“Why do you have to get all political on us?”
“I don’t like the way your social media has become so political lately.”
“Why don’t you leave politics alone and just preach the gospel?”
Statements like these have been leveled at several of my fellow Christian female bloggers lately. (Not so much at me. I’ve always been political. 😉 ) But it’s something that has caught my attention. In a way, it’s true: writers like Rachel Held Evans and Jory Micha appear to be making more political statements. I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty, too. I’ve tweeted a lot about my opposition to Trump’s presidency. A LOT.
So you may have noticed the parody that I published yesterday of this article in Christianity Today. Parody and satire are great for blowing off steam, but they don’t quite explain how the steam came to rise in the first place. So I want to talk more about this article by Tish Warren and address where I think the problem is.
To sum up the article, Warren points out that, just like the printing press, the advent of online blogging has created a “crisis of authority.” Namely, if someone is using the Internet to publish their personal take on the Bible, who holds them accountable? Where did they get their knowledge? Who ensures they aren’t damaging the church or leading people astray? Which, granted, are fair questions to ask. (And there are biblical answers. More on that in a minute.)
The first problem I had was the focus on women bloggers in particular. Warren admits that, historically, the institutional church has marginalized women, forcing them to step into the cyber sphere in order to have a voice. She also suggests that the church has done a poor job of giving women theological training with real teeth–choosing instead to entertain us with “funny stories, relatable prose, or charming turns of phrase.” All stuff I heartily agree with. But… Continue reading
* A parody of this article in Christianity Today, inspired by a tweet from Thomas Horrocks (@thomaslhorrocks).
The rise of church doors in the early 1500s has yielded the genre of the “church reformer.” From the comfort of their studies, these heretical monks can pen lengthy criticisms of Catholicism and affix them to church doors for any passing peasant to see. This advent of literacy, printing and architecture has created a crisis of authority that we haven’t hitherto seen before.
One of the most prominent examples of this crisis involves the popular Martin Luther, who last year announced his opposition to selling indulgences for the absolution of sin. He was cheered by some and denounced by others. The Pope has called for his writings to be burned. Aside from the debate about faith vs. works, broader questions have emerged: Where do scholars like Luther derive their authority to speak and teach? And who holds them accountable for their teaching? How can the average peasant know whom to trust?
I was getting ready for work the other morning when I was struck by a sudden pang to see my father. Because of some terrible things he did, I cut him out of my life a couple of years ago. He hasn’t called in several months, and I was worried that something might be wrong. What if he’s dying? I thought.
And then I thought, if he were dying, would it change anything for me? I still have little capacity to tolerate any sort of drama. Talking to him wouldn’t close the rift that he created in my heart, wouldn’t bring back the years I lost feeling unsafe with him. And then I felt it: that old, all-too-familiar ache of having been robbed of a nourishing father/daughter relationship. Memories and milestones I should have had, but didn’t. And I had to pause and breathe and just let the wave of grief wash over me.
Overall, I’m happier and healthier these days, but I still have these moments when the scars throb, when I have to face the fact that I was hurt in significant, life-altering ways. I recently shared some of my story with a colleague, and he said, “I hope you continue to heal and are stronger for it.” I responded: “I will certainly be wiser and more compassionate, but never stronger.” I’m learning to walk with an emotional limp.
Women’s March in DC, (c) April Kelsey
Some of you might have noticed that, around the time of the November election, some of my posts here and elsewhere became a bit more political. Honestly, I’ve always been a political person. My two favorite conversation topics are religion and politics, which – you can imagine – makes me a much beloved dinner guest in many homes. :p
But it’s a difficult mix. The one thing I criticize most harshly about American Evangelicalism is just how political it has become. I’m a fervent believer in the separation of Church and State, and I do not think salvation, spirituality or purity can or should be legislated. So I thought I’d take a moment to explain why I’ve grown a bit more political and the ways in which my faith informs my politics.