Different Points of View and How to Share Them

The topic of civil conversation seems to be a recurrent theme in my readings this week. I’m amazed at the serendipitous ways these themes crop up and the first person that usually needs to heed them is me. On the radio yesterday I heard someone speak on the vital task of getting ALL sides of the story before flaming away at the participants engaged in only one side of an argument. This morning I open up my email and read my weekly message from Explorefaith.org and find an article by Sally Thomason about civil dialog between people who have different points of view. I’ve learned that one cannot control what others say about you, especially when it’s mixed with truth and falsehood. I also learned that just because I post one side of the story or my opinion on it, that doesn’t make it true either. Thomason writes:

To express our opinions, to stand up for what we believe, to act upon what we feel is a fundamental right and in a large sense a necessary part of being fully human. What a person thinks and feels matters. But more important than freedom of expression is the realization that our view is always limited. As hard as we try we can never achieve a monopoly on Truth. The Truth beyond our understanding is that we share the same Creator with that fellow with whom we might passionately disagree. This means that when there is disagreement and blood begins to boil, although it is extremely hard we must always respect the living spirit within our opponent. This is when we turn to God for help… To listen and hear the personhood of the other beyond their words is our challenge. To realize that despite our differences, we all are deeply connected through and within God can help us experience a new dimension of the living spirit.

Atheists and theists alike, whether turning to God for help or not, can learn that our views are always limited by our location, experiences, and spiritual states of being. Arguments flare up because we can’t read another’s heart, nor should we. Rather than turn each other into templates for ideas, why not treat each other as just people instead? Mark Driscoll, if you’re listening, or if you even care that I’ve been talking about you, I apologize for discussing what’s really none of my business. To anyone else I’ve perhaps maligned, consider this a public apology as well. My blog will never change another’s faith, politics, or philosophical persuasion. I can only show you my viewpoint from my narrow corner of the world, whatever that’s worth.

Peace and blessings to all.


22 thoughts on “Different Points of View and How to Share Them

  1. MOI,

    I’m humbled. I really got nothin’ else besides that.

    Ironically, I too just wrote a post this morning (I think I beat ya to it :-P) about speaking the truth in love and respect.

    And in Re: to Mark Driscoll, he too has fairly recently talked about how he also needs to heed this same advice. Crazy coincidences, eh?

  2. Brad,
    I think it’s because of the verses posted yesterday from the Message (Isaiah 1) that got me:
    “No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
    I’ll not be listening.
    And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
    people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
    Go home and wash up.
    Clean up your act.”
    Talk about a wake-up call!

  3. Sometimes rebuke can be very welcome. It is always encouraging to me to have God rebuke me as well as affirm, either way, I am blessed to feel/hear His presence in my daily life.

    Whether I’m on the right path or maybe straying a little from it, it’s great to know He still cares enough to make it known.

    Also, two things:
    1.) I only just noticed that you added me to your blogroll. Thanks!

    2.) The pic in your header is gorgeous and I want to go there. Now. Where was that taken?

  4. Brad,
    Hey, I thought I’d return the blogroll favor. 🙂

    My hubby and I visited his sister in Maine last October. We went to the site of the oldest Catholic church in the state, built sometime in the 1700s and they had an outdoor chapel. I thought is was the coolest thing so I took a picture of it. It’s just outside of Damariscotta, which is north of Bath about 30 miles or so. I just loved Maine and we want to go back soon. My flickr photos page in the sidebar has more photos from Maine and other places we’ve visited.

  5. Hi! Thanks for reading my blog. I read your take on the macho church and I *totally* understand why you too wish for a monotheistic goddess. 😉 Maybe the world will cease to be this patriarchal before we die.

    Peace and blessings, too.

  6. Hey welcome arienaied! I think the feminine principle is greatly needed and needs to be recognized in order to balance out the universe. Hopefully, humanity will evolve to a point where this is the normal way of things. Blessings!

  7. *smacks forehead*

    MOI, I really am curious… because the masculine v. feminine church difference of opinion between the two of us seems to keep coming up.

    In my experience, and the anecdotal and statistical evidence I have found, shows most churches to be very feminine in style of worship, prayer, and preaching/teaching. Even when men are leading the above categories, there is often a severe lack of appeal (either in attraction or challenge) to men in general. This is one of the reasons I am such a fan of Mark Driscoll’s style of preaching, because it challenges men to be men.

    I sincerely believe that a balance needs to be struck, and the needs of both men and women need to be addressed and met without the exclusion of the other, but what you say just has not been my experience. Can you give me some examples about what you are referring to?

    Honestly, I mean no disrespect, I am genuinely curious because I have not encountered ANYTHING like what you have written about. Just the opposite, in fact.

  8. Hi, Brad.

    **Can you give me some examples about what you are referring to? **

    I realize you addressed this to Moi, but I figured I’d weigh in, as well.

    To me, the feminine aspect would apply in the concept of God: christianity is in almost all ways designed to be patriartical. God is the Father, Jesus was male, and the Trinity is referred to as male. We are told that God is genderless, but what would happen if you went into your church and referred to God as ‘She,’ or ‘Mother’ or even ‘Goddess?’ Or picture listening to a service where God is referred to as a woman and only a woman. How included would you feel?

    But even in your point — that the church does have feminine elements. However, that still doesn’t address the masculine concept of God, and the sense that as soon as those feminine elements are introduced, men see it as ‘weak’ and leave, which in many ways, can come across as feminine is associated with weaknesses and lack of worth. After all, if the men are staying away, then they see no worth in a more feminine approach to God or worship. Whereas is there were predominantly masculine elements, women are more likely to stay.

  9. Brad,
    (smacking my own forehead as well)

    Well, Brad, this is where we differ and since men have been in control of the church for so long, I don’t get where they SAY the church is feminized. If women aren’t making the decisions, then someone other than women have to be “feminizing” the church.

    To me, syrupy, sappy music is not a female thing. Men have these proclivities as well and just as many men as women write them. I don’t see a feminized church at all. What does that even mean, except to the hyper-testosterone crowd? I just see men who don’t go to church and who blame women for it. I see men changing what “the gospel” message is wrapped in because they feel “left out.” Well, big deal. Women have experienced being left out for years! I see it as a backlash against feminism.

    I also see this supposed “feminization” as a strictly non-denominational phenomenon. Liturgical churches have a set form and this never varies, which is why I love the Catholic and Episcopal churches. If anybody gets mad about this or that element of worship, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

    But, I’m not talking about the church here. To me church form isn’t sacrosanct and I really don’t care about songs sung in worship or flower decorations, etc. I’m talking about worship of God as Mother/Father (androgynous) and women as priests, representing all of the body of Christ, not just one sex (women priests, who by the way have not feminized the liturgical churches since liturgy does not change on whim). I’m talking about inclusive not exclusive language and images for women to relate to in a man’s world. That’s it.

    Next you’ll be telling me that God is male. If so, then that’s definitely where we disagree!

  10. Hahahaha, I think agreeing to disagree (in respect and love, of course) is where we will have to remain on that issue. You do have a point that men have by and large been in charge of church, and that they have adopted very passive elements that (while not expressly feminine) are more common generally to feminine characteristics than masculine. I should have been more specific and clear on that part.

    *sigh* But (and please, don’t hate/hurt me!) I do believe that men are charged with the responsibility of covenant headship and leadership of the church. (please don’t hate me!) This is, and has never been, intended to be unequal in any way with women, only “different” than.

    I’ll keep it at that because I am not trying to change your mind, nor do I think you will agree. And that is ok! I’m just laying it out there! I may do a lengthy post with scriptural citations to have it all laid out in one place someday…

    And yes, God is male! He is not female, nor androgynous. Every reference in old and new testament, in both Greek and Hebrew, use the masculine form for him (even in the plural, interestingly). A female God is contradictory to every aspect of biblical tradition.

    Again, I have no delusions that I will change your mind, and I do not intend to. Just putting my stance out there.

    As Paul says, “Grace and Peace!”

  11. Brad,

    **And yes, God is male! He is not female, nor androgynous. Every reference in old and new testament, in both Greek and Hebrew, use the masculine form for him (even in the plural, interestingly). A female God is contradictory to every aspect of biblical tradition.**

    I would say it’s more male-oriented because of the culture, not because of God’s nature. If God did happen to say to the writers of the Bible that God was both male and female, the writers would’ve probably felt God wasn’t the one doing the communicating.

    However, this response is precisely the problem (I don’t mean this in the sense that you are the problem, but the concepts behind the response). First, God has to be both male and female, if man and woman are created in God’s image. Second, if God is only male, it is difficult to near impossible to relate to God on any level as a woman. There’s no room for women, and women will be seen as ‘less’ if they are in a substandard image of God. Then there’s the fact that Eve is ‘created second, and yet first to sin.’ Even twenty years ago, churches held women as second-class precisely because of that reasoning.

    It also excludes the role of ‘mother’ and just leaves it dangling. If God is Father, then it can easily be seen that the Father is all that is necessary, and the Mother is extra, or even added on. But if God is not also Mother, when the aspect of Motherhood has less value than Fatherhood. God may assign value to motherhood, but how important is that value if God is Father only? Not very.

    ** do believe that men are charged with the responsibility of covenant headship and leadership of the church. (please don’t hate me!) This is, and has never been, intended to be unequal in any way with women, only “different” than. ** So it’s a seperate but equal consideration? The complication here would be what keeps the men in check? If men are the headship and the leadership, then the ultimate decision rests with them, and can easily be them deciding what is best for women, rather than letting the women decide for themselves. If women are not granted that same leadership, they don’t have a voice, because they don’t have an equal say. You can say that those who truly love women would never do that, but history has shown that the route is usually men know best. The only reason that Biblical verses are interpreted in a different light, such as the Ephesians verse, is precisely because women started demanded an equal voice and an equal say.

  12. Heather is right. God is male in the bible because MEN wrote the bible. All other aspects and all other “books” have been excised from the bible and from the canon. The canon reflects a male viewpoint and all other scriptures to the contrary have not been allowed in. Do you see the ontological trap this sets for men and women? If there are no aspects of the female in God, then there is no way that God relates to women as Heather writes so eloquently. Woman is then posited as wholly OTHER and there indeed is no possibility of redemption.

    A perfect man, Jesus, then, cannot redeem the wholly OTHER without becoming as they are, a new creature in Spirit, a resurrected Spirit, that eliminates ALL biology and puts humanity on equal footing. You could also easily say that Jesus never had a baby so could not experience everything humans experience yet not sin.

    Relegating women to secondary status for the sake of biology implies that Adam and the sons of Adam are indeed a new creation, but Eve and her daughters are not and never will be. You can’t say there is no male and female and turn around and say that we are “equal,” but just in different roles. That’s lip service only. That’s why Christianity and church as it sits today is dangerous for women and the sacredness of their very selves.

    Now I realize you ascribe to the male only leadership model. But, I disagree as have many, many faithful Christians before me. Remember, I’m not the only voice in this. See the examples of women priests on my blogroll: Cat’s Cradle and Junia’s Daughter and Talk With the Preacher specifically.

  13. Moi,

    A book I think you’d really enjoy is by Sue Monk Kidd called “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.” She had been raised Southern Baptist and was that for most of her life, and then she started having difficulties (or started realizing her difficulties with) the male-oriented part of Christianity. It’s a memoir/research book, on where her journey lead her. I highly recommend it.

  14. Heather,
    I have that book and it’s wonderful! It got to me when she told the story of her daughter in the pharmacy, the reason why she wrote her book and why she quit the Southern Baptist church after many, many years.

    For those who wish to know, Kidd and her daughter were in a pharmacy getting some things. Her daughter kneeled down to get something off the lower shelf and two men walked by. Never being able to resist dispensing their “wisdom” one of the men said, “That’s where I like to see women, on their knees.” They exited, laughing all the way.

    This, and many other stories we women have to tell about such behavior, is why women are leaving these patriarchal institutions in droves. Men, as a privileged class, will never understand the reasons why women are beginning to refuse to allow men to dictate their beliefs any longer.

    Like Heather, I highly recommend it to women, especially church women. Thanks Heather for reminding me of this valuable book!

  15. Moi,

    Have you ever read through the amazon.com reviews for it? Half the people love it, the other half hate it. Those that hate it tend to label her as a heretic, eager to fall away, and pray that she comes back.

    I always read those types of reviews in a state of shock. First, no one leaves a Southern Baptist-type religion lightly. Any de-conversion story will tell you that. Second, it’s like the reviewers ignored all the soul-searching she did, as well as the problems she encountered — such as the men saying about her daugther, “That’s how I like my women.”

    She didn’t just wake up one day and go, “Hmm. I think I’ll become a ‘heretic.'”

  16. Heather,

    No I haven’t read those. I should!

    Because most who read our stories just assume that we wake up one morning and think to ourselves, “I’m going to not be a Christian anymore today!” or something like that. They always assume what you said, that we’ve not thought about it, “prayed” about it, or that we just trivially toss it all aside on a whim.

    But, this is typical of what most patriarchally trained men (and patriarchally trained women) think of a woman’s thinking. They assume that we aren’t capable of deep thought or that we aren’t capable of knowing our own minds or grasping “complex” ideas or of deciding what’s right for ourselves. You and I know we should ignore such attitudes, but seriously, can they not take a hint? 🙂

  17. Moi,

    The ‘hated it’ reviews are almost sad, in a way. Here are the people who claim that they alone follow the absolute Truth, and yet their reviews indicate they understood nothing in her book, or why she went on her journey. If they can’t see that, why on earth should I believe they have any idea what the absolute Truth is? It’s starting to give me the impression that ‘absolute Truth’ truly just stands for ‘ignorant buffoon,’ only the first description sounds much nicer. 🙂

    But I see that attitude in many of the conservative Christians I converse with — their responses to me indicate they don’t understand my position, and yet they procede to tell me how wrong I am. And I know I’m being clear, because the response from any other corner can exactly define what I’m saying. But if someone can’t comprehend what I’m saying and yet tells me I’m wrong, what motivation do I have for listening to them?

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