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Tag Archives: life

A Better Reference Point for Modesty

I’m writing this post as part of the #ModestyRules Synchroblog. (Image source)

So many voices, so little clarity, so much needless hurt

Modesty is, and always has been, important to me. Perhaps it’s because of my cautious nature and reserved personality. Perhaps we could find a more spiritual cause. In any case, as young as two and three years old, I was averse to showing my belly button. When I became a teenager, and a whole new world of clothing options opened to me, I was petrified of ending up in something indecent. As an adult, I now minister in contexts that regularly put me on a stage, in front of a class, or even in front of cameras — all of which require a conservative dress code.

I say this to affirm: I like dressing modestly. It’s my default. I find no “freedom” in the idea of wearing skimpier, flashier things.

Yet even so, as I think back over the messages I was taught about modesty in my teens, and the sort of messages that get blogged and reblogged today, I’m troubled. Any teaching about modesty must, of course, first define what it is. When you strip away all the lists of rules, the hemlines, the necklines, and the spaghetti straps, what exactly is modesty, and why do we care about it?

The answer to that question, almost universally, has been this: Modesty means adequately covering up your body so that you don’t cause your brothers to stumble.

I would suggest — in fact, I would insist — that this definition is a problem. A big one. There’s a lot that could be said about this, but for the sake of time, I want to focus on four reasons we need to change our reference point:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Friendships, Airships, Internships

(Okay, so technically “airship” is a blimp, not a plane, but I was on a roll with the “-ships” and couldn’t help myself.)

A couple of weeks ago, I had to say goodbye to a very dear friend of mine. I am not a big fan of change in general. I am an especially not-big-fan of change when it means shipping my friend and roommate of almost five years to the other side of the planet — literally — with no clear idea of when I get to see her again.

Of course, this was a day we had anticipated for a long time. International migration is not exactly something that happens on the spur of the moment. For years, it was that unpleasant necessity that loomed on the horizon — an unpleasant necessity I preferred to mostly not think about. However, in the last months, when the countdown to my friend’s departure was much more urgent, I found myself thinking about it a lot. I only had close access to this person for a short time. How could I maximize the time and connection we had together before it was time to say goodbye? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2010 in Heart Stuff, Intimacy with God

 

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Role Modeling Made Easy

Recently, while researching different viewpoints about women in ministry (a subject I have not abandoned, by the way), I ran across a certain preacher who was taking potshots at Wonder Woman. He was decrying her as an invention of the feminist movement, which she is. But he especially took offense at how she acts too much “like a man”. Now, admittedly, I’ve never read the comics, but I would seriously doubt that to be the case. If her costume is any indication, I’d say “butch” is not exactly what the comic creator was going for.

I was discussing this with my mom the other day, and we got to talking about role models for girls in the media. The course of conversation brought up another fictitious fighter, Xena the Warrior Princess (who also received a derogatory mention from the above preacher). She’s another example of the entertainment industry’s attempt to offer girls an alternative role model to delicate wallflowers and fainting damsels in distress such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and the like.

The secular media loves these superheroes, because when it comes to role models, it means girls no longer have to choose between being a princess and kicking tail.  In the past, in movies and stories, girls have generally been cast in the roles of: cute, boring, basically useless sidekick who gets captured and needs rescuing; delicate, lovely princess who needs rescuing (or at least has the handsome princes falling all over themselves to woo her); or — if she’s useful and has the ability to hold her own — the plain, spunky tomboy who nobody falls in love with but everyone likes to keep around anyway, because she’s just “one of the guys”. The message was fairly clear. Dainty and delicate was the way to go if you wanted to be an attractive, successful woman.

From a purely secular standpoint, Wonder Woman and Xena seem a little refreshing after that kind of stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2009 in Knowledge of God

 

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When “Why Not?” Isn’t Good Enough

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the book of Daniel lately. This is my current favorite book in the Bible. If you’ve read the blog for very long, you’ll also know that I’ve written a fair amount on it (and I actually should pick up on that again soon).

In the past few days, I’ve been particularly struck by Daniel 1:8, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank…” Daniel’s choice was radical. It rubs greatly against the grain of our Western culture. Daniel wasn’t looking for what was permissible; he was setting his heart on what was holy. In other words, he was setting his heart on what was transcendent to the society he found himself in.

Technically, Daniel did not have to take a raw+vegan+water diet in order to maintain a basic level of righteousness. This is actually quite an important point: Daniel didn’t choose his diet because it was required of him by God or by the Law. Let’s think about what he could have been eating and drinking. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2009 in Bible, Daniel

 

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Approaching Gender and Leadership – Part 1

When approaching the issues of gender and leadership, we have to use caution with what sort of baggage we bring to the discussion. Namely, we tend to approach this from a very Western, very Greek mindset. While there are a lot of beneficial things that have worked into our culture from the logical, analytical thinking of the Greeks, there are a whole lot of off-the-wall things as well.

First, there’s just the fundamental issue of male and female. Or, perhaps more accurately, male versus female, which is part of the problem. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2008 in Women in Ministry

 

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Sin, pleasure, and really ugly shoes

I saw an ad on the Internet the other day that was promoting some website that sells shoes. There it was in the sidebar, in all its tacky marketing glory. A pair of platform heels was featured in the picture, with this caption beneath: “Sinfully Unique.”

I had to do a double-take to be sure I read it correctly.

Um. When did uniqueness become a sin? I’m pretty sure “Thou shalt be bland and indistinguishable from thy neighbor” is nowhere in the Ten Commandments. Leaving aside the fact that the shoes were hideous, which might persuade me to say that there was something fundamentally wrong with them, “sinfully unique” is a laughably confusing description.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2008 in Intimacy with God, Knowledge of God

 

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Stepping Outside the Ivory Tower

So I’ve hit a little bit of a vein lately in my studies. I’ve had a while of studying various biblical books and subjects, and seeing good fruit from it, but not having any of it quite arrest me. In the past, I’ve had two key books really grab me and speak to me (Daniel and Malachi), that thrust me into study in such an impassioned way that I could hardly help myself but read and journal and learn as much as I could.

It’s been a little while since I’ve hit this kind of flow. But starting about three nights ago, I think I’ve found my next one. I am still very much working things out, so I don’t feel I should go into it just yet (Hah, how’s that for a cliffhanger?), but I hope to give some space to it in the future. Right now, I’m studying around on different viewpoints, and it’s proving very enlightening. Not necessarily that the argument is becoming mroe clear — but let’s just say I’m learning a lot about applied hermeneutics.

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Posted by on August 7, 2008 in Theology

 

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