Special Episode: James Younger and The Story of God

Many of us read about how others view the world, reality and God. Few of us are able to talk and interact with those whose view of things religious is different than our own. If you had the opportunity to learn from those who are, say, Hindu, would you? Read More

Don’t Blame Musburger – An Addendum

I told you I should have left it alone. ESPN helped us understand the story behind Musburger’s exclamations about Ms. Webb. They noted,

“We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test.  However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”

That clears it up. Someone forgot to tell Musburger to focus on the storyline.

The real reason it may have been better to leave the story alone is all on me. Running several late morning errands yesterday gave me time to think more about the incident that has been kept alive via viral video and Ms. Webb’s growing Twitter followers. Yesterday I wrote,

I am reminded of the sociological work, Guyland. The author argues female identity in our culture is cheapened as it flows through the male. If you have daughters, I would give it a read. I learned about the book several years go via Joe Thorn. Some will point to the Bible as source material to justify just such a move – that is, female identity formation is derivative through the male. The problem is what male, which male? The thinking surely follows that good Bible believing people cannot allow the neo-Freudian feminists any room to point out the way in which our culture, even in our churches, views childhood development has been deeply scarred by male only control groups out of which Freud drew his conclusions. If we really want to turn to the Sacred Text, we still must work through the Apostle Paul’s summary in Galatians 3 without the lens that explains away identity implications as he writes, “there is neither male nor female,” our identity is formed in our understanding of the Imago Dei. It is silly to think such work results in androgyny. That is sheer pandering.

There are subtle ways we perpetuate that female identity is derivative through the male. I write to confess my guilt. A personal story illustrates.

I planned several gifts for Patty for her milestone birthday last Friday. One involved securing the services of a landscape artist. One of our friends told us about Heather. I called to enlist her services and told her it was a birthday present for my wife. My hope was the first appointment would be a surprise. Extenuating circumstances forced me to re-schedule. The hope of a surprise was dashed.

When I first spoke to Heather on the phone I asked if she was a well-known figure’s wife. She acknowledged that she was. For the next few minutes she told me about her business and how the process would result in a potential transformation of the yard. I told her I wanted to hire her and we set the appointment. Innocent, right? Not so fast.

What dawned on me yesterday as I drove from stop to stop was how I had diminished a person by first identifying them through another. I realize we often do this to make connection. I could fall back on the fact that I was not sure I called the right person so I asked my question for confirmation. No matter my excuse, the reality is rather than engage Heather for the reason I called; I first identified her through her husband.

Before Heather arrived I told Patty what I had done. I told her I would need to apologize. Patty understood. Most Pastors’ wives get the same treatment. “Oh, so you are Pastor Todd’s wife.” Patty is very supportive. She has been through the ups and downs of being a pastor’s wife.

Patty is more than a Pastor’s wife. To identify her through me is to make of her an object. Once a person is declared an object we fall back on standard expectations. The first question Patty was asked in our very first encounter with a Pulpit Committee, “Do you play the piano?” The unspoken expectation was the Pastor’s wife played the piano. She said she would need lessons.

The implications for the way we subtly objectify those we don’t normally consider objectified points to the way we keep the as is structure in tact. For instance, we have little trouble considering pornography a demeaning objectification of the human form, male or female. We would never think that identifying one human being through another human being to be similar, surely not the same as pornography.

When Christians claim human beings are made in the Image of God, then it stands that to consider the identity of one human as derivative through another is objectification at best, and idolatry at worst. The philosophical turn that suggests we shift the subject helps us open up the possibilities that are other people. Or, when we work to recognize the other, other persons as human subjects, we open up the possibility of both deeper and challenging relationships. If I cannot, or will not, objectify you then I must be ready for you. And that means I must be ready to get outside of my expectations bound up in my former objectification of you as a human being and realize there might be something for me to learn, experience, and grow from rather than use our relationship built on the object I made of you.

The as is structure compels us all to be the same. Christian people, Jesus-y people, should think deeply about the ways in which we subtly objectify the other to both their and our detriment. Objectifying the other is not cute.

Yesterday I apologized to Heather. I am sure there will be other occasions where I realize the all too subtle ways in which I need to throw off the as is structure that keeps people objects to fill my expectations rather than subjects with which to share life, making it meaningful and abundant.

Pragmatics and the Church, Or Mad Men May Expose Your Desire

It works. We just finished watching Season 1 of Mad Men. It only took me six months to get around to watching the last disc sent by Netflix. We are slow. And, in terms of keeping up with the story, we are woefully behind.

Peggy, Don Draper’s secretary, helped write a pitch for a product early on. Her aspirations to be more than an assistant grew with the realization she was good at copy writing. On the four final episodes, Peggy’s help is enlisted again. This time she is invited to help with a weight loss product for women. It became apparent that the apparatus did not really have any data to back up its claims, but after all the company is hired to sell a product not prove its claims.

Could the product live up to its billing? Peggy tried out the exercise device. Something like one of those products that promises to help lose weight without really expending any effort. Consider it something of an ultrasound device intended to stimulate muscles to contract for therapy with the hope that it would cause those pounds to fall off. You know the sort of thing, “You just wear this device, grab a good book, and read the pounds away.”

The problem came when the device had another effect. Read More

Dear Local Television Stations . . .

Please help. You have caused a great deal of suffering since before 4 a.m. when you began your coverage of the Snowpocalypse. We know that Cormac McCarthy is on your nightstand and you are waiting to tell the story of the “White Road” out of Snowmageddon. But your ongoing coverage of the Snowpalooza has finally reached the absurd.

My wife was hoping to see a few shows she misses while at work during the week. Rarely does her boss close the shop. Yes, if all his employees had monster trucks in their driveways they would have opened. You know its true Doc. But, we have not been watching the news. Every time we turn the television back on to see if you have given into the the fact that we are a bit smarter, that we get it, you are still there. It is like a bad Bill Murray movie gone worse. It is your version of Groundhog Day. Yes, we have cable. DISH to be exact. But, the shows she hoped to see have been covered up by the repeats of weather cams from around the state and forecasts that have not changed since yesterday.

Please, we have seen our shadows. Were it not for the need for heat we could only wish for a power outage.

Tony Suggests the Need for More Balloons

The recent publicity stunt pulled in the Colorado skies exposes our infatuation with news that is less than news. Whether or not this odd parental move lands the family another reality show or not, they did receive plenty of publicity. There are some very significant causes in our world that should merit more television time, more investigation, and public outcry than what was delivered by the media in the “balloon boy” incident. Tony Jones points out a most powerful cartoon that should prompt us to revisit our viewing habits.