Over the years, I’ve collected an obscene amount of bras. As I’m working on going more minimalist it seemed obvious that I should get down to just a couple comfortable sensible bras. This is good for me in a minimalist sense and also as an effort to no longer see myself or others as a sexualized object of consumption.
“Households have been transformed from the locus of production to the locus of consumption. People today sweat not to eat their bread but to consume at a high enough level” – Carrie A. Miles, The Redemption of Love http://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Love-The-Sexuality-Economics/dp/1587431505
I struggle constantly to be aware of consumerism and how I assign value to myself based on material things. One of the hardest parts is being in a society geared around consumerism. What are the alternatives to placing value in material things now that society is centrally focused on this? Education for education’s sake and not for building wealth? Spirituality? I guess for now my answer to that question is fusing spirituality within the mental, emotional and physical spheres all geared at realizing our story to tell through our experiences so that we can contribute and listen relationally. That’s still quite hard for me as I am shy, independent and introverted, but I recognize that it’s worth the effort and vulnerability to forge those relationships.
When I first heard the gutsy, jolty, hypnotic verses of M.I.A., I recognized right away something in her voice, tone and demeanor that told me here’s a girl that is one step beyond sure of herself and her thoughts and all the way crossed over into raw fearlessness. As I’ve kept an eye on M.I.A. over the years, I keep hearing unique and wonderful ways that she’s maturing and showing the world the full scope of what a woman can be.
You may be shocked to hear me say I think she’s maturing when she still likes to flick people off a lot, but I look at a more nuanced less traditional version of mature and fully recognize that it’s more meaning full when I see things like she donated her $100,000 appearance fee at the MTV Movie Awards to build schools in Liberia. In my eyes, she can flick people off all she wants as long as she’s clear and knows what she’s going after. She’s very mysterious so sometimes it can be hard to tell what it is she’s going after, but the manner in which her strength always pervades any societal pressure and roles is admirable and unique.
“There’s no question that M.I.A. is looking to bring issues of race, class and gender to mainstream audiences. To try and force her politics into a certain classy, old-timey, ‘Suffragettes doing needlepoint while quietly but firmly waiting for the vote’ aesthetic is not helpful. There is more than one way to Feminist, bitches! And M.I.A. does it well.” (Bad Girls: M.I.A., modern feminism and the Saudi Women to Drive movement)
M.I.A.’s song Bad Girls is a favorite of mine which goes along quite nicely with the “well-behaved women rarely make history” quote. Sometimes when trying to facilitate cultural change people do cater too much to cautiously attempting to make the privileged aware of their own privilege. It can be a slow and excruciating process. It’s refreshing to see people like M.I.A. that beat them over the head with it comedically and powerfully.
“M.I.A. is notorious for her records that touch on issues such as sex trafficking, capitalism’s influence on sexual politics, and patriarchy’s control over women and girls. Let me rephrase: She does not ‘touch on’ these issues—M.I.A. goes straight for the jugular.” (M.I.A. Goes Straight for the Jugular)
“Did you know that it’s illegal for women in Saudi Arabia to drive? Absolute bogus, right? So what does M.I.A. shoot her music video about? The most controversial thing possible, of course!” (M.I.A. Goes Straight for the Jugular)
It’s increasingly clear to me what I sensed earlier, M.I.A. is not just a female singer; she is attacking the status quo from all different angles with activism, confidence building in young girls and politically driven music videos. I’m excited to keep an eye on her to see what she does next. I know she has personally been a big influence on me. I can’t listen to her music without walking out the door thinking I’m able to cause change and my voice is important.
Sometimes I’m so busy trying to dismantle the patriarchy and hierarchies in church culture that I forget to just go ahead and start living out the dream life for a church or at least daydream. So many of us have spent our lives confused and shamed by the church that it’s hard to imagine a church in any other way than destructive and manipulative.
I’d like to spend more time dreaming and talking about a new kind of church. One that can at least attempt to break free from the historical pressures of what a church should be. If I were dreaming of the perfect church, I’d want it to mimic heaven. We don’t know a lot about heaven and to say that we do is already going down a sketchy path.
One of the biggest things that would need to change in the church would be the need to have a head pastor, official elders, and ordained statuses. I’ve often heard women fighting for being able to become “ordained” as a minister, and I do not want to minimize this, but if the early church shows more of a community of equals why do we fixate on words like “official” and “ordained”. I would rather have a church built around a community without a head pastor and without a hierarchical structure of any kind. It seems the premise of assigning more value to a person and their voice is filled with ideological problems. Comparison is the thief of joy or something goes the saying.
Here it goes, my dream church:
It would be based around the foundational structure that we are all coming together as equal humans. We would focus more on our similarities than differences, highlighting each individuals strengths and carrying them through their weaknesses. To be less vague, we would gather as a community and try out different speaking schedules. First, letting each member that desires to talk on Sunday, talk for however long or short they need to, giving everyone a chance to speak their peace. Having one designated person speak on Sunday and then have the other members respond in conversation seems like a humbling and practical way to have church. It kind of reminds me of the AA meetings I see on TV. It would be hard, very hard to make everyone happy, but creating those safe spaces would be worth it.
There’d be no one to look down on you. It would be understood that you are accountable to God and not men. Women AND men would cook for potlucks, cleanup and take care of the children. Theological discussions would have scantily clad teenage girls asking questions to the old bingo loving widows and the men would listen. Ahh, that sweet word listen, and the men would add to the theological discussions in a way that builds up confidence and intellect. Women would give life to the image of God reflected in them and men would reflect back that image of God in a loving and genuine way. Jesus would be in the details, in His subversive and counter-culture ways. The first would be last, and the last would be first. Jesus came to the needy in a way that was relational and not prescriptive and so would we. Relationships and nuance would be valued over legalism and shame. Money wouldn’t be hoarded and retained for the benefit of our own members but distributed to the needy in whatever way meets them where they are without restrictions and criteria. I’m not saying it would work, but a girl can dream…
What would your dream church look like?
Still going through Katherine Bushnell’s “God’s Word to Women” book. I’m getting near then end and will probably have to read it again due to the depth of knowledge and complexity of the information.
Some translation points she makes:
“Kosmios means properly ‘well ordered, in both outward deportment and inner life.’ It occurs twice. It is translated ‘modest’ where it refers to woman’s dress, 1 Timothy 2:9, and perhaps it could not be improved upon. But why not say that ‘a bishop then, must be . . . modest’ for ‘of good behavior,’ (1Timothy 3:2)”
Same word two different meanings
Kosmios: good behavior (male translation), modest (female translation) KJV
Since this is the King James Version, I thought I’d take a look at more modern versions to see how modern scholars have translated the same word in regards to women and men. The New International Version sticks with modesty for women in 1 Timothy 2:9 “modestly, with decency and propriety” . 1Timothy 3:2 in regards to men says “temperate, self-controlled, respectable” . Again avoiding the word modest as it is subconsciously deemed a “female” word. Common English Bible though does close the gap on different translations for the same word, 1 Timothy 2:9 “modest and sensible” (Women), 1Timothy 3:2 “sober, modest”(Men).
Now these aren’t big deals, like Katherine says there is nothing wrong with the word modest in general. It’s just that we have to be aware of the subtle way these nuances in translation stemming from the translators cultural biases are affecting our subconscious thought flow. If the original writer did not use different words why should translators systematically translate words involving women differently than words involving men.
Another translation note by Katherine Bushnell:
“Hagnos means “holy.” It occurs 8 times, and is translated “pure” four times; “clear” once, and “chaste” three times. Every time that it is translated “chaste” it qualifies a noun of the feminine gender.”
Same word two different meanings
Hagnos: holy(male translation), chaste(female translation)
Again, Katherine is not picking at the word “chaste”, but pointing out another way translators draw unnecessary divisions in how we view men and women.
Going a little bit deeper on these particular two words being translated “modesty” and “chaste” for women, I find myself thinking that these are subtle implications of the larger cultural undertones of characterizing women’s value only in their sexuality. Again, nothing wrong with being chaste or modest, but if these are the only things we keep highlighting and telling women that God values we are leading them astray. These words, while nice, carry with them historical baggage. Baggage that women are valued as property, their market value can go up or down based on their sexuality. This indicates and sends the message to women that the primary importance for women lies in their body not their mind and intellectual capacity. It’s another of the many distractions placed on women along with beauty standards. Many young Christian girls today are led to believe that God and Christian culture only value them for their looks and sexuality. This devalues women. It would be nice if we could have translation committees with equal amounts of women and men. At the very least, translating the same word consistently would be nice.
In the past few years, it has come to my attention how little I know about Bible translations and how valuable that knowledge can be. Because of this, I have decided to research translations in hopes that I’ll gain new perspectives and a richer depth of insight. In the end though, picking a translation is highly subjective and can easily turn into picking the one that offends you the least. I currently have The Source New Testament With Extensive Notes On Greek Word Meaning (http://www.amazon.com/Source-Testament-Extensive-Notes-Meaning/dp/0980443008/ref=cm_cr-mr-title) and love it, but want an Old Testament translation I can trust also. Junia in Romans 16:7 seems to be a good place to start since most early scholarship was in agreement that Junia was a female. To keep insisting that scripture is referencing a rare male name Junias that isn’t in line with the original texts is stubborn and an admittedly subjective indication to me that the translators have motives that are not in line with the integrity of the texts.
And just like that I’ve narrowed it down from 46 Bible translations, to 31 still in the running. If anyone knows of a good Bible translation that are not on this list or just in general let me know!
Completely unrelated, but lately, I’ve felt like I want to dive into the Apocrypha.