Archives for category: Personhood

We walk in the company of the women who have gone before, mothers of the faith both named and unnamed, testifying with ferocity and faith to the Spirit of wisdom and healing.

They are the judges, the prophets, the martyrs, the warriors, the poets, lovers, and saints who are near to us in the shadow of awareness, in the crevices of memory, in the landscape of our dreams.

We walk in the company of Deborah,

who judged the Israelites with authority and strength.

We walk in the company of you whose names have been lost and silenced,

who kept and cradled wisdom with the ages.

We walk in the company of the woman with the flow of blood,

who audaciously sought her healing and release.

We walk in the company of Julian of Norwich,

who wed imagination and theology, proclaiming “All shall be well.”

We walk in the company of Sojourner Truth,

who stood against oppression, righteously declaring “Ain’t I a woman!’

We walk in the company of you mothers of the faith,

who teach us to resist evil with boldness, to lead with wisdom, and to heal.

Amen.

{Excerpted from A Litany to Honor Women in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals}

Her Facebook status arrested my attention for a few fleeting moments. “The world is so much prettier through Instagram filters.” So much truth in that statement. And so many lies.

One. Two. Three. Smile! We see the manner in which the picture falls short of our anticipation and we set forth to polish up the dingy portrait and set it right. We dress up the real life and paint it anew, recreating the picture that is there and forcing it to be the picture we desire. There is a darkness lurking behind the drive to Instagram our lives. Our everyday, mundane, boring moments are altered and reshaped and presented to the world as other than they are. We edit the familiar to render it original. We retouch the blemishes. We crop out the ugly corners of living. Pixelated perfection. It isn’t raw or real. It isn’t honest. The “Come to Me” Savior is all-too-familiar with the painful, wounded, ugly, dying parts of us. He wants to see the picture and He doesn’t require the filtered version.

But our photogenic dishonesty betrays at least one precious attribute that we possess. This world is so very disappointing and a picture, worth a thousand words, can give that secret away. We are the changers, the re-creators, the guardians of this brokenness who rage against the way things are and wish that we could make it new. We were intended to yank the weeds and tend the garden. We were made with an innate dissatisfaction with the way things are. Instagram. Our one-click opportunity to retake the true picture. Here again, the “Come to Me” Savior is sympathetic. He is sympathetic with our desire that things be different… that life be better… that the picture improve. He is the “Come to Me” Savior who is also “making all things new”. He knows all too well that a simple filter will never suffice, but He understands our deep dissatisfaction with the way that things are. He is dissatisfied, too.

The gift of recreation comes neither through the untouched photo nor through the Instagrammed one. The gift comes when we finally answer the “Come to Me”, and we are seen.

“I did not go through pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss… rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am.”

– Jerry Sittser, in A Grace Disguised

Some days, I want to dive all in. I want to read every blog on the blogroll and crack a theological stalemate and pull a couple of books off of my dusty cubicle shelf and put all of my empty down time to excellent use. I want to be studious and industrious and full.

And then I get to work. I settle into my office chair. This is not a comfortable, satisfying “settle into my office chair”. It is a dismal settling down. Like settling into the chair in a doctor’s waiting room. You fully know that everything to follow this act of being seated will be dull at best, miserable at worst.

I settle down into my office chair.

All of my high aspirations settle down too.

Another day passes and I haven’t reached much further than to switch on the lamp in the far corner of my gray-walled world. Minds, like muscles, atrophy. I was going to work mine out today. But I settled instead. No blogs. No theology. No books.

How do you to inspire yourself to press through monotony? I am looking for suggestions because tomorrow I will march into this same office and settle into this same chair… and somehow, I want to keep my mind aloft.

 

~Annie Bolger Quick, editor

          I’ve been reflecting on some of the books that I read in high school on women’s roles. I feel like a volcano… there are so many thoughts swirling in my head that I think I must explode onto paper…

Fascinating Womanhood. It was recommended by a dear friend and we fell in love with it and the principles presented therein together. The basic premise: men live in constant insecurity and need for affirmation. Women exist to bolster male self-esteem and encourage male petulance despite ourselves. Through our endless exhortation and overlooking of faults, women might help their men to develop into the persons of character that they were intended by God to be.

The profound and glaring problem with this equation is the disgusting dishonesty of it. Relationships are intended for our sanctification. Women and men to do not exist or function to soothe one another and make each other feel superior than we truly are. We are the iron sharpening each other.

We have the world, the flesh and the devil to lie to us. We don’t need our spouses to do that.

But the rub is that if we embrace being honest with our coheirs, we must likewise embrace their ability to be honest and confrontational with us. Why is that part of the bargain? Why can’t I just spew my perspective on you without hearing your sanctifying reproach for me?

Are women really supposed to be “free of the burden” of providing loving accountability and chastisement in the lives of their husbands? We discuss secondary issues like “exercising authority” more than we exhort each other to SERVICE and edification.

Why? There are a plethora of reasons why we avoid big, tough, ugly issues and stick to secondary ones instead. It occurred to me that one of these reasons is good old-fashioned slothfulness.

Sloth is a dark sin. It is idly living for yourself and precludes passivity, lethargy, and profound laziness.

The truth is that not many of desire to be teachers, knowing that we will incur a greater condemnation. Responsibility is tough and it is so much easier to siphon it off onto someone else. In the example of Fascinating Womanhood, gender is just an excuse that allows women off the hook of marital accountability. Women, do not settle for the role of mothering your man. Do not settle for becoming his plaything either. Do not serve him so unwell as to leave him at his present place of growth and challenge him no further. Do not resign yourself to sloth.

I write this to myself, as I continue to press toward a theology of marital relationship. You cannot keep growing in love for each other when you are lost in triviality. You will reach a point where you plateau. We are nobler people than that. Together, in union with each other and Christ, we must live up to our nobility.

Nor can you sustain a relationship at an existential level of such heights that you lose touch with reality. You reach a point where you peak and cannot get down again. We are more human people than that. Together, in union with each other and Christ, we must live into our humanity.

Dr. Rosalie de Rosset mentioned incidentally in class that the greatest eros springs from intellectual admiration. Eros is desire… the sacred devotion that seek out the noble and gives itself for the benefit of the other. True women will pursue men of intellect, strength, devotion, and complex sexuality. True men will pursue women of the same guild. And from the “marriage of true minds” a love will spring that “bears it out even to the edge of doom” (William Shakespeare, Sonnet CXVI).

          Thank you, Meghan Bolger and Krista Ziebarth, for allowing me to spew these disjointed thoughts to you for three successive hours today. You spared me from tragic, spontaneous, internal combustion.

Yours devotedly,

~Annie Bolger Quick, editor

“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way,

and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless

until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Frank Viola: “God’s View of a Woman”

Consider this. When God decided to make His entrance upon this planet, He visited a woman. He chose a woman to bring forth the Eternal Son, the Messiah—the Anointed One for whom Israel had waited thousands of years. The life of God was first placed in the womb of a woman before it got to you and to me. And God was not ashamed.

Sisters in Christ, this is your Lord’s view of a woman. Take your high place.

But that’s not all. As Jesus ministered, He ripped down all social conventions that were pitted against women. On one occasion, He rose to the defense of a woman caught in adultery. He became her attorney and saved her life. And God was not ashamed.

Jesus was noted for palling around with sinners. He supped with prostitutes and tax collectors. We are told in John Chapter 4 that He met a woman, and He did something that shocked the disciples. He talked to her in public. And He was not ashamed…

But that’s not all. Jesus Christ had a custom of using women in His parables and making them heroes. He talked about the woman who searched and found her lost coin. He spoke of the woman who was unrelenting in the presence of the unjust judge who honored her for her persistence. He spoke of the widow who dropped all the money she had into the temple treasury and praised her for doing so. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Once Jesus was dining with a self-righteous Pharisee. And in walked a woman. But this was not just any woman. She was a woman of the streets—a prostitute. Upon seeing the Lord, she dropped down to her knees and did something unsettling.
In the presence of Pharisees, this woman unbound her hair and poured costly perfume upon the feet of our Lord. This unclean woman touched Jesus Christ in public. She wept, washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. This scandalous and improper act mortified the self-righteous Pharisees. At that moment, these religious leaders lost all respect for Jesus and doubted that He was a true prophet. But your Lord was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But that’s not all. Your Lord allowed an unclean woman to touch the hem of His garment, and He was not ashamed. In fact, He praised her for it. He also gave a Canaanite woman who was viewed as a dog in the eyes of Israel one of the highest compliments He ever gave anyone. He also healed her daughter, and He was not ashamed.

In the Lord’s last hours on this earth, He stayed in a small village called Bethany. It was there that He would spend His last days before He gave His life on Calvary. In Bethany, two women whom Jesus loved had their home: Mary and Martha. They were His friends, and they received Him. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

When Luke writes his Gospel, he refers to the twelve disciples with the shorthand phrase the Twelve. The Twelve lived with the Lord for three-and-a-half years. And they followed Him everywhere. But Jesus also had a group of female disciples. Luke also used a shorthand phrase to refer to them. He simply called them the Women (Luke 23:55; Acts 1:14). Interestingly, Luke used this phrase the same way that he used the Twelve.  They were the Lord’s disciples also—the female counterpart to the Twelve. The Women followed the Lord wherever He went, and they tended to His needs. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But there’s more. The greatest disciples of Jesus Christ were not the Twelve. They were the Women. The reason? Because they were more faithful. When Jesus Christ was taken to die, the Twelve fled. They checked out. They said, “See ya!” But the Women stayed with Him. They didn’t leave. They followed Him up to Calvary to do what they had been doing all along—comforting Him, taking care of Him, tending to His needs. And they watched Him undergo a bloody, gory crucifixion that lasted six long hours. To watch a man die a hideous and horrible death is something that goes against every fiber that lives inside of a woman. Yet they would not leave Him. They stayed the entire time. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Following His death, it was the Women who first visited His burial. Even after His death, they were still following Him. They were still taking care of Him. And when He rose again from the dead, the first faces He met—the first eyes that were laid upon Him—were the eyes of women. And it was to them that He gave the privilege of announcing His resurrection, even though their testimony wouldn’t hold up in court. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

On the day of Pentecost, the Women were present in the upper room, waiting for Him to return, along with the Twelve.
Unlike His male disciples, the Women never left Him. They followed Him to the end. Their passion for and dedication to Jesus outshined that of the men. And God was not ashamed.

Throughout the Lord’s life, it was the Women who tended to His physical needs. It was the Women who looked after Him. It was the Women who supported Him financially during His earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3). It was the Women who cared for Him up until the bitter end as well as the glorious climax. Not the men. The Women were simply indispensable to Him. And He was not ashamed.

But beyond all these wonderful things that the Lord did in showing us how beautiful women are in His eyes, He did something else. He chose you—a woman to depict that which He came to earth to die for—His very Bride. And He is not ashamed.

Sisters, rise to your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Brothers, honor your sisters in the Kingdom of God. For God honors them. When our Lord pulled Eve out of Adam, He didn’t take her out of his feet below him. Nor did He take her out from his head above him. He took her out of his side.

Sisters, you are fellow heirs in the Kingdom of God. You are fellow priests in the church of God. You are honored. You are cherished. You are valuable. You are needed.

You are His friends, His followers, His daughters, yea, His own kin.

So sisters, take your high place . . . this is God’s view of you.

Jacqueline Gardner just pressed a piece entitled “Hold My Breath: Unoriginal Thoughts on Singleness”. It is a worth-while read on a topic that has been on my mind recently.

This past weekend I went to go visit a friend and her younger (single) sister asked, “How do you like being married?” My enthusiastic response was “Oh, marriage is wonderful!”

As the visit progressed she told us about how she (as an 18 year old) is quitting college and going to marry a very young enlisted man who is still in training and is being relocated every six months or so. Her parents and family are not thrilled. All of a sudden, I felt so guilty for saying “Marriage is wonderful!” It was a misleading statement to make to this poor girl.

Marriage is about a relationship. It isn’t a propositional idea. “Marriage = wonderful” is a bogus equation. It would have been true for me to say that “being married to my husband is wonderful” because ultimately, that is what makes it wonderful: the person you are married to. The relationship is wonderful. Not the propositional, abstract idea of “marriage”.

John Zizioulas is an Eastern Orthodox theologian who has developed a theology of personhood rooted in the idea that full humanity is achieved only as person participates (koinonia) in the Trinitarian life of God. Just as God defines Himself relationally (as three person in eternal, relational community), human beings are most fully actualized when living in relationship. It was Descarte’s idea that ‘I think, therefore I am’ that produced a culture saturated with individualized, independent existential thinking. In Descarte’s proposition, our being is divorced from relationship. Zizioulas attempts to move beyond Catesian self-centeredness by presupposing that the self is a gift, given by love: ‘I am loved, therefore I am’. He writes, “Being is a gift of the Other, and it is this very gift that constitutes love; if love does not grant or cause a unique identity, it is not true love; it is self-love, a sort of narcissism in disguise.”

I am loved, therefore I am. As both unmarried and married persons, our being, existence, and unique identity is established by the fact that we are loved. Being loved graces us with a matchless identity. And as both unmarried and married persons participating in the life and love of God, we are being filled up and completed.

Too many girls have heard “marriage” talked about as an abstraction and something to pursue for its own sake. Marriage, however, is just as unfulfilling as singleness if it is just another state-of-being.

Fulfillment is found in RELATIONSHIP, and singles have JUST AS MUCH access to relationship as marrieds do. Sometimes they have more access. Or perhaps I ought to say, they have different access.

Does this make any sense??

I looked at the young girl across the room from me and part of me wanted to scream, “I’m sorry!! I take that back!! Marriage is wonderful because relationships are wonderful! Marriage is wonderful for ME, because I’m married to Jacob Quick, and he is a sacrificial servant, not the kind of guy who will chase after his own aspirations and leave me in the dust. Marriage is wonderful because I’m a mature person who has taken years to develop my mind and a network of friends. Marriage is wonderful because both of us participate in relationships with the Lord.”

And the other part of me wondered, what if I had turned around and asked her, ‘How do you like being single?’ What would she have said? Because if being relational as a single person is not fulfilling for her, then being relational as a married person probably won’t be either.

So I am calling a personal moratorium on irresponsible descriptions of marriage. Too many girls are listening to the jargon that “marriage is wonderful” and what they hear is “marriage is the magic wand that makes life fulfilling”. That’s why I loved Jacqueline’s article. She was trying to say to these poor misled girls, “Ummm, start living NOW. Relationships are for NOW.”

John Zizioulas goes on to say that “The beloved one is unique because he or she is the beloved of someone, his or her beloved one. This is the only identity that makes him or her unique; it is a relational identity (cf. Mt. 3:17 and parallels; Jn. 1:18: ‘beloved; and ‘unique’ combined with the possessive ‘my’). Beings exist as particular, therefore, only as gifts of the Other, who grants them an identity by establishing a unique relation with them.” Be the beloved one. Accept the gift of your personhood from the Lord, and give the gift of your distinctive love to those around you… to those who are already here. Don’t wait for the elusive “married” state-of-being to be a real person.

Disclaimer (what post would be complete without a disclaimer?): please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I do believe that marriage relationships are amazing… it’s just that the word to highlight is RELATIONSHIPS. Not marriage. I feel like Christians have got it backwards. And the way in which we have gotten it backwards has left singles in the dust and has produced a lot of disappointed married people (who really thought they were getting something other than another relationship to sacrifice themselves in).

What are your thoughts? Do you think that we have divorced the idea of marriage from relationship by talking about it abstractly? What can we do to cultivate the identity of single and married people through relationship?

“My prayer for us this year is simply that we find frustration in the taking,

contentment in the receiving, and supreme satisfaction in the giving.”

~Jacqueline Gardner

~Annie Bolger Quick, editor