Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Coffee Filters

I love coffee. I love it. I drink it strong and black. When I go to Starbucks, I don't get room for cream. However, I rarely go to Starbucks. I order my coffee straight from Costa Rica-- always whole bean-- by the box and I go through about a bag a week. I'm very specific about the coffee I like, not that I won't drink other coffees, but the one that gets me going is Cafe Britt Tres Rios Valdivia.

I used to brew with a french press, a very delicate process of boiling the water, grinding the beans coarsely, pouring the water over the top of the beans and letting it sit for five mintues, before plunging it down. This makes some wonderfully aromatic coffee. The problem I found is that there would be coffee "dust"-- for lack of a better word-- that would not get plunged down, so when I would pour a cup I would get sediment making the coffee gritty toward the end. Later, I switched to a coffee maker that uses a gold filter. This allows for the water to run through the beans into the carafe without going through paper. However, to some degree I still get grit.

I've been talking to a lot of people about my blog-- it seems to have gotten some recognition. To be honest, I'm not even sure how anybody found this site! That's not the issue though. In writing a somewhat emotionally charged blog, I failed to recognize that the language I was using would be offensive. I sinned. In trying to brew a strong pot of rhetoric, I failed to see all the grit that was coming through the filter. My sarcasm got the best of me. I want to publically apologize for my words that offended anyone. And while I had no intention to denegrate by the use of feminine language, I did. So I ask for forgiveness from those I offended overtly or covertly. I do not want my language to cause the same damage to females that I so vehemenately am against (the damage, not the females).

James writes this about the strength of the tongue. "For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!" (3:2-5).

I am happy about the discussion it has garnered and I look forward to sitting down over a strong brew to continue the conversation. And I'll continue to post on the issues related to massive topic that is Women in Ministry.

May You, Father, guard our mouths and our words from doing damage to others. May You make them to cause blessing and not cursing. May You watch over us to help further Your Kingdom and the proclamation of Your Son, Jesus, in whose Name we pray, Amen.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Nightcrawlers, EVERYWHERE!

My mom bought me a sweetly designed can-opener when my old crappy one broke. It cuts around the side of the lid, so as to not leave any sharp edges to cut one's self on-- safety first! I hope that's the device used to open this proverbial can of worms and that we leave each other sharper, not cut, from these discussions. I have, however, contracted carpal tunnel trying to keep up with the comments that I've received. Woof. I'll refrain from the sarcasm, as much as possible, on this one, cause I'm not a hurting, judgemental, repressed effeminate male. (Okay, maybe just a little sarcasm-- it's a Biblical literary device, read Jeremiah). I want what I've received: communication. Open dialogue. That means two points of view, two voices, speaking at equal volumes refraining from "ad-hominem."

First, or second, depending on how one reads the above, I would love to sit down with anyone (including you, Ingrid) for coffee. Please. Seriously. No bull. The position is so misunderstood here at North Park and by the egalitarians, that ad hominem-- name calling-- and I would include, labeling, which may be the same, has happened everytime the subject has come up. EVERYTIME. Pop shots are taken at white middle-class males in a variety of arenas, ranging from class to chapel to announcements. If you haven't noticed, start.

Next-- cause I don't know where I'm at-- I'd like to apologize for my own ad hominem, because I certainly didn't intend that to happen. But if my "angry middle-aged women" comment seemed off color, then attendance to Wednesday's section of Leadership and Empowering the Laity for Church Growth would perhaps have cleared that up. For that reason I don't want to mention any names, but those who were there, hopefully, can testify. But for those of you asking, "Where's the Beef?" Grab that big beautiful steak knife, my friends, it's dinner time.

[I'm going to be dealing with these in slices, cause the roast was pretty big when it came out of the oven. Today will be Worth and Wills and the Trinity. I'll be getting to Real Men and Women's Leadership and Strength later in the week.]

Worth. Our worth does not derive from what we do or the roles we play. I find too often that we, as humans, relegate our value to what we do in this life, how much money we make-- or don't-- our family, our bloodlines, our positions at our job, etc. This leads almost immediately to the devaluation of women, poor, and minorities (in America). So women who stay at home to raise their children, instead of working their way up the corporate ladder are no bag of chips. So those girls that dream of being mothers and at the thought of a child or the coo of a newborn are looked at having a less than adequate idea of who they can be. Instead, we are to look at our worth from God's perspective who does "not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature..." (1 Samuel 16:7). We find our worth in Genesis 1:27, "...God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." We humans were made in the image of God. We were made after the "likeness" of our God, who created the universe and everything in it. We are distinct in this nature. Humans are the only created beings that are given this distinction. Humans are higher than dogs and smarter than monkeys. This is why we don't lick our crotch, eat our own feces and hump everything that moves (at least, God told us we're not supposed to). It looks like this in order of worth: 1. God; 2. Humans (that includes men women and children, no one that can sign up for their own blog is left out here); 3. all other created beings--plants, animals, but also not limited to those we see here on earth, but also the angels and the fallen angels (demons). [Theologically, I'm still working that last one over though, cf. the implications of above and Hebrews 1.]

So far I don't think there are any issues. Most complementarians and egalitarians agree at this point. Where we go from here is the rub. So let me answer your question: How can worth be found equal and the men have authority over women through the role distinction? (I hope that's a valid statement of that objection. If not, please let me know-- I do want to be fair to the egalitarian position.)

Wills and the Trinity. My illustation is the Trinity. I'll give it in short, cause I'm running long, and because I want to deal with the further objections to this as the illustration. Both Jesus and the Father are equal in worth, but throughout John's Gospel, Jesus says, "I have come... not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me" (4:34; 5:30; 6:38, 39; to name a few). So while Jesus is not less valuable than his Father, he submits to his will. The argument(s)?

[Note: I'm using feedback that I've received through personal email and this person said it'd be fine if I quoted her. So credit is given where credit is due.]

Kathryn Tanner says this about comparing human relations to the relations of the Trinity: "One should avoid modeling human relations directly on trinitarian ones because trinitarian ones, say, the co-inherence of trinitarian Persons, simply are not appropriate as they stand for human relations." (Jesus, Humanity, & The Trinity 82)

While not all aspects of God and His triune-ness can be brought to human relationships, this illustration is pulled not from thin air, but from Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul writes, "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." The correlation that Paul uses for male/female relationships is the Trinity, "the head of Christ is God." So the relationship that husband and wife have is modeled in the relationship of the Father and the Son.

Still flawed it seems. Christina Tingloff, good friend who has entered into the conversation with me writes this, "You can say that Jesus did the will of the Father, but ultimately it was his own will, because ultimately it was the will of the Triune God. That kind of co-inherence, or interpenetration, that makes the work of one person in the Trinity the work of all the others, is not translatable for humans because our wills will always be different, even if we want to do the same thing. Our wills are still our own."

While I respect the interpenetration of the Trinity, there is still a distinction in the persons of the Trinity. This is evident in Matthew (cf. Luke 22:42). Jesus goes to Gethsemane to pray and says, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Mt. 26:39) And again he prays, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done" (26:42). It reads that there are two different wills running their courses here. Jesus is praying, "Isn't there another way? Do I really have to suffer this? Is it necessary? But not my desires, but yours Father." Further that he says it twice emphasizes moreover that it was a submission of Jesus' will to the Father's. But I know as a good Calvinist that "all" doesn't always mean "all," so this could be one of those instances too.

Flag of caution for the domestically strong handed boys reading this: This does not give you license to domestic violence. It should not be read as "obedience even in the face of suffering." And ladies, this obedience is to be done "in the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:11). That means, if the dude is beating you, or telling you to do something that is unholy like watch porno with him, you don't have to. That ain't "in the Lord."

If you're still with me, I want to emphasize my disgust for the abuse of women by men a few cans short of a six-pack. I had the pleasure of working at a center in Costa Rica for the rehabilitation of teenage girls called Renacer (Rebirth, or to be reborn). They came from homes where they were prostituted out by their parents to selling drugs and living on the street and everything in between. Some of their stories can be read in the archives on this blog. I wish they had never gone to Renacer, but I was glad to be a model of what a godly man looks like in their lives.

Now just sit back on the couch, let the food settle and find someone to rub that belly. To quote The Thomas Crown Affair, "It's Friday... Come Monday there'll be hell to pay."

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Leave Your Balls At The Door, Please.

It's feminist's week here at North Park, which means that angry middle-aged women stand up and tout the evils of white middle class men, resorting to name calling before Biblical excellence. They do serve a nice spread though.

The "Women's Luncheon" today was to promote Christian (jhem) Feminism, but as any single male will tell you, it doesn't matter what the occassion is, if there's food, they're there. It started with fruit salad and wraps- a good femeal, complete with the vegetarian selection. There was beef though, which I ate with my bare hands, letting the juices run down my chin, or at least I would have. Ending with cookies big enough to send any diabetic reaching for the needle.

Mainly it was a discuss... no, dialo... no, monologue, there we go, a monologue about what the Covenant (ECC) is doing to combat "sexist bigotry" (as was stated the day before). They have a commission publishing material appealing to the emotions, with poor, which is generous, exegesis. It seems that they are seeking to move this issue, which has typically been held in the proverbial "open hand" of the Covenant to the closed fist. Those that are in charge of interviewing and ordaining for the ECC are making this an essential. We talked about ECC polity a week ago and this can't happen.

I asked-- because I'm really struggling with this, amongst other, issues if I should go into the ECC-- what was the future of complementarian pastors/churches in the Covenant? They will increasingly be marginalized and separated from the rest of the ECC. Is that a denomination that I want to go into? Is it an issue that I'm willing to separate over?

Fortunately, that decision may already be made for me.