW),

Love & Peace,
Jemila K

www.leapcoachinc.com

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posted by Jemila Kwon at 3:20 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments links to this post
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Remembering Father Richard John Neuhaus
Note to the reader: this tribute originally appeared on The Big Red Couch. As a thinker, a woman, and a theologian, I have deep, rich respect for this man, in an era when "a good man is hard to find."

Last week, I gave a gasp and a shudder, then immediately burst into tears. Someone that I had met once died. That was all.

But that wasn't all. I had heard of his serious illness; heard the call to prayer, on his behalf. I had once heard him speak.

More importantly, he had heard me.

The man spoke with President Bush, and President Reagan. With Pope John Paul II. The President of Poland has issued a statement of grief upon the man's demise. But one day, this man spoke with me.

I was vaguely aware of his political import; I was more aware of his status as a theological giant who lived in Manhattan. There hung about him both wit, and a scent of pipe or cigar tobacco, when I met him. He was animated with energy, gracious in his attention, and radiated the spiritual comfort of a man who, it felt, has spent more hours praying than I had been alive. It seemed appropriate, and familiar, to call him father - a picture of a papa to millions of people, peasants and popes alike.

Father Richard John Neuhaus - for the last week, hearing and reading the name make tears sting my eyes. Not because of his time on "Meet the Press," but because of a few winter hours several years ago.

The cold evening I met "Father John," as George W. often called him, he was wrapped in a thick overcoat and eager to arrive at a meeting at which he was keynote speaker. I found myself handed with a rare privilege, and one which I have only appreciated more as time has passed. I knew I was meeting an important man, and a great man, though I hardly knew how important, and how great. I had not seen the photos of him with world leaders at that time. I knew him as a name on "First Things," a remarkably profound publication. But he was simple, unaffected, welcoming. He and I sat and spoke of liturgy. He listened to my opinions - which I have never been shy in sharing. (There remains in me the rather Scottish certainty that my opinions and thought, carefully measured, are just as good as anybody else's - no matter who they have on speed dial, or what country they run. It is, I think, a Highlander characteristic.)

I remember little of the address he gave that night. It was profound, I recall, and stimulating. We had, I know, a spirited exchange in the car on the way to drop him at his hotel. And though I still don't know if he or I stepped forward first, he gave me a quick, impromptu hug in departure. It felt rather like he had laid his hands on my head in blessing, though it was nothing so grand.

Upon his death I found myself shaken. More than that, I felt myself wanting to chime in - to add my experiences to the community pool of memories that has been collecting in the wake of his passing. I wanted to include that I, too, had personal experience of the man who has helped shape presidential policy on issues as grave as abortion. But it wasn't out of a desire for climbing any ladders, or garnering any accolades. The mark of a holy man is that he brings out what good there is in the people around him. And I think that our communal hopes of having our voices heard by others as we each share personal reminiscences are due to a desire to be like him.

"I want to be that well read," some think. "I want to hone just a portion of that rigorous intellect," others determine. "I want to make people feel that welcome in my presence," "I want to be more disciplined in my writing, like he was..." "I want to wrap all aspects of my life around my faith, like he did..." "I want to know when to take things seriously, and when to laugh them off, like he did..."

We want to be like you, Father Neuhaus. In whatever small way we resemble you, we want to be like you, because you wanted to be like the Father.

We are left, now, without your example, and we fear we cannot model it as well as you did. But, as you would remind us, we are left with the Divine example, we all inherit the same Spirit of the Lord, who empowers us to be more like Jesus.

But we will miss you.
 
posted by Elizabeth Glass-Turner at 10:45 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments links to this post
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Movie Review: "Marley and Me"
I haven’t set foot inside a commercial movie theater since 1993. No, I’m not kidding. Ticket prices, higher priorities, other interests and an utter lack of interest in most of the junk Hollywood cranks out these days disguised as “movies” have kept me away from theaters for years. So you know something unusual – maybe even remarkable – drew me into the theater today to see the comedy/drama Marley and Me.

Truth is, I wasn’t planning on seeing Marley and Me - or anything else. But my husband and older sons were on an all-day youth group outing, leaving me home with our youngest. Josiah wasn’t exactly jumping for joy about being left behind. So I called the local cinema center on a lark, got the usual unintelligible recording, but deciphered just enough of it to catch something about a family and a yellow Labrador retriever. I’ve been a sucker for yellow Labs ever since Old Yeller. In fact, our good dog is a yellow Lab. Marley and Me was a no-brainer.

I bought two matinee tickets for Josiah and me and walked into a theater that was two-thirds full, oppressively stuffy, and had the soles of my shoes sticking to the floor. I almost turned around and walked out. Only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to disappoint Josiah. I’m glad I stayed. Marley and Me was a pleasant surprise.

This charming, rambunctious, family-oriented movie is about a “clearance puppy,” aka; “the world’s worst dog,” and the havoc and happiness he wreaks within the Grogan household. Based on the best selling book from ex-Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Josh Grogan, Marley and Me has Owen Wilson playing Grogan with deadpan good humor and Jennifer Aniston as his wife, Jen.

The movie opens just after the Grogan’s wedding in southern Michigan which is accompanied by a blizzard. The couple moves to “some place warmer” – Florida – where both husband and wife land jobs as reporters. Josh reports mostly mundane stories for the Sun-Sentinel until his hard-boiled editor (Alan Arkin) asks him to take on a twice-a-week column. Self-described as “full of surprises,” Josh reluctantly accepts and soon finds his niche writing columns about “regular, every day stuff:” his wife, their growing family, and the uproarious antics of the rascally, rambunctious Marley (named for the singer Bob).

One thing I especially appreciated about this movie is that it portrays the stresses and strains, exhaustions and joys of family life realistically, without stereotypes of clichés. Jen eventually gives up her career to stay home full-time with the Grogan’s sons, who are later joined by “whups,” their third child, a daughter. The family gets a minivan, moves into a larger home in Boca and eventually settles in Pennsylvania where Grogan writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Dissatisfied with hard news reporting, Grogan eventually finds his way back to what he loves most and does best – writing a column about “regular, every day stuff.”

Meanwhile, Grogan’s “regular, every day” family life - complete with dirty diapers, messy houses, thunder storms, unfinished homework, soccer games and snowball fights - is subtly contrasted to the ostensibly more glitzy, glamorous life of Sebastian Tunney, a hot bachelor reporter. A choice scene occurs toward the end of the movie in which Grogan runs in to Tunney - on assignment for yet another plum story - and passing through Philadelphia. Tunney inquires about the family and Grogan proudly pulls out a snapshot of Jen and the kids and of course, the four-legged rascal, Marley. They exchange a few pleasantries before Grogan mentions that he has to get going because his son has a soccer game. The two friends shake hands and promise to “get together some time.” Tunney flashes his trademark toothy grin and roams down the sidewalk, hitting on yet another young woman while Grogan, clearly the richer and more fulfilled of the two, heads back to his wife and kids and that crazy, loveable yellow Lab that has a few surprises himself.

I forgot all about the over-warm theater, the stale air and sticky cement floor about halfway through this movie. It was delightful. I walked out of the theater hugging my son and hurrying home to hug my good dog and the rest of my family.

To be sure, Marley and Me isn’t Gone With the Wind, but it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s a gem of a little “sleeper” and has a gentle, unpretentious quality to it that all dog lovers – and everyone else – can enjoy. Go see it. And be sure to bring Kleenex.

Caution: Marley and Me is rated PG. A few brief scenes and lines may be inappropriate for very young viewers.

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posted by Euodia at 8:59 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 6 comments links to this post
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Best of 2008
"Best Of" posts are beginning to pop up all over like dandelions in springtime. They're sparkly and eye-catching. I always like them because they catch the year in review and give the reader a walk down memory lane. But ... you knew there was a "but" coming. So often in church-y circles the "best of" posts are either all men or men in overwhelming proportions. I've been blogging for more than three years now and I keep hoping this will change. That the onset of the internet will bring about changes to this dynamic. But I'm not seein' it yet.

Don't get me wrong. There are some men (Rick "Blind Beggar" Meigs, Bill Kinnon, Brother Maynard, Brad Sargent, John Smulo, Shawn Anthony and some others to name a few) who are wholly committed to women in full partnership in life, ministry, blogging, you-name-it. They have gone above and beyond to support women and engage them equally.

What does that look like? I know a lot of folks are put off by idea of feminism and I'm mystified by that. But let's look at it from another perspective. We all look at families and tend to agree that a "whole and healthy" family includes a mother (female) and a father (male). No matter what your feelings are about who should be in charge and when, we all know that healthy families require both the male and the female perspective to adequately parent, raise, etc. the children. At the very least, there are whole books on the subject of healthy families requiring two parents where one takes on the feminine role and the other the masculine (in the case of homosexual relationships). We know very clearly what the lack of men does to a family and what the lack of a mother can bring to children. So my question is ... why do we find this lack of the feminine voice or perspective so very acceptable in church/ministry leadership?

It is in the interest of balancing out the perspectives that I present my Best of 2008 ... plus one from 2007 because it was so good.

... in no particular order ...

Erika Haub - The Margins - “the church that came to me

“When she saw me her eyes teared up, and as she spoke she started to cry. She told me that she could not believe that I had let her into my home, with full access to all of our things, and then closed my door and gone to sleep. She said that she had never felt so trusted by someone; she had never felt so much pride and dignity and worth as someone who did not have to be doubted and feared.”

Kathy Escobar - the carnival in my head - “what could be

here’s my hope:

that we’d be people & communities radically in touch with Christ’s love for us & continue to risk our comfort, ego, time, money, and heart to offer mercy & compassion to others. that we’d be somehow known as ‘those weird people who love other people unconditionally, tangibly, and in all kinds of crazy, unexplainable ways.”

Tracy Simmons - The Best Parts - “The Rescue Parade

When people rescue dogs or trees or human beings, they are displaying how much they are made in the image of their creator. He longs to see all things rescued and restored. It's in our spiritual DNA whether we are aware of it or not.

Makeesha Fisher - Swingin’ From the Vine - “Missional: It Sure Ain’t Velveeta

Being missional is hard work. Getting down and dirty in people’s lives, giving everyone a platform and allowing your voice to form from within the context of community versus individual aspirations and spirituality is not a nice easy package deal. You can’t just cut off a block from the end of the yellow brick and nuke it to gooey perfection. It’s time consuming and risky and generally not very “pretty”.

Rose Madrid-Swetman - RMD -

Building To Serve Others Part 1
Building To Serve Others Part 2
Building To Serve Others Part 3

We discussed the pros and cons, the why’s and why not’s of taking the step of leasing a space. Our biggest fear was that we would lose sight of the congregation as the church. You see when we rented a basement room for Sunday worship only, everything else we did as a faith community happened in our neighborhoods, the host community and in homes. Moving into a leased space that we would have 24/7 access to could endanger us to put the emphasis on the building as the church rather than the church being the people.

Heidi Renee - Redemption Junkie - “Great Losers

I just can't seem to walk past a smidgen of interesting brokenness or discarded story. I am so moved by outsider and found art because deep in my heart I long to be a mosaic artist. I have not yet begun to piece together those precious bits and fragments pocketed along my journey.

Julie Clawson - One Hand Clapping - “Experience and Empathy

It’s one thing to intellectually acknowledge the need for better health care around the world, I am discovering it is another thing altogether to attempt to imagine oneself in another’s position. I knew the need for equity before, but my experiences have helped me to empathize. I know I am lucky and privileged. I don’t desire to trivialize or cheapen the plight of others by claiming to truly understand, but I am a firm believer that empathy is necessary if one is to truly care and make a difference. And experience helps with that.

Grace - Kingdom Grace - “Disciples or Converts

I think that we often circumvent the real life of the Spirit in conversion methods, discipleship methods, and in the way that we function together as groups of believers. What are the ways that we tamper with natural growth and unintentionally cause lack of reproduction and other genetic deformities?

Pam Hogeweide - How God Messed Up My Religion - “First Time To Notice A Homeless Person

He looked over at me. Our eyes locked, me the middle-class teenager from a middle-class Vegas family; him, the ghost of someone’s son now orphaned and phantomed like the nobody he knew he was born to be and die as was. It was a definitive moment for me. In that one glance I saw past the dirty beggar who didn’t have a job or a home. I caught a swift glimpse of a man who was not born for greatness, but was just born. He had no purpose, no grand plan. No derailed American dream to be somebody. For an instance I saw my brother, my father, my son and my husband. This unknown man was more than a Utah phantom. But that one look told me that not only had he become invisible to others, the true man of who he was – this beggar was an imposter of his true greatness – but more urgently, he had become invisible to himself. He did not matter.

Christine Sine - Godspace - “Discerning The Winter Blues

I was reminded that I once read that the tradition of Advent wreaths actually began because farmers took the wheels of their wagons during the wet winter months and this became the framework for the Advent wreath. Now I am not sure that any of us would consider taking the wheels off our cars over the winter but I do think that we need to build times of rest, reflection and renewal into our schedules. Maybe we should stop driving our cars at least for a few days so that we can relax and refresh. We are not meant to continually live in harvest season. We are not meant to be continually producing fruit or even be continually blossoming. In fact plants that are forced into bloom at the wrong season by florists never recover their natural rhythm. Most of them will never blossom again.

Cheesehead - A Cheesehead In Paradise - “A Sermon for the Celebration of the Reign of Christ

(Let me say for the record, if any of you are considering running for elected office, and someone comes to church to see what kind of sermons you listen to, and nobody finds anything even the least bit sketchy that I have said—if nothing I preach is found to be even the slightest bit counter-cultural and it’s all perfectly agreeable—that’s probably not a good thing and you should call me on it.)

Christy Lambertson - Dry Bones Dance - Abortion Series

1 - Late Night Comedians, American Politicians & Abortion Week
2 - Nuance is Bad For Fundraising
3 - Put Away the Coat Hangers
4 - Let Me Tell You About Your Experience
5 - We Have Met The Enemy and They Are Partly Right (part I)
6 - We Have Met The Enemy and They Are Partly Right (part II)

That’s why I have declared it to be Abortion Week here at Dry Bones Dance (or possibly Abortion Month, depending how long I go between posts.) Whatever your position is, I’m not going to try to change it. Really. I promise. I just want to take an emotionally charged, extremely polarizing issue, and show how our public conversation about it - from both sides – virtually guarantees that we won’t ever get anywhere on the issue.

Erin Word - Decompressing Faith - “The Tribe

This tribe is not bound by collective adherence to a doctrine or by a building, but in mutual love for each other and a desire to set each other free from the things which have chained us. My tribe is not a place where anyone has to justify their experiences, but a place where we learn from a myriad of voices. My belief in the value of Jesus in my life is unwavering; many other aspects of my faith are in constant flux as I learn and grow. This I am able to do in a community where boundaries are elastic and belief is defined only by a love for Christ. Searching together for ways to better love on the world and on others, as Jesus exemplified, is the common thread we share.

Sally Coleman - Eternal Echoes “Perichoresis

Sally writes gorgeous poetry and takes stunning photographs of beaches, sunsets and people.

AJ Schwanz - AJ Schwanz “High Bar

And then I wonder: am I just being me-centric? Is this something God’s calling me to, or is this me being idealistic and believing the grass is always greener? What if it doesn’t look the way I think it should? What if it’s right in front of my face and I’m ignoring it because I don’t like the way God’s engineered it? When push comes to shove, would I make the sacrifice; or would I be sad, hang my head, and walk away?

Cynthia Ware - The Digital Sanctuary - “Lord Teach Us To Pray, Virtually

I see the benefits….yet there is a part of me that still feels like something is funny about it. It feels like it should be ‘in addition to…’ instead of a replacement for interacting with your small group or people that can actually pray and stop by and drop off a casserole.

Molly Aley - Adventures In Mercy - “Obama Ushers In End Times

I literally thought that God wanted me to war against my culture. I believed that culture was out to get me, out to get my kids, out to get my church. I mistakenly forgot the real enemy, and thought it was my culture instead, unlike God, who knew exactly what the real problem was when He came down INTO an equally-fallen culture. He saturated Himself in it, unafraid to pal around with the worst of the lot and, interestingly, the only ones He had a real problem with were the ones righteously abstaining from said culture.

Peggy Brown - The Virtual Abbess - “Abi and Covenant

What The Abbess is looking for as part of the whole missional order discussion is a "rule of life" and a "rhythm of life" that provides a group of Christ followers with a focus, a framework, for the working out of our cHesed -- our already-existing sacred duty to love God and love each other -- in the context of apprenticing disciples.

Sr. Joan Chittister - From Where I Stand - “A Glimpse Of Oneness For A Change

The struggle between “red states” and “blue states” in the “United States” may be a political problem but, if truth were told, “oneness” is not something religion has been particularly good at over time either. Religions and religious professionals have been far more devoted over the years to creating Absolutes of themselves. They routinely cast other religious and their scriptures and prayers and beliefs into hellfire. They persecuted and oppressed and either forced people into their own religious tribe or hounded them out of it. They made converts at the end of a sword and divided families and called one another pagans and infidels. Many still do.

Judith Hougen - Emergent Self - “Part Two - Incarnational Reality

With very few exceptions, none of the people who've helped me understand and walk in incarnational reality have been Evangelical Christians. Which might help explain why conservative Christians can be mean sometimes. You really must deny incarnational reality (except in theory) in order to behave so contrary to the way of Jesus. You would have to work awfully hard to denigrate others while walking in a conscious awareness of God's loving presence. Incarnational reality demands a response--either we open to Christ in each encounter, each breath, or we honor--I dare say worship--our own feelings, agenda, and sense of rightness.

Elizabeth Potter - Still Emerging - “They Used To Call Me Betty

The lack of fit intensified as I grew older such that when I relocated to a new city a number of years ago, I decided to ‘change’ my name. Rather than introducing myself to new people I met as “Betty,” I asked them to call me “Elizabeth.” It has taken years for my family to adjust to this ‘new’ moniker, but finally I have a name that fits. It is strong, and regal, and seems ‘just the right size.’ They used to call me “Betty,” but I have chosen to rename myself. Hello, my name is “Elizabeth.”

Kim Petersen - Chrysalis Voyage - “Robust Faith

Maybe it’s why I liked this response from a listener who wrote in: “Doubt is not the opposite of faith. Doubt is faith struggling. Where God is concerned there must always be room for doubt.” Chief Rabbi Sacks picked up on it earlier in his interview by challenging Humphrys: “If you didn’t have faith you wouldn’t ask the question…Faith is in the question.” Humphrys dismisses the statement as a cop out meant to shut down the conversation, but for me this statement contained the crux of the whole issue. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a shut down in intellect and a blind leap into the unknown. There is an intentional ongoing search for Truth and a coming to grips with and peace with that which will always remain a mystery. They are not mutually exclusive. A robust faith encompasses the doubt, the struggle.

cross posted on my blog - Calacirian

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posted by Sonja Andrews at 1:46 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 8 comments links to this post
Friday, December 19, 2008
Hierarchy, Freedom, and Emergent
cross posted from my blog...

I was out shopping recently and saw a baby boy onesie (it was blue, so in the strictly color coded baby clothes world, it was intended for boys and boys only...). On the front was the phrase "Second in Command After Daddy." Now as a good feminist that pissed me off. Who in their right mind would stick that on their baby, even as a joke? Even tongue-in-cheek promotions of such family hierarchy encourage the myth that having a penis somehow makes you more important than women.

If you haven't gathered it by now, I'm not a huge fan of hierarchical leadership (even when it's not based on gender). I prefer flat networked structures that allow for input from all. And in truth, it's less about equality or sameness and more about simply respecting people as people. Letting voices be heard and appreciating contributions for what they are.

So on one level, I appreciate that fact that Emergent Village is transitioning to a more decentralized structure. While some may be heralding Tony Jones stepping down as National Coordinator to symbolize the dismantling of Emergent, it was meant as an opportunity to allow a wider variety of people to step up into leadership positions (as the amusing series of I Am The Emergent National Coordinator videos demonstrates). And as Tony mentioned on his blog yesterday, "Any time you can dethrone an overeducated, loud, brash, white man,people just feel more openness for their own voice to be heard." It's all about reducing hierarchy and opening up the conversation.

But will it work? In brief discussions with other women leaders in the emerging movement, I've heard the question raised if the lack of a central leader will actually help women become more involved in the conversation. Many post-evangelical women still struggle to jump into the conversation, much less assert themselves as leaders. For good or bad, they still seek invitations to come alongside and be a part of the in-group. With no one to officially offer that invitation, the question remains if the women will step up or just remain on the sidelines peeking in. I honestly have no idea. It would be easy to say that women just need to get over it and assert themselves, but that would stray into dangerous psychological territory and miss the point. I don't want to need a man's permission to do anything, but an invitation (from someone) is still what many women are looking for.

So I'm curious to see how the decentralization of power affects the presence of women in Emergent. I'd of course like to see a vibrant representation of women in Emergent leadership. I'm encouraged to hear from some that at The Great Emergence event men at times seemed like the token voice. But to the best of my knowledge, I haven't seen any women making national coordinator videos. That's not a criticism, just an expression of curiosity of where this will lead. I hope the speculation of other emerging women will be wrong and we will see an increase of women's voices in Emergent. But at the same time be proactively aware that the opposite could just as easily occur.

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posted by Julie at 12:18 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 19 comments links to this post
Thursday, December 18, 2008
"True Woman" - ?
Are you a "biblical woman" according to the True Woman Manifesto?
 
posted by Euodia at 8:54 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 12 comments links to this post
Thursday, December 11, 2008
"The Shack"
The Shack
By William P. Young

The Shack is one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read. Creative, intriguing, gutsy and a thoroughly engaging read, this remarkable novel addresses the age-old question of why/how a loving God can allow suffering and evil to exist in this world.

Overwhelmed by "The Great Sadness" that threatens to engulf him with tsunami severity, Mackenzie "Mack" Allen Phillips receives a cryptic note in his mailbox one winter afternoon. There’s no return address. No postal mark. No signature. The typed note is signed "Papa" - the word his wife, Nan, uses for God. Unbelievably, the sender asks Mack to meet him at the shack - the site of an immense tragedy about four years prior.

Against his better judgment, Mack gingerly, reluctantly finds himself on the road to the wilderness area where his young daughter, Missy, was abducted during a family camping trip and subsequently murdered. What and Who he finds at the shack travels with Mack through his blistering rage, sorrow, confusion, disillusionment, and accusation as well as infinite amazement, forgiveness, grace, and finally, immeasurable joy and wonder - without the clichés and canned answers on either side of the equation.

Set in the Pacific Northwest, this intense, beautifully written story is “ghostwritten" by the author as “told by” Mack, whose unspeakable personal loss leads him on a Bunyanesque journey into eternity - and some startling surprises.

Refreshingly, The Shack isn't about churchianity, sitting in a pew on Sundays, skimming through a Scripture reading so you can mark it off your daily to do list, or textbook academia that’s as dry as the Atacama. It centers on relationships that are as bold and dazzling and mysterious as a brand new harvest moon. The imaginative portrayal of the Trinitarian God is especially delicious and exhilarating in this regard, and within biblical bounds.

Note: The Shack</ is a novel, as in fiction. It neither purports nor pretends to be a theological treatise. So if you’re of the grim, puritanical and myopic American Gothic persuasion, never mind. Dollars to donuts you won’t get it.

That said, I’d like to add that of the nearly 200 books I've read thus far this year, The Shack is among my top three titles. I read the whole thing (250+ pages) cover-to-cover in just over 24 hours. It's THAT good. As in, brilliant. If you don’t read anything else this year and you’re looking for something fresh, authentic and amazing, don’t miss The Shack.

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posted by Euodia at 3:30 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 5 comments links to this post
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Give Exploited Women Hope this Christmas
World Vision offers the opportunity to donate to help restore sexually exploited girls this holiday season.
An estimated 2 million children are ensnared in the global commercial sex trade — most of them girls. Those who escape or are rescued face a difficult physical and emotional recovery process. Your gift will offer them hope through assistance such as medical care, nutritious food, nonformal education, vocational training, compassionate counseling, and, where possible, reintegration into a loving family environment.


Click here to give these women hope this Christmas or to find other ways to give to our global neighbors this year.

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posted by Julie at 8:52 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments links to this post
Monday, December 01, 2008
Oppression of Women
Eugene Cho has posted a troubling but necessary piece on the oldest injustice in human history - how women are treated. He tells of Afghani women who have had acid thrown on them because they dared to attend school. And of women in his church who had never been told that they were created equally in God's image. It's worth a read as a reminder of how many women still struggle under lies and oppression.

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posted by Julie at 9:22 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments links to this post
Monday, November 24, 2008
Eco-Spirituality in Christ
I came across some writing about ecopsychology which I would like to share:

"An individual's harmon with his or her 'own deep self' requires not merely a journey to the interior but a harmonizing with the environmental world." (James Hillman, quoted in Parenting with Spirit by Jane Bartlett).

I was invibing this idea and imagining that the same is true of our spiritual selves, and not only our psychological selves. We are created from God, from the stuff the earth. What connects us to the earth connects us to our 'own deep self,' and also to the One from Whom all created essence flows and vibrates its creational songs, crying out the Joy! of Being. What's connecting you to you to the earth, to your 'own deep self' and to the One, like you and I, who entered the created order through a natural mother and cried, "I am here!"?

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posted by Jemila Kwon at 12:40 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments links to this post
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Female Christian Bloggers
Andrew Jones (tallskinnykiwi) has a post up about Female Christian Bloggers. It's a great resource of a number of female voices out there reflecting on faith, theology, and life. So go check it out!

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posted by Julie at 8:23 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 3 comments links to this post
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Elections, Sexism, and Sarah Palin
In the recent US Presidential election, we experienced both the closest the glass ceiling has ever come to being shattered as well as evidence that sexism is alive and well in our country today. I was intrigued by Jim Wallis's recent post at God's Politics where he implored the nation to not use sexist criteria for judging Sarah Palin post-election. He wrote -
Basing post-election analysis on Gov. Palin’s wardrobe, insults to her family, and whether or not she answered the door in a towel is sexist.

If Obama had lost this campaign, no journalist would be commenting on the color of Joe Biden’s ties or the Scranton native’s trips to Brooks Brothers. On this blog we have already started a discussion around the many opportunities our country has for reconciliation. This can occur not just around race but also gender and the many other things that divide us.

Go ahead. Disagree with her politics and her policies. There are a lot of people who are going to get into some healthy fights about the future of the Republican Party. But like her or not, to reduce Sarah Palin to her wardrobe is wrong and is a great way to start this post-election season off on the wrong foot.


Almost as if on cue, the comments to his post do exactly what he was warning against delving into such controversial topics as whether or not mothers should work outside the home. What has your experience been this election cycle with sexism? Do you think the glass ceiling will ever be shattered?

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posted by Julie at 3:32 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 7 comments links to this post
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Book Review: "Grace"
I finished reading Richard Paul Evans’ newest release, Grace, last week. I held off on writing a review because I wanted to ruminate on the novel awhile, let it roll around in my head and “marinate” heart and soul. I also wanted to take my time because you can’t rush a review of Grace. It’s not that kind of book. Here’s why:

When I read the Author’s Note regarding the 1874 child abuse case of Mary Ellen Wilson, I almost put Grace back on the library shelf. I can’t get near that topic without one of two reactions: dissolving into a soggy heap of tears, or wanting to personally thrash the stuffing out of the perpetrators.

As the mother of four boys and the Children’s Ministries Director for our church, child abuse enrages me beyond words. It also rips my heart out. Frankly, I wasn’t up for either emotion the day Grace came into the library (It took awhile. I was #23 in the “On Hold” queue). Tempted to put it back, I refrained from doing so for just one reason: I own every title Evans has ever written. So, on the strength of Evans’ prior work, I decided to trust him with this new book. I stuffed Grace into my bag en route to the YMCA with my youngest. Poolside while Josiah splashed down the water slide, I gingerly withdrew Grace and started reading.

Grace opens with a recap of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl and some grandfatherly reflections from protagonist Eric Welch on Christmas Day 2006 (p.5). Told in the first person, the story unfolds in flashback fashion during Eric’s teen years and moves from October 1962 to early January 1963.

Eric’s father, a construction worker, is unable to work due to Guillain Barre Syndrome. The family of four, which includes Eric’s ten year-old brother and best friend, Joel, is forced to move from southern California to a rundown, low-rent part of Utah. (I have a good friend with GBS. This is the only time I’ve seen this debilitating disease appear in a novel.) We struggle with Eric through the first four chapters as he endures the slings and arrows of being “the new kid” in middle school and all the attendant traumas and woes that unhappy scenario typically includes. In Eric’s case it’s exacerbated by being poor and from out-of-state to boot.

We meet fifteen year-old Grace in Chapter Five. She’s foraging for food in a dumpster behind “McBurger Queen,” Eric’s part-time (scum bag) employer. On page 34 we find out that Grace is a runaway: “I’m not going home.” But she has no where to go. Besides, there’s something about Grace (and grace) that’s …unexplained. Mysterious. Something that causes us as well as Eric to pause…

Unwilling to leave Grace roaming the streets alone on a cold October night, Eric brings her to the “clubhouse” he and Joel built behind the family’s sprawling, dilapidated home. The next 240 pages detail the tender uncertainties of First Love, selflessness and sacrifice, courage in the face of overwhelming odds, the Cuban Missile Crisis, family and emotional struggles, and Eric’s rage at the people who “coulda, shoulda, woulda” protected young Grace from her predacious stepfather – but didn’t. The willful ignorance of neighbors, school officials and law enforcement receive a withering indictment that’s all the more effective for its understated subtlety: “I sat alone staring at the back of a pew while people who didn’t really know anything about Grace talked about her as if they suddenly cared.” (p. 292). Evans gently but unequivocally shows how any willful blindness or ignorance makes us all complicit when it comes to crimes against children:

“You killed her. You and Dad and Joel and her pathetic, worthless mother and those stupid, idiotic policemen who just couldn’t wait to be heroes. … You all killed Grace…’ (p. 295)


If the story stopped here, it would have been poignant, but Evans doesn’t let it go. Not quite. He doesn’t leave us outraged, wrung-out, hopeless and helpless. Instead, he subtly intertwines themes of God’s grace, redemption and restoration throughout this carefully crafted story of a teen runaway (see the bottom of page 296). This reaches its zenith in an Epilogue that is both hopeful and heart-wrenching. It is in these final, gripping pages that we see how tragedy transforms a painfully shy, self-conscious fourteen year-old boy “with acne and a bad hair cut” into a tough-as-nails, take-no-prisoners prosecutor whose life is forever and irrevocably changed by those late autumn and winter months of 1962 and a girl named Grace:

“I have spent my life hunting down and prosecuting people like Grace’s stepfather. I carry Grace’s locket into every trial. I’ve earned a reputation as a fierce courtroom combatant who takes every case personally. What Grace saw in the candle was true of me as well. I am feared. … Today I continue my crusade. I have testified about child abuse before state lawmakers more times than I can remember. I’ve lived to see child advocacy become a public concern. I am grateful that the world finally has the courage to open its eyes. My wife asks me when we can retire, but I tell her I’ll die in the saddle. With my last breath I’ll continue to fight for these children. I cannot save them all, but I can save some of them, and that’s worth doing. There are other Graces out there.” (p. 305, 306).


I was relieved that Evans avoids any graphic details regarding Grace’s family history, relationships or the experiences that led to her running away from home. Consummate storyteller that he is, Evans drops subtle clues and hints throughout the story and allows us to fill in the blanks without assaulting us with additional traumatic narrative.

In terms of format and style, Grace features Evans’ usual short chapters and his trademark “diary entries” that preface each chapter. The style is vintage Evans, luminous and evocative, introducing us to three-dimensional characters whom we come to know, love, and miss as plot, climax, and conclusion unfold with great sensitivity and sagacity. The book closes with A Letter from Richard Paul Evans detailing practical help readers can provide via The Christmas Box Initiative and Operation Kids. Web sites and a toll-free phone number are included.

All in all, Grace is a fast – but not a light - read. I read the book cover-to-cover in an afternoon. I wanted to stand up at cheer by the final page and plan on a "return visit" – just as soon as I restock my Kleenex stash.

Grace

By Richard Paul Evans

Simon & Schuster, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-5003-7

A Novel

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posted by Euodia at 3:27 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments links to this post