Tag Archive | Rachel Held Evans

On stereotyping and pushing back

It’s taken me three days to figure out why a series of tweets rubbed me the wrong way and what I wanted to say about that.  It’s a very dangerous thing to insert oneself into a conversation that is by, about, or for another audience.  In this case, though, I think that I can manage not to alienate the people who started the conversation.  If anyone else is bothered by what I say, then perhaps you are the person I’m talking to here.

I had to do some digging to figure out what started it.  I think it may have been a combination of this post by Rachel Held Evans and the two articles linked in this HuffPost piece (helpfully shared by a friend of mine).  Let me sum up the response (which I completely agree with, by the way): Straight allies are defending LGBT people by telling others that not everyone is a stereotype and by saying or implying that same-sex couples are pretty much exactly like opposite-sex couples only with 100% more gay; don’t do that, because it reinforces the idea that LGBT people must fit into heteronormative boxes.

As far as I’m aware, I have not used any argument that resembles “let gay people get married because then they can prove they are just as moral as straight people.”  You all can correct me if I’m wrong (though I will point out that I’ve been doing this for about 4 years and I’ve evolved, so if you find somewhere I’ve done that, I shall immediately apologize and do better in the future).  Anyway, since I agree with the sentiment–which means the exhortation wasn’t directed at me–then why did it bother me?

Here’s why: It wasn’t the response, particularly to Rachel Held Evans’ post, that bothered me.  It was the original post, but I couldn’t formulate why until I gave it a good deal of thought.  I realized that the stereotype most straight people (particularly those who are not allies, but even some allies do it) is based on what they know/think they know about gay men.

If what we straight people believe is based only on gay men, then of course the pushback is going to be centered on that.  In the process, guess who gets erased?  (In case you didn’t quite get it, that would be anyone under the LGBTQI umbrella who isn’t a gay man and even some who are.) I care very deeply that no one’s voice be lost, especially when those people have consistently been silenced in other ways as well.

Don’t misunderstand me–the pushback is necessary, and the consequences are absolutely not the fault of those who responded.  That’s not what’s flawed here.  The problem is in the fact that anyone still cares about someone else’s life so deeply that they have to find ways to craft their actions as moral in order to support them.

The answer is not really for allies to fight the stereotypes.  It is simply for us to stop caring whether anyone else’s life looks like ours.  So what if it doesn’t?  Why is it so important that everyone share the same belief about what is or is not acceptable for themselves?  And why are we so deeply invested in anyone else’s sex/relationship life, anyway?

If you want to be an ally–really be one, not just be one if you think that the person is morally deserving–then please use a different method.  If you (like me) support marriage equality, then do it because there are people who want it, not because you think the ability to get married will magically make people share your values.  If you (like me) are a Christian and believe that every believer is welcome to love, serve, and lead in the church, then stop wondering about the person taking communion next to you and whether or not they are “just like” you.

Oh, and while you’re at it?  Stop trying to figure out what other people do in the privacy of their lives.  Unless it directly involves you, it doesn’t concern you.  It would be great if we could all concentrate a little harder on what goes on behind our own closed doors.

Notable News: Week of May 25-31, 2013

It’s a gorgeous, hot, sunny day here where I am. Today, my 9-year-old takes part in his first big competition.  He’s going with his jazz band to a school about an hour away where they will compete against middle and high schoolers (his is the only elementary band, so they’re in the middle school category).  Best of luck, kiddo!

While I pass the hours until my daughter and I drive out to watch him, I’m rounding up some of my favorite links for the week.

1. When modesty policing happens

Modesty culture: the gift that keeps giving.  Or, in this case, that keeps pitting us against one another as we struggle to define terms and create safer space for women.  I will admit to going into my reading of this piece on Rage Against the Minivan knowing that many of the writers I respect disliked it.  I was surprised to find that I actually agreed with quite a lot of it, but there were niggling doubts in my mind.  The responses to it confirmed that it wasn’t my imagination.  Several people have expressed their concerns far better than I could.  Here’s a list of the best ones:

2. When “ask Rachel Held Evans” happens

For those who haven’t been following her, she has a regular “Ask a…” series.  This time, she’s left it open for us to ask her.  Go take a look and post your questions.

3. When kindness happens

I haven’t been following the story, but apparently others have.  Over on Hännah’s blog she’s been tracking the story of her friend’s escape from a controlling, abusive, fundamentalist environment.  She had requested donations to help Jennifer, and the response was overwhelming.  I hope you have a few minutes to read the original posts and the update.  It’s pretty inspiring.

4. When affirmation happens

I happen to attend a welcoming/affirming church.  Sometimes, that’s what’s needed.  I challenge you to make it through this post from Registered Runaway without feeling moved.

5. When fatherhood happens

This is a fantastic post about why it’s a terrible idea to label women the “natural nurturers.”  When our son was born, I remember one of the women at the church we attended telling me that she hated when people referred to dads as “babysitting” their children.  Although I would not have thought to use that phrase myself, I had never given it much consideration.  After nearly 10 years of parenting together, I can confirm the truth in that.  My husband is, in fact, much more naturally nurturing than I am.  And he most definitely does not “babysit” our kids–he parents them.

6. When “things that should never be combined” happens

You get something like this.  (Warning: Contains Christianese and reference to Christian porn.  Not explicit, but read it after any minors are in bed.  Also, I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s not real.)

7. When fiction happens

If you haven’t been reading the series “On the Night Bus” over at Rubies and Duels, go do so right now.

You can also read my own latest fiction, The Smokin’ Hot Wives Club.

That’s it for this week.  I hope you all have a great weekend.  I’m going to spend mine watching my kids perform in their first recital at this dance studio.  I’ll be back on Monday with my usual Fifty Shades post.  Catch you all later!

Notable News: Week of April 27-May 3, 2013

It’s been a busy week in my world, with a busy weekend ahead.  I’m pausing the chaos long enough to highlight some of my favorites this week.

1. A little encouragement for my friends who are “actively dating”

It’s been a long time since I had need of language for dating, but I remember being in college and finding it strange how many of my classmates seemed to be there for the purpose of finding a husband (yes, women–because let’s face it, this is not how men talk about their college education).  I enjoyed Dianna Anderson’s post about changing the way we frame dating and marriage.  I hope this brings encouragement to those who need it.

2. Progressives, conservatives, and the abortion debate

I have nothing to add to what Rachel Held Evans has said.  For me, it’s been a discomfort in aligning myself with an aspect of feminism with which I don’t agree.  I’ve had to step away from the conversation for the sake of friendships, because when I’ve voiced an opinion–on either side–I’ve gotten some pretty hateful responses.  And that’s just my actual, real-life friends!  As a person with a lot of education and experience in health-related fields, I come down squarely on the side of “this can largely be prevented.”  Unfortunately, that’s a pretty unpopular stance on both ends of the spectrum.  My Christian friends often think I’m advocating rampant, consequence-free, sinful sexuality; my feminist friends have repeatedly said nasty things about “What if she didn’t consent? What if her birth control failed? What then?”  And I’m just left shaking my head.

3. A little more of Jennifer Knapp

Jennifer Knapp is my Christian music crush.  I loved her longing lyrics and unusual sound from the first moment I heard her beautiful voice.  Have a listen to this song, then go read her responses to “Ask a…” at Rachel Held Evans’ site.

4. Another round of the “Christian vs. Gay” debate–now with 83% more racism

I was morbidly fascinated by the ridiculous meme going around about how “hated” Tim Tebow is for his faith, while Jason Collins gets a virtual party thrown for his coming out.  This is my news recap, so I’m not going to repeat myself here about the magnitude of Suck in that belief.  You should just go read this piece on how Collins’ faith was ignored and the erasure of non-white Christians from public consciousness.  The article highlights the way black athletes are marginalized until they express something that fits into white politics.  I would take that further to say that it not only fits into white faith politics but also upholds white beliefs about black faith culture.  This isn’t limited to black people of faith, either–the same holds true for any non-white people who don’t fit neatly into the expectations of white evangelical culture.  It’s more important to fix that problem than to argue over whether the media likes Tebow or Collins better.

5. No more body shaming!

I should really write about this, but I’m so often appalled at the way Christians, who claim to be “in the world but not of the world,” really like to body shame people.  Thinliness is next to godliness, of course.  Well, no.  And if you’re not feeling good about yourself today, then you need to go read this wonderful post full of affirming, honoring truths.  And while you’re at it, skip the stupid Dove ads.  Your body/looks/”beauty” do not affect your ability to live, love, laugh, and be happy.

6. And while we’re on the subject…

I laughed so hard I almost peed myself at this parody of the Dove ad.  Warning: NSFW, because, you know, balls.  You probably don’t want to watch with your kids around, either, though I don’t think I’d care if my almost 10-year-old saw it (the little one wouldn’t understand it).  Before you ask, NO, he hasn’t seen it, and NO, I’m not going to show it to him.  I’m just saying that I think he knows what they are and what they look like at this point.

7. My latest story

Inspired by Mark Driscoll.  That man is a never-ending stream of blog fodder, including short stories.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you all on Smut-Shaming Monday (AKA Amy reads yet another chapter of Fifty Shades).

A Year of What?!

Hooray, it’s finally here!  Today is the official launch day for A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.  Today I’m celebrating by a) doing my happy dance, because it means I will soon have an actual paperback copy in my hot little hands and b) posting my initial thoughts on the book right here.  I would tell you all to stop reading my blog and get yourselves over to someplace that sells the book, but I like having you read this blog too much.  You can go buy your copy after you read what I have to say about it.

Here’s a little history:  I first found out about Rachel’s project almost a year and a half ago, while she was still in the midst of living it.  At the time, I was having a crisis of faith of sorts.  I was rapidly becoming disillusioned with the church and the way that, particularly, conservative evangelical Christians viewed the Bible.  It was during that time that I discovered the writings of Brian McLaren and was looking to read things written by other Christians who were ready to question the way things were done.  By clicking through various links, I came across a blogger (my apologies, I can’t remember who) that mentioned Rachel in a post and linked to her blog.

I liked Rachel’s style immediately.  She nurtures a much more gentle approach than I do, and that’s been good for me.  I have a tendency to just be kind of cranky, but Rachel invites discussion.  I’ve learned a lot just from reading her blog.  You can imagine, then, how excited I’ve been in anticipation of her book.  When I saw that she had an application on her website to be part of the launch team, I jumped at the opportunity.  Free copy of the book?  The chance to use my social networks to spread the word about a great project?  Making new connections with fellow team members online?  You bet I wanted in!

Which is how I ended up here.  Today, I’m going to tell you all the things I love about this book.  Over the next few weeks, I will be writing my thoughts chapter by chapter.  I would love if you all bought the book and joined in with me so that I don’t ruin all the fun for you of reading it yourselves.

I think I fell in love with AYoBW on the first page.  Rachel has a great sense of humor, something that is evident throughout.  Rather than complaining about how hard it was to live out a literal interpretation of the Bible, she pokes gentle fun at herself.  From her Jar of Contention to her ruined apple pie to her misadventures in sewing, she doesn’t ever take herself too seriously.

At the same time, Rachel clearly takes the Bible seriously.  She makes every effort to understand the original context of the Scriptures while not ignoring the modern-day applications.  In each chapter, she discovers a way in which she can honor God and the Bible without resorting to strict, legalistic readings of the text.  This view is refreshing, given the tendency of conservative Christians to decry the demise of “traditional” family roles.

Reading AYoBW is like sitting down with a friend for a cup of coffee and a chat.  It’s important to keep in mind that this book is what Rachel experienced.  The vast majority of what she’s written is her own journey and her reactions to situations; she talks about people she meets and places she visits.  This is not meant to be some academic dissertation on the theology of feminism.

When I finished the book, my husband asked if I thought it was only appropriate for women.  I said that I thought he would probably enjoy it as well, especially since we have been talking together a lot lately about women in modern American society.  I have seen some reviews that suggest it is unnecessary for people more liberal than Rachel and unwelcome by those more conservative.  I disagree; I believe there is something in this book for everyone.  Even when there are points of disagreement, there is room for conversation and clarification of our different views.  The only people who won’t benefit from Rachel’s book are the ones who won’t read it.

As you can probably tell, I loved the book; it exceeded my expectations.  My hope is that every Christian will read the book and use it as a springboard for discussion.  Rachel gives us plenty to think and talk about, as well as practical ways we can take action.  Let’s give this book a chance to help us connect at a deeper level: with God, with the Bible, and with each other.

You can read my other reviews of the book at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and CBD.  Stick around this week, there will be great stuff going on, including links to my fellow launch team members’ blogs.  Don’t forget to submit your essays for the contest, there are only 4 days left!

Notable News: Week of October 13-19, 2012

In keeping with my focus on women for the next couple of weeks until the official launch of Rachel Held Evans‘ new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, this week’s links are all about women.  (By the way, you can already order your copy of the book.  Yes, I’m shamelessly promoting it.  I’m more than halfway through already, and I hope to finish the book this weekend.)

1. If this doesn’t make you lose sleep at night, I don’t know what will.

Please go read this piece by Dianna Anderson.  Click on every single link.  I can’t fathom why no one has made any effort to stop creepers from taking photos of women and plastering them all over the Internet.  We are a seriously screwed up society when anyone thinks this is okay.  Also, I need to make a note here: I think that it’s pretty sad that any church is still teaching modesty as a way to avoid harassment and rape.  “Modesty” won’t spare anyone from these sick people taking pictures.  And if that’s true, then it’s equally true that “modesty” won’t spare a woman from incest, rape, harassment, stalking, or any other predatory behavior.  That’s because these people are perverts who don’t care about “modesty.”  How about instead we make sure that we take a stand against what these disgusting people are doing and prevent any more women from being violated.

2. Your WTH? moment for the week

I am so glad we have Matthew Dowd to explain to us What Women Want in a President.  I was feeling a bit conflicted about it, you know.  And I am so deeply disappointed that I married an Alan Alda-type instead of a John Wayne-type.  This is the mid-twentieth century, after all.  Oh, wait.

3. Get the hankies

This beautiful post by Leanne Penny will make you cry for all the right reasons.  It reminds me how much I miss my own mom, but how far I’ve come since she passed.  I know she would be proud of me.  Reading Leanne’s lovely words was healing for me; I hope it is for you, too.

4. This week’s posts about A Year of Biblical Womanhood

Thoughts about “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” by Rachel Held Evans by Roger E. Olson (Patheos)

Her Year of Living Biblically by Ruth Graham (Slate)

Christian Bookstores Refuse to Sell Lady Bible Book Because of ‘Vagina’ byLaura Beck (Jezebel)

Rachel Held Evans spends year living according to the Bible, literally by Jordan Chittley (Yahoo!)

Rachel Held Evans: A Woman’s Year of Living Biblically (Shine from Yahoo!)

On Rachel Held Evans and Why “Vagina-gate” Matters by Christian Piatt (Patheos)

A Post About LifeWay, Vaginas, and @RachelHeldEvans by Matthew Paul Turner

5. Don’t forget…

…to submit your essay for the contest.  The deadline is November 2!

Have a great weekend, everybody!  See you on Monday with a woman-centric post about Fifty Shades.

Notable News: Week of July 28-August 3, 2012

Obviously, the big news this week was the Chick-fil-A war.  Here are some links to the best of what I’ve seen on the subject.  I’ve also included some other stuff to provide perspective on why I think this is a big deal.

1. Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, confirms his opposition to marriage equality.

You can start with the Baptist Press interview, then read more and watch the video here.  And if you want to read something cringe-worthy, check out this LA Times article.  (What had my eyes popping was the part where it says that companies supporting gay rights are also under fire, citing the examples of Oreo and JC Penney.  Excuse me while I scream.  Neither JC Penney nor Kraft has donated money to any hate groups, have they?  I hardly think it’s a fair comparison.)

2. Rachel Held Evans, Slacktivist, and John Shore respond.

RHE is good, as always.  I linked to her post the other day, but she’s worth a second mention.  Shore’s post is a bit snarky for my taste, but I know some of you will get a kick out of it.  (And for those of you who don’t care for sarcasm, please just don’t read it.)  Fred Clark does an excellent job explaining just what the problem is and why it should matter to us.  (He also has a series of related posts, just browse his blog for them.)

3. Family Research Council

One of the reasons so many people are up in arms over the Chick-fil-A thing is that Dan Cathy is known to donate corporate dollars to organizations such as the Family Research Council.  The Southern Poverty Law Center certified FRC as a hate group back in 2010.  Now, before anyone gets all huffy about that, it should be noted that they don’t call organizations hate groups just for holding the opinion that homosexuality is a sin.  The problem with FRC (and other groups) is that they spread outright lies about LGBT people, including that they are pedophiles.

4. In other news…

These posts from around the web should give you a good idea why this matters to me:

NJ Bed & Breakfast Owners Rip Lesbian Mom on Facebook, Tell Her God Invented AIDS to Punish ‘Queers’

I don’t swear a whole lot (at least, I try not to).  But after reading about all of the above, my only reaction was to say, “Shit.”  This, right here, is why I care so much.  This is why I blog about it.  This is why I tell my friends and family as often as I can, in as many ways as I can, how much I love them.  This is why I stand alongside them to fight the hate.  It takes a special kind of person to be unmoved by news that yet another LGBT teen has taken his or her life; that yet another LGBT person has been beaten, stabbed, raped, or threatened; that another LGBT person has been denied a job, a home, or a family simply because of who they are.  You can pretend that “love the sinner, hate the sin” is “biblical,” but when you look the other way when someone faces this kind of hate and prejudice, you’re actually failing at the “love” part.

Let’s get out there and make this world better, people.

Notable News: Week of May 19-25, 2012

Edited to add: A friend helpfully pointed out to me that I had missed a huge one this week.  That’s what I get for swearing off Twitter for 4 days so I can read a book.  Oh, well.  This post now reflects that information.

This week’s big topic: Pastors who threaten people and the people who listen.

Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church recommends electric fence for gays

Really?  Really?! I don’t care how you feel about the sinfulness/non-sinfulness of homosexuality.  It ought to make you mad that this person claims to represent God and the Church.  Pastor Worley, this isn’t the way to help people find Jesus.

Providence Road Baptist Church member defends Pastor Worley

Well.  Isn’t that special.

This woman seems unaware that this happened:

Meanwhile, Hustler proved that liberals are jackasses, too.  New York Daily News columnist S. E. Cupp was victimized by having her image Photoshopped into lewd pictures.  I don’t care what her politics are, and I don’t care that it was a “joke.”  It wasn’t funny and NO WOMAN ANYWHERE DESERVES TO BE TREATED THAT WAY.  Yes, you did just read me shouting.

In other news, because I don’t want to leave this on such a downer, here are a couple of great posts from the fabulous Rachel Held Evans.  Whenever I want to read something thought-provoking and uplifting, I read her blog.  I cannot wait to get my hands on her upcoming book.  Meanwhile, enjoy a couple of cool posts from this week:

“All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”  RHE eloquently puts into words the feelings so many of us have.  I love this post.

Ask a Seventh-day Adventist I honestly don’t know much about Adventism.  In my entire life, I’ve known exactly two people active in the faith and one family that left the faith.  The ones who left called it a “cult.”  I enjoyed reading more about it, although I don’t know if I feel more confused or less.

Have a great week, everyone!

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If you see anything interesting this week around the web, drop me a note via the Contact Me link on the sidebar.  With your permission, I’ll credit you with the find.