Monday, February 20, 2006

57. Heresy Anyone?

In a minor deviation from my regular theme, I thought I’d share a little glimpse of one of my classes today.

It was one of my afternoon classes, which is actually pretty much my favourite time of day… it’s a class of 4 ten and eleven year olds.  One of the boys, whom I shall call Robert, found this weird plastic strap type thing, and made it into a crown, and declared himself king.  One of the other boys, whom I shall call Terry said (incidentally, in perfect English, which was itself pretty impressive), “Well, if you’re king, then I’m God.”

My eyebrows shot up, at first thinking “that’s some impressive theology for a 10 year old… he knows that God is greater than a king!”  But that wasn’t the end of it.  Robert countered with, “Well, if you’re God, then I’m Jesus!”

I almost gave myself whiplash, my head turned so fast.  But it didn’t there.  Terry countered with “Well, if you’re Jesus, then I’m Super Jesus!”

My hot tea almost came out of my nose.

Robert:  “If you’re Super Jesus, then I’m Giant Super Jesus!”

Terry:  “If you’re Giant Super Jesus, then I’m Ultra Giant Super Jesus!”

Robert:  “Well, I’m Great Giant Super Jesus…”

Terry:  “I’m Great Giant Super Jesus Ultra humongous….”

I think it was around here that they realized I was in hysterics and the entire class proceeded to lose it.  It took me about 10 minutes to get everyone back on track again.

Hey, a little heresy never hurt anyone did it?

Oh, well… I don’t think this particular bit of heretical conversation will hurt anyone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

56. Valentine's Day

Well, it’s here. Valentine’s Day.  I actually would have probably forgotten about it if I wasn’t working with kids.  For the first time in a long time I’m not surrounded by couples, and I’m not living in a place that feels the need to plaster pink hearts all over everything for a month before the actual day.  I don’t have cable (which means I have no TV channels) so I don’t know if there are a ton of commercials celebrating romance.  This is the first Valentine’s Day in a long time that I haven’t felt slightly bitter, and like a second class citizen…  I mean, I’m single, I’m thirty… if I were in a sitcom I’d be the funny, loveable, overweight sister of the sexy lead actress – who they would eventually set up in a relationship because single women over thirty are apparently pathetic.  

But, as I said, I am not feeling bitter this year… for the first time in 5 years (quite specifically, for the first time since I lived in Ireland).  I got an insane amount of chocolate from the kids at school – more than I really know what to do with… and it will probably happen again next month (they have 3 consecutive chocolate themed holidays in a row here… today is actually “White Day”, I forget what next month’s is, but the one after that is “Black Day”, when single people are supposed to treat themselves… a neat idea!).

I don’t have much to say, I just wrote a post yesterday.  But it is Valentine’s Day so I thought I should post.  I think I’ll just point you in the direction of some interesting reading I’ve encountered recently.  E over at Paradoxy has an excellent series he’s been writing called Defending Truth by Telling Lies.  I don’t know if he’s intending to write more on this subject, but so far he’s got Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.  And then there’s an article that Brady over at Some Guys are Normal linked to from Christianity Today magazine.  It’s really an excellent article about the attitude of Christian conservatives towards gays.  I’ve actually read a bunch of really thoughtful articles from that magazine recently – even their review of Brokeback Mountain wasn’t all about how the ‘gay agenda’ was taking over or any of that nonsense that the Religious Right likes to talk about.  Oh, and then there’s this post about Battlestar Galactica over at The Chaos Principle.  I realize that it has nothing to do with being Christian, gay or confused, but it was really interesting to me.  Oh, and one more.  If you have a chance, go listen to Eric from Two World Collision’s interview on GCN Radio.  He’s the February 10th episode.  

Okay, I’ve gone a little linktastic there, so I think I’ll give it a rest.  

Happy Valentine’s Day

Love, and all that other mushy stuff.

Monday, February 13, 2006

55. Women

No, I have not dropped off of the face of the earth… I’ve just been busy… and tired.  I’ve been online, and reading other people’s blogs.  I just haven’t had the energy to write my own.  As much as I love children, they certainly can drain you of energy.  It’s 8:30pm here, and I’m forcing myself to not go to bed.  

One of the blogs I’ve been reading is Christine’s over at TalkWisdom.  Now before I begin this, I want to start by saying that I like Christine… or at least I like what I know of her – we’ve only ever communicated via our blogs.  We have very differing view points politically (I tend to lean a bit left, and she is… well, slightly right).  That having been said, I do believe that she is a very nice person.  Her heart is definitely in the right place and she obviously puts Christ first in her life.  

Now that I’ve said all that (and quite sincerely I might add), I’m still a bit nervous to write down the thoughts that her blog inspired for two reasons.  One:  I don’t want a bunch of people heading over to her blog and calling her names, or even trying to respectfully engage her in a discussion on a topic she has said she doesn’t feel she should address anymore.  Two:  well, I’ve told a lot of my close friends about this blog, and while none of them read it very regularly, the idea of a certain few of them stumbling on this entry worries me.  Oh, don’t worry, it’s not going to get graphic or anything… it’s not even going to be anything I haven’t mentioned before (at least in passing).  It’s just going to be more direct that anything I’ve written before.  

So, what is this dubious topic?  Women.

Heh… it’s always about women!

But seriously folks (“…try the veal, and be sure to tip your waitress!”), I’m actually talking about women in Scripture.  

In junior high I decided to read through the entire Bible – it was about the time the One Year Bible became popular, so I got one… and started reading.  I quickly realized that there were huge passages of Scripture no one had ever read to me, in church or otherwise… and no one seemed to pay attention to.  I’m talking about all the verses about women – how we shouldn’t cut our hair, or braid it, or wear jewelry, or teach or preach, or even talk in church… I sat in my bed, wearing my jeans, with my shortish, braided hair and my big 80s florescent jewelry thinking “whoa… I’m sinning right now, while I’m reading the Bible… how come no one talks about this?”  And then, as I sat there, I realized I went to a church where women led Bible studies and taught… even preached.  And I’d been to churches with female pastors on staff (I’ve since attended many churches with female pastors on staff, and at least one that I can recall with a woman as the head pastor).  

These verses about women are there, and they are much more direct and explicit than the ones “about” homosexuality.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, with the exception of the Leviticus passage (which I would like to add, is sandwiched between a whole bunch of verses that we completely ignore), none of the verses “about” homosexuality are actually about homosexuality.  Homosexuality is mentioned only ever in passing… even the famous Romans 1 passage is actually about idolatry.  It’s more than a little frustrating that Paul can write verses and verses about women in the church and people don’t even bother to read them anymore, but he merely mentions something which might be interpreted as homosexuality (there is some legitimate debate on this issue of interpretation) and the entire Religious Right movement is launched against us.  

Of course, I in no way mean to say that I believe that women should have long hair and no jewelry...  I’ve heard the arguments – mainly that those laws were culturally based, etc… and I think they are most likely valid arguments.  But to be perfectly honest, I haven’t looked into it very much myself.  I’ve just chosen to trust that if I’m wrong, God will let me know somehow.  

Now, I do not feel at all called to preach, so the verses about women teaching and preaching are not so much relevant to me, except that the church I attend regularly in Canada employs women on it’s pastoral staff, who preach quite regularly.  And I would have no problems attending a church with a female head pastor.  So, I guess they are kind of relevant.  I remember in one of my meetings with one of the female pastors at my church this whole topic came up.  She happens to be an excellent preacher, an excellent teacher, and has a very pastoral heart.  I can’t actually remember the context of this conversation but I remember her saying something like this:

“I haven’t actually sorted through the whole ‘women in ministry’ thing.  I know what the Bible says, and I plan to investigate it for myself eventually.”

She said this while being a woman in ministry, in a position of leadership, preaching, teaching (and incidentally occasionally cutting her hair) at my church.  

What triggered this memory?  A comment I left over at Christine’s blog “

“You seem to make the assumption that anyone who takes a 'pro-gay behavior' stance has basically said "this is what I want to do, so how can I justify it", instead of considering the fact that they might seriously have thought about this, sought God and read the Scriptures. This is simply not the case, no more than it is for any woman who preaches.”

After I wrote this, I got to thinking… that’s not actually true.  Most gay Christians I’ve encountered have examined this issue far more diligently than most Christian women I know… especially those gay Christians who take a Side A stance (pro-gay relationships).  This woman I’ve mentioned, who I happen to respect a great deal (I’ve mentioned her more than a few times on this blog) was perfectly content to keep preaching and being in leadership without looking into this issue really at all.  She’d heard the same arguments I had, and probably a few more, but readily admitted that she didn’t have all the answers, that it was possible she was disobeying God’s law.  But she felt called to preach, she felt called to the ministry, she felt called to be a pastor. I’m can only assume that it ‘felt right’ to her to be in that position.  What if I did the same thing?  What if I went with what ‘felt right’ for me, and started dating women? What if I said I’d figure it out later?  I can’t imagine anyone from my church thinking that that was acceptable.  What if I treated my sexuality with the same cavalier attitude that most of Western Christendom (myself included) treats the very prescriptive verses about how women should dress?  You know – “Well, other people seem to think that it’s okay for women to wear pants and jewelry and to braid their hair, so I guess it’s probably alright.”  I mean, most Christians (and I do mean evangelical Christians, by the way) never really think about this issue at all.  What if I did that?  “There are gay Christians out there who marry and have sex and they seem to think it’s okay, so it’s probably alright…”

Again, let me reiterate that I do think it’s alright for women to adorn themselves with jewelry and braid their hair and preach… I trust the wisdom of the Church, and I have done a tiny bit of research into this myself.  I believe that people are probably right, that those laws were culturally based, and not meant for us in the 21st century.  But the Church hasn’t always thought this way, and even today we don’t all agree.  When I lived in Texas I went to school with a few girls who didn’t ever cut their hair (it actually fell past their knees), or braid it (which made the length even worse) because of what the Bible said about that.  

This is a somewhat off-topic, and very bitter and cynical point, but I do sometimes wonder if the reason the Church has been willing to reexamine and reinterpret Paul’s words about women is because at least 50% of the Church is women, so they have to listen to our voices… and maybe the reason the Church (as a whole) is unwilling to reexamine the verses ‘about’ homosexuality is because we represent such a minority that they feel they can ignore us.  

Anyway, that’s it.  That’s what I’ve been thinking about for the past little while.  

On a completely different note, I’m beginning to enjoy myself more here.  Not that I wasn’t enjoying myself before, but… well, I got my first pay cheque on Friday and now I can actually afford to leave my home!  I’m still really enjoying the other English staff… one of whom has just been informed that she will be moving into my building on March 1st, which is kind of awesome.  I’ll have a neighbour!  Not that I don’t have neighbours now, who are very nice, I’m sure, but I can’t talk to any of them.  Anyway, I hope this girl and I end up getting along – not that we’ll be actually living together, but these apartments are so small (one room… not one bedroom, one room), that it will be kind of like being roommates.  She’s nice, and I like her well enough, but so far I have no idea if we click at all.  

Well, that’s it.  Blessings from Korea, y’all!