Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Marching Onward

I began writing this blog sometime near the end of March.
PEOPLE - it's now MID-MAY!!! I no longer have any idea how time works.
I've been serving in full time ministry for almost seven years and I still find myself surprised that the distance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday is so very, very short. When I was a kid, six weeks was an eternity. Remember what it felt like when the first day of summer holidays or Christmas Day was six weeks away and EVERY single day was like a full week worth of time and so it took FOREVER for the celebrations to begin? Pure torture. But now it seems the six weeks of Lent fly by in the blink of an eye. Which is all to say, that I did, in fact, read my March books but the blinking of my eye did not allow for me to sit down long enough to write about them. I found a little time today, in the quiet of this Wednesday afternoon to reflect on the books I read last month. (And now it's a Tuesday in May. SIGH.)

I began March by reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. You will recognize Evans name from previous books I've written about in this blog. Evans is a former evangelical Christian. She is still a Christian but no longer identifies as evangelical. She spent her twenties exploring what aspects of Christianity remained important to her and what aspects of her Christian upbringing she needed to let go of in order to live faithfully as a loving and compassionate servant of God.

In her former evangelical world, there had been much emphasis on controlling what women could and could not do as a follower of Christ. Supporting her husband by staying home and raising children was on the "Do" list. Preaching or being in church leadership was on the "Do Not Do" list. Whenever a woman moved out of her lane, so to speak, she was likely to be reminded of her role in God's world. As part of her faith journey, Evans decided to earnestly explore what the Bible (and presumably God) had to say about what it is, exactly that is expected of women and live a year following what biblical rules she could find about womanhood.

After culling the Scriptures for all references to how a woman should behave, Evans selected 12 virtues and did her best to fulfill them, one at a time, each month - following some general guidelines on how to act or not to act such as she didn't cut her hair for a year and covered her head when instructed to do so. The virtues were: Gentleness, Domesticity, Obedience, Valor, Beauty, Modesty, Purity, Fertility, Submission, Justice, Silence and Grace. Many instructions of how the biblical woman is to behave can be found Proverbs 31.

And this is my confession...I got four months into her year of biblical womanhood and became so annoyed with the whole project that I put the book into a time out. There are so many reasons to be annoyed with a religion that attempts to restrict woman that it would be impossible list them here. So I won't. I will just say, the book sits somewhere between my complete pile and my desk and every once in a while I pick it up but progress is slow. Life is too short to read books that cause existential angst.

The next book I read, however, did not cause me any angst other than to be sad that there will be no other books coming from its author, Marina Keegan. Unfortunately this author of The Opposite of Loneliness was killed in a traffic accident within her days of graduation from university. She was a talented writer and had volumes of material which her parents and former instructor curated to create this tribute to this wonderful and talented young woman. The book has a variety of fiction and non-fiction selections.

I want to lift one idea from Keegan's book. She wrote an essay for the graduation issue of the Yale Daily News. She speaks of the variety of communities that she found herself at home in while studying at Yale. She mentions that there is not an opposite word for loneliness. If there was, that is what she felt while at Yale - the opposite of being lonely. As I was sharing this essay with someone who joined the Brene Brown book study earlier this year, he told me - "I know what the opposite of loneliness is - it is belonging. Brene Brown taught us that." Lovely.

This book is definitely worth the time. If you'd like to borrow it, please just ask. You can borrow the other one too. 😉

Next on my list (For April. Cause, remember, I don't know how time works.):
Reasons to Stay Alive  by Matt Haig and a biography of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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