Lead us out of exile

It has been so encouraging to see the recent discussion on the role of women in the church sparked by the huge inequality highlighted in lack of women speakers as mainstream conferences. Jenny has a great post here that tracks the conversation and expands the issue.
However we recognise the representation is only part of the issue, and i want to suggest that the changes required run far deeper and may not be possible in the current paradigm. As father to two amazingly gifted daughters 6 and 16 I am always on the hunt for stuff to help them grow into the people they are called to be. I am so greatfull to know people like Jenny Baker and Sally Nash and other female leaders of great integrity, who I go to with questions and guide me to resources and books such as Maya Angelou that I can share together with my children. But there is massive lack of radical faith inspired feminist writing aimed at teens and younger girls or at least stuff I can find.

The recent discussions raises two issues for me, that are connected. The first which Jenny already highlights in her post, is the issue of mentoring and supporting young women into leadership roles. Again I think this is a paradigm issue, one of the strengths of the early feminist movement was its clarity in setting up alternative structures and spaces to the established systems. I would like to suggest that the emerging church has far more to offer my daughters and is already encouraging them towards fullness of life not because of a quota, but a commitment to inclusivity, different leadership approaches, and humanity. For example Cakeful our Sunday thing, is often led by our 6 year daughter, and recently she asked to lead a session around time, and asked for support from Tracey an adult in the group. Tracey was amazing she offered Indi a planning meeting mid week, despite a busy schedule sat down with her, and planned together, which simply made my daughter beam. Watching this process was truly emancipating for my daughter and myself. I believe it is this type of approach that if practiced consistently is the best hope for young women in the church but more that that the best hope for the church to be led from its self induced exile due it’s inherent sexism and lack of inclusivity at all levels. So the second issue (sticking my neck out here and more than a little nervous in saying this) is a call for the amazing female leaders I know and thousands I don’t, to embrace the new paradigm, to create alternative structures and spaces, radical resources and methods, that directly challenge the status quo, rupture the institutions, recapture the feminist agenda in the minds of young people, and lead not just other women but eventually the whole church out of exile.

Our best hope is not in playing by the rules of the dominant, where position, gender, wealth, and power dictate, but in embracing the upside down Kingdom, of powerlessness, servanthood and grace, and it is those who have experienced oppression of the powerful that have so much to offer.

Blogging therapy

I have to admit I am struggling. I have been ill now for a couple weeks, there isn’t that much wrong in the big scheme of things, bronchitis knocked me out first week and I have a weird cough and sickness that I haven’t been able to shift and I am frankly knackered and frustrated. I have tests that I am awaiting results for and high blood pressure but it isn’t anything major.

Work wise things could not have been going much better, yes I am ridiculously busy as always, but we have taken great steps forward locally and nationally. The doctor says rest, and stress but I am not the resting type and being away from work thinking about all the stuff I need to do, could do and want to do it pretty stressful. Relaxing is not a strongpoint, but I after two weeks illness then returning to work for a week, I have been signed off for a week, to recover, so trying to behave, and rest.

I love the practice of silence, prayer, listening, but ultimately this begins to spark ideas, and heads me towards work mode particularly after a couple of weeks. My usual way to relax is a walk, beech or kite flying, but I can’t do this stuff so am feeling a little sorry for myself and pretty pathetic. My mind has gone into overdrive, and the things I like, such as blogs, reading generally get me thinking mission, so I thought of a blog post in a bid to try and park this stuff, the anxiety, patheticness, restlessness, work thoughts.

I seem to go around in circles and the activist in me will not switch off so I start to reevaluate stuff, and I find myself thinking again about different options, most recently selling everything and checking out RVs on eBay yes I know this is not conducive to relaxing. It is not like I don’t reevaluate my life as I go, and the illness is giving me time to take stock, most the things floating around is stuff I have complimented before, but it is like on hyperdrive.

So here is my bid to park my brain for little while, a moaning blogpost, that is selfish, western, and individualistic in a world where I know there are people with issues far greater than mine.