“The familiar expression “a steep learning curve” is intended to mean that the activity is difficult to learn, although a learning curve with a steep start actually represents rapid progress.”
I didn’t blog during December, maybe you noticed? I took the month “off”, although I can hardly justify blogging as work. I lounged. I procrastinated. I ate. I learned to live with pain. I bought presents (one niece got three of the same thing from me because the first two wouldn’t arrive in time so I bought more). I read and read and read. I “started” a book club. Started is in quotes because just two nights ago I decided on a book and a time and place for meeting – February 24th at Panera Bread. Yay, me!
Here’s the thing. The books I read probably raised some eyebrows because through the wonders of social media and Kindle, people knew what I was reading and when I finished them. In fact, I know some hackles were raised because folks were not stingy with their opinions. Some backstory:
I live in south central PA. A firmly evangelical, fundamentalist, conservative part of the state. I drank the Kool-Aid often and from a very young age. In fact, the church I grew up in had a Christian school (which I attended through 9th grade) and February was named patriotic month. Wow! Did we ever celebrate! It was akin to Easter and Christmas. There were month long school projects, American history dress up days, parties, and a patriotic cantata at the end of the month at the church with all the glorious school projects filling the large, grand lobby for everyone to ooh and aah over. I was patriotic. I was conservative. I was evangelical and fundamentalist. I pledged allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag and the Bible EVERY DAY! The flags held prominent positions in every classroom and at the altar. I have learned and re-learned Christian-speak from Kindergarten. We even had Catechism, good, fundamentalist catechism. I didn’t wear pants – they weren’t feminine or sanctioned by the pastor. I wore culottes.
Culottes is a word that originated in the French language. Historically, “culottes” referred to the knee-breeches commonly worn by gentlemen of the European upper-classes from the late Middle Ages or Renaissance through the early nineteenth century.
When I was newly married, I attended the church my husband grew up in. A little Mennonite church on the “wrong” side of town. It was intriguing to me and I was astonished at the non-patrioticness (call me Noah Webster) of it all. But, not being patriotic didn’t mean that they weren’t conservative and it didn’t mean they weren’t properly schooled in Franklin County political culture. We were in a young marrieds Sunday School class (which also included singles and older marrieds – it was a small church) and the teacher one Sunday actually called me a feminist. A FEMINIST!! I was appalled…offended…irritated…angry…flustered. The nerve of this guy!! I was the anti-thesis of the “feminist”. Not only had I continued on my conservative, fundamentalist, patriotic trajectory, I had recently added conservative talk radio to my daily diet, with enthusiasm. I think you can do the math and figure out who I listened to religiously for many, many years and I’m not dissing him. I still agree with him on some things, but I’ve moved on. Honestly, I NEVER thought I would say those blasphemous words. Hello, I’m Deanna and I’m a recovering conservative talk radio listener. Nice to meet you.
Fast forward many, many years to this past November and December. Through the world of the internet and blogging and Facebook, I was introduced to a blog, then to a book, then to another book and another. In the past eight weeks I have read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey, and Seven by Jen Hatmaker. Wow! I was busy curled up on the couch reading and wrestling with all those thought, phrases, and emotions instilled in me from that Kool-Aid. I’m exhausted by the mental gymnastics I’ve had to perform to readjust my conservative thinking. I’m convicted because I am part of the problem. I have hope because of these women and so many, many more who are smart, articulate and, wonder of wonders!, Jesus followers. I want to be like them when I grow up.
I want to challenge the status quo in the church’s view of women in ministry, of patriarchal hierarchy.
I want to change my views on the poor and destitute in which I insulate myself and my family from “the least of these”.
I want to empower women all over the world to grab hold of their God-breathed gifts and use them for his Kingdom. We’re missing the Kingdom, people! Missing it in the midst of the American church.
I do not want to throw stones anymore.
My path will have many stops and starts. I won’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, but I will make a difference. It may not be seen by anyone but God. And that’s okay because He’s the only One who really matters in these changes.
I haven’t wrestled out all these thoughts yet and I’ve already come under criticism. I can deal with that. I’m admitting here and now that I know I won’t agree with everything these women say, write or speak, but that’s the beauty of the Body of Christ. I can learn from them, just as I learn from Lydia or Bethany or Ann or Tsh or Rachel or Emily or Lysa. As I learn and gain rapid progress (see Wikipedia definition at beginning), I will be able to answer those criticisms with wit and grace and maybe a tad of sarcasm because, after all, I’m only a women…right?
I’m a Jesus Feminist.
I guess Mr. So n’ So got it right all those years ago, but not in the way he meant it.