With A Scholarly Ribbon In My Hair…

…or, why we’re hearing so much about “masculine” Christianity.

Billy Sunday, grandpappy of 'muscular' Christianity...

I have a post up at Christianity Today’s blog for women, her.meneutics, responding to John Piper’s comments of last week (or so) that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.”

Here is some of what I said:

“…masculinity and femininity are not fixed and eternal sets of attributes, but are by and large culturally defined, and always changing. For example, blue was once more closely associated with “feminine” while pink was associated with “masculine.” In parts of Europe, it’s still not unusual for men to greet one another with kisses; in India, you might see two male friends walking arm in arm. And we have many examples of renaissance poetry—essentially love poetry—written by and for non-homosexual males who were close friends. By looking to other times and other places, we can see that masculinity is a way of behaving culturally that looks different in different times and places.”

And here are some things that other people have been saying:

  • “you seem uninformed”
  • “There’s a reason that throughout human history and in any cultural context patriarchy was THE norm–feminist thinking will go the way of the dodo. It’s only a matter of time.”
  • “CT tries to tie a scholarly ribbon in [her] hair” (that one’s from Douglas Wilson. BTW, Mr. Wilson, I don’t claim to be a scholar. I just claim the covenant covering of my husband’s Ph.D. We’re one flesh and he is my Head, after all.)
  • “Rachel is promoting is a damnable heresy that will bring many women (and men), including herself to everlasting perdition in hell! “
  • “put down your donuts and pick up a Bible.”

(I happened to mention that bit at the dinner table, and my 6 year old son said, “Anybody who says ‘put down your donuts and pick up a Bible’ is a bully.” Out of the mouths of babes.)

A commenter named Scott Allen also said:

  • “Women use church as a hammer to make men […] fit their norms. They substitute Precious Moments thoughts for actual Biblical teaching.”

Scott Allen, this one is for you–

But there are other comments, too, like this one, which has given me the very best kind of encouragement a writer could hope for (thanks, Natalie!)–

“It’s articles like this that shed light on something I’ve begun to notice on my own: there is an emphasis on masculinity in the Reformed tradition that alienates women (and disabled men like my husband who has progressive MS). For the first time in months, I was encouraged by what you wrote in your post on this matter. Thank you so much for giving me a beacon of light in the foggy world of my strange circumstances.”

Bet you can’t wait to read it! The whole thing is here.

I just want to be at OUR table…

While in the magical disembodied world that is the Internet, I have appeared to be where I always am, in fact, my family and I have been in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for more than a week. We’re getting ready to leave, and while we have had a wonderful time with friends both new and old, we are feeling ready to get back to our home (and our cats.)

(After a stop at the Harrisburg branch of the Appalachian Brewing Company, of course.)

My older son (Aidan, age 6) reminded me of the centrality of the table to what it means to be a family in a home. He’s not much for homesickness, or at least for openly expressing it, but today he asked if we’d be back tonight in time for dinner.

When I said I wasn’t sure, his eyes filled quickly with tears, which he tried to hide, and he bravely said,

“I just really wanted to eat dinner at our table again. I miss our table.

Yes, my son–that longing for the table–our table–is built into you from the beginning. It is a picture of the longing we all have for belonging at a great table with all our beloveds, where we are ourselves are beloved, and where grace and plenty abound.

Aidan and his Grandpa at 'our table.' "Prost!"

That’s why, as the French say, “the table comes first” (when purchasing furniture as newlyweds.)

That’s why, as Robert Farrar Capon says, the table–or board–is one of marriage’s two essential pieces of real estate.

(The other being bed, of course.)

And so we’re headed back to our table.

{Wishing you grace, peace, and love around your table, friends!}

Happy New Year! (or, why I don’t make resolutions)

Forty to forty-five percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.

I’m not one of them.

Anymore.*

As you might guess, many (if not most) of the commonest resolutions have to do with bodies, weight, food, eating–things that we talk a lot about around here.

I used to make many such resolutions–about exercising, about restricting calories, about general self-improvement.

Thumb through the Sunday paper around New Year’s Day, and you’ll see that many of the coupons and advertisements are aimed at getting you to part with your money in pursuit of these resolutions.

Lose weight fast! Get healthy quick! Get the body you want now!

These messages are filled to bursting with the notion that you can have it all and get a ‘perfect’ body with minimal effort. And they want to promise you that lots of other things will fall into place for you when you reach your goals: love, wealth, joy, popularity, peace, success–you name it. Of course they don’t come out and promise those things. They just offer the gentlest suggestions that their product–and that reshaping your body, remaking your diet, revamping your wardrobe, or whatever–will satisfy your deepest longings.

CC licensed, http://www.flickr.com

If you’ve read much of this blog, you can probably already guess what I think about such ads and their claims.

(If you haven’t read much of this blog, here, here, and here are good places to start–or start with the top 10 of the first 100 posts.)

I guess the thing I don’t particularly like about food/diet/body resolutions is that they seldom shine the light where we most need it. Being thinner doesn’t necessarily make you happier. Eating “healthy” can be a real bore.

Aiming for these things doesn’t necessarily help us be more fully the person God has made us to be–which, I suspect, may be the best goal of all.

I guess that’s my resolution, such that it is. Just one. And I can’t really do it all that well. But maybe that is the point. Not so much to try to become someone else–as resolutions would often have it–but, with God’s help, to live fully as we already are, in the place God has put us, with the people God has given us.

And that, to me, is at once much more ludicrous and much more sensible than any of the resolutions I’ve ever made.

CC licensed, http://www.flickr.com

Peace and joy to you this first day of the New Year. I’m looking forward to many good conversations with you here in 2012!

*{Well, okay. Since you twisted my arm, I am going to confess that I plan to incorporate a bit more physical exercise into my days to help with chronic back pain from my scoliosis and OI. But this isn’t a resolution, per se. Is it?}

{If you like resolutions, check out Gretchen Rubin’s Six Questions to Ask Yourself about Resolutions. She’s pro-resolutions, and explains how to make ones that have a good chance of actually sticking–and shining the light where you most need it.}