I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

16 October 2012

The Girl Effect, part 6

Before I begin talking a bit more about how 'The Girl Effect' has transformed my world, I want to share two songs with you. Why? Well, I really think they speak to the issue in a rather deep way. They speak to the escape from every day slavery that keeps us down. And as someone who has experienced a type of spiritual slavery, I know there are others out there that have lived through it as well, and may also need to hear the healing messages from these songs.

The Gospel train's a'comin'
I hear it just at hand
I hear the car wheel rumblin'
And rollin' thro' the land

Get on board little children (x3)
There's room for many more

I hear the train a'comin'
She's comin' round the curve
She's loosened all her steam and brakes
And strainin' ev'ry nerve

The fare is cheap and all can go
The rich and poor are there
No second class aboard this train
No difference in the fare

Get on board little children (x3)
There's room for many more

Many would wonder why an old slave song from way back in the 1800s would stick in my mind about us "girls" within the faith, but in reality, the backbreaking work that we do is not all that much different. While we are not having our backs beat by literal whips and scourge, or our children taken away; the emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse at best, keeps us in this slave mentality that we can do no better, and we might as well give up on escape.

Guess what? It ain't true. The Gospel Train's a comin' and we can all get on board. It doesn't matter if we are black, white, polka dotted, striped, scarred, tall, small, thin, thick, obese, underweight, hairless, full of hair, blond, brunette, red-headed, have multicolored hair, or if we have tattoos, piercings, cuttings, marks of abuse, or if we have lived a cushy life our entire lives.

 That train is coming, our fair is paid. All we have to do is get on board and escape.

"Bringing these women into this discussion changes everything. In our culture, the church has tended to concentrate on a tiny segment of the female population-a narrow, prosperous, protected, well-educated female demographic located in the comfortable midsection of human society... Our cloistered discussions about God's purposes for women and the resulting infighting that ensues among us leave women elsewhere in the world scratching their heads. Blinded by the insulation of prosperity, we are at risk of transmitting a message as irrelevant and unworkable... a message that when sanctioned as "biblical" is cruelly beyond the reach of those with less." Carolyn Custis James, Half of the Church page 36

"The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands—the ownership and control of their livelihoods—are set at naught, we can have neither men's rights nor women's rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease." —Helen Keller, emphasis mine
lyrics here

"I suppose I’m just tired of this being an issue. Weary of Old Boys Clubs and “No Girls Allowed” signs. Weary of uber-accomplished women being told they are still not up to snuff—or up to par, I guess—because they are not men. I’m weary of companies proclaiming their misogyny by sponsoring these sexist events. Weary of people buying their products—making bigotry good for business. I’m weary of tradition and fear of change being guiding principles in clubs, in business and—if I’m being honest here—in the church."
Caryn Rivadeneira, Her.meneutics, No Girls Allowed: Why the Church Shouldn't Follow Augusta National Golf Club's Membership Policy
"It was all so much easier during my previous life as Southern Baptist homeschooler. My parents and church told me exactly what God’s position on everything was and I wasn’t afraid to go out and blast people with the love of God which could reach anybody who knew all the answers and behaved themselves. Long story short, that lasted until college, when my faith was simply worn out. I just couldn’t hold on any longer.
My faith was transformed by a fresh encounter with grace."
Jonathan, Ponder Anew, Why the church makes me grieve: thinking isn't allowed

"Formula says "I will not risk, I will be in control of my future". Faith says "I will risk everything, I will trust Whom I cannot see, surrender what I cannot control anyway." Formula is the assurance of things planned for, the conviction of things seen. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). But we are afraid. So we control instead of trust. We don't take a step unless we can see where we're going. We build neat little formulas and say "THIS will keep me safe!" Then we blame God when our puny formulas fail."
Darcy's Heart-Stirrings, How the Teachings of Emotional Purity and Courtship Damage Healthy Relationships
"As I peruse the available resources for me, a black female reformed Christian, I find there are none written by reformed Christians that speak directly to my experience. There are plenty of resources for women, plenty about theology, and even a few wonderful books about the historical nature of the church and the African American experience... There is, however, an apparent lack of awareness that the black reformed female experience is indeed different from merely the male experience."
Trillia Newbell, Her.meneutics, The Lament of a Black Neo-Reformed Woman

"Despite what too many Christians believe, the Bible just does not say that deception is a female trait.  Here are links to every Bible verse in the NASB and the NIV that contain the word “deceive”, “deceived” and “deceiver”.  Click on the links and see for yourself if the Bible teaches that women are more easily deceived, or more deceptive, than men."
Margaret Mowczko, Egalitarian Christian Alliance, Women, Eve and Deception
"We all have ideas, beliefs, and rituals we want to defend, ideas we think are better for all people, at all times, and in all places. And we can argue our beliefs with the innocence of doves or the brashness of WWF wrestlers.
Like women wrestlers, women apologists are curiosities. "
Jonalyn Fincher, Her.meneutics, Where Are All the Women Apologists?
"Being egalitarian doesn’t mean being against traditional gender roles; it means being for the many roles through which women can bring glory to God and love to their neighbors. "
Rachel Held Evans, 4 Common Misconceptions about Egalitarianism
"I know part of the challenge is knowing when you have a healthy community, and we all have to work on our baggage along the way. I’m not suggesting there is any way to have a perfect marriage–or that there even is such a thing as a perfect marriage. We are people going into it after all. But when we are people with our eyes wide open, not excusing things we see that are concerns because we see them at the friend level, and not rushing things forward because we’re all having fun as friends and no one is lonely or left out just because they aren’t married . . . . it just gives everyone a better chance."
Crystal Lutton, Mama Domain, I do believe there is an approach to marriage that can greatly reduce abuse

"i used to be a really good chris­t­ian woman.  like one of the best.  i said the right things, did the right things, played nice.   the only prob­lem was that what was on the out­side & what was on the inside were two dif­fer­ent things.i believe evan­gel­i­cal chris­tian­ity has cre­ated a lot of divided women."
Kathy Escobar, Ex-​​Good Chris­t­ian Women
"Fem­i­nine attrib­utes have become Chris­tian­ized and per­son­al­ized into a myth, a kind of Proverbs 31 man­nequin...
...Cul­tural con­di­tion­ing, includ­ing church cul­ture, shapes and informs who we think we are meant to be. Women mix up fem­i­nine char­ac­ter­is­tics with Christ’s char­ac­ter­is­tics..."
Pam Hogeweide, I Am Not a Good Christian Woman, Neither was Jesus

"By the time I left Bubba, I needed to take a class in Remedial Feelings 101.  I didn’t know how to actually feel my feelings.  They were as foreign to me as taking first steps is to a baby.  For a long time any feeling that I didn’t immediately get buried would cause me puzzlement as I tried to figure out what it was I was feeling.
My feelings were so hard for me to name.
Also, it took awhile before I felt safe enough to allow myself to have feelings.  I was allowed to have feelings?  The world wasn’t going to end if I wasn’t burying everything.  I was not a horrible person if I expressed to someone that they’d hurt me."Hope, Hope Wears Heels, I Can Haz Feelnz Plz? kthxbai

"..The Egalitarian emphasis is equality of privilege for men and women, not women's rights.  Its the use of the gifts that God gave you to use for his glory! 
It has nothing to do with taking ANYTHING away from ‘manhood’.  At times I have to wonder why some can’t see how ‘insecure’ they make men look when they take this approach..." -Hannah, Emotional Abuse and Your Faith, Polarization of Egalitarians, emphasis mine

"... Isn't it ironic that for years, centuries even, husbands have had rights automatically granted to them just because they are male and just because they are married and male. It is also very telling that they hate the word RIGHTS when it is applied to women. Although the men have had rights via authority all these centuries, both the right of self direction and the right of ruling their wives, they say rights are evil when women want the right to choose the direction of their own lives. Never mind that women are not asking for the right to rule their husbands, only for the right to stop their husbands from ruling over them, so that God can be their leader and authority..."
Waneta Dawn, Submission Tyranny, in Church and Society, Authority and Power part 1
"The modern doctrine of betrothal, at its core, is the idea that parents should act as authoritarian religious leaders, controlling their adult children’s lives and decisions about whom to marry...
...doesn’t the Bible say “Children, obey your parents”? “Honor thy father and mother”? Of course it does... ...the Bible does not say “Parents, exercise total control over your children, even when they’re adults.” You can honor someone and still disagree with them...
The corresponding command for parents is “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). What causes bitterness and discouragement? Authoritarian control, for one thing."
-Eric Pazdziora, The Bondage of Betrothal
"...Courtship taught us that the goal was to please our old families and hold back from each other. The wedding didn’t flip a magic switch that changed that dynamic.
... On just being together, enjoying each other. Until the wedding there was generally a nosy sibling in the back seat. Nine months of misery later, there was a baby in the back seat. But what was really always in the back seat was our relationship."
To quote women suffragist Alice Paul:
I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.
To think, that nearly 100 years ago, Alice said these words - and even now, they are just as relevant as if she had said them yesterday.  Almost 100 years later, we are debating those same rights, as they pertain to religious beliefs.

I decided this summer that I was brave enough to watch the film, Iron Jawed Angels. Honestly, I think that being in the circles I've been in, it was a shocker in a bad and a good way to see this film.

Granted, while I was homeschooled, my materials were through a conservative Mennonite group, so any issue that involved the government or riots, or protests, or war, weren't truly covered. And because issues like this were not covered, I never exactly expressed an interest in the early women's rights movement (why would I? I was told it was sinful when I was in church!!), or the push for women to be able to vote. (Why would I? My homeschool curriculae were against voting)

I'm sure we've all watched Mary Poppins. But when did you sit back and really pay attention to realise that Mrs. Banks was a suffragette? All that song and dance in the film wasn't just something to be ignored.  And you know, it never hit me until this year how much I was bothered by the fact that she was seen as neglecting the children for her fight.

"She is depicted as a member of Emmeline Pankhurst's suffragette movement and appears to be so dedicated to the women's cause to the extent that she, like her husband, neglects the children. Her main outfit is a blue and orange Edwardian-style dress with a white and blue sash that reads "Votes for Women" in black letters. She wears white gloves in the film (as did most Edwardian English women) and a stylish hat. Her song in the film is "Sister Suffragette", which she sings with the other two women of the household staff. "
-Wikipedia, Mary Poppins (Film)
In case you don't remember the song, or the way she is portrayed in this 1964 film, here it is:

Funny, considering:
" The reason she was made into a suffragette in the film was to explain why she sometimes did not have time to look after her children; in the books she does little about house and has no real reason as to why she cannot take care of the children herself, and all but neglects them. In the stage musical she is a former actress who is under constant pressure from her husband as she struggles to enter his social circle."
-Wikipedia, Mary Poppins

After watching Iron Jawed Angels (and crying through much of the movie - because I literally had no idea that women suffered so much for what we do not take as precious these days), I found a documentary film called "Miss Representation". Try as I may, I have a hard time describing this documentary.

"As the most persuasive and pervasive force of communication in our culture, media is educating yet another generation that a woman's primary value lay in her youth, beauty and sexuality-and not in her capacity as a leader, making it difficult for women to obtain leadership positions and for girls to reach their full potential. The film accumulates startling facts and asks the question, "What can we do?" "
-Product Description on the back of the DVD

Having watched Miss Representation, I was confronted with a LOT of emotions. Many I was not prepared to experience, because I really felt that we had moved beyond women's sexuality defining out worth. Correction: I thought that I had moved beyond my sexuality defining my worth.
Having seen it in black and white, and in color - I was confronted with the fact that I am constantly barraged with messages that tell me how I look, what I say (or don't say) and how I dress (or my state of undress) speaks volumes within American culture as to how I am valued. Throw in the fact that as someone who believes in Y'shua, I am pidgeon-holed again, with other varied values, depending on the pocket of the US I am at, and which corner of "Christianity" that I fit in.

Then I got to thinking about all the dictates when I was growing up about how to dress. On one side I had the "If you got it, flaunt it!" message, and on the other, I got the message loud and clear that if I dressed in a certain way (it never was truly clear what that "way" was) that I was "asking for it". (What exactly was I "asking for"??)

Wikipedia Commons, image edited by J.Stahl

A woman never, ever asked for violence, whether she's dressed in Burqa, or like a Nun, or like a lady of the night. Why? This should not be so!!! Why in the world would women perpetuate a myth about violence against women? What the....?

"...The power of Hierarchy has caused so much pain, terror, and crushed the spirits of so many.  We can’t deny or minimize that.    We can’t claim we have ‘fixed’ it now.  We can’t blow off those that have been hurt by it.
 We need to learn by focusing on WHY that happened, and learn NOT to repeat our church’s history..."
Hannah, Emotional Abuse and Your Faith, Patriarchy: It's Not the Remedy

Long story short, I found out this summer that we ladies and girls really have not made as many strides as I thought we did.  My eyes were  reopened after finishing Pam Hogewide's "Unladylike" book - and I was left wondering, as isolated as I am, and as tiny as I am, what in the world can I do to make a difference?

  Duh. I have a blog. I can read. I have the power to educate myself. I can find out where I stand, and I can inform others. They can educate themselves, and plug into their resources and the women they know, and those women can tell other women, and very hopefully, there will be change.

The women (suffragettes) that fought in the women's right to vote movement, were by and large Christian women. Why, after ninety years, have we seen so little change in US policy and in the church...?
Gender-based violence is one of the most common but least visible or recognized forms of oppression against women. Around the world, as many as one in three women has been beaten, coerced into sex acts or abused in some other way, most often by someone she knows, according to the United Nations Population Fund
“This is not a third world, first world issue,” says Zainab Salbi, co-founder and president of Women for Women International, which supports female survivors of civil strife.
“The fact that three out of five women still get abused … somehow, someway in the world, you know, shows that that fundamental respect that I just don’t have the right to do, to touch her or talk to her the wrong way – it’s still not there fully yet.”
Half of the Sky, The Stories, Gender-Based Violence

"For every person who steps forward to make a claim of childhood sexual abuse by a church leader, there are countless other victims who choose to stay silent. Many leave their faith."
Michelle Van Loon, Her.meneutics, Voice of the Victims: Sex Abuse Survivors and the Church
 "Children are weak. They are small. They are easily exploited and abused, and, many times, they cannot speak in their own defense, or even tell what has happened to them. Every year, children die from abuse and neglect (in 2010, the number of deaths in the US was 1,560); last year, 13 year old Hana Rose-Grace Williams died after her parents withheld food from her, beat her with plumbing line, and forced her to sit outside in the cold without adequate clothing, all in the name of “child discipline.” "
Rachel Stone, Her.meneutics, Channeling the Mama Bear Effect to Fight Child Abuse
"But here’s the problem. I thought that in order to respect authority and understand right and wrong, my children needed to experience the smart of a spank. ...I used negative motivation and the threat of physical pain to bolster a position of power. I was trying to impose external conformity from above and from fear, the very thing I hate about controlling churches and the very thing Jesus spoke against throughout the gospels.
When I defaulted to authoritarian control, enforced via spanking, I couldn’t come alongside my children as their partner and equal before God. I couldn’t help them examine their hearts, face their fears, and identify their desires. They were afraid of me!"
Joy, Joy in this Journey, Why I Don’t Spank My Children Anymore

Why are women in the church so maligned? Why hasn't "The Girl Effect" called Women's Suffrage come home with us to our faith communities?  Why hasn't "The Girl Effect" called "The Gospel" come into homes and radically changed them? Why hasn't "The Girl Effect" of "Gentle Parenting" helped? Why is this the norm the world over? It should not be so!!

Why, when it comes to women in ministry positions that we have only seen countries such as South Korea making use of the great amount of G-d's servants?

"For 5,000 years in Korea women had no voice at all," Cho says. "They were only to cater to the needs of men. Then Christianity came and set women free. Especially in the church, women are free in Korea. In ministry they are equal with men. They are licensed, they are ordained. They become deacons and elders, and they become the cell leaders."
... While some argue the Bible teaches that women should be silent in the church, Cho says that "once women are called into ministry, they no longer belong to the category of women. They are messengers of the Lord." David Yonggi Cho, 'Don't Be Afraid to Empower Women' "This was a big risk...  Now all the Korean churches - even Catholic -- have accepted women. When I come to Europe and America encouraging pastors to use women, I always receive a lot of opposition... in Western culture - you are afraid of using women..."
David Yonggi Cho, A Conversation Between Two Innovative Pastor
I might not ever agree with all of Pastor Cho's theological leanings, but he is very correct.  Why are we so afraid of using the available workforce?  G-d was never afraid of using women. Y'shua and Paul were never afraid of using women.

In fact, one of the many reasons for the "explosion" of Christianity in ancient Rome was that women and children were so free, compared to the oppressive Greek and Roman cultural mindset. Christians were saving children that were left out to die in the cold (infanticide) by their Roman neighbors, thereby increasing their numbers by adoption, as much as by conversion.

Celsus, a 2nd-century detractor of the faith, once taunted that the church attracted only “the silly and the mean and the stupid, with women and children.” His contemporary, Bishop Cyprian of Carthage, acknowledged in his Testimonia that “Christian maidens were very numerous” and that it was difficult to find Christian husbands for all of them. These comments give us a picture of a church disproportionately populated by women.
Catherine Kroeger from Christian History magazine no. 17, The Neglected History of Women in the Early Church

 We are truly all brothers and sisters. Our parents are all traced back to Adam and Eve, and even as distant relations, every single person on this earth is our neighbor.

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Scribe walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[e] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
-Luke 10

Why then, if the person who shows mercy is fufilling the very commandments of G-d, do we not show mercy and grace to women and children in the Church, in the Synagogue, and in the world? 

Why are we more concerned with Roe v. Wade than we are about the women in the world? 

Why is it that we are more concerned about quibbles and fights over who said what, and who wants to retaliate over some trivial slight, than the fact that we, or our sisters and their children are truly disadvantaged and need help? 

Why do we still have so many child abuse and "female abuse" scandals in the church that make the late night news?

Why is the "first world" church so "me" or "keeping up with the Jones'" focused instead of "others" focused? 

Why do we need to hear the voices of non-church related NGOs saying things like this, to make honest change?

I think I know why.

I believe we've become lulled. We've become complacent. We've looked the other way. We've stopped our ears, we've put blinders on our eyes and we've refused to see,  we've refused to hear, we've refused to speak of these evils, we've quieted anyone who spoke out..

Guess what? We need to speak about them for things to change.

17 Soon—and it will not be very long—
    the forests of Lebanon will become a fertile field,
    and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
18 In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book,
    and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness.

19 The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.
    The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

20 The scoffer will be gone,
    the arrogant will disappear,
    and those who plot evil will be killed.
21 Those who convict the innocent
    by their false testimony will disappear.
A similar fate awaits those who use trickery to pervert justice
    and who tell lies to destroy the innocent.
-Isaiah 29

With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
    and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.” And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
    and unplug the ears of the deaf.

The lame will leap like a deer,
    and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
-Isaiah 35

Jesus told them, Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.[b]’”

-Matthew 11

Honestly, I do not believe that this was meant to be only physical blind, deaf and lame handicaps, but spiritual as well.


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