Friday, September 05, 2008

Restart Eve

A new blog! This is my blog restart. "Restart" also refers to my thoughts in this web-log.
I've come head-to-head with Eve. Not myself, but the first female created by Yahweh Elohim.
(Can you tell I'm in seminary now?).

The LCMS denomination I was raised in has a view- let's put it this way- that women shouldn't be all TOO involved in ministry or proclaiming the word of God. Now, I understand where they are coming from and I've often wanted to side with them, takes me off the hook for any ministry responsibility, hey?. However, I can take it no longer. If I am to hold on to this theology, I am to hold onto the idea that I am less in the eyes of God, less worthy, less excitement, less climatic for Him. He won't let such an idea rest in my heart. I have so much to do, I shouldn't even be writing a blog right now. But this is the important stuff in His eyes, the spirit expressing itself bare before Him and others to witness.

I think it's long been believed in our country that man was the climax of God's creation. Hence, female is the tag-along, the extra, the man-servant. From this essential goodness, man can preach the word of God , but women should "remain quiet". Now I could go into theology at this point and I assure you there is no need to quote it to me. I've heard it all. I'm going to basically say that if someone believes such a passage to mean a women is to keep quiet in a church, they need to redo their biblical studies. My husband wrote a whole paper on the truth of that passage if you're so inclined to read it.

But I ask myself, how can it be that God would ask a woman to bare his incarnate Son within her very womb, but that He cannot trust women with his Word outside her womb?
Now, to be fair, I've heard arguments that maybe Eve was the climax of God's creation- well, I've only heard it once. While I don't believe that to be exactly true, it is mind-blowing to try to make that switch. Try it. See if you can see the world with women as the climax and man as the tag-along.

What I'm coming to see if that both man and woman are the climax of God's creation. Eve may have been created second, but only to COMPLETE the image of God that was lacking with just one human. We assume to be made in His "image" means to have testicals and a penis. Other than the incarnation of Jesus, which I will address further down, I don't think it says anything about the Trinity's genitals in Genesis. To be made in His image can mean so many other things.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our
image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
Genesis 1:25-27
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

When God did this making of humans in His image , he made them male and female in Genesis 1. The details of that are in chapter 2. There is no differentiation in chapter 1. He made them both. Both together are His image. Adam or Eve alone means no relationship. God is the Triune- a God of three in relationship so tightly knit they are ONE just as He calls those in marriage to be ONE. So Adam alone is the Father without the Son or the Son without the Spirit. That would not be His image.

To be in His image is to take on His functions. As God made the earth and filled it, so he asks Adam and Eve together to multiply and fill it. Again, both are needed for this part of His image.

Because we are so used to viewing God as a MAN, we also forgot to see the feminine that is in the Lord. He longs to gather the people close to His heart. He nutures us, comforts us, sings songs over us, knows the hairs on our head, gives us good MILK to drink from His breast. Woman, too, in her beauty and role reflects major peices of who our God is (granted, I used stereotypes there, but for those who like to create a chasm between male and female, this is where you're coming from).

I also read recently an idea that in the fall in the Garden narrative that Adam did not want to eat the apple or separate Himself from God, but he worried that his wife would've been taken from him for her sin, so he went ahead and joined her. What a cute story of agape sacrificial love. Somehow I see that as crap. It takes Adam off the hook, makes him almost selfless- somehow I think God might have seen this and let Adam's innocence ride. Yet, Adam was responsible, he ate it, and I highly doubt he was thinking of losing his wife at the time- probably more about just pleasing himself.

Finally, I have to say that if we are to separate "mother" from God, because He is male and that is womanly, only "Father" can capture His likeness- my personal experience is a lie. Mothering Claire, seeing her look into my eyes and find her whole world is the closest I have ever come to understanding what true intimacy with God should be like. While children grow to love their earthly fathers, their connection in the first years are mostly with the one who birthed them, the one who God gave the task of nursing them and providing an extra pillow of support on her very chest. God must see mothers reflecting His very image or this world is all a lie.

I need to say that I have no problem addressing God as Father for that is what Jesus tells us to call Him. I do believe, though, the Trinity together gives man and woman together the abiblity to reflect the wholeness of our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer God. There is another issue to be discussed that I can't get to at this time- and I'm still working through it, though Keith has a great explanation on it. It is that (this is that final argument of those who believe woman should not minister) that Jesus came in the form of man. This is VERY true and Im sure he had male genitals. There are MANY reasons for this and good ones. I just want to say at this point that we should at least look at how Jesus treated woman to answer our questions about the abilities and desires of God for woman if we are going to bring the Jesus argument in. I'm going to label his stance on woman very LIBERAL and very PERSONAL for the time He lived in.

It has taken me 25 years to say these ideas with some level of confidence. I do so because it is a long time struggle in my soul coming to the forefront by God's hand. The above is not perfect, it is not of the scholars, but it is a peice of my personal journey at this time. The Lord, as far as I know, has called me to youth ministry. I have to deal with this as a woman.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion= sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others
Fatigue= extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physcial exertion or illness

Wikipedia says of "Compassion Fatigue" :
Compassion fatigue
is a term that refers to a gradual lessening of compassion over time. Compassion fatigue may occur when, due to the media saturation of stories and images of people who are suffering (e.g. images of starving children in Africa, or extended war reporting) people develop a resistance to these images or stories. As the impact of these messages lessens, their willingness to give to causes reduces.

I find this term ridiculous. Please listen to my view, but I would love to hear yours also!

Let me give an example of such an instance wherein this term might be used.
A church (full of people who claim to follow a steadfastly compassionate God) is hosting a
fundraiser/ awarness event to aid children who have watched their families and friends face murder, rape, torture, and starvation. The fundraiser will, of course, include entertainment (for it is taking place amongst Americans), but will also include times of prayer and information sharing as to the desperation of the receivers of these resources and prayers.

One person might warn another who is heavily invested in this fundraiser/ awareness event:
" Don't get your hopes up about people attending and donating. There is much
compassion fatigue in our community because of the many images, stories,
and causes we have already heard about and given to."

The concept of "compassion fatigue" makes sense to me, but this term has got to go.
We would like to think that because we give so much of our emtion, our sympathy, our thoughts, and our money to people in need, that we have grown exhausted. We have run the marathon but need years to recover from the race. Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther Kind Jr and others like them- well they certainly deserve some gatorade and a stretcher (though it must be noted that these people were compassionate unto their DEATH!!!).

BUT US? The average greedy filthy rich (which we are if you compare us to the world) American who's biggest problem is the fact that the Sunday football game interferes with church (or I suppose I should say it is the worship that interferes with the football?)
Im going to go out on a limb here and say it is not compassion fatigue we are facing.
It is the very fact that we do not learn, practice, or know true empathy, generosity,
hospitality, suffering or sacrifice that is our problem. We do not have compassion fatigue-
we simply lack COMPASSION itself!

We can no longer stand the images we see on the TV, internet, or newspapers of people in suffering because of the guilt we feel over standing aside as others die because we hoard the earth's resources. We protect our families, our country, our food, our in-home temperature, our national security, our jobs, our retirement, our RIGHTS, but have we really ventured to the point of FATIGUE in helping others?! We feel ill. We feel drained. We are burnt out. However, it is not because we have given SO MUCH, but because we have given SO LITTLE.
We work so hard for OURSELVES. We pray so diligently for OUR needs. We have so much pity on OUR sufferings.

I suggest, that if you are feeling this sort of fatigue that it is time to stop . It is time to stop giving, working, and thinking over your issues. Time to stop wallowing in your emotions.
And when you happen to look into the eyes of a suffering child on TV and feel bad- hold onto that feeling! Do not let it go. Do not change the channel. WHY? Because you have found it- that feeling is COMPASSION! To look into another's eyes and feel their suffering so deeply that you must spill forth love onto them.

And perhaps you will give to a sham. Maybe your money will go to waste. (Both of these are highly unlikely). At least, though, you have not surpressed compassion. At least you have not ignored those who are being exploited for money. At least you have recognized generosity in giving. At least it hurt to take money out of your own wallet and found a bit of suffering for your loss- that your compassion might grow for the loss of others.

Where your treasure is- in the compassion you have felt for another person, there your heart will rest.
At least call your fatigue what it is : selfishness, laziness, anxiousness, ridiculousness. We all feel this type of fatigue, we are human. But there is One who can plant great compassion in our hearts so that it will not run out. So that you will want to give until your life has been offered.

As for this "compassion fatigue", some call it a euphemism. As a realist, I call it a crock!