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Posts from the ‘Gender/Sexuality’ Category

Brain States

Religious fanaticism is, regrettably, front and center in our collective consciousness again in this the summer of bad news. Whether it is Iraq or Israel/Palestine or other places around the globe, many people are quick to point to the role that religion plays in stoking the flames of violence and hatred.

And whenever there is violence associated with religion in the news, we can expect to see articles like “The God Effect” over at Aeon Magazine.  The piece, written by Patrick McNamara, seeks to locate the religious impulse in dopamine levels in the brain. There is, according to McNamara, a fine line between “benevolent saints” and “murderous fanatics.” And dopamine, apparently, is one of the main triggers for when this line is crossed.  Read more

How Things Work in the World of (Mostly) Rich Western Christians

It seemed like every time I ventured into the wonderful world of social media today, I was greeted by a new salvo from one side or the other of World Vision’s recent yes-we-do, wait, no-we-don’t position on whether or how they will hire gay Christians to work in their organization, with all the predictable bleating and threatening and pulling of support (in response to both decisions) echoing around the corners of evangelical Christian-dom. It was all very sad and pathetic, and mostly it just made me embarrassed to be a Christian.

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Sin

Our church has spent two hours over the past few Sundays wading into the potentially stormy waters of dialogue about human sexuality as part of our national church’s ongoing discernment process. Among the many interesting things that came up over the course of a very stimulating (although far too brief) conversation was the question of the boundaries of sin. “Why are we so hesitant to use ‘sin’ language?” was one question. Why indeed. It’s a good question. Read more

Time to Talk

I deleted my Twitter account today. I had been a Twitter-er or a tweet-er or whatever the right term is for just under two months during which I produced a grand total of fifty-five tweets.

I apologize to both of my followers.  Read more

2013 in Review (And a Thank You!)

So, 2013 is drawing to a close, which means it’s time to take a peek in the rearview mirror and reflect a bit on the year that has nearly passed.  In the blogging world, this means—what else?!—highlighting the most read posts on this blog over the past 365 days or so.  It’s an imperfect tool of evaluation, obviously—a cursory count of clicks and page views hardly provides an accurate assessment of meaningful or substantive engagement—but I suppose it give some sense of the themes that drew people here over the year.   Whenever I look at statistical summaries on this blog, I find myself scratching my head.  That was my most-read post?!  I don’t even like that one!  Why didn’t ____ make the list? Posts that I am convinced are the best thing the internet has seen since, well, two hours or so ago languish in obscurity while others that I dashed off in twenty minutes generate more traffic than I would ever have expected.   I suppose such is the nature of blogging. Read more

Mixed Metaphor

At our church, we’ve spent the last two weeks rummaging around in the biblical cupboard, looking at the various metaphors employed to describe God and human beings. It’s been an interesting exercise, at least for me. In both cases, the metaphors are numerous and diverse. God as rock, lion, breath, lamb, light, fire, tower, warrior, friend, and on and on it goes, the biblical writers reaching and straining, borrowing from the world of creation and human relationships to express some partial aspect of who God is and how God works in the world. Human beings as grass, dust, vapour, treasured possession, bride, the apple of God’s eye, each image contributing to the complex mix of transience, sin, glory, and beauty that is humanity. We need these metaphors, to help us learn to see what God is like, what we are like. Read more

Be Kind to Each Other

I listened to the story of a gay man yesterday. It was a story both tragic and tragically typical. It was a story of knowing he was “different” from his very earliest memories, of being mocked and ridiculed throughout his school years, a story of confusion, anger, and pain, a story of desperately trying to come to terms with an identity that just didn’t fit, a story of a string of unsatisfying relationships, a story of isolation and deep loneliness that persists to the present day.

It was also, of course, a story in which the church played a role. I wish I could say that it was a positive role—that the community that bears the name of the Friend of Sinners had provided a place of refuge and peace for this person… I wish I could say that. But I can’t. We all know that this isn’t how the story usually goes. We know that “rejection” and “guilt” and “judgment” and “fear” and “misunderstanding” are among the words that appear at this point in the story. Read more

God Loves Human Beings—Start with That

Just over three years ago, I threw up a post about a conversation with my son about the word “amen” and whether the “men” part of the word meant that God was only interested in men and not women. It was a rather quick post about the nature of the words we use, how our relationship to them changes over time, and what these words communicate about our views on gender. I didn’t think much of the post at the time. There are some posts on this blog that I spend a fair amount of time writing, but this was not one of them. It was an interesting conversation with my son, a few reflections of my own, and not much more.

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“Masculine” Christianity?

Apparently John Piper has, in a recent address delivered at a pastors conference, added his voice to Mark Driscoll’s in advocating a more “masculine Christianity.” Driscoll, of course, created his latest storm of controversy in an interview with British radio host Justin Brierley a few weeks back, when he said, among other things, that there were no good Bible teachers in the UK, and that the reason that churches were struggling was because they were led by women. The implication was that if churches across the pond would just “man up” and start letting men lead, and stop wallowing in effeminate religion, the “results” (i.e., more churches that look like Driscoll’s ) would come. An interesting theory, to be sure—a little light on context and cultural awareness, and, well, reason, but there you go. Muscular, manly Christianity is, apparently, the cure for what ails the church. Read more

Misadventures in Bible Land

A number of conversations and experiences over the last few days have me thinking about the Bible and how we use it. Maybe “lamenting” would be a more appropriate word. The Bible is, regrettably, a book that has throughout history proved eminently usable and abusable. Read more

God in Motion

I just finished reading Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, Marilyn Chandler McEntyre’s delightful plea for us to renew our commitment to steward the gift of language as the treasure it is. She is not the first to lament the decline of those who truly understand and appreciate the importance of words (a problem compounded in our text-crazy, Facebooked, Twittered world), but her book communicates these points with the grace and beauty you would expect from someone attempting to lure readers back into the simple truth of how words can move us. Read more

Lost in Translation

This morning’s tour through the blogosphere led to the discovery that Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society) is giving up on the 2002 revision of the New International Version of the Bible (the TNIV) because of the “mistakes” of this translation. As someone who actually likes the TNIV and uses it somewhat regularly, I was surprised and a little disappointed to learn about this.  I realize that the TNIV is not a perfect translation and that, like every translation, there are biases and interpretations that come through, but it’s one that I’ve come to appreciate over the years—not least because of its commitment to render the original text in more gender inclusive language.  It’s a translation that I don’t hesitate to recommend to others, whether they are long-time Christians or they’ve never cracked open a Bible in their lives and are just curious about what they might find.  Consequently, I was interested to discover which “mistakes” the publishers were talking about. Read more

Because the Bible Says So

A few days ago, Arts & Letters Daily linked to a book review called “Does God Hate Women” from The New Statesman. On one level, the book being reviewed seems fairly unremarkable. It predictably and, in some cases justifiably, indicts religions for their historical subjugation of women and “exposes” God and his followers as being anti-women. Those religious folks who have the audacity to claim that religion might have played any kind of emancipatory historical role for women are mocked and described as engaging in “theological contortions” that are untrue to the real nature of their religions (which, presumably, their atheist critics alone understand).  Read more

God Loves Women Too, Right?

Of the many things that Jesus might have been getting at when he urged his followers to become “like little children,” I think near the top of my list would be the flat-out curiosity and forthrightness that I see so often in my own kids. I have found conversations with a couple of seven year-olds to be about as interesting (and reliable) a source of theological insight as any books on my shelf or sermons I hear (or deliver!). Read more