Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.25.2014

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Things I love?  Reasonable people saying reasonable things.  Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why we Must Have Both, is a statement signed by a number of respected, thinking people saying that they support gay marriage AND they support the right of others to disagree without being punished.    And here’s a statement from Dale Carpenter at Volokh explaining how he does and does not agree.

Esther Emery’s Why I Will Not Leave the Evangelical Church Today.  Another piece of nuanced, compassionate writing from my friend in Idaho.

A new series is starting up at Vulture.com and it looks FANTASTIC.  The first post is up:  Questlove on How Hip-Hop Failed Black America.  (h/t to Belle at CapHillStyle.)

Joy the Baker has a story/recipe combo post on her blog, making The Old-fashioned, which is (after a bit of trial and error) her cocktail.  It looks awesome and like it would bring a little extra credibility and sophistication to a night out.

Finally, we’ve got a Writing Lessons post from Emily Maloney that has stayed with me this week.  She writes about how she learned to put into practice the important writing mantra of showing up and getting it done.  Reminds me about what Anne Lamott said at the Festival of Faith and Writing, and a new effort to write words on pages at #6am led by my new friend Ed Cyzewski.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.11.2014

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  1. The Culture of Shut Up, by Jon Lovett for The Atlantic.

  2. What Abandoning Evangelicalism Does and Does Not Look Like, by Zack Hunt for The American Jesus.

  3. Am I Overstepping When I Try To Be Emotionally Intelligent?, by Alison Green at Ask A Manager.

  4. The recovery puzzle: A new factory in Ohio struggles to match jobs to job-seekers, by Monica Hesse at the Washington Post.

  5. Why I’m Done With Letting Critics Tell Me Who I Am, by Esther Emery. >

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.05.2014

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It’s a beautiful, warm and sunny morning in WASHINGTON, DC!!!!!  I’m spending the day with my favorite people doing my favorite things.  Here are five great reads for your first official April weekend.  I hope you get a little sunshine today, too. 

On building a good-looking work outfit:  Work Wednesdays: Decoding the Mystery, from Belle at Capitol Hill Style.  I have a similar approach to building a great work outfit that usually involves khaki-colored top, khaki-colored sweater, neutral pants, neutral shoes.  It still covers all the important parts but the result is a lot less interesting . . .

On being an internet sensation:  Julie Deneen at Fabulous Blogging with Clawing Your Way to an Online Presence: The Difficulty of Building a Brand.  There are definitely some blog-focused terminology in this post, but it is also an interesting look at how to be a success — and wait for success — in any professional field.

On Following Your Dreams, You Guys {For Reals}, by my friend Esther Emery.  Esther is legit.  This blog post is like When Women Were Birds (have you read that?  It’s one of my favorite books on writing) if you take out the pretty flowers and you turn up the intensity.  Esther is simultaneously super-human and incredibly vulnerable and I really like her.

On that whole World Vision thing:  Evangelicals Punish World Vision for Walking Down ‘The Romans Road,’ by Ken Wilson and published at The Huffington Post.  This is the right kind of approach.  I really, truly believe that more people agree with this response to homosexuality in the church, but they are just afraid to say it because of the social ramifications of doing so.  I wish more Christian leaders would be brave and speak what they think is right the way that Ken describes here.

Before making my views widely known to my congregation, I felt stuck, much as I imagine the leaders of World Vision must have felt stuck before they decided to hire (or more like, not to fire) people in covenanted same sex-relationships. People who like the other employees of World Vision, love Jesus and want to relieve human suffering. In my mini-version of the World Vision leadership dilemma, I wondered, “How can I tell my congregation that I cannot enforce these exclusionary policies without blowing up the church I love?”

On what we keep hidden from friends:  The Splenda Level of Friendship, by Megan Gahan for She Loves Magazine.  I loved this.  It’s reminiscent of what I was saying last week, when I wrote this.

 

This is about religion. Sorry, not sorry.

Here’s the thing. I don’t really believe the Bible is inerrant the way a lot of people do. And I know that writing that down and publishing it on the internet means some people who share my faith tradition will lose respect for me, but I need to start there. I think that reading the Bible brings me closer to God, and helps me to know him better — but reading the Bible also reminds me of the ways people have [mis-]used Scripture to silence me and to silence my brothers and sisters on this planet.

It’s a complicated relationship, for sure. I want it to be less complicated. I want Scripture to bring only joy and not pain, but that just isn’t where I am right now. I haven’t been there for a few years, actually. Life is a journey, and I do not believe we are called to check all the boxes while shutting down our brains. Faith shouldn’t have to be a mental power struggle, where we refuse to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings and confusions and doubts and scream out an unthinking “YES” to all the things they say we have to believe. For me, right now, it’s an ongoing effort to seek God’s love and pursue relationship. To follow Jesus. To find the arc of redemption moving in our world and to follow it, and to hope for the redemption that we believe will come. So, while I’m often frustrated or unsure about where I stand with the Bible, I trust that if I am seeking God and trying to follow Jesus, that one day I’ll be in a better place with the Bible too.

I still think I’m a Christian.

I don’t want to give you the impression that I spend every minute of every day seeking God and trying to reconcile with the Scriptures. Because I don’t. Reconciliation with Scripture and communities of faith is something I think about often and hope for. Scripture and faith communities are intrinsically linked to my childhood and my understanding of the world. But I’m not necessarily doing that full-time right now. I think about a lot of other things too.

I still think I’m a Christian.

The internet makes it harder. I read blog posts and articles and comments saying that if you interpret differently the meaning or application of one or two sentences of a certain translation of the Bible, you are throwing out the entire gospel narrative and you can’t be a Christian anymore. And I’m stunned because, holy cow, I wish it was only one or two sentences that I didn’t interpret literally. I wish it were that simple.

This week, with all of the World Vision USA hullabaloo, I read your words, and I felt even more that I didn’t belong. Here I am: I grew up in your world, I followed all your rules, I learned all of your Bible verses, I went to your camps and I graduated from your college, and I don’t belong. I still think I’m a Christian, but if I told you the truth, would you agree? Would you say that it’s okay to be different, to not understand the world in the same way as everyone else, that God is bigger than our doubts and our questions? I’ve heard that before.

But I wonder sometimes — is God only bigger than my doubts and questions because I am a straight, white, married female?

I want to hear you say that the world is full of nuance. I want to hear you say that we can all work with people, live in community with people, shop at grocery stores with people and bake cakes for people who believe different things than we do. I want to hear you say that you don’t believe everyone who thinks differently than you about the world, or religion, or the Bible deserves to live in constant fear of poverty because they cannot find or keep employment. I want to hear you say that each of us finds God and faith on a different timeline, and that it isn’t up to us to save people. That we pray and wait for the Holy Spirit to move within us and our neighbors, and that we love each other while we wait.

Instead, I’ve been hearing you say that a Christian organization that decides to stop excluding certain groups of people from its hiring pool has thrown away the Gospel. The entire Gospel. Now that they’ve changed their minds, I’m hearing you rejoice, slapping hands and taking credit for standing your ground. For the Gospel. And I wonder, what would you say about me, if you knew my doubts and struggles?

Well, now you know.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 3.23.2014

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This post from Jezebel really made me think:  What Life is Like When Getting Your Period Means You are Shunned, by Rose George.

Once again, Kate from Eat the Damn Cake writes something that sticks with me.  This week’s post, What Do Women Do All Day?, is kind of awesome and wonderful and, just like last week’s post about danger and whether you should save yourself or a stranger, sits in the tension that is so much of everyday life.

Richard Beck’s post on being a famous, influential Christian without being a jerk (or, as he calls it, On Christian Celebrity), was incredibly thoughtful.  So much of what I read online is extremes and hyperbole, and this is just good thinking.

Alise has a post up about forgiveness entitled Redemption Only Through Failure?.  She asks whether her marriage that began in an affair with the worship pastor of her church has to end in divorce for her to receive forgiveness and redemption and reconciliation with the Church.  And to be honest, I don’t think there are any easy answers here.

Last but not least, my friend Osheta Moore’s post for A Deeper Story, Speaking Fear, Praying ShalomFull disclosure: I was granted a preview of this post and provided a few editorial comments on the draft about a month ago, and I’ve been waiting and waiting for it to come out because I LOVE Osheta and her voice her is so important to the conversations around race and public safety and how we raise our children and how we make our world better. Please do read this. 

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 1.31.2014

I really love writing these five-things posts each week — at times, they’ve been the most consistent form of blogging in this space and I enjoy taking a few minutes each Friday to reflect over the prior week’s intellectual encounters. However, I’m not sure they are hitting the mark for you. Stats don’t tell me much about what you like and don’t like on the blog, but they do tell me what you click — and the links I post just aren’t getting clicked very often.

I’m not going to stop writing these weekly wrap-ups, but I’m more than happy to try some new things or add new elements to keep them fresh and hold your interest. Do you wish there were more funny posts, more photos or pinterest pins, more recipes? Do you like having quotes included here with each article? Any topics you’d like to see less of? Let me know.

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And now, let’s get to it:

One.   Abby Norman tells the story of Atlanta’s snowpocalypse, in The Lamest Roadtrip Ever: A Victim of Atlanta’s Snowpocalypse Tells All.

I used to mock my fellow southern-city dwellers too. I didn’t know that I didn’t know until I drove home Wednesday morning pretending I was a bob sled driver. It was the only way I could stay sane while maneuvering my 1996 Camry on what looked exactly like the outdoor skating rink just after the Zamboni went for a little spin. It turns out I am awesome at bobsled driving and totally deserve a gold medal.

Two.   “Women Are Not Permitted To Teach” – But Real Life Just Won’t Cooperate, by Kristen at Wordgazer’s Words.

You would think, if God really intended women to be limited to teaching their Bible insights and spiritual knowledge only to other women and to children, that the teaching of women would in all practicality be incapable of truly benefiting or lifting up men– at least, not in those venues where women are apparently forbidden. Shouldn’t God limit the abilities of women to what would suit their proper sphere? Shouldn’t men find, since God never intended women to have anything spiritually authoritative to teach men in a church setting, that they as men don’t actually learn anything valuable when they listen in on women teaching in church?

And yet the Father seems to keep on creating women who are so creative, intelligent and capable that they reach, almost despite themselves, outside that supposed proper sphere. And throughout Christian history, when it comes to divine giftings, the Holy Spirit has just never seemed willing to obey the rules.

Three.   Rachel Held Evans’ post Privilege and the Pill.

[A] woman who cannot afford birth control is more likely to consider herself unable to afford a pregnancy, which makes terminating that pregnancy seem like the best, most affordable option. And the cycle continues.

So those who oppose coverage of birth control based on their religious or pro-life convictions must take into consideration the fact that lack of coverage may actually lead to more abortions. And we must remember that shrugging off birth control as something people should be able to easily pay for on their own betrays some of our own economic privilege in this conversation.

And then, please take a look at this “response” post by First Things contributors, twisting Rachel’s attempt at a difficult discussion into something honestly a little nasty. We can do better.

Screaming and shouting ridiculous, mean things to scare away reasoned dialogue is not an effective means of discourse.

Four.   Quasi-related to #3, an amicus brief has been filed in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood cases challenging the constitutionality of RFRA altogether. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s posted over at SCOTUSblog and it’s on my list of things to read this weekend. The historical grey areas and give-and-take of religious freedom in America are so interesting.  A vigorous reasoned discussion about the limits of our constitutional protections is far superior in every way to, let’s say it again, screaming and shouting ridiculous things. Check your sources, people.

“The intense passions about religious freedom and women’s reproductive health in this case have obscured the issue that should be decided before this Court reaches the merits: RFRA is unconstitutional,” the brief argued. The filing represents the views of seven organizations, telling the Court that they “are united in their concern that RFRA endangers the vulnerable — who otherwise would be protected by the neutral, generally applicable laws of this country.”

Five.   And to wrap us up this week, something that is honestly SO OUT THERE and a little crazy, but really made me think: Penelope Trunk’s 13 ways to keep your debt from holding you back. And it’s not what you think.

Don’t stop taking risks – the price is too high.

One of the most common regrets people have at the end of their life is that they didn’t take risks. They played it too safe. Most of your life will include some form of debt. If you put off doing what you want because of your debt you are way more likely to have regrets than if you pay your debt off really slowly, or if you never even get it paid off.

Quick tech question for you blogging experts:  Wordpress has begun auto-numbering my lists in some way where it says 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. instead of 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.  I’ve been spelling out the numbers as a quick fix but that is obviously not really helping.  If you know what is going on can you help me out?  Thanks!!

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 01.10.2014

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1.  Telling Tulsa’s Story, by Jen Luitwieler at A Deeper Story.  This post tells the story of the Tulsa race riot in 1921 in a beautiful, moving way.  I really loved reading it.

When the fires finally died, after eighteen hours of rioting, Greenwood was gone. Thirty-five city blocks were ruined. Millions of dollars in damage had been done. The earliest reports claimed sixty nine “negroes” were killed, but eyewitnesses and Red Cross reports indicate that over 300 men, women and children were killed. There were minimal white casualties.

But that was just the start of their victimization.

2.  Penelope Trunk’s Three cheers for women who say they don’t want to work.  At least they’re honest.  This made me laugh.  It’s a really interesting, slightly in-your-face take on whether women can or can’t have “it all.”  Or if they even want to.

Some people will tell you that such an admission is a throwback to the 1950s and it’s discouraging. That’s true.

Except for one thing: divorce law protects women today. In the 1950s, if you allowed a guy to take care of you, if you put your career aside for kids, then there was no protection for you. So women went nuts – fighting for rights, fighting for jobs, fighting for an equal right to a piece of the pie. But now women are guaranteed money to raise the kids, whether the guy stays or not.

3.  Ed Cyzewski’s When Church is Like a Party, at A Deeper Church.  Typically, these kind of things make me want to run away and hide, because my God-given personality is 99.9% party-averse.  BUT, I met Ed once [at STORY Chicago], and I heard him say something about his upbringing and that dancing was completely out of his comfort zone, and I’ve always felt the same way about clapping in church, it’s just so weird, and I hate to do it. . . anyway, I really connected with this post.

Dancing just wasn’t a big part of my upbringing, and when my religion classified dancing as a hip-grinding gateway to sexual insanity, I didn’t ask any questions. No dancing allowed? Phew! Where do I sign my name?

I’m in my 30’s now. I’ve had what seems to be the obligatory falling out with the church in my 20’s. At a certain point Christianity  and church in particular just flat out stopped working for me, and as I searched for something to hold onto, I started to suspect that freedom in worship may have something to do with it.

4.  My friend Abby’s post A Year Long Epiphany: No More Scarcity.  I mean, read this and tell me you haven’t felt exactly this same way:

I stress myself out on a regular basis making very minor decisions, like which groceries to buy, which present to pick, which route to take. Usually, these decisions are such that there is no wrong answer, all answers are acceptable, and yet…yet I am pulling out my hair and beating myself up because, THERE IS ONLY ONE RIGHT ANSWER AND OH MAN I MADE THE WRONG ONE AND COST US (three minutes, six dollars, absolutely nothing) AND IT IS ALL MY FAULT.

5.  Brianna Wiest at ThoughtCatalog with 18 Things Women Shouldn’t Have to Justify.  It’s funny and honest and true.  For example, take number seven:

7. Enjoying what would otherwise be called guilty pleasures because they’re “girly” things. They don’t have to be “guilty” pleasures, they can just be pleasures. You can enjoy getting your nails painted and wearing a skirt and re-watching 13 Going On 30 a thousand times without floundering in stereotypes.

 

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 01.03.2014

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1.  Alison Green from Ask A Manager’s post for U.S. News and World Report, 7 New Year’s Resolutions for a Stronger Career in 2014.  I’ve just recently started following AAM (Ask A Manager) and the advice and compassion from the community in the comments is enough to make you believe in the internet again.

2.  Kate’s Favorite Simple and Quick Hair Tutorials, at The Small Things Blog.  If only my hair would look as good on just one day as Kate’s hair looks every single day. . .

3.  Esther Emery’s This is Where I Give Away a Free Inspirational eBook! (Unleash Your Wild).  Also, it comes with a free eBook about being awesome.

4.  Rosabeth Moss Kanter with Overcome the Eight Barriers to Confidence.  While she does not argue that confidence alone will give you everything you hope for, she explains that confidence provides you with a belief in the success of your efforts, which will make a marked difference in the work you dedicate toward a desired outcome.

5.  Austin Channing Brown’s Top 2013 Posts.  I just found Austin’s blog and this wrap-up post made me want to read everything she’s ever written about racial reconciliation and the American evangelical church and all sorts of interesting, complicated, important things.  I’m sure you’ll feel the same way, so head on over there and check it out.

An honorable mention to The Safest Road to Hell by Brad Littlejohn over at The Sword and the Ploughshare, for confirming in my heart that #ATTACK really is the word I want to model 2014 after.

And, finally, if you’re looking for great books to read [or gift] in 2014, be sure to check out  all of the blogs participating in the Favorite Books of 2013 link-up going on at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week

We’re a little late this week but, never mind that, here are some awesome things I found on the interwebs over the last seven days.

Five Awesome Things I Read This Week copy1.  Did you know that January is Poverty Awareness Month?  Here’s an intro to the initiative from the Washington Post.

2.  A blog detailing one writer’s perspective on chronic illness and faith.  When we face a chronic or debilitating illness (or both), and God leaves us there, can we maintain faith in his goodness or do we have to give up that belief to survive?  This is an issue that hits close-to-home in my family and I think it can help all of us think more carefully about whether we should really be saying “It’s God’s will,” or “All things happen for a reason,” to people who are hurting around us.

3.  Madeleine Schwartz’s article on the downsides of interning from Dissent.  Eye-opening, and particularly interesting to me as I am a female in the legal market, where interning is essential to getting work experience.  Shout out to this piece at Jezebel.

4.  Goodness gracious, Christian America, did you guys know about this?  Remember that one time I wrote a blog but said I wasn’t secure enough in my faith to argue with John Piper just yet?  Well, let’s just say that we’ve conquered that fear.  Lord help us.

5.  Emily Wierenga’s post on child labor and what we can do about it.  It is beautiful, and also provides a new platform for connecting with bloggers by participating in her imperfect prose series.  I’m going to be digging deeper into what that looks like but, since we’ve discussed our goal of participating in blogger networks this year, I wanted to provide that for you as well.  Check out last week’s prompt here.  Another one should be coming up soon.

And finally, even though this really makes six (or is it eight?  I’m sick so I’m taking the lazy way out of this but please do not worry, I may be female but I am terrific at counting):  I thought this was a really beautiful piece.

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