Monday, September 12, 2011

who learned to ask questions? what's the benefit of the doubt?

This weekend, I finished reading Rachel Held Evans's book Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions, and I must say that it is an impressive memoir in which the author gets at how she has had several, incredibly thoughtful human conversions as an adult.  To me, that's what learning is.  That's awfully important.  When we stop learning, stop changing or "evolving," then we die.  Viewpoints change.  When it comes to religion, to views about sex and gender, to the Bible and what it offers us on religion, on God, on sex and gender, then we can hope our methods for learning, for knowing, for understanding, for believing can adapt some to circumstances over time.  Otherwise we insist on the sort of objectivity that stuck Aristotle in a science that makes females naturally lesser than males.  Otherwise we insist on the sort of arrogant absolutism with "apparently plain meanings of biblical texts" that makes females naturally lesser than males so that the former can only learn from the latter, and not the reverse.

(See how Rachel blogs today, wonderfully and powerfully on the rigid weaknesses of "the complementarian manifesto, the Danvers Statement," endorsed by men like Wayne Grudem and John Piper of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.)

Last week, I posted a few paragraphs excerpted from Rachel's book.  Kristen made a typically astute comment with a question, an important question:

"Rachael saw her father like the Father God; but her mother was so like Christ, and yet she doesn't mention that; only that her mother pointed her to Christ. Why is that?"

So today, I'd like to look at how else Rachel writes about her mother in relation to God.  Is God only a father?  Or is the image and imagination of God as Father as inclusive of Rachel's female parent as it is of her male parent?  Here are a few more paragraphs, a few more pages into Rachel's book, a few more years into her life and her learning, her evolving.  What do you think?  And do you see the image of God, male and female, in either of your own parents?

Did you notice how Rachel says her mother influenced her?  What is it her mother teaches her about?  And for whom is she to look out?  What does she encourage her and her sister, as equals, to do?  How does she speak about others and who does she herself stand up to?  And why?  Did you notice how people around Rachel's mother feel when they are around her?  What did Rachel, and Amanda, inherit from their mother?  Why, nonetheless, do some "a lot of good Christian people" try to convince her that her mother's characteristic -- lived and taught and passed on like genetic material -- is "a sort of spiritual liability"?  Whose ways are more like "God's ways"?  Whose are "higher"?  And who is this other woman, also a mother, whom Rachel mentions in the context of speaking about Justice and equality and egalitarianism and the deserved chance to be loved and her own mother?  Who is this one whose life and death rocks Rachel's world?  She is Zarmina; so, who's she?  

(So I'm asking you now to buy Rachel's book and to read it for yourself.  To see whether you and your world might evolve a little too.  To see what and how you might learn something.  Yes, I know Rachel is a woman.  John Piper says it's okay for all of you men to learn from her, a little only.  Just don't let her become your spiritual head.  After you read Rachel's book, then come back over here; and pardon me for linking to a world-rocking video of this other mother, the one that changes Rachel's perspectives in profound ways.  Maybe click this link first and read again a bit more.  Just only then and after that click this link from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan when you are ready and not before, please.  We may never be ready. But what can we learn? Can we evolve?)

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