gender, church, and the art of alternate endings

* While I’ve written my share of posts expressing support for egalitarianism, justice, and women’s leadership in society (particularly in the Church), I’m no champion of gender equality. In fact, I make my share of goof-ups but what I’ve come to realize is that like everyone, I have my blind spots. One of my blind spots deals with gender or to be more blunt, I don’t always understand or see things from the lens of a woman for the obvious reason that I’m a dude (and thank God that I’m a man and not a woman!)

Several important remedies to our blind spots are to acknowledge them and to put ourselves in situations where we can learn. Additionally, we need courage to engage the conversation and grace to help sustain the conversation into transformation. And so with that in mind, today’s guest post, Gender and the Art of Alternate Endings, is from Dr. Michelle Garred – an independent researcher and consultant in international peacebuilding. She also worships at Quest Church and c0-leads one of our community groups. She asks some compelling questions:

Why does this distorted social setting appear to pit me in competition against my husband and best friend? Why can’t someone meet a couple and assume that these two inter-dependent individuals both have something to offer? Why should I be forced to wield my trump cards as instruments of power, making conversation into a contact sport? Most importantly, what about the many women who don’t have trump cards, but who do have boundless gifts to be shared with the Church? Who sees those women? And who hears them?

Take a read and let me know what you think.

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I love those children’s books that have alternate endings for the reader to choose from. What a sweet freedom to decide how a story will end!

My husband and I recently attended a denominational leadership conference, which prompted me consider my own alternate endings…

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“So, what do you do for a living in Seattle?” The man looks intently at my husband Brent across the lunch table, and the two become engrossed in a discussion of green building design. I sit and listen, enjoying the conversation, and anticipating that at some point the same question will be directed toward me. But that never happens. Our new acquaintance, who holds a lot of stature at this conference, does not appear to connect the topic of making a living with me as an individual. I don’t know why – the ‘gender vibes’ feel palpable, Continue reading “gender, church, and the art of alternate endings”

top 5 most challenging, convicting, mind-bending, face-melting books of all time?

I received this email from one of my blog readers a few weeks ago asking about my thoughts about the “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.”

Do you take requests for posts on your blog? If so…. I know that from time to time you do top 5 stuff, like favorite movies or songs or artists, etc. This isn’t anything novel, but I’d be grateful for a “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.” I guess I’m someone who learns a lot from books and I was just thinking about how I have roughly 5 books that I have read within the last few years that have truly changed the way I perceive myself and the world around me. It would be great to hear what others are reading -not their most favorite or enjoyable books (although this might be the case)- but books that have significantly reoriented the way they live. Maybe, you’ve done something like this before and I just missed it, but if not, something like this would be fun to be a part of.

Thanks! ~Ric

Asides from the Bible, what would you be on your Top 5 List?

I can’t list 5…I don’t even know know where to begin so I’m just sharing my list of most influential Christians books again. There are so many excellent books that it’s really difficult to condense it into a list of 10. My recommendations are created with an attempt towards the larger picture of Christian discipleship – meaning that I want to balance my list with theology, discipleship, spirituality, bibilical studies, etc.

I hope 50 years from now, this list will change so that it also includes numerous female and non-Caucasian authors. Continue reading “top 5 most challenging, convicting, mind-bending, face-melting books of all time?”

religion and women

Nicolas Kristof has an article in today’s NY Times entitled, Religion and Women, that’s worth reading. Unlike some of his other pieces, it’s not super long so it’ll take one sitting but hopefully, it’ll sit with you for a bit.

I’ve written about this topic numerous times and will continue to do so. If you’re interested in some of them, here’s several to check out:

It is the oldest injustice for the simple reason that men are physically stronger and thus, can oppress the “weaker” half. And then you mix in the combustion of various religions and world ideologies that seek to elevate one half and suppress the other half and you’ve got a cycle of great devastation and oppression.

I’m not an expert on all world religions so I can’t speak with full authority but this is one of the reasons why I am captivated by Jesus: He liberates; Not oppresses. If anything, he liberates that which has oppressed.  He turned things UPSIDE Continue reading “religion and women”

what exactly is a worshipper?

What is worship? And what does it mean to be a worshipper?

After teaching through the Book of Acts for the past two years, and relishing in the years we studied and taught through Genesis and Exodus, and seeing this Truth throughout the narrative of the Story of God in a book known to us as the Bible, it has become clear[er] to me what worship is.

Worship is acknowledging that not only is there a God but that this God, the one True God, the Infinite God…is not just merely propositional but personal. We know that this God is personal because we know that this God becomes personal when God chooses to be consumed by the very flesh and bone that consume our essence and chooses to become anthropos.

He chooses to become one of us though His Son, Jesus Christ, and in a world of constant and extravagant upward mobility, God does the unthinkable and becomes one of us, dwells with us, walks with us, and ultimately, dies for us.  Jesus…Amazing. Truly amazing.

Worship then is acknowledging that not only is there this Personal and Infinite God but Continue reading “what exactly is a worshipper?”

the church video venue coming near you

I ran into a fellow pastor/acquaintance at the Q Cafe yesterday.  He’s a good guy.  We ended up having a short but substantive talk since I haven’t seen him for several months.  When I last chatted with him, he asked for some advice about churchplanting and so I did the good midrash thing and asked him a few questions which he said he really took to heart and got him thinking. Those questions led him down a road where he eventually left his denomination and go figure, joined the Mars Hill Church network.  He’ll soon be pastoring one of their zillion “campuses.”   That’s just kind of funny to me that my advice got another pastor to join Mars Hill. 

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill has been on the national news a lot recently.  The NY Times published an article couple months ago entitled, Who Would Jesus Smack Down?  The reporter called last year and asked me for some quotes but I said, “No thanks.”  My ego was tempted since it would have been nice to be mentioned in the NY Times but not that way.  I’ve got my differences with Mark but heck, we’re still Facebook friends.  BFF  KIT  TTYL.  Meme me.

In previous entries on this blog, I’ve shared both the concerns and respect I have for Mark here and here.   But my conversation yesterday with this soon to be MH elder got me thinking [again] about the church video venue. Continue reading “the church video venue coming near you”

my pastor is a janitor

During the first year of Quest, I was without salary and had tried so hard to obtain a job – any job – but I realized the painful truth that pastors [outside their jobs in churches] are useless in society.  I discovered that my Masters of Divinity degree…well…wasn’t really all that divine.   It was actually pretty useless.  After several months of looking for work, I finally landed a job as a janitor at a Barnes & Noble store in Lynnwood, Washington.

Not my idea of a “dream job.” It was one of the most difficult jobs and periods in my life – especially because this took place at a time when I thought I would be kicking ass in my “career” as a pastor.  Damn my hubris…

But I digress.  I want to introduce you to Jason Douros.  He’s sort of on staff at Quest Church as our custodian.  Why am I introducing you to our church’s custodian?  Continue reading “my pastor is a janitor”